My solo trips in recent years have had a focus on baseball and craft beer. Minneapolis this year was no different and provided a great setting for both. Five days and nights spent in beautiful Target Field watching baseball bookended part of each day, and some exploration of Minnesota state craft beers took up a part of the remainder of those days. In the city, there was no shortage of beer options, even for someone who stuck to breweries and bars near the downtown or on one of the light rail lines. There were even a couple of great taprooms conveniently located next door to the ballpark I was heading to every day.
Modist Brewing’s taproom had a very stripped down, almost Scandinavian, feel. On a humid afternoon of city exploring, I pulled up a chair and tried four of their creations. My favourite (the picture on the left below) was their “First Call”. A light lager infused with espresso, this was deliciously weird and wonderful. If ever there was a morning beer, this was it.
Also within short walking distance to Target Field was Fulton Brewing. I really dug this taproom. It was the kind of place that accepted all kinds – grannies, hipsters, displaced Canadians. The beer here was really, really good. The one of the left below was “MPLS Mild”, an older English style mild ale that had a wonderful toasty flavour at only 4% alcohol. The one on the right, “Eleven O.G.”, was an India session ale and the kind of beer I could drink all day long on a hot summer day. I wasn’t able to do that on this taproom visit as the gates were shortly opening to the ballgame just across the street.
The Surly brewery and taproom was a bit outside of downtown, but an easy trip on the light rail system. I sampled three beers here (and one other the day before at a bar downtown) and they were all exceptional. Of particular note, the “Fiery Hell” was a Helles lager with Puya chilies – just the right amount of spicy. I wouldn’t want 2-3 of these in a sitting, but my gosh this was a great beer for sipping. The really outstanding Surly beer for me was their “CynicAle” farmhouse ale with notes of apricot and peach. If I closed my eyes, I felt I was back in Belgium sampling beers.
Leaving Surly, I took the train to Republic, a bar that is consistently ranked in the top 100 craft beer bars in the USA. I loved this place. Servers were really knowledgeable and the food was top shelf bar food. The sampler I ordered had beers from Modist, Steel Toe Brewing and Bent Paddle Brewing, as well as that rose coloured gem on the left from Fair State Brewing. That was their “Roselle”, an amazing sour (I’ve been on a sour beer kick this past summer) with citrus notes from the hibiscus they add in at the end of brewing. I sampled a lot of Minnesota beers on this trip and I’m convinced this was the best beer I tasted.
No solo trip is complete without some hotel room beers. I picked up this collection from Haskell’s beer store just a few blocks from my downtown Minneapolis hotel. One of their employees helped me put together this nice selection. The two Summit Brewing beers were my favourites, followed by the two Indeed Brewing ones.
And with five days of baseball games, there were more than a few ballpark beers. Target Field did an outstanding job of offering a wide selection of Minnesota state craft beers. It was such a good selection, that I didn’t need to double back to have the same beer twice on my visit. The Indeed Day Tripper beer, the Bauhaus Sky-Five and the Fulton Lonely Blonde were my baseball favourites.
I really felt like I got a good and varied taste of Minnesota beers on this trip. With the short, direct flight from Saskatoon to Minneapolis, I expect to back here a few times in the future for baseball trips and beer sampling. There were still more than ten tap rooms I wanted to try so there’s lots left for the next visit.