Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners 2012


We know you have been eagerly awaiting the results of our Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal poll. We collected thousands of votes online in October and November and are excited to share the winners with you.

Minnesota’s growing craft beer scene would not be possible without the work of these brands and individuals, as well as your appreciation and support. Thank you to all of the readers that submitted nominations and voted for this year’s poll. Winners were selected 100% by our readers. We’d like to point out that there are no losers in the Kind-of-a-Big Deal Awards. All who were nominated are sincerely deserving and highly regarded people, places, and beers. We’ll do this again next year to see how things change. We hope you’ll continue to honor the men and women of craft beer.

Without further ado, here are the people, places and beers that you have declared to be KIND-OF-A-BIG-DEAL:

Kind of a Big Deal People


Andrew Lomen (Happy Gnome)

Andrew Lomen Happy GnomePouring beer can be an art. Add to that the struggle of tens of people wanting a drink at once, and it’s darn-near a sport, too. But what makes a great beertender is not just the ability to pour and juggle all the action, but the knowledge and commitment to service that come as a necessary aspect of the job. Visit the Happy Gnome’s website here.
Beer Writer:

Michael Agnew, A Perfect Pint

Michael Agnew, A Perfect PintYou voted to give the award to one of The Growler’s own writers, and there’s a reason why he’s writing for this publication, Michael Agnew knows his beer. He’s actually Minnesota’s first certified Cicerone, and when he’s not writing for his own site, A Perfect Pint, he’s penning for the Star Tribune, City Pages, or others. Agnew also hosts special tasting events and beer dinners, and he’s taught beer-related classes at Kitchen Window, Cooks of Crocus Hill, and the University of Minnesota. When you think of Minnesota beer writers, there are few locals who compete.

Adam Turman

Adam Turman Great Beer Brewed HereOne of the best-known artists in the Twin Cities over the past decade, Adam Turman creates work that reflects the Twin Cities. His screen prints, which vary from Minneapolis cityscapes to those of a beer-related bent, are easily recognizable. And why is that? Because the man is not just good, he’s ubiquitous. His print of the Grain Belt beer sign and the Gold Medal Flour stacks have places in homes across the cities, but you can also catch his work on covers of weeklies like City Pages, or the sides of buildings, like the new mural on Minneapolis’ Butcher & The Boar. Hey, he’s even got work for sale in the new Beer Dabbler store in St. Paul. Just sayin’.

Bryan Buser (Four Firkins)

Bryan Buser Four FirkinsThere are a few ways to distinguish your facial presence if you’re a man, but perhaps the best way is by growing a big ass beard. In our local beer community, there are beards aplenty. They range from starter beards on dudes who should maybe find a razor, to full-out he-man wild men face-manes. Bryan dubs himself “Certified Cicerone, Global Beer Buyer, Head Scribe of Weekly Electronic Communications, Sasquatch Infiltration and Pacification Manager & North America Pinball Wizard.” Good news, Bryan, our readers have spoken, and thanks to your sweet beard, you can know add “Kind of A Big Deal” to that list.

Gabrielle Rudisill

Gabrielle TattooTattoos have come a long way in the past couple of decades, and these days it seems like almost everyone, from the stay-at-home mom to the beer-swilling motorcycle enthusiast has been inked. And some people even have beer-themed tats. Gabrielle not only has some sweet tattoos, she’s the only female you voted as Kind-of-a-Big Deal.

Kind of a Big Deal Places


Town Hall Brewery

Town Hall BreweryBetween the award-winning beer, brag-worthy food, and choice location in Minneapolis’ bar-heavy Seven Corners area, it’s easy to see how Town Hall came out on top. The brewpub, which boasts an eclectic menu of bar fare, beer brats, and pastas, also offers five everyday taps, which include everything from an IPA to a Scotch Ale. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get all that and more: seasonal selections made in-house dot the brew menu, and guest beers like the fruity-meets-chocolatey Duchese Bourgogne bolster the line-up. When you think Minneapolis Brewpub, it’s easy to see how Town Hall comes to mind.
Happy Hour:

Town Hall Brewery

Town Hall BreweryThe best Brewpub in the Twin Cities, as voted by you, our readers, also happens to have the best happy hour according to you. Funny how those two things work out. Currently at Town Hall, there are daily dollar-off tap deals Monday though Friday, for both the early happy hour crew (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and to those lovers of the late night (9 p.m. to 12 a.m.). Take head, venerable Twin Cities suds shops: happy hour matters.
Homebrew Club:

MN Home Brewers Association

MN Brewers AssociationOne of the largest home brew clubs in Minnesota, the Minnesota Home Brewers Association has been active since 1988, making it also one of the oldest clubs around town. At monthly meetings, the group shares brewing techniques, discusses equipment and ingredients and will usually go in depth on a specific topic or style of beer. They’ve also been in an instrumental part of organizing competitions around town, and furthering communal beer-love.
New Brewery:


FultonFor anyone passing by the north end of Target Field on game-day, you know that Fulton Brewing’s taproom has become just as much of an attraction as the nearby ball field. Between the taproom experience and damn good beer, it’s no wonder that some of Fulton’s standbys—such as the Sweet Child of Vine and Lonely Blonde—appear to be almost as ubiquitous on restaurant tap lists as the Surlys and the Summits of the world. For many opening beer operations around the Twin Cities, Fulton has become the shining example of entering the scene with a buzz.
MN Brewery:

Surly Brewing Co.

Surly BrewingWhen your brewery is as beloved and celebrated as Surly’s, you can do cool things—like help change Minnesota law. That’s what happened last year when the brewer petitioned for change that would allow it to build a “destination brewery” of sorts, where both brewing, eating and drinking could exist peaceably and legally. And now plans appear to be in the works, with a potential new brewery location scouted in the Prospect Park neighborhood near the University of Minnesota.
Out of MN Brewery:

Deschutes Brewery

Deschutes BreweryIf you’re going to drink beer from outside of Minnesota, you have choices aplenty, so you’ll want to be informed, as any good beer drinker should be. According to you, Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, Oregon, comes out on top. The over-two decade old brewery is now one of the largest craft brewers in the United States, in some ways setting the example for how craft breweries and tap rooms across the country, and in Minnesota, have tried to mirror.
Craft Beer Bar (612):

Muddy Waters

Muddy WatersMuddy Waters is a craft beer bar and oh-so-much more: amazing food, delicious desserts and cafe offerings, and hard cocktail concoctions that would please most anyone who refers to their bartender as a mixologist. In many ways, Muddy Waters is a gastropub with a neighborhood feel, and part of the appeal are tap and bottle lists that appeal to both the local frame of mind, as well as the generalist. As a hangout for the beer fan who requires fine eats, it can’t be beat.
Craft Beer Bar (651):

Happy Gnome

Happy GnomeSt. Paul’s reigning beer bar continues to draw in the accolades. Happy Gnome, which makes up just part of St. Paul’s beer bar paradise (which includes both Muddy Pig and Sweeney’s), is decidedly the more upscale and far-reaching offering in the area. You could even argue that Happy Gnome has one of the best beer lists in the Twin Cities. And we haven’t even started talking about the food yet, which swings gastropub, and is an attraction all its own.
Craft Beer Bar (suburbia):

Grumpy’s Roseville

Grumpys RosevilleGrumpy’s Roseville is the only suburban outpost of the three attitude-laced beer bars in the franchise. It’s also massive, a sprawling complex where you can go for both food and drink while taking in a game. Is it divergent from the gritty-meets-bold authenticity of the downtown and northeast Minneapolis iterations? Definitely. Is it supposed to be? You bet. One thing remains the same: a beer list that pleases.
TC Beer Blog:

MN Beer BlogWith a name like MN Beer, it’s gotta be good. And, truly, has become an invaluable resource for folks looking for the latest beer events and news. Founded in 2005 by Ryan Anderson, it was ahead of the curve in terms of the Minnesota craft beer movement, and you could even say that it helped establish the culture, becoming a place where beer lovers could go to learn about new events and offerings on almost a daily basis.
Beer Distributor:

JJ Taylor

JJ TaylorThe unsung heroes of beer: Distributors. JJ Taylor has supported craft beer in this market throughout the burgeoning growth of Minnesota’s beer culture. Ever wonder who organizes all those beer releases, samplings, and events we attend throughout the metro? Look no further. JJ Taylor has gained the respect of the beer industry and our community with their commitment and dedication to craft beer and the lifestyle.
Homebrew Store:

Northern Brewer

Northern BrewerNorthern Brewer believes that good beer is your right, and, apparently, you agree. It’s that pervasive attitude that makes Northern Brewer great. They aren’t just in the homebrewing industry because they think it’s a fad: to them, it’s a mission. There’s a philosophy of making home-brewing fun, not stressful, and always toward improving the culture of the home brewer, whether that be by sponsoring home brew contests with cash prizes, or providing some of the best instruction a home brewer could ever hope for.
Bottle Shop:

The Ale Jail

Ale JailThere are a number of Twin Cities stops that offer craft beer, but few go to the extent of the Ale Jail, the St. Clair Avenue emporium that’s part of the Wine Thief. The volume of available beers and the breadth of offerings, from lagers to Saisons to specialty sours and ciders, is enough to take the top prize. Bonus points go to the shop for their Build Your Own Box option.
Bottle Shop:

The Four Firkins

The Four FirkinsThe Four Firkins is not just a specialty beer shop—it’s a community of beer fanatics who are brought together by a shared passion. You can find their passion in their classes, tastings, and special events. But you can also see it in the wide selection of beer—and only beer—sold by some of the most knowledgeable staff you can imagine. If it sounds elitist, it’s not: the goal of Four Firkins isn’t to intimidate, it’s to communicate their shared passion for the customer. And, if your votes mean anything, that’s working.


Surly Darkness

Belgian Style:

Surly Cynic

Surly Cynic Ale
Wheat Beer:

Bell’s Oberon

Bells Oberon

Surly Hell

Surly Hell

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald

Surly Furious

Surly Furious
Winter Seasonal:

Surly Abrasive

Surly Abrasive
Summer Seasonal:

Bell’s Oberon

Bells Oberon
Fruit/Spice Beer:

Southern Tier Pumking

Southern Tier Pumking


  1. […] would say Surly Furious for Minnesota is fitting since it just was voted MN's favorite IPA by The Growler readers. __________________ […]

  2. […] the University of Minnesota (above: hard-working bees from Wisconsin Natural Acres). Winners of the Growler’s Kind of a Big Deal awards, featuring tons of Surly. Bullfrog is going to become yet another Bulldog. Portraits of the artists […]

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