N. Minnesota Brewery Impressions

Discussion in 'Midwest' started by ZAP, Mar 9, 2013.

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  1. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,398) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    This is for breweries/brewpubs north of St. Cloud that I have tried. Rated from best to worst for their beer....not service, etc. Includes bordering cities like Fargo and Superior. Score is (1-10...10 is best)

    1.Fitger's: No question the king. Solid regulars and top notch rotating offerings. Today I picked up growlers of their India Brown Ale, 1100 Wheat Wine ,and Minnesota Nice...a new single hop pale ale, lower ABV but packed with flavor. I guess they will be rotating the hops. This one is Sorachi Ace which kicks ass in my opinion....The Wheat Wine is awesome as well....they do top notch barrel aged beers....I could go on and on...they are the standard....Score=10

    2 (tie). Canal Park: Saw some really bad reviews on google and debated on even stopping. I am glad I did. They have an outstanding IPA I figured I would like as I really like Simcoe and also have a fondness for Palisade hops which are the two hops used. Also tried their Red Wheat and it was top notch as well....nice yeastiness to it....not sure on the rest but based on this IPA alone for me I had to put it #2 Score=8

    2 (tie) Bemidji Brewing: I've had all their offerings except their sour (not my thing anyhow) and they are really top notch. In fact perhaps I should have this brewery #2 by itself. I love their pale ale......a lot of character for a lower ABV beer.....their English Pub Ale is a perfect example of a lower ABV beer loaded with flavor....their porter is well done but a bit dry for my tastes....they did a Belgian as well that off the top of my head I liked a lot...Would love to see a top notch IPA from this group. Score=8

    4. Jackpine Brewing (Brainerd): Solid offerings. Clean and well made. Pale Ale is decent but more basic. Not in the same league as Bemidji's but nothing to sneeze at. I actually enjoyed their Nut Brown a little more....again...good craftmanship....nice malty flavor....lower ABV and a nice sessionable ale...curious to see this place add a more assertive offering as the two I had were well made. Score=7

    5.Fargo Brewing (ND): They put out a solid IPA (Woodchipper) on draft...the bottles of the same beer I had were not as good, almost infected....on draft though it is a good solid workman like IPA...also had their hefe on tap last summer and it was well done. Looking forward to seeing what they do now that they will be brewing in ND and not at Sand Creek, WI. Score=6

    6. Thirsty Pagean(Superior, WI): Hit or miss. Had their doppel today and it was good upfront but had an odd finish to it which I have experienced before here. Their IPA is not in the league of the others but decent enough that I picked up a growler.....a bit too inconsistent for my liking. Score=5 (BTW: nothing inconsistent about their pizza...one of the best I have had anywhere!)

    7. Leech Lake Brewing (Walker): I HAVE had some really good beers from this place. In fact I may have reviews saying so. But the more I drink their beer the more "off/infected" beers I hit. I won't buy it anymore except the occasional pint I see. I've even had "sour/off" beer right in their tap room. The locals don't know any better. Like I said when "ON" this is pretty good stuff in some instances.....The 3 Sheets is a nice Old Ale (when not infected) but certainly not a DIPA. When ON it is probably my favorite beer of theirs although their porter and stout are also good when ON....I also hate the fact the brewer shows no creativity with hops and uses fuggles exclusively....nothing wrong with the hop but come on..Score=4 (balancing the good with the bad...Good=6/7, Bad=1)

    8. Brainerd Brewing: Not real impressed here and I almost expect this place to fall by the wayside with all the competition......dumbed down offerings that are not made that well. Contract brewed at lake Superior last I checked....I won't buy their beer anymore. Score=2

    Forgot Lake Superior.....solid beers usually...I would say they would fit in the 2-to-4 range......with a score of 7-to-8
    garymuchow, Chaz and Sender like this.
  2. runfoodrun

    runfoodrun Aspirant (229) Jun 18, 2008 Minnesota

    I'd argue that Fitgers in one of the best in the state regardless of location.

    Had the IPA at Canal Park last weekend, thought it was solid, but not great. Also had the Triple, which I enjoyed.
  3. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    I had a flight at Canal Park and I really liked everything they had. The IPA was really nice, resinous and chewy.

    Don't forget Borealis Fermentary, really good Belgian style stuff. Castle Danger is decent too.
    djschnabel likes this.
  4. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,398) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah I have heard good things but haven't tried them yet.
  5. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,398) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Oh yeah without a doubt...
    mnstorm99 likes this.
  6. GFG

    GFG Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 North Dakota

    I'm also interested in seeing what Fargo Brewing will do. The Woodchipper is alright but I haven't been much of a fan of their other beers. Stone's Throw has been out for quite awhile now on tap and it's very blah for me. I would rather they would be a brewpub and make many offerings, then when they have some that sell really well, roll those out in bottles.

    LIQUORBARREL Initiate (0) Oct 16, 2009 Minnesota

    BB ED -(in Baron Von Raschke's voice) thats is all the north country needs to know.
    Hopsiam14 likes this.
  8. Hopsiam14

    Hopsiam14 Devotee (456) Jan 23, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Fitger's is the bomb. Thank you, please come again :wink:
    LIQUORBARREL likes this.
  9. BeerNutz324

    BeerNutz324 Aspirant (212) Sep 20, 2011 Iowa

    I know I am being captain obvious but Fitgers is great. Not only is their beer wonderful but we have never been disappointed in the food either. Fish tacos or the black bean burger with beer battered fries and you will not be led astray. We go there everytime we are in Duluth.
  10. hmgway

    hmgway Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2010 Minnesota

    Zap, you missed a winner just north of your travels. Castle Danger Brewery, great offerings. Yeah, Fitgers is top notch for sure. Quaint little place on the lake.
  11. NuclearDolphin

    NuclearDolphin Initiate (0) Sep 9, 2011 Minnesota

    I've had their Speckled Ghost, it is quite delicious! Since the brewery is so small, you can tell Ken put a lot of love into making the beer. It's not perfect but definitely worth checking out!
  12. onenut

    onenut Initiate (130) Aug 16, 2007 Minnesota

    Mon Cherries, from Borealis Fermentary, is excellent.
  13. lit202

    lit202 Aspirant (241) Feb 8, 2011 Minnesota

    A real big fan of fitgers cherry batch. Really enjoyed the speckled ghost from borealis. I had some of the castle danger stuff at a beerfest recently. I really liked all the offerings, but don't remember specifics anymore. Can't wait to give it another try though!
  14. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (2,995) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois

    # 1 is easy – Fitgers. I stay at the attached Hotel 2 or more times per year. Makes for an easy commute!
    I have enjoyed the Thirsty Pagan and was impressed with Carmody.
    Props also to the Boat House in Ely for my last beers before entering the Boundary Waters.
  15. incutrav

    incutrav Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2007 Minnesota

    Dubrue wasnt mentioned, but the product I have tried from them was pretty average.
  16. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    Put me in the camp that says Fitger's might be the best in the state, but there is a lot of great beer brewed in this state now. I'll be trying Canal park for the first time in a couple weeks, and am very excited for Bent Paddle to open.
    I like the vibe of Thirsty Pagan more than the beer itself, which is good (not great).
    Bemidji, Jackpine and Fargo are all on my radar...but I am having a hard time keeping up with all of the new breweries in the cities. Hell, I can't even get out of my neighborhood (Nordeast).
  17. JZossMPLS

    JZossMPLS Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013 Minnesota

    Well, there's so much going on in Nordeast that it's hard to want to leave!
  18. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,398) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Not sure why but I found the Canal Park much better on tap than in the growler I am currently drinking from. It is still very solid and good but not elite like I thought from the pint I had at the brewery...not sure why....growler has sat for five days and was poured from the tap so perhaps it lost some vibrancy but whatever the case here is my review of it from the growler.

  19. strykebr

    strykebr Initiate (141) Apr 7, 2011 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    The two Irish pubs brewing now, didn't care for either of the offerings.

    I haven't fallen head over heels with everything Fitgers, but I LOVED the Cherry Anniversary and Edmund Fitzgerald BBA is right up there with any other stout I've ever had.

    Only had Canal Parks Stoned Surf IPA but it was the best I've had around here by far.

    Nothing has jumped out to me from Lake Superior & DuBrue.....Castle Danger is just a very long drive and have only had there stuff at brewfests.

    Thirsty Pagan has the best deep-dish Pizza in the twin ports, they are very small in comparison to the guys across the bridge so their year-round beers vary all the time. There sours are exceptional and most of the seasonals are worth a glass or too, great relaxed atmosphere.
  20. fantome

    fantome Initiate (187) Oct 4, 2003 Minnesota

    We brought a growler of IPA home only to discover that the bartender filled it with brown ale by mistake. Other than that, we really liked the place.
  21. MNPikey

    MNPikey Devotee (403) Feb 27, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I don't generally like Belgian style stuff, but Borealis Fermentary is really great. I especially like the Speckled Ghost.
  22. mjryan

    mjryan Zealot (569) Dec 22, 2007 Minnesota

    I've been to Thirsty Pagan twice, both times the beers tasted awful. The bartender was also the brewer and he said that without fermentation control there isn't much he can do about it. Yum, bitter paint thinner IPA.
  23. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    Bent paddle is impressive
    nogophers likes this.
  24. 46and2

    46and2 Initiate (152) Mar 28, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader


    Makes me want to do the 'monthly' Fitgers run with the wife tomorrow, but I'm in the middle of a cutting session!

    BB Edmund Fitzgerald on cask changed my life :grinning:
  25. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    Must have been a while ago. Their head brewer is now a woman (don't know her name), and they have greatly improved the equipment.
    Thirsty Pagan was always a tough stop for me since their beers are very hit and miss, but the pizza and dive bar feeling was always spot on. The beers have improved, still not world class, but they have started making some sours. I greatly enjoyed the Bourbon Barrel Sour Brown this past weekend, surprisingly.
    minnesotaryan likes this.
  26. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    Did a brewery tour last week up there with my step-father-in-law:
    We started at Canal Park as we had not been there yet and I really enjoyed the IPA and the ESB. My only complaint would be the use of a shot glass for the tasters...impossible to get the aroma out of that.
    We went on to Fitgers, because we always go to Fitgers, and had the cask of Hopalujia...holy shit was that good!!! Then tried their MN Nice up at Burrito Union over lunch (all fantastic).
    Proceeded to Bent Paddle (he had not been there yet), and their Cold Press Bent Black was top notch as is everything else I have had there).
    Then had the above mentioned BB sour brown at Thirsty Pagan on our way back to his place, which is about 30 miles east.
  27. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    The berliner at Fitgers is also top notch!
    Mplsmetro57 likes this.
  28. olympuszymurgus

    olympuszymurgus Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I want to try that hard.
  29. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (2,995) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois

    Agree, it is another great beer from those guys!
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