Craft Beer Bar (St. Paul)
To be a perennial favorite in a beer-conscious town like St. Paul is no small feat, yet the Gnome reigns supreme once again. A vast tap selection, a friendly, knowledgeable staff, a whiskey list that’d make a Dubliner weep with joy, and food that routinely surpasses what we expect from a beer bar. We’ll saddle-up at this Selby spot any day of the week.
Honorable Mention: The Muddy Pig
Craft Beer Bar (Minneapolis)
Is Republic the epicenter of local craft beer? It’s where you’re most likely to meet the newest brewer, take a class from a beer expert, or taste the newest local release. The tap list is enviable and approachable, and their servers are some of the most knowledgeable in the business. It’s the beer hall of our dreams.
Honorable Mention: Grumpy’s NE
Craft Beer Bar (Greater MN/Western WI)
Drinking in Duluth just keeps getting better and Tycoon’s has become the destination for Metro imbibers in the know. The old Duluth City Hall is now flush with Fitger’s brews and pub grub that’s worth a visit in itself. And if there’s a band on stage, you’re in for a perfect night in the Zenith City.
Honorable Mention: 7 West Taphouse
Craft Beer Bar (Suburbia)
We’ll admit we weren’t thrilled when yet another chain restaurant settled in the West End. But our skepticism turned to joy thanks to Yard House’s inviting atmosphere, cheap happy hour eating, and nearly limitless tap beer selection—a combo guaranteed to bring all the boys to the Yard.
Honorable Mention: Grumpy’s Roseville
What more can you ask for during a good happy hour but cheap beers, good company, and a lively atmosphere? Perhaps a basket of cheap tots while you wait for a Bangkok Blucy? If you can manage to snag a seat in the Selby Avenue burger joint, your workday will end on a happy note indeed.
Honorable Mention: Republic Seven Corners
It’s crowded, it’s noisy, it’s a strange slice of faux-Polynesia on the Mississippi River. But there’s no better place to drink a Premium in the sunshine than Suzi’s patio. Sure, other patios in town are more classy and demure, but Suzi’s sports what patios are all about—lively conversation, great beer, and great people.
Honorable Mention: Butcher & The Boar
Bar Recreation (Games, Trivia, or other activity)
It’s the weight of the ball in your hand, the white ensemble your girlfriend wore for the occasion, and the feel of the sun beating down on your neck. You flex your bare toes in the short grass—it’s not even long enough to grip. But once you roll, the bar holds its breath and anything seems possible.
Honorable Mention: Bocce at the Nomad World Pub
For the third year in a row, Northern Brewer is your favorite one-stop hop shop. They’ve always shown an intense dedication to the art of the homebrew and have fostered the brewing community unlike any equipment retailer in town. Cheers to the guys helping keep our kegerators full of solid homemade suds.
Honorable Mention: Midwest Supplies
Bottle Shop (MSP Metro)
Walking through the cozy aisles of The Ale Jail you’re surrounded by one of the best pick-six selections in the state, a wall of bombers and 750ml Belgians, hard-to-find ciders, and a beer cooler filled to brim. The possibilities are nearly overwhelming. But that’s the charm of the Metro’s finest bottle shop—a great selection, excellent prices, and a savant-like staff to help you wade through it all.
Honorable Mention: Zipp’s Liquor
Bottle Shop (Suburbia)
The Firkins continues its retail dominance of suburbia with unmatched imports, a line on your favorite obscure brews, and the gravitas of a team that knows beer inside and out. And with their expansion to Oakdale*, the east Metro gets to revel in their expertise.
Honorable Mention: Blue Max, Burnsville
Correction: Four Firkins opened its second location in Oakdale, aka Oakbury not Oakville.
Bottle Shop (Greater MN / Western WI)
Is there any better destination for a Sunday road trip? Is any journey over the St. Croix River complete without Dogfish Head and New Glarus from the ‘Nova? We sure don’t think so.
Honorable Mention: Keyport Liquor, Superior, WI
One of the biggest reasons for Duluth’s rise as an amazing craft beer city is the brewpub that began it all. The Fitger’s team has expanded their reach to multiple establishments, and cranked out award-winning beer at the brewpub in impressive volumes. They laid the groundwork in the Zenith City for new breweries and brewpubs and we’re reaping the benefits of their success all around the state.
Honorable Mention: Town Hall Brewery
New Minnesota Brewery (open after 10/1/2013)
Since our first taste of Bauhaus during the Beer Dabbler at Twin Cities Pride, we’ve been positively enamored with the Northeast lager-specialists. Tasty brews along with creative marketing and a remarkable taproom all conspire to place Bauhaus in the impressive company of this category’s past winners.
Honorable Mention: Sociable Cider Werks
Another year, another triumph for Surly Nation. Haug, Ansari & Co. have crushed it in 2014 from international brewing partnerships to continued Darkness hysteria. Now they’re on the cusp of opening a massive destination brewery—one that can’t help but look like the seat of power in Minnesota craft beer.
Honorable Mention: Dangerous Man Brewing
From the unabashed citrus of Fresh Squeezed, to the mild, hazy Chainbreaker and the unimpeachable Black Butte Porter, there’s no out-of-towner we’d rather see on tap than Deschutes. Our friends in Bend are now the nation’s sixth largest craft brewery and they can set up Base Camp here anytime.
Honorable Mention: Bell’s Brewery
MN Craft Distillery
In an exciting year for local spirits, Joel and Emily Vikre were leading the way. From their Canal Park distillery, the couple rolled out a trio of excellent gins, an aromatic caraway aquavit, laid plans for a series of whiskeys, and lobbied the legislature to legalize distillery cocktail rooms.
Honorable Mention: Norseman Distillery
MN Craft Spirit
Vikre’s most influential product of 2014 was a cedar-infused gin that became a quick hit with bartenders all over the state. Its smoky, toasty, mercurial flavor effortlessly melts into bitter cocktails, giving you the Negroni you never knew you needed but now you can’t do without.
Honorable Mention: Du Nord L’Etoile Vodka
WI Craft Distillery
Just over in the border in New Richmond, Wisconsin, 45th Parallel is flooding the Metro with some of the finest hooch the Midwest has to offer. Not only do they produce everything from gorgeous whiskey to potent horseradish vodka, they teach the art of distilling, fostering new operations all over the region.
Honorable Mention: Death’s Door Distillery
WI Craft Spirit
The best spirit from the Badger State is 45th Parallel’s flagship bourbon. It’s clean and fruity, unlike all those syrupy-rich mass-produced bourbons. The first aged spirit from the New Richmond distillery begat an entire line of gorgeous whiskeys, making 45th Parallel a full-service spirits powerhouse.
Honorable Mention: Death’s Door Gin
It’s not often a brewery tour can offer access to such a profound history, but that’s why you go to the country’s second-oldest family-owned brewery. Schell’s tour shows off their heritage, expertise, and innovation. No wonder they’ve been a regional brewing powerhouse for a century and a half.
Honorable Mention: Surly Brewing
Multi-Brewery Tour (By a Tour Company)
You may have heard that Duluth has become the most exciting brewing city in the state. And no one gets you up close and personal with North Shore suds like The Duluth Experience. Their brewery tours cater to the expert and uninitiated alike, offering a great mix of education and laid-back sampling.
Honorable Mention: Bitter Minnesota