The land that introduced the world to Schell's, Hamm's, and Schmidt's is in the midst of a microbrewery renaissance so massive that hitting all of the super suds slingers might take you the entire weekend. Fortunately, you have said weekend, which is why we produced this very handy, 15 stop/ 17 brewery crawl. Grab a designated driver and bite off as much as you can.
Stop 1: Start in St. Paul at the grandpappy of Midwest craft brewing, Summit. They've been around since '86, but, thanks to a recent law change, only just opened a tap room. It's f***ing required that you grab their legendary EPA, but they also crack out firkins and one-offs only tapped on the premises, giving you mad bragging rights, assuming you can still talk at the end of this thing. ED NOTE: Currently the tap room is only open on Friday afternoons.
Stop 2: Further down West 7th, you'll find Flat Earth, where you can become a black hole of samples of the signature Cygnus X-1. Unfortunately, they don't have an official tap room license, but you can snag a growler for later
Stop 3: Before leaving West 7th, be sure to take in the once-glorious now-decaying carcass of Schmidt's Brewery. Given that they haven't produced a Schmidt's there since the mid '80s, the only drink you can get requires filling a bottle with water from the fresh water aquifer the brewery sits atop, which is piped directly to the front gate.
Stop 4: Unless you have time to brew your own beer at Vine Park, St. Paul is kicked. Skip Mpls for the time-being and head West, young man, towards Lake Minnetonka and make Exclesior Brewing your first destination. The brewery and tap room are teeny, but their Xlcr Pale and Big Island Blonde are, well... big
Stop 5: On to Minnetonka proper for the brewery trifecta of Lucid Brewing, Badger Hill, and Bad Weather, which all live under the same roof. At Lucid, you want an American IPA Foto; at Badger Hill, the complex Minnesota Special Bitter; and for Bad Weather, the super-hoppy flagship Windvane
Stop 6: On your way back to Mpls, swing by St. Louis Park's only brewery, Steel Toe, where the house-fabricated bar reeks of their working man ethos. Standards like their Size 7 IPA are tapped in perpetuity, but look for one-offs like their English barleywine aged in Templeton Rye barrels
Stop 7: Speaking of which, barrel your way back to the Minneapple and hit the actual true tap room in town, Harriet Brewing in Longfellow. The hippie-fied space garage space gets a basement party vibe thanks to live music throughout the day, and daring/tasty beers include the perfectly citrus-y West Side Belgian.
Stop 8: Everything you've done so far has been merely a precursor to this moment, as your next stop's Surly, the badass brewery that legalized tap rooms in the berg. Ironically, their actual tap room is soon-to-be under construction, but that doesn't mean you can't swing in for a quick tour and some furious Furious sampling. ED NOTE: Make a reservation well in advance or your tour ain't happening.
Stop 9: The second official tap room in Mpls was Fulton's, which is a stone's throw from Target Field, not that you should head out into the street and start hurling stones after a few Libertines
Stop 10: Not just an insensitive nickname for Hiroshima, Boom Island is also a Belgian-only brewery on the shores of the Mighty Miss, and it makes for a worthwhile break while making your way Northeast to finish out the crawl. No tap room here, so sampling/ tour only, but that means you can try their Thoprock IPA, Hoodoo Dubbel, Silvius Pale, and Brimstone Tripel
Stop 11: Northeast offers a nice little two-fer, kicked off at tap room-only Dangerous Man, which doesn't distribute anything other than hangovers. Eschewing names, they just refer to their endlessly-expanding lineup by style, with the chocolate milk stout being an eternal fave of all who try it
Stop 12: Next up's the smallest brewery in town, Northgate, which crafts English beers in a sub-700sqft warehouse space. Samples and growlers only
Stop 13: Stretch your legs at the most pub-like tap room in town -- Indeed. As a brewery, they pump out massive quantities of canned ales, including their ever-more-popular, "resinous and piney" American black Midnight Ryder. As a tap room, they're drafting all of those, plus experimentals like the Burr Grinder, a "beer coffee ale".
Stop 14: Just down the street's the copious tap room of 612Brew, where the tanks are mirrored and shiny as hell, and the session-only suds range from the American ale Six, to the West Coast IPA meets Midwestern rye known as the Rated R
Stop 15: Look, you've come this far, so cap things off at Roseville's Pour Decisions, where pints of frothy beers you won't find anywhere include the Scottish ale Pubstitute, and the floral-y "monk's daily ale" called Patersbier. Way to go, you are officially a golden ale god.