2017 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners

 

BEER

Patrons of The Happy Gnome // Photo via The Happy Gnome's Facebook

Patrons of The Happy Gnome // Photo via The Happy Gnome’s Facebook

Craft Beer Bar / Restaurant (MSP) – The Happy Gnome

St. Paul’s The Happy Gnome lives up to its reputation once again as a top craft beer destination, notching its fifth straight Kind-of-a-Big-Deal award in the best craft beer bar category. Few places match the Gnome’s cozy atmosphere, superb beer list, and knowledgeable staff pouring pints behind the bar.

 

 

A collection of Grumpy's buttons // Photo via Grumpy's in Roseville Facebook

A collection of Grumpy’s buttons // Photo via Grumpy’s in Roseville Facebook

Craft Beer Bar / Restaurant (Metro) – Grumpy’s, Roseville

Roseville is doing it right with Grumpy’s. From bingo to karaoke, there’s always something brewing at Grumpy’s. But more importantly, this bar houses 35 beers on tap, plus wine, cocktails, and specialty drinks that await you, which is why you voted it as the best in the metro.

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Benedicts in Duluth // Photo via Sir Benedict's Facebook

Sir Benedicts in Duluth // Photo via Sir Benedict’s Facebook

Craft Beer Bar / Restaurant (Greater MN) – Sir Benedict’s, Duluth

Beer drinkers and barflies have come to a decision: Sir Benedict’s is Greater Minnesota’s destination for craft beer. With an English pub atmosphere, views of Lake Superior, live music, and over 20 beers on tap, plus cans and bottles, it’s no wonder why this watering hole is the perfect place for a pint.

 

The Ale Jail's exterior glass windows // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

The Ale Jail’s exterior glass windows // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Bottle Shop (MPS) – The Ale Jail

The newest releases, the hard-to-find one-offs, the special collector’s items—if there’s a beer you need to track down, chances are the guys at The Ale Jail have a line on it.

 

 

 

 

The Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits store in White Bear Lake, MN // Photo via Elevated WBL Facebook

The Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits store in White Bear Lake, MN // Photo via Elevated WBL Facebook

Bottle Shop (Metro)  – Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits, White Bear Lake

From our Minnesota favorites to international bottles, White Bear Lake’s Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits has something for every kind of beer drinker. And the locals love taking advantage of creating their own six-pack, for this shop houses upwards of 500 single craft beer bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exterior of Historic Casanova Liquors in Hudson, WI // Photo via Casanova Liquors Facebook

The exterior of Historic Casanova Liquors in Hudson, WI // Photo via Casanova Liquors Facebook

Bottle Shop (Greater MN) – Historic Casanova Liquor, Hudson, WI

No, it’s not technically in Minnesota, but this bottle shop has sewn itself into the very fabric of Minnesota’s beer scene. So much so that Growler readers nominated and voted for it as the best bottle shop in Greater Minnesota. And with its incredible selection of six-packs, 750s, and single bottles, it’s very well-deserved.

 

 

The front entrance of The Blue Door Pub // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

The front entrance of The Blue Door Pub // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Happy Hour – Blue Door Pub

Double your pleasure, double your fun with two happy hours a day at Blue Door Pub. Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Sip on $3 tap beers or $6 wines. And whether it’s midday or late night, both happy hours will gladly dish out tater tots, hand-cut fries, and fried pickles.

 

 

 

Jennifer Proesel (second from left) helps coordinate events like Big Brew Day // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Jennifer Proesel (second from left) helps coordinate events like Big Brew Day // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Beertender – Jennifer Proesel, Lift Bridge Brewing

Sure, the brewers are the rock stars, but far too often we overlook the beertenders that become the face of a taproom. But Lift Bridge has a taproom manager who proudly takes center stage as a knowledgeable, easy-going source for beer guidance: Jennifer Proesel. In Jennifer, we trust.

 

 

 

The Nordeast Brewers Alliance at a meeting // Photo via the NBA Facebook

The Nordeast Brewers Alliance at a meeting // Photo via the NBA Facebook

Homebrew Club – Nordeast Brewers Alliance

With a mantra of “Brew. Drink. Repeat,” the Nordeast Brewers Alliance advances the cause of craft beer with educational sessions, tastings, brewing Q&A, and beer-centric events to be more informed drinkers and to better their brewing status.

 

 

 

Surly Darkness 2017 // Photo courtesy Surly Brewing Co.

Surly Darkness 2017 // Photo courtesy Surly Brewing Co.

Beer Label – Surly Darkness 2017

Darkness 2017 beams brightly with an award for Adam Sward’s label work. The local tattoo artist and illustrator depicted the horrifying witch of Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga, and her fantastical (and creepy) chicken leg house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bent Paddle Brewing Labels // A Growler Magazine Photo

Bent Paddle Brewing Labels // A Growler Magazine Photo

Beer Branding – Bent Paddle Brewing

It’s the goal of Bent Paddle to “bend the tradition” of what people expect from their beer. The Duluth brewery has been sourcing 100 percent of their water from Lake Superior since their opening in 2013, and they continue to lead their beers in both reliable quality and identity.

 

 

 

 

 

Part of Indeed Brewing's cozy and rustic mid-century styled taproom // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Part of Indeed Brewing’s cozy and rustic mid-century styled taproom // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Taproom – Indeed Brewing

The first production brewery to open a taproom in Northeast Minneapolis, Indeed has created a unique space that’s warm and inviting. With the exposed brick and wood finishes of the Solar Arts Building, it’s a perfect space for friends new and old to relax and enjoy a beer over a game of cribbage.

 

 

 

Matt Anhalt, and his beard, of Insight Brewing Co. // A Growler Magazine Photo

Matt Anhalt, and his beard, of Insight Brewing Co. // A Growler Magazine Photo

Beer Industry Beard – Matt Anhalt, Insight Brewing

For many in the brewing industry, every month is a no-shave month. And for Matt Anhalt at Insight, foregoing the razor has produced winning whiskers, as Growler readers have crowned him as the fairest of them all.

 

 

 

Joe Falkowski's Hand Tattoo. His knuckles spell "B E E R M E" // A Growler Magazine Photo

Joe Falkowski’s Hand Tattoo. His knuckles spell “B E E R M E” // A Growler Magazine Photo

Beer Tattoo – Joe Falkowski, Lift Bridge Brewing

Joe means serious beer business. Just take a look at his hands. Barley inks a presence on his left hand, while a big and bold hop cone adorns his right, giving him first prize for best beer tat.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Aaron Davidson

Photo by Aaron Davidson

Cidery – Sociable Cider Werks

This cidery started from a garage with a vision: to produce high-quality, carbonated, dry ciders made from actual Midwest apples, not the sweet made-from-concentrate stuff sold in the grocery store. They’ve become a Northeast jewel where many flock to enjoy an array of delicious ciders and, well, be sociable.

 

 

The interior of the Town Hall Brew Pub // Photo by Aaron Davidson

The interior of the Town Hall Brew Pub // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Brewpub – Town Hall Brewery

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Town Hall Brewery proves that in the midst of a swirling vortex of new breweries and off-the-wall IPAs, brewing quality beers to style is a winning formula. The stalwart brewpub is one of Minnesota’s most decorated breweries, and this year they’ll add the best brewpub award to their mantle.

 

 

Photo by Kevin Kramer

Photo by Kevin Kramer

New Brewery – Barrel Theory Beer Company

When Barrel Theory opened in Lowertown St. Paul this summer, expectations were high. But with a steady stream of juicy IPAs and one-off recipes, Barrel Theory has wowed our readers, who voted them this year’s best new brewery.

 

 

Coasters on the window ledge at Dangerous Man Brewing in NE Minneapolis // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Coasters on the window ledge at Dangerous Man Brewing in NE Minneapolis // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Brewery – Dangerous Man Brewing

They may be dangerous, but there’s no pretension to be found among the folks at Dangerous Man. Built in an old bank in Northeast, this brewery has been pushing the envelope since day one with brews like the nutty crowd favorite, Peanut Butter Porter.

 

 

 

 

The Deschute's Brewery Logo // A Growler Magazine Photo

Out-Of-State Brewery – Deschutes Brewery

They may be out-of-towners, but Deschutes is a warm-welcomed guest to Minnesota. Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Jubelale, we’ll take those Oregonian brews any which way.

 

 

 

BEER STYLES

 

Lager – Bent Paddle Venture Pils

Crisp and clean, perfect after a paddle or with any type of food, Bent Paddle’s Venture Pils is a textbook example of a Pilsner, and it’s your favorite lager in the state.

Session Beer – Surly Xtra-Citra

It’s all that bitter brash Surly attitude in a lighter, more refreshing package. Xtra-Citra is our go-to spring beer, and it’s your choice for best session beer in the state.

Wheat Beer – Fair State Hefeweizen

Fair State’s Hefeweizen is a traditional Bavarian-style wheat beer packed with notes of banana, clove, and vanilla notes from the yeast. And while no bananas were harmed in the brewing of this beer, Growler readers are going bananas for this hefe.

Belgian-style – Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

There’s something to be said for the “every day” beer. The Stillwater brewery’s take on a saison is the quintessential easy-drinking crowd-pleaser. With light saison esters, a mildly peppery profile, and just a hint of tartness, Farm Girl is your favorite Belgian-style beer.

American Pale Ale – Indeed Day Tripper

Four pounds of hops per barrel + a dank and citrus-laced aroma + complex and subtly sweet malt backbone = your choice for best American pale ale, aka Indeed Day Tripper.

British Pale Ale – Bent Paddle 14° ESB

This year has been extra sweet for Bent Paddle’s 14° ESB. First, they won a gold in the extra bitter category at the Great American Beer Festival this past October, and now they’re taking home a KOABD award for best British pale ale.

American Blonde Ale – Fulton Lonely Blonde

With a delicate fragrance of German noble hops, touches
of white wheat between American pale and crystal malts,
and lingering sweetness, this blonde beauty is a standout.

IPA – Surly Todd The Axe Man

The Axe Man cometh, rising to the occasion once again as the best IPA. Bright, bold, and bitter Citra and Mosaic hops act as the stars of the show, while an underlying sweetness makes a guest appearance from the Golden Promise malt. Fans are hooked.

Fruit Beer – Fair State Raspberry Roselle

Though very limited in release, Raspberry Roselle has left a lasting impression on our readers, who voted for it as this year’s best fruit beer. The tart berry character adds a new depth of flavor to Fair State’s sour ale made with hibiscus.

Spice / Specialty – Indeed Yamma Jamma

While Indeed’s autumn seasonal is officially being retired this year, Growler readers are sending Yamma Jamma off in style with its fifth straight award. Brewed with sweet potatoes, a blend of spices, and vanilla, Yamma Jamma is again your choice for spice/specialty beer of the year.

Kettle Sour – Fair State Roselle

Originally created as the second beer in the brewery’s LÄCTOBÄC series, Roselle has proved so popular it’s made its way into Fair State’s canned lineup. This kettle sour is infused with hibiscus leaves at flame-out, lending the beer its rosy tint and floral aroma.

Spontaneous / Wild – Indeed Wooden Soul: Cherry Dust

Cherries, oak, and microbes work together to transform red ale into something worthy of this year’s spontaneous/wild beer award. Cherry Dust is a blend of Indeed’s wood-aged red ale that has aged for one to two years, and then finished for three months on tart cherries.

Porter – Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter

This crowd favorite is a perennial favorite in the Kind-of-a-Big-Deal awards, and for good reason. Nutty roastiness blends with creamy peanut butter and light chocolate for a satisfying sip that recalls the best flavors of childhood.

Stout – Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout

In the face of big, boozy barrel-aged imperial stouts, Dangerous Man’s Chocolate Milk Stout shows that a straightforward, easy-drinking milk stout can rise above the rest of the pack.

Locally-Made Cider – Sociable Freewheeler Dry Apple Graff

It’s dry, refreshing, and (technically) not traditional, but the flagship graff from Sociable Cider Werks is your favorite cider of the year.

More 2017 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Winners:

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