Browsing Tag


Copper Trail Brewing

June 21, 2021

The first brewery we took our daughter Ellen to was Copper Trail Brewing. She was a week old. Any parents reading know that you can’t drive too long until they get hungry. One of our stops lined up with Alexandria and the brewery wasn’t far off the highway. The old location was in strip mall, nothing remarkable but warm and inviting. When I saw pictures of their new taproom downtown we wanted to return. This time we had two newborns: our son Arlo and his cousin Henry.

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22 Northmen Brewing Company

June 8, 2021

“We’re going to have to stop soon” I said to my wife, my eyes darting into the rear view. When I was a boy scout we learned you should hike at the slowest person’s pace. Another adage could be that you can only road trip at the pace of the weakest bladder – our potty-trained toddler dictated our stops. My wife flipped her visor and peered into the mirror. “Yah, she’s squirming and he’s waking up” she responded. “What about there?” She pointed to a billboard for 22 Northmen Brewing Company. Kismet.

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Surly Brewing Co.

June 3, 2021

When you are parents of a toddler, you take advantage of the rare night alone. We were one month away from welcoming another little one so those nights were about to get rarer. Pair that with the pandemic and you can understand our headspace. It was likely that a late night in June would be the last chance we’d have to spend a night together. It’s was a date night at Surly Brewing Co.

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Portage Brewing Company

June 1, 2021

I stepped out of the car, the sun beating on my skin. The mask added a few extra degrees of heat to my bearded face. As my wife wrestled my daughter out of her car seat, I gazed across the street at our destination. A brilliant blue building rising from the street, with a glimpse of Leech Lake on the horizon. It took close to four hours in the car – an eternity with a crabby toddler – but we’d made it. It was time for craft beer from Portage Brewing Company.

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Minnesota Craft Beer: Best of 2020

May 10, 2021
Tap Traveler Drinking

What a crazy year for craft beer – and every other aspect of our lives. I took a serious step back in 2020. Between COVID-19 limiting travel opportunities, the birth of my son, a growing daughter, and starting a full renovation of a circa 1870s farmhouse, beer took a back seat. Yet I still had great craft beer memories and writing these awards can be cathartic. Let’s go!

A quick reminder of the stipulations. Every award must go to a brewery that I visited in the calendar year. I won’t give a brewery the same award two years in a row. If I’m missing one of your favorites I’d love to hear about it.

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Minnesota Craft Beer: Best of 2019

January 17, 2020
Tap Traveler at the State Fair

I can’t believe this is the fourth year I’ve given these awards. This year was especially hard, because I shifted down a gear on my in-state travels. I began 2019 with a resolution to count my calories (not great for beer). Shortly after that my toddler found her legs and combined it with boundless energy. We also took three trips out of state, where most of my drinking this year took place. Even so, I visited more than enough to put together this list.

A quick reminder at the stipulations. Each award must go to a brewery that I visited in the calendar year and I won’t give a brewery the same award two years in a row. At this point I’ve visited over 100 Minnesota breweries and written about most of them. I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the scene, but if I’m missing your favorites I’d love to hear about them. On to the awards!

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The Brewing Projekt

October 28, 2019

We had checked out. Our road trip took us through along the entire north shore of Lake Superior. Through Ontario, into the upper peninsula of Michigan, and then the heart of Wisconsin. We’d been going downhill the past couple of days, putting miles behind us in our quest to return home. Eau Claire was our final night and The Brewing Projekt was a “bucket list” brewery that we had to visit.

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OutSpoken Brewing

October 3, 2019

We were on the last leg of our road trip. We entered Canada near Thunder Bay, and we planned to exit into Michigan through Sault Ste. Marie. Ontario was magnificent and the Trans-Canada Highway was one of the best drives we’ve ever taken. Forest, rivers, lakes, cliffs, and hundreds of miles of smooth traffic-free highway. It wasn’t time to say goodbye; Ontario deserved one last night. We pulled up to OutSpoken Brewing to begin our farewell.

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Lupulin Brewing Company

September 26, 2019

I’ve written about craft beer for four years. That’s about as long as I’ve been drinking it. I don’t remember a lot of beers from the first couple of years. My palate wasn’t developed, most beers tasted similar, and I had a hard time differentiating good beer from bad. One of the pursuits we attempted in those early days was to complete the Northern Ale Guide. When there is a t-shirt at stake, I’ll do anything. I recall bouncing around the state on a cold December weekend trying to get the last few stamps in the book. There was one brewery that we visited that didn’t make much of an impression. This summer I wanted to see how my tastes have changed after four years in the hobby. On a drizzly summer afternoon I pulled into the parking lot of Lupulin Brewing Company to see what I had missed.

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Ashby Brewing Company

September 23, 2019

There is something intriguing about a small town brewery. It summons the past, a time when breweries dotted the country. When locals would gather in the park after Sunday mass and enjoy a refreshing mug of the area’s lager with friends and family. When I hear that a brewery has opened in a town with a population of less than 500, I can’t help myself. It’s even more appealing when they are only open for a handful of hours a week. Ashby Brewing Company is the latest nano-brewery to provoke a visit.

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