A One Pint Stand’s Favorite Minnesota Brewery List of 2022
What better way to kickoff A One Pint Stand’s new blog than to give the ravenous and opinionated droves of craft beer enthusiasts something to talk about? Here are my favorite Minnesota craft breweries from 2022.
My List Criteria-Please Read
This list is according to me and not any specific ratings metric like Untappd. Rather, it factors in the variety of styles on tap, quality of beer, ambience in the taproom, and friendliness of the staff. If I walk in and do not feel like my business matters, I probably don’t return. I also appreciate a breadth of ABV range since most of the time I am hanging at a brewery, I am there with friends looking to spend an evening conversing.
This list is a reflection of where I am as a craft beer drinker. There are great breweries in Minnesota making fantastic beer that is sought after by folks from coast to coast in the United States. If I were making a list based on hype and popularity, that list would look a lot different than this one. Knowing that a place dumps 23 pounds of hops per barrel doesn’t move my needle the way it does for others. Now, if you can brew a pilsner and have it come out visually clear and be crisp and refreshing, then we can talk exchange safe words…
Do I love a big and malty beer that is north of 10%? You better your ass, I do. However, that is not a weekly occurrence for me anymore. I prefer to wait until Town Hall Brewery’s Barrel-Aged Week or Lupulin’s Big Beer Week to immerse myself in those beers. Now, my love language is beers with distinct textures and flavors that I can have a couple of and then get my old butt back home and in bed.
New Blog, New List Format
When I used to write these lists at Beerploma, it was a straight ranking. This year’s list is going to use a different format. Rather than a straight ranking, it will be broken down into categories. I will also have a “Best in Show” to showcase the places I feel hit all the marks. This will allow me to give some love to some of the breweries that sometimes don’t make the list and help curtail the amount of hate mail I get from people who think I don’t like IPAs…
Remember, opinions are like assholes; everybody has one. If you don’t agree with my list, that is fine. If you think I don’t know what I am talking about, that is also your right. Many people in the industry have told me over the years that they appreciate my banging the drum for places that are brewing classic styles along with the hype styles. So, I am not going to be deterred by naysayers on Beer People when the brewery owners and brewers whose opinions I care about and respect appreciate the work I do.
My Favorite Places for A Lager
As my palate has developed and my liver has aged, I find myself craving the clean, crisp, and easy-drinking attributes of a well-brewed lager. Lagers are beers that are brewed with a bottom-fermenting yeast that takes a long time to ferment at a much colder temperature than an ale. The result of this is a beer that is clearer and crisper than an ale. For many of these styles, this also means that flaws are harder to mask with countless dry-hoppings or adjuncts.
Arbeiter Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
If you are looking for quality lagers brewed by quality people, Arbeiter Brewing Company is the place for you. The atmosphere and vision at Arbeiter starts with an ownership team that is driven by love, inclusivity, and standards. Their entire staff is the embodiment of hospitality. They will take time to make sure you feel welcomed.
Their lager game is top-notch. Routinely, you will find at least 4 masterfully-brewed lagers that represent the classic styles lager lovers long for. The Haha Pils is my go-to. When Nacht Rider is available, drink because it is superb. The Italian Pilsner is hoppy and glorious. The Gestalt Alt is a malt-lovers dream.
Bad Weather Brewing-St. Paul, MN
Bad Weather showcases many styles well. However, the brewing team at this St. Paul brewery really distinguishes themselves when it comes to their lager program. Bad Weather will have the usual suspects that correspond with the appropriate seasonality like Oktoberfest, Maibock, and Doppelbock. They will usually have their Pilsner available.
Where I believe they separate themselves from their contemporaries is when they showcase some of the historically rare styles. Their Heritage Lager Series is a special line of beers that really stands out as a fun and educational drinking experience. I love that they lean into lagers that are brewed with quality and purpose. My suggested lagers to try are Pilsano (Italian Pilsner), Keller Pils, and Munich Helles.
Schell’s Brewery-New Ulm, MN
The Minnesota OG and second oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, Schell’s Brewery sets the bar for lagers. Schell’s has, over the years, been the brewery that has provided me so much beer education with their offerings. At the top of my list is their Vienna Lager, Firebrick. No matter what month the calendar says, this fantastic beer is always a go-to for me. Of course, their Pilsner, Bock, Keller Pils, and Oktoberfest are my favorites.
Utepils Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
Utepils Brewing is located in the heart of Bryn Mawr and abuts Bassett Creek. In fact, if you are craving a classically crisp lager in a bucolic setting, their biergarten is manna from heaven. Their Helles, Altbier, Kölsch, and Festbier are things to seek out. However, they have a myriad of other quaffables to put your palate’s wanderlust in a state of perpetual bliss, as well. Utepils also is home to one of the best bartenders in the state and maybe even the world. Yes, old “Blue Eyes” himself, Tom Holzinger.
Venn Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
Over the last two years, I have become quite smitten with the crisp and clear lager offerings at Venn Brewing in South Minneapolis. Being a St. Paulite, Venn is a little out of the way for me. However, I find myself more and more willing to venture there to drink thanks to their Venn Pils, Czech Pils, or Vienna Lager. In the summer, their patio is really nice and they will typically have a food truck. In the winter, their taproom has enough room that it never quite feels super-crowded.
Waldmann Brewery-St. Paul, MN
If quaffing beer in a historical setting is what your heart craves, Waldmann Brewery fits the bill. Established in 1857, Waldmann Brewery is one of the oldest watering holes in the state of Minnesota. It was reborn in 2017 as a brewery with a kitchen. Whether you are sitting down in Waldmann’s cozy interior or are seated in the biergarten to enjoy biers in the elements, the selection of what to drink is rooted in European classics. I am partial to their Maibock, Doppelbock, Dunkel, and Festbier, but I would say that anything you order here is good.
My Favorite Places For An IPA
If you don’t love IPAs, are you even a craft beer fan? IPAs outsell every other style and it isn’t close. That is the main reason so many breweries lean heavily into this style and all the iterations under the umbrella of hops. Hazy IPAs are the most popular styles, by far, but in the last year, I have noticed more West-Coast IPAs available. Whether you prefer your hoppy ales hazy or clear, there are so many fantastic places to find them in Minnesota.
One gargantuan misnomer about IPAs is that they are all bitter. Not true! In fact, many of the breweries on this list showcase the juicy, fruity, floral, and herbaceous notes that hops can bring to a beer in a masterful way. However, if you want a tongue-splitting and bitter brew, these breweries will also be a good place to look.
Back Channel Brewing-Spring Park, MN
If you fancy a drive out of the Twin Cities, Back Channel is a fun way to feel like you are in lake country without having to go too far outside the 494/694 loop. Back Channel does a lot of wonderful things, but it is fair to say their bread is buttered by the beer styles they made popular to consume out of a bowl. I can’t keep track of all the names of their NEIPA portfolio, all that I know is that they are quite tasty and balanced.
Barrel Theory-St. Paul, MN
Since Barrel Theory opened their doors in 2017, they have been the pied piper for haze bombs in Minnesota. Whether it is Rain Drops or Shooter McGavin, their beers have created a zeitgeist that hasn’t been seen since Hypercolor clothing came out in the late 80s. The thing that I love about Barrel Theory is that they often have a ton of wonderful beers on tap. I like their stouts, sours, and lagers when they have them. However, it is their IPAs where Barrel Theory really shines.
BlackStack Brewing-St. Paul, MN
If you are looking for a variety of hazy IPAs, BlackStack is your beer cathedral. Their mainstay, Local 755 is one of the best NEIPAs around. BlackStack releases so many other iterations of DIPA and IIIPA options that I cannot even keep track. The nice thing about BlackStack is that you might happen upon a really tasty lager on tap to break up the IPA-heavy tap list. The taproom is spacious and eclectic with plenty of games to keep you busy as you immerse yourself in a hop-haze.
Lupulin Brewing-Big Lake, MN
When you name yourself after the gland in the hop that produces the flavors and aromas that give beer life and balance, you better brew some incredible hoppy beers. Lupulin Brewing Company in Big Lake, Minnesota, has, in my humble opinion, the best of the best when it comes to hoppy offerings. Their trio of Hooey, Blissful Ignorance, and Fashion Mullet are simply the best. Most breweries would be happy to have even one flagship that matches the quality of any of these. In addition to the three staples, they are often collaborating with other breweries to create magnificent one-offs that titillate the hopheads to no end.
Steel Toe Brewing-St. Louis Park, MN
Steel Toe Brewing is a craft beer institution. They brew everything well. However, the Size 7 IPA is a standard that I measure all other IPAs against. Their beers are no-frills, well-made examples of keeping it simple. Want a hoppy beer with a little less punch? Grab a Size 4. Want to get out the dance floor in a hurry? Grab a Size 11 Triple IPA. I don’t visit them nearly as often as I should. Yet, when I do have the occasion to darken their doorstep, I am reminded why they are always talked about in the same breath as brewery excellence in Minnesota.
My Favorite Breweries That Are A Little Bit Of A Drive
I like to get out and about to different places in Minnesota. This category is for those who want a little bit of a drive, but aren’t ready to commit to more than an hour each way. These five breweries are all around an hour or less in the car from St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Hayes’ Public House-Buffalo, MN
With airfares to Ireland a little out of control, it is just much easier to drive to Hayes’ Public House if you are craving a pub experience. Hayes’ is one of the few places in Minnesota where you can find decent cask beers poured the traditional way out of a beer engine. The texture of these beers is sensational. In the warmer months, the rooftop is a wonderful way to look over the lake and pass an evening drinking a flawlessly-brewed Horobin’s Hammer Best Bitter. If you want dark and smooth, the Hayes’ Irish Stout is a thing of wonder.
Giesenbräu Bier Co.-New Prague, MN
Located in New Prague, Minnesota, Giesenbräu Bier Co. has wonderful beer brewed by even better people. This family-friendly operation leans heavily into the beer culture of the town. You will find a nice blend of old-school classics and new styles to bring in a multitude of craft beer geeks. They are now available in cans at liquor stores and their eye-catching labels would look great in your beer fridge. However, I recommend going to the source and trying all of the things on tap. My favorite beers are the Dožínky Pils (Czech Pils), Doppel the Hutt(Doppelbock), Hildy’s Helles, and Nová Praha Med (Barrel-aged Imperial Stout made with local honey). Pro tip-their Oktoberfest party is one of the more enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon in the fall.
Forgotten Star Brewing-Fridley, MN
Forgotten Star Brewing is a wonderful place for a beer. The aesthetic is historic and the beers are quality. They have, in their short existence, gathered quite a collection of beer awards for some wonderful classic beer styles. They also know how how to brew some lagers, which makes them an easy place to want to patronize. They are especially enjoyable in the winter time because they have a lively patio with curling and fire pits.
Montgomery Brewing-Montgomery, MN
In the sleepy hamlet of Montgomery, MN, one can find a quaint little brewery whose beers are absolutely tremendous. I am talking, of course, about Montgomery Brewing Company. The beers at Montgomery are always a treat. They have a wide array of offerings when it comes to beer styles. The taproom reminds me of a pub you might stumble upon in England. Charles, the owner, is a treat to talk beer with. Also, if he happens to be driving his fast car, don’t try to keep up with him on the highway en route to the next brewery stop because he will leave you in a cloud of dust!
It is also important to note that Montgomery Brewing is one of only 2 currently black-owned breweries in the state of Minnesota. In fact, there are less than 100 black-owned breweries in the country as I am currently writing this. A lot of us, myself included, who identify as people of color, want to make sure we support businesses where we feel comfortable and welcome. By showcasing and supporting places like Montgomery Brewing, hopefully other people of color with dreams of opening their own places will see that, thanks to brave souls like Charles, there is a path to success in a white-dominated industry like craft beer. Because, in all honesty, the fact that there aren’t more breweries owned by people of color has nothing to do with the idea that underrepresented demographics don’t like craft beer.
Omni Brewing-Maple Grove, MN
Omni Brewing Company in Maple Grove has a wonderful selection of beers. They have one of the best NEIPAs in the state, FAD. However, they also have a bevy of classic styles to satiate even the pickiest of craft beer geeks. Keep an eye out for their Hibernation Party that features special barrel-aged malty wonders. Some of my favorites from Omni are their FAD, Oktoberfest, Lake Day (Session Pale Ale), and Omni Lager.
Spilled Grain Brewhouse-Annandale, MN
Spilled Grain Brewhouse in Annandale, Minnesota, has something for everyone. They have won quite a few awards over the years. Jacob and his brewing crew dedicated themselves to quality and variety. Their Oktoberfest is one of the best in the state. I also adore their cream ale, ESB, milk stout, and old ale. You are hard-pressed to find a nice brewer in Minnesota who will always make time to talk beer and the Minnesota Twins. If you haven’t been there, yet, I suggest putting their Bockfest on your social calendar and getting a beer or two poked.
Uncommon Loon Brewing-Chisago City, MN
Uncommon Loon Brewing in Chisago City, Minnesota has a huge taproom, 2 different event spaces, and a great patio to enjoy their stellar beers. If you are lucky enough to find the owner, Brad Klatt, in the taproom, buckle up for a wonderful beer chat. Their staff is helpful and friendly and will happily pour you a pint. I suggest starting with the Speckled Loon Cream Ale, Olde Town Nut Brown, and Peanut Gallery (Porter).
My Favorite Place That Are A Longer Drive
If you love to get out and feast on some asphalt, then these breweries are perfect. They are all above an hour away from the Twin Cities. They are well worth your time. Maybe consider cueing up some episodes of A One Pint Stand for the drive?
Bent Paddle Brewing Company-Duluth, MN
Bent Paddle Brewing Company is a must-stop in Duluth. Their packaged beers are dynamic and iconic. DSDB is a big stout of legendary lore. Their beers consistently win awards. Their taproom showcases small-batch beers to tickle the fancies of old-school craft beer geeks like myself. In the summer, their patio is a great reminder of why we all love Minnesota.
Forager Brewery-Rochester, MN
If you are looking for food that is on-par with an elevated restaurant experience to go with your fantastic craft beer, then Forager Brewery is the spot. I fell in love with them via Pudding Goggles, an imperial porter. Since then, whenever I am in Rochester, I make sure to plan on stopping in for a meal and some beers. There are so many great options, but they really shine when it comes to their malty offerings.
Hoops Brewing-Duluth, MN
Hoops Brewing in the heart of Canal Park has an astounding number of things to drink. A popular haunt for pre and post All Pints North fest-goers, Hoops is always a must-stop. David Hoops really deserves a ton of credit for helping develop Duluth into the craft beer treasure it is, today. His team makes incredible beer. Some of my favorites are the Keller Pils, Mexican Lager, Stock Ale, and Munich Lager.
Jack Pine Brewery-Baxter, MN
The north woods motif that is encompassed at Jack Pine Brewery is warm and welcoming. I love visiting the taproom to try so many good things. I love that the tap list is as grandiose as the coastline of Gull Lake. I am a huge fan of what Jack Pine does with IPAs. They always have different versions on tap and it is fun to see hops showcased in the skillful hands of the Jack Pine brew crew. Their Vengeance Jalapeño cream ale is so wonderful. They are one of the few places around where the S’more Pastry Stout is not a cloyingly sweet abomination. Jack Pine has become a great place to bring my dad and enjoy some quality father/son time when I am up there for a visit.
Junkyard Brewing-Moorhead, MN
Junkyard Brewing in Moorhead, Minnesota, is a craft beer destination when you are up that direction. I still visit whenever I am in town, but I bemoan the fact that their offerings aren’t as diverse as they used to be. Their tap list is very IPA-heavy. Luckily, they brew some really good ones, so hopheads can rejoice. The taco place next door, Sol Ave. Kitchen, is the perfect place to grab some insanely delicious tacos.
Little Thistle Brewing-Rochester, MN
When Little Thistle Brewing opened their doors, it instantly became a favorite of mine. The people behind the beer are wonderful humans. The beers on tap are brewed expertly and the styles span the spectrum of what we all want to drink. I don’t think that it gets much better than the Brave Woman when it come to a satisfying, yet, sessionable beer. There are so many great stouts that have food flavors infused into them without tasting out of whack. They have a spacious outdoor setting to enjoy the best weather our state has to offer.
Ursa Minor Brewing-Duluth, MN
Ursa Minor Brewing is located in the Lincoln Park area of Duluth. This is a bustling and reborn section of Duluth that is anchored by Bent Paddle Brewing Company. Ursa Minor has some wonderful things to drink and also serves wood-fired pizzas. I gravitate towards their Constellation Cream Ale, Bear-ista (Coffee Stout), and Ewok Cuddles (Belgian Dubbel). However, you really can’t go wrong with anything there.
My Favorite Places In The Twin Cities (St. Paul & Minneapolis)
As the Minnesota craft beer scene continues to thrive, the bar for what people expect to drink also elevates. Take it from me, the Twin Cities is host to an embarrassment of craft beer riches.
Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative-Minneapolis, MN
Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative is a wonderful cooperative brewery that has built a special community for craft beer drinkers. Broken Clock’s has a robust membership of 1300+ members who support the common goal of being a place where everyone feels welcome to drink. They also now have a much bigger and better location closer to the epicenter of the Northeast craft beer scene.
Dangerous Man Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
The days of Dangerous Man calling Minneapolis home are numbered. This is a polarizing thing for many. In my mind, it is hard to picture Northeast Minneapolis without the iconic bearded face sign on the building. However, all things change in life. The purchase of a canning line to go into the production space up in Maple Lake, Minnesota, will be an interesting story line to keep your eyes on. For many, including myself, Dangerous Man was an introduction to the Northeast craft beer scene. My favorites include the peanut butter porter, the cream ale, the Japanese rice lager, and anything they ever decide to put in a barrel.
Dual Citizen Brewing Company-Saint Paul, MN
Dual Citizen Brewing Company is a wonderful place to grab a beer before a Loons game. They have such a wide variety of things to drink. However, I really enjoy their sessionable offerings like the Elbow Bender Kölsch-Style beer, MN Wild Rice Lagerbier, and the Essential Industry Pils. When I am in the darker mood, they have a sensational brown ale and the best American Barleywine in the world. They are expanding in an off-site location in a time when production breweries are a big risk.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative-Minneapolis, MN
Routinely on my short list of must-visits, Fair State Brewing Cooperative is fantastic. They are always pushing the envelope on styles and flavors. What I love about them is they continue to showcase a variety of beers that people love. Their Mirror Universe (Hazy IPA), Pils, and Crankin’ Foamers are all delicious, but they always have something awesome that is new to try. They are a cooperative brewery and their members’ faces are festooned on the walls of the taproom.
As a person of color, the only thing I don’t love about Fair State is the lack of diversity represented in their membership photos on the wall. I know that they are wanting to be inclusive, but seeing pictures of faces that are 98% white is detrimental to this aim. I would encourage Fair State to rethink how they visually celebrate their members.
Falling Knife Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
Falling Knife Brewing does a lot of things well. I like how they are able to scratch the itches of both trendy craft beer drinkers and the old curmudgeons like me who enjoy classic styles done well. I also believe the Tomm’s is a revelation and a way to invite folks who are intimidated by craft beer into the fold. I think that if I am going to have a pastry stout, it will probably be here because they are brewed masterfully.
Fulton Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
Fulton Brewing has been a mainstay of Minneapolis craft beer since taprooms were a thing. They are an anchor to the North Loop’s craft beer network and a wonderful place to gather for a Twins game. Their tap list has a great mix of old standbys and new things they are brewing. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the beers they pour and that always elevates the experience.
HeadFlyer Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
HeadFlyer Brewing in Northeast Minneapolis does a nice job of straddling the line between trends and classics. Their hazy IPA game is on-par with other notable breweries mentioned earlier. Yet, they also give homage to malt, a consistently under-appreciated ingredient in beer. The Beyond the Door series is creative and fun. Their BAMF’D series of barrel-aged imperial stouts are some of the best in the state. The folks behind the beer are quality humans and they deserve all the good things that come their way.
Insight Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
When Insight Brewing opened, I became intrigued by their variety of beers. I purchased a membership and was really excited. Over the years, their brewers have changed and so many of the beers I initially fell in love with faded away. While Gravity Well has been a constant, they have evolved over the years, sometimes in a way that I didn’t always enjoy.
Over the last couple of years, I feel they have really found their footing again as one of my favorite places to go. Their tap list is balanced and always has rotating things that are more of a nod to classic styles. Their GABF gold medal-winning Avant is reason enough for me to come in and say hello. One huge constant at Insight has been the awesomeness of their taproom staff. When I stop in, no matter who is behind the bar, I am always greeted with a smile. That means a hell of a lot to me.
La Doña Cervecería-Minneapolis, MN
La Doña Cerveceria is a bright and beautiful space to try beers that showcase Latino flavors and traditions. La Doña represents one of only a handful of breweries in Minnesota that are BIPOC-owned. Their Mexican Lager, Doña Fria, is my favorite, but I also enjoy Enmolada (Chili-stout) and Ecēlōtl (Barleywine). The summer is the best time to go and watch people playing soccer along with some of the food they make in-house.
Modist Brewing-Minneapolis, MN
Modist Brewing in the North Loop brews wonderful beer. Thanks to their mash filter in the brewhouse, they can brew in ways most breweries can’t. The result is inventing and mind-blowing beers that consistently deliver on flavor and texture. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an incredible team of brewers to create and brew these incredible beers. Modist is also a great place to go before a Twins game thanks to their close proximity to Target Field.
Summit Brewing-Saint Paul, MN
If there is a Mount Rushmore of craft beer in Minnesota, Summit Brewing Company’s owner Mark Stutrud is on there. Summit doesn’t chase trends, and they set the bar when it comes to quality and consistency in beer. Their iconic Summit EPA is a revered favorite adored by many. I also love their Twins Pils (Formerly Keller Pils) and find it quite hilarious that it is selling like crazy since it was renamed and associated with the Minnesota Twins. While I miss the Unchained Series and Union Series beers, I understand that a brewery brew beers that hurt the bottom line. Whenever I see Summit EPA on tap, I know that there will be at least one beer that I can order and be wowed.
Town Hall Brewery-Minneapolis, MN
Town Hall Brewery turned 25 this year. In a changing Minnesota craft beer landscape, Town Hall Brewery is embedded in the terroir of it all. An incubator and starting point for so many brewers who have gone on to be head brewers elsewhere, Town Hall Brewery remains steadfast in their vision of producing quality beer despite what the trends say they should do. The beers I love here are too many to list. With Pete Rifakes and Mike Hoops steadily steering the ship through the turbulent waters of the last few years, it is not outside the realm of possibility that they will continue on as a beacon of quality and hospitality.
Recently, Derek Brown has been elevated into the Head Brewer role with aplomb. I could not be happier for Derek because he has definitely earned his stripes. Derek has a rare combination of knowledge and humility that is rare amongst the greats in the industry. He will bring his passion and creativity to their tap list while still maintaining the platinum standard of quality that Town Hall Brewery fans have come expect with every sip they enjoy.
There have been countless members of the Minnesota craft beer scene who spent time at Town Hall Brewery over the years. The fun thing about our wonderful beer community is that people never forget their Town Hall roots. In fact, you never know which former Town Hall Brewer you will find hiding out in the cavernous depths of the brewery. Above is one of my favorite beer pictures because it looks like Aaron Herman is having a party, and Derek Brown busted him for being too loud.
This is my top five favorite places to go. No matter what time of year, what is on tap, and who is working, these breweries are my home-away-from-home places. I am unapologetically smitten with these sensational Minnesota craft breweries.
5-Bad Weather Brewing-St. Paul, MN
4-Summit Brewing-St. Paul, MN
3-Bent Paddle Brewing-Duluth, MN
2-Lupulin Brewing Company-Big Lake, MN
1-Town Hall Brewery-Minneapolis, MN