This week thousands of folks working in craft beer will descend on Minneapolis, MN, for the annual Craft Brewers Conference. This is America’s largest craft beer industry gathering of the year. So there must be a reason that the Brewer’s Association chose the largest city in Minnesota as the spot for one of their first in-person events of the year. Because despite what people may think of the Midwest, Minnesota is actually a real treasure trove, full of James Beard Award-winning restaurants, renowned music clubs (hello, First Avenue), top-rated taprooms, and Prince.
Okay, I should probably make a disclaimer here: Although I live in Oakland, CA, I was born in Minneapolis, so I may be a bit biased. But I’ve seen the city grow so much in the past thirty-three years, driven largely by an influx of amazing breweries.
The Land of 10,000 Beers
Look, Minnesota earned the nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (it’s actually 14,380, according to the MNDNR database. Although, who’s counting?), but maybe we should change it to “Land of 10,000 Beers.”
As of 2020, according to the Brewers Association, 271 breweries called Minnesota home—good enough to rank 15th in the country for most breweries. Not too shabby for a Midwestern state huh?
Plenty of reasons exist to visit Minnesota.
You could be catching a show at the historic rock venue First Avenue, heading up to the Boundary Waters for a camping adventure along Lake Superior (the second largest lake in the world by surface area), or going fishing or boating on one of the almost 15,000 lakes.
Or you could be enjoying all the fried food on a stick you can handle at the Minnesota State Fair (the second largest in the country behind only Texas), journeying up to the start of the mighty Mississippi River (fun fact: it takes a raindrop 91 days to travel from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico), or for some crazy reason braving the Minnesota winter to ski or snowshoe.
Regardless of how you spend your time in Minnesota, make sure you add one or two of these breweries onto your must-stop list.
If you can’t tell by now, I know a lot of random facts about Minnesota because I love my home state. I’d visit for any of the reasons above, but the breweries that have cropped up in the North Star State have now made it a drinking destination in its own right.
And hey, I’m not the only one that agrees, right? Thank you, Brewers Association, for giving Minnesota the love it deserves.
The 12 Best Breweries in Minnesota
755 Prior Ave N, St. Paul, MN | (651) 808-0747
Photo by Louis Livingston-Garcia
Sort of a hidden gem in the craft beer scene, BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul, MN, is owned and operated by the Johnson family. These are warm, genuine, hard-working folks who emulate what it means to be “Minnesota nice.”
Happy people make happy beer. And the beer here is certainly phenomenal, ranging from the crazy to the hype to the classic. For instance, Wild Times, a bourbon, rum and wine barrel-aged golden sour with passionfruit that looks more like an orange wine. Or Strata & Chill, a single-hop cold IPA. Or Well Received, a funky foeder pilsner with Riwaka.
Plus, the taproom space is exquisite. Built into an old canning factory, BlackStack’s renovated space includes 20,000 sq ft of an “industrial cathedral-meets-modern museum,” as the brewery writes on its website. Here you’ll find board games aplenty, trivia nights, live music, and sports games on the huge screen.
Wandering into BlackStack is like coming home. It’s warm and comforting, and every beer is served up with a smile. Happy people make happy beer, and we promise you’ll be happy here.
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