In 2016, Northfield and nearby Dundas had no breweries. Now, there are three. The past few years have seen an eruption of breweries across Southern Minnesota. Northfield represents a particularly concentrated part of the larger trend.
Imminent Brewing, Tanzenwald Brewing and Chapel Brewing all opened in Northfield/Dundas in 2017. All of them, relatively small-scale, offer something a little different.
Imminent, located in part of an old armory building, boasts large glass garage doors with a beautiful indoor and outdoor seating mix, great for hosting food trucks and music. It’s a gathering place with local brews on offer.
Tanzenwald, just blocks away from Imminent, feels more like a restaurant. With a German-inspired menu boasting a number of locally-sourced ingredients – both in beer and food – it’s a place for small groups to come in and get all their eating and drinking needs taken care of in one place.
Chapel Brewing brings the ultimate cozy pub feel to the table. It’s a small building with a small patio overlooking the Cannon River. It’s a perfect place to just spend some time chatting and drinking with friends.
Laura Meyers, co-owner of Imminent Brewing, describes the decision to open a brewery as “the answer to a need” in the community. This need even inspired the name of the brewery. Laura said, “Literally, someone even said to us, ‘A brewery in Northfield is imminent.’”
The appeal of Imminent, Tanzenwald, Chapel and similar breweries is that “It isn’t a bar,” Meyers said. “[People] want a place that people can stop in on the way to the grocery store, a place where they can bring their kids, their parents, their grandparents … People are looking for a European model of drinking.” They want to spend time in a space resembling a European pub more than a bar.
This desire for communal spaces and high-quality beer is present nationwide, but Southern Minnesota offers a unique instance of the trend. Because Southern Minnesota is composed of mostly rural communities, it lacks the busy culture and social spaces of metropolitan areas.
Breweries cater to small town life. And, according to Laura, the rural locale of Southern Minnesota’s breweries might start factoring into the brewing itself. One of the most promising things about Southern Minnesota brewing is “the idea that we could eventually get to farm everything locally.” In the future, hops and grain might be grown mere miles from where they’re brewed.
Between communal need and agricultural potential, Southern Minnesota appears to be a great location for brewing and drinking craft beer.
So let’s go on a tour of some of the options out there, starting in Northfield and Dundas:
Imminent Brewing // Northfield
Imminent Brewing sports a stylish, industrial taproom, large enough to accommodate quite the crowd of beer lovers. The brewery features frequent musical guests and an array of community events like yoga and painting classes. Imminent has numerous beers with quirky names like “The Quick and the Red” and “Knockin’ On Hefen’s Door.” At Imminent, personality flows as freely as the beer.
Tanzenwald // Northfield
Tanzenwald offers a uniquely German brewery experience. Many of the beers are twists on traditional German styles. The brewery also provides an extensive food menu, with treats ranging from pretzels to bratwurst. There are even German speaking events every week!
Chapel Brewing // Dundas
Located in an old Dundas church, Chapel Brewing offers a uniquely intimate beer drinking experience. It boasts a cozy taproom and outdoor seating overlooking the Cannon River. Chapel features a wide variety of brews on tap, with styles rotating regularly.
F-Town Beer Company // Faribault
Faribault’s premier brewery. F-Town is housed in the historic Peterson Art Building Complex. F-Town Beer Company features a tap room with a healthy selection–12 beers on tap at any given time! The brewery is a larger scale operation than most others on this list. Their beer is being distributed regionally, and they have plans to open another taproom in St. Paul.
Angry Inch // Lakeville
Angry Inch offers an impressive 9 beers on tap, in addition to craft root beer. Located in historic downtown Lakeville, the taproom is industrial yet homey. Angry Inch brews several less-common styles of beer, like Mexican lager and Belgian brandywine. Come for a great beer selection, and trivia on Tuesday nights!
Lakeville Brewing Company // Lakeville
Lakeville Brewing Company is not just a brewery, but a brewpub. LBC is a restaurant. They have lunch and dinner fare, as well as a full bar for those craving something besides craft beer. In addition to food and drink, the brewpub features live music every Thursday, happy hour on weekdays, and a large outdoor space for lawn games.
Mankato Brewery // Mankato
Established in 2012, Mankato Brewery provides quality, creative beer. For example, the “Hopbiscus IPA,” an IPA brewed with hibiscus flowers. Brewery tours are offered on Saturdays, while the taproom is open 7 days a week. Come sample the beer and enjoy regular live music!
Forager Brewery // Rochester
Forager is a foodie’s brewery. In addition to their extensive taplist, Forager maintains a restaurant with a full menu of hip dishes made from local ingredients. Even their beers are brewed from local ingredients! Forager spotlights regional hops and grains in their brewing. Come to relax and truly taste Southern Minnesota.
Grand Rounds Brewing // Rochester
Grand Rounds Brewing features a rotating weekly lineup of beers. There’s always something new to try! The taproom offers a robust food menu with fare especially appropriate for pairing with beer: wings, burgers, pizza, and more. Grand Rounds even has a full bar for those uninterested in beer.
Kinney Creek Brewery // Rochester
The oldest brewery on our tour, Kinney Creek opened just two days after the end of prohibition in 1938. Along with the history, Kinney Creek offers a generous selection of beers from “Limestone Lager” to “Across the Tracks IPA.” The taproom hosts all kinds of events like trivia and mug decoration night.
Island City Brewing Company // Winona
Just a few months over a year old, Island City Brewing Company is the first brewery in Winona since the 1960s. On tap, ICBC currently features several fruit focused brews (among more standard beers), like the Cellar Bear Blackberry Saison and the Blood Orange IPA. The taproom puts on unique events like “Metal Mondays” and “Reel Brew Nights” (movie events with beer!).
By Linden Smith