Kind of a Big Deal


right now is the energy. New breweries are popping up, restaurants are widening their craft beer offerings, there’s seemingly a new  beer-centric event every other weekend, and the people in our community are roused by all the happenings. So what better time to celebrate the men and women of beer? We asked you to nominate those in the beer community who are ‘Kind-of-a-big-deal’, and, hey, you did. And now  it’s time to vote. Between now and November 6, 2012 (Election Day), cast your ballot. Votes will be tallied, and winners – as voted on by you, the readers – will be announced in The Growler’s December/ January “Kind Of A Big Deal” Issue.

Between now and November 6, 2012 (Election Day), cast your ballot. Votes will be tallied, and winners – as voted on by you, the readers – will be announced in The Growler’s December/ January “Kind Of A Big Deal” Issue.



There’s something to be said about a place that not only makes your food, but manages to craft your brew, too. And damn, does it ever feel good to sit down at a bar and restaurant and know that the experience you’re getting is unique to the locale. From chef-designed foodie offerings to traditional bar fare, the icing on top of the cake is knowing that the beer your swilling is unique to the restaurant you’re sitting in.

• Barley John’s Brew Pub
• Fitger’s Brewhouse
• Herkimer Pub & Brewery
• Rock Bottom (Minneapolis)
• Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Happy Hour

The siren song of happy hour can be heard nearly every day. But not every place has it. As a Minnesota craft beer enthusiast, you have to be a bit of a sleuth, scoping our websites for times, days and specials, and then, only then, after extensive research and a period of trial and error, can you find the perfect happy hour place for you. Hopefully, in addition to slinging cheap beer and liquor, the restaurant will also manage to throw down a mean menu.

• Blue Door Pub
• Grumpy’s NE
• Republic Seven Corners
• Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
• Valley Tap House

Homebrew Club

One of the great things about beer is that it brings people together. Nowhere has this been truer than in the expanding number of homebrew clubs across the Twin Cities, which manage to not just create community, but tasty suds as well. In fact, a number of the local, up-and-coming local breweries began as simple home brewers, many of whom were members of brew clubs like these.

• Jack of all Brews
• MN Home Brewers Club
• Motley Brue
• Primary Fermenters
• St. Paul Home Brewers Club

New Brewery, new since Oct ’11

Yep, we’re in a brewery boom. But which new operation manages to be the best? Choose carefully, as more and more often a person’s allegiance to a local brew (or distaste for one) is reason enough for judgment by friends and foes alike.

• Fulton Beer
• Indeed Brewing Company
• Lucid Brewing
• Steel Toe Brewing
• Third Street Brewhouse

MN Brewery

These guys gave Minnesota brewing a direction, a solid platform from which all other local breweries have used as inspiration. Where would we be without Summit, for example, which offered a plethora of craft brew to the masses before most locals even knew what a taproom was? Or Surly, which raised the level of flavor and hoppiness in what many an every-day-Joe now calls his beer norm??

• August Schell Brewing Co.
• Steel Toe Brewing
• Summit Brewing Co.
• Surly Brewing Co.
• Third Street Brewhouse

Out of MN Brewery

OK, we get it. Not every state can be from the greatest in the Union, the way Minnesota is. For those unfortunate enough to be from outside the land of lakes, there are occasional high-points, like the breweries listed below, for example. These operations produce beer that we’re proud to swill, even if that means opting out of a local favorite, though only for a beer or two.

• Odell Brewing Company
• Deschutes Brewery
• Founders Brewing Co.
• Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
• Stone Brewing Co.
• Tallgrass Brewing Co.

Craft Beer Bar (612)

On the 612 side of the river, the craft beer bar offerings tend to feel a bit more urban and Big City, but that’s definitely not a knock to the type of places they are. At several of the bars below, the food is kicked up a notch, as Emeril would say, and the long list of brew offerings on tap would please any cerevisaphile. Here’s to swilling in the Mill City.

• Buster’s on 28th
• Butcher and the Boar
• Muddy Waters
• Republic Seven Corners
• Stanley’s NE Bar Room
• Stub and Herbs
• Town Hall Tap

Craft Beer Bar (651)

You could argue that beer is best consumed at the bar. There’s a good, old-fashioned sort of Cheers quality to consuming your favorite brew while mingling with strangers. Get a brew or two in anybody and conversation with a stranger could quickly turn into a chat with a friend. St. Paul’s beer bars tend to have a neighborhood-feel, where libations and tasty bar food are served up amid Capital City pride.

• Bulldog Lowertown
• Groveland Tap
• Happy Gnome
• Muddy Pig
• Sweeney’s

Craft Beer Bar (Suburbia)

From Roseville to Eden Prairie, Minnesota craft beer is being served, and not just in the big city pubs where the local beer revolution started. The moral of the story is simple: people want craft beer, no matter where the are. These businesses have been nominated as the best of the best in suburban craft beer bars.

• 3 Squares (Maple Grove)
• Brick’s Pub (Blaine)
• Grumpy’s (Roseville)
• Old Chicago (Eden Prairie)
• Valley Tap House (Apple Valley)

Bottle Shop (STP & MPLS)

Where you buy your beer matters. Whether it’s the shop’s approach to curation, the resourcefulness of the staff, or just a dependably good visit with a bounty of choice beer at the end, these are some shops in St. Paul and Minneapolis that push the limit of what a bottle shop can be, and forward the momentum of our beer community at the same time.

• The Ale Jail
• Chicago Lake Liquor
• South Lyndale Liquor
• Surdyk’s Liquor
• Zipp’s Liquors

Bottle Shop (Suburbia)

Just because you don’t live in Minneapolis or St. Paul doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be privy to the best of the best retail experience. These shops may be a bit farther from Downtown or Uptown, but they offer aisles of desirable craft beer, and they keep our suburban beer community hopped up.

• Blue Max Liquors
• The Four Firkins
• France 44
• Heritage Liquor
• Princeton’s Liquors (Maple Grove)

Beer Distributor

The unsung heroes of beer: Distributors. These organizations have 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. Generally family-owned operations-these supportive distributorships have gained the respect of the beer industry and our community with their commitment and dedication to craft beer and the lifestyle.

• Chisago Lakes
• Hohensteins
• JJ Taylor
• Original Gravity
• Wirtz

Homebrew Store

Much of the hubbub over the craft beer boom started at home. Ever since it was legal to brew beer at home, there’s been an eager community of locals looking to build out and extend their offerings to the public. And who do we have to thank for that? A big thank you goes the homebrew stores who provide our community with not only the equipment and supplies to brew at home, but with the know-how.

• Brew & Grow
• Midwest Supplies Home Beer & Wine Making
• Northern Brewer



Pouring 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. These beertenders have been nominated as some of the best in town. *Honorable Mention: John Skonieczny- Formerly @ The Nomad

• Al McCarty (Blue Nile)
• Andrew Lomen (Happy Gnome)
• Christian (Muddy Pig)
• Paddy Whalen (Muddy Waters)
• Pete (Sweeney’s)


There 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 facemanes. Here are some of the best.

Brent Rowe, Great Lakes

Bryan Buser, Four Firkins

Mark Joseph, The Ale Jail

TC Beer Blog

What would our beer scene be without the chatter? It seems that each week there’s a new beer development, whether it be a new brewery launched by a young and adventurous homebrewer, or a taphouse borne as the result of changed state legislation. These blogs and sites keep us up to date on not just the beer events in the state, but on the state of our beer community. And to that we’ll raise a drink.

• A Perfect Pint
• MN Beer Activists
• Midwest Beer Collective


Tattoos 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. Here are the nominations for the best tatted men and women in our fine beer community.

Gabrielle Hamilton, New Bohemia

Joe Falkowski, JJ Taylor

Paul Wentzel, The Ale Jail

Beer Writer

When you think about it, a life spent writing about beer is not a bad life at all. But it’s not as easy as it seems. Keeping track of a scene that’s exploding while simultaneously experiencing every beer-related event and offering this town has in store is no easy task. Okay, it’s not that bad. But the writers below are some of the best beer scribes in town.

• Chip Walton
• Michael Agnew
• Ryan Tuenge
• Tom Horgen


Beer and art go together like Minneapolis and St. Paul. Need evidence? Check out the event posters, labels, and creative branding surrounding many of our favorite up-and-coming brews, as well as many of the mainstays. The following artists should be recognized not just for their commitment to the local beer community, but for the local community as a whole.

Adam Turman

Chuck U

Dave (Dwitt) Witt

Michael Berglund



As dark as night and as variable as the people creating them, this offspring of porter has traveled the world and back, largely overtaking its predecessor in availability and popularity. Originally the name for a strong porter beer, Stout Porter soon dropped the porter and went out on its own. It prospered throughout the globe in various export/imperial versions and transformed itself in its home in the UK to sweet/oatmeal/and dry versions of itself. Naturally, we had to make an American version too. Always a deep dark and roasty beer, the best stouts should awaken the darkness inside us all… or just be a deliciously roasty beer that goes great with a steak, oysters, or a warm blanket on a cold night.

• Founders Breakfast Stout
• Fulton Worthy Adversary
• Surly Darkness
• Summit Oatmeal Stout
• Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat

Belgian Style

The harnesses are removed and the gloves come off with these styles of beer. While many brewers stick to established styles like dubbels and tripels, Belgian beers are not required to follow any particular set of rules. Variations are limitless and contributing adjuncts like candi sugar, spices, orange peel, honey, microorganisms, or other grains are happily accepted rather than demonized. Generally, the focus that most brewers choose to take in making a Belgian-style beer is to bring forward the fruity and or spicy yeast characteristics that are unique to Belgian yeasts to compliment their base style.

• Boom Island Brimstone
• Chimay Blue
• Duvel
• Harriet West Side IPA
• St. Bernardous
• Surly Cynic

Wheat Beer

Wheat beers have been around for a very long time. The Bavarians had established the style as a regional specialty in the 1500’s, and was exclusively brewed by their royalty after the use of wheat in weizens was established as the one loophole in the Reinheitsgebot. Wheat beers come filtered or unfiltered, with a huge fluffy head, and are bready, but clean and refreshing. Some may also have a banana or clove characteristic. The best wheat beers are refreshing, flavorful beers that are generously carbonated and thirst quenching.

• Bell’s Oberon
• Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat
• Schell’s Hefeweizen
• Steel Toe Sommer Vice
• Tallgrass Halycon


Minnesota craft beer fans love their hops, and the Best IPA is surely to be a highly sought after title. IPA’s have become a staple for the craft beer community, and they can feature a variety of hop characteristics and range of bitterness. Balance is still key to a great IPA. Though obviously tipped towards the hop side of the scale, it should still have a malt backbone to support those bitter hop notes that we love so much.

• Steel Toe Size 7
• Summit Saga
• Surly Furious
• Third Street Bitter Neighbor Black IPA
• Town Hall Masala Mama


An excellent Pilsner is difficult to make. The delicate flavors and aromas leave little room to hide flaws, and being a lager, it takes a bit longer to make. Originally made in 1842 in the Czech town of Plzen, this is the beer that would change the world. While there are a number of acceptable variations, there are also many more poor imitators. The best of these beers are golden colored with balanced malt and snappy hop aromas and flavor, with a bitter yet clean finish. Hard to do, but oh so good when done right.

• Dave’s Brewfarm Select
• Harriet Pilsner
• Schell’s Pilsner
• Summit Pilsener
• Surly Hell


A style of much debated history, but clearly a style that would father many others. Porter originated in England, and has been around in some form for nearly 300 years. There is still much variation within the style, but one thing is clear – it’s some shade of brown, and should be lighter than a stout (which spawned from porter). As for its flavor, look for a range of roasted malt character with possibly some chocolate, and the whole spectrum of hoppiness, depending on where and who brews it.

• Deschutes Black Porter
• Flat Earth Cygnus X-1
• Founders Porter
• Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
• Summit Great Northern Porter

Summer Seasonal

Summer is a chance to get outside and thaw for a few months, and Minnesotans take that opportunity very seriously. Naturally, the beer that accompanies such a season should be consumable in quantity, yet have actual flavor. Usually the best summer seasonals are golden colored lagers or ales that have some malty flavor and enough hops to be refreshing, and low enough alcohol to keep you functioning, but the possibilities are limitless. Just think about which craft beer you want to drink while out on a lake in July.

• Bell’s Oberon
• Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
• Steel Toe Sommer Vice
• Summit Summer Ale
• Surly Bitter Brewer
• Surly Hell

Winter Seasonal

Ahh the winter seasonal. These beers invoke feelings of the holidays, and typically are made using ingredients or techniques to bring out the caramel, nutty, spiced, earthy, or citrusy flavors associated with the season. Whether you’re enjoying a magnum bottle with your craft beer loving family at a holiday supper, or sneaking off to the basement to enjoy a single by yourself because your Aunt Marsha is on a rant about her cats again, these beers are perfect for the occasion. Typically a little higher in alcohol, these beers are designed to celebrate the season, be it the beginning of your favorite or end of your most dreaded time of year.

• Founders Breakfast Stout
• Schell’s Snowstorm
• Sierra Nevada Celebration
• Summit Winter Ale
• Surly Abrasive

Fruit/Spice Beer

Adding fruit or spices to a beer has been practiced for ages. These beers can be sweet or dry, and can even be the color of whatever special ingredient is being featured. The best fruit or spice beers place their special ingredients in the spotlight, yet they still remain in perfect harmony with the base style of the beer.

• Lindemans Framboise
• Dark Horse Raspberry
• Founders Cerise
• Southern Tier Pumking
• Town Hall Mango Mama


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