The boom of the craft beer industry has brought about a resurgence of breweries and taprooms in our own backyard. No matter what your preference, from stout to IPA, alcoholic or non, there is sure to be a drink for you just waiting to be poured. From decades old breweries to the new kids on the block, Southern Minnesota is overflowing with delicious brews and delectable edible pairings.
Grab a (responsible) friend, and let’s take a tour of Southern Minnesota’s finest breweries from East to West. Note: if you are coming from the West, this collection of brews tastes just as delicious.
Let’s start our tour in Marshall at Brau Brother’s Brewery. With house made sodas and a full menu, there is a treat for every taste. Pop in for happy hour and a brew from the tap room’s signature red fire truck tap, or grab a growler to go. Don’t forget to check out the festivities at the 3rd annual Hopfest the weekend of September 8-10th.
Next up we’ll head over to the famous August Schell Brewing Co. in New Ulm. The original brewery was built in 1860, and is still going strong today brewing Minnesota classics. Stop in for a sampling at the beer garden, or to get the full experience, take a tour! Arguably one of Schell’s most famous events is Oktoberfest, which is celebrated, coincidentally enough, in October. Check out Schell’s website for the 2017 Oktoberfest schedule and admission information.
Our third stop is Mankato Brewery. Brewing sine 2012, Mankato Brewery offers a variety of seasonal and year-round beers, as well as bottled craft sodas and growlers. Do you enjoy your imbibing best with some tunes? Check out their website for a calendar of local live music. Looking to immerse yourself further in the brewing experience? Grab a pour and hop in on a Saturday tour of the facility. Mankato Brewery offers something for everyone!
Continuing east-ward, we’ll arrive at F-Town Brewing in Faribault. In the city also known for the Faribault Woolen Mill, visitors of F-Town Brewing will find a well-rounded selection of seasonal brews, as well as their core four offerings. Stop in to grab a glass in the taproom, or sign up for a tour offered on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Northfield is home to the newly opened Imminent Brewing. Imminent offers a selection of ales and porters, in sizes from flights to growlers. Be sure to check out their website for a schedule of featured caterers and live music. Tanzenwald Brewing Company is found in the heart of Northfield, and offers a deliciously German menu, a full tap of funky-named brews from light and fruity to deep and dark, and ample indoor and outdoor seating. A short drive away is Imminent Brewing. Located in a beautiful and open warehouse space, Imminent offers a selection of liquid hops, including a nitro beer infused with coffee (and really, what is better than beer and coffee?). The brewery also offers a rotating selection of food vendors and live music, so check the schedule and come ready for a good time.
After you’ve had your fill of Northfield’s best brews, we’ll head south to Mantorville and one of Minnesota’s oldest family run breweries, Stagecoach Brewing Company. With brewing roots dating back to the 1600’s in Holland, the Fyten family continues the tradition with one of the first to enter the craft beer industry in Minnesota. Stagecoach’s tour schedule will be growing with the expansion of the brewery so be sure to check out their Facebook page for details, or simply stop by your favorite liquor store and ask for their gold medal winning Stagecoach Honey Golden and bestselling Stagecoach Amber Ale. Stagecoach’s brews are also served across the street at the Historic Hubble House.
Nearing the end of our tour, we’ll head over to Rochester for three fantastic breweries. First on the docket is Forager brewery, a neighborhood gathering place for artists and brew lovers alike. Forager offers a full selection of brews, including their top selling IPAs, as well as a full menu. After you’ve had a great meal and imbibed until your heart is content, stop into the neighboring Kutzky Market for a cup of joe. Forager offers tours of their space on the second Monday of each month, and the unique option of a brewery membership. Neighbors to Forager Brewing is Kinney Creek Brewery. Grab a glass or flight of their ample beers on tap, and jump in on a game of giant Jenga. Don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a glass? Grab a growler (or two) to go. If you’re feeling hungry, check out Kinney Creek’s Facebook page for a schedule of visiting food trucks. We’ll round out the Rochester leg of our tour at LTS Brewing. LTS is gearing up to celebrate two years of brewing craft beer and sodas. Grab a glass and a cup of popcorn and head out to the patio. Check out their jam-packed schedule for live music and trivia offerings.
Winona is the penultimate stop, arriving at Island City Brewing. As their website states, Island City Brewing is committed to being a staple of the beer culture in Winona. Furry friends are welcome on their patio, so grab your pup and stop in for a refreshing glass at this newly minted gem.
Red Wing is the last stop on our brew tour, and what better place to cap off our tour than at Red Wing Brewing Company. Though the young brewpub is gearing up to celebrate their 5th anniversary this year, they proudly tote their Remmler’s Royal Brew which is brewed from a recipe from 1896 found in the files of the local historical society. Red Wing Brewing Co. not only pours a wide selection of beers, but they also offer a delicious menu including house made pizza and calzones.
Thanks for coming along to celebrate the vast landscape of Southern Minnesota’s breweries. No matter what your taste is, there is sure to be a pour that suits you and your gang. Looking for more information? Each of the locations listed has a website listing their hours and events to help you plan your visit.
In the last few years, there has been a resurgence of craft breweries and taprooms all over the country, and in parallel, an uptick in small distilleries crafting their own unique spirits. Minnesota has felt that boom with many distilleries popping up around the state.
As quoted on Fortune.com, the American Craft Spirits Association states that “10 years ago, there were roughly 50 craft distilleries in the U.S. Today, there are 769.” With an increase like that, you’re sure to find a new favorite libation right in your own backyard.
Each distillery in Southern Minnesota has their own unique style, so let’s dive right in.
First up is Loon Liquors in Northfield. When arriving at Loon Liquors, you may be concerned that you are in the wrong place. Situated in an office building, the cocktail room is far from office-like. Stepping into the room is like stepping back in time to a prohibition era speakeasy.
Belly up to the bar and order a cocktail made of Loon Liquors crafted, all organic Loonshine whiskey, Metropoligin gin, or Wheaton Barley vodka. If you’re not in the mood for a spiked beverage, have no fear, Loon Liquors also offers craft sodas.
Once your drink is in hand, grab a seat in the cocktail room, or step out onto the patio to sip and savor. As your headed to your table, don’t forget to grab a board game. In their work of creating delicious spirits, the Loon Liquor Co. works to preserve their sustainable practices. On your way out, grab a bottle of any or all of the three spirits to mix your own concoction.
It would be a mistake to not mention the newly opened distillery of note – RockFilter Distillery in the small town of Spring Grove. RockFilter’s cocktail room can be found in the historic Spring Grove Creamery building. Stop in for a visit and taste the organic bourbon and whiskey. The cozy cocktail room is the perfect place to settle in for an evening.
Departing from the craft cocktail, let’s chat about cider. Whoever said apples were made just for snacking was sorely mistaken. Head down the backroads of Dundas, and into an orchard, and you’ll find the Keepsake Cidery. Pop inside the shed to grab a glass or flight of Keepsake’s signature and seasonal ciders, which vary from sweet to dry. Don’t forget to take a look in the cooler and grab some local cheese to pair with your drink, and of course, a bottle of cider to take home. Keepsake Cidery has the most beautiful scenery to enjoy a Southern Minnesota Summer day, and one can only imagine how beautiful it becomes once the leaves change come Fall.
Last up, Southern Minnesota will welcome 10,000 Drops distillery to Faribault in Fall 2017. 10,000 Drops will feature high quality whiskey, bourbon, and rum. Check out their website for product releases and opening details as they become available.
It’s no doubt that these Southern Minnesota gems are making their mark on the work of craft spirits, with their sustainable practices, organic materials, and beautiful venues. Each distiller offers their own spin on generations old spirits, so give them all a try and you will no doubt feel the passion that goes into each batch.
By JUSTINE KRUEGER