Great Waters Brewing
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Active Beers: 36
Beer Ratings: 285
Beer Avg: 3.68
Taps: 8 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 58 | Reviews: 42 | Display Reviews Only:
4.29/5 rDev +11.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4 | $$
Great Waters Brewing Company opened back in 1997--one of the first brewpubs in the Minnesota and up until about a year ago, one of only about 4 that have remained in business over the years. The brewery is in the Historic Hamm Building on St. Peter Street in downtown St. Paul. I enjoyed walking past some of the old buildings after leaving the pub. There is a pedestrian mall that abuts Great Waters and provides an outdoor seating area for warmer weather. When we visited the temperature outside was just warming up and the Ice Patio from the Winter Carnival was just starting to melt. I would love to be served a pint at the ice bar some time! Yes we Minnesotans are incredibly weird. Parking is at several area ramps as well as metered street parking (meters are free on Sunday!)
The restaurant itself takes up a sizable area with a large bar at the entrance and a spacious dining area off to the right of the main entrance. The bar itself is no shiny newfangled bar imported from Ireland, but rather a well-used working-man's bar-top. The place has high ceilings and plenty of space to spread out in and get comfortable. One can also see the small brewery through some logoed glass behind the bar. The wall-paper and decorations are a bit dated, but not in need of desperate overhaul like some places I've been to. The ambiance fits exactly with what this place is--an unpretentious and serviceable bar and restaurant.
Where the newer brewpubs are trying unusual menus to differentiate themselves, (pizza, haute cuisine, smoked sandwiches,) Great Waters has a pretty old-school brewpub menu of sandwiches, burgers, pastas and salads. They do have some fancier items like steak and duck breast on the dinner menu as well, but I can't speak to them at this point. While I appreciate fancier foods, I'm also just as happy having a nice burger or some chicken wings with my ale! I've had food here several times over the years and have not had a bad experience with it, other than the fact that those Rasta Wings are not "Minnesota Hot", they are "Jamaica Hot!" On this most recent trip we arrived during Brunch on a Sunday and Sj got the Eggs Florentine, while I ordered the patty melt with fries. The burger was done exactly to my specifications and my meal was exactly what I was in the mood for.
Great Waters has an impressively large tap list of house brewed beers. I ordered the full sampler to try them all and ended up with 10 different beers! Their standard beers like the Saint Peter Pale, Brown Trout and Golden Prairie Blonde, were all decent and much better than I remember them. The seasonals were interesting with a very flavorful and malty O'Byrne's Irish Red leading the pack. But where the beers really shone for me were in the cask conditioned ales. Firkins and casks have been getting more popular the last few years but these guys have been serving these for over a decade now! I did not love the House Ale--it tasted a bit metallic to me--but the Joe Moment Mild and the Invidia Barleywine were very tasty and made the most of the smooth mouthfeel and warmer temp of the cask serving method. And by far the best beer I had there was the Blackwatch Oatmeal Stout. This is the beer I ordered a pint of once I had worked my way through all those samples, and may be one of the very best oatmeal stouts I've ever had!
Overall I had a very pleasant experience at Great Waters, with tasty food, many good beers, and a great time hanging out with friends. This type of place is really where the craft beer movement came from and it is worth it to pay homage to the folks who have been slowly and steadily educating our palates over all this time. If you haven't had much experience with English cask conditioned ales, you owe it to yourself to check this place out--and get a pint of that Blackwatch! Oh, and they have a nearly up to date tap list on line so you can get a good idea what's on tap before you head over!
03-17-2014 17:42:51 | More by Jackofallbrews
Great Waters Brewing in Saint Paul, MN
87 out of 100 based on 58 ratings.