Minnesota’s Best Breweries and Brewpubs: Searching for the Perfect Pint

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I want the beer that you can sit there and enjoy. Jason Sowards above is Harriet Brewing. After homebrewing seriously for nearly two years, making beer became an obsession. And making beer professionally became a goal. Sowards had enrolled in a course at the American Brewers Guild but was forced to withdraw when he was laid off from his engineering job.

However, unemployment has allowed him to focus on getting the brewery up and running.

Minnesota's best breweries and brewpubs : searching for the perfect pint, Robin Shepard

Since losing his job he has written a business plan, scouted a location, chosen equipment, and started the legal applications. Being unemployed, it occurred to me that this is the time to start the brewery. This is the opportunity. In designing the brewery, Sowards is putting his engineering skills to good use. He wants to make Harriet Brewing a poster child for environmental responsibility. It causes me not to pay attention to process.

I try to have the mindset that brew days are sacred. I try to focus on doing a perfect brew every time I brew. Harriet Brewing will launch with two year-round beers, a double IPA and a pilsner. These will be supported by a range of rotating seasonal including hefeweizen, doppelbock, saison, Baltic porter, and a tripel. When will we see these beers in bars? Ultimately as fast as I possibly can. Minnesota has become an attractive market to brewers. In addition to the boom in local breweries, a number of regional and national craft brands have begun distribution here.

While this may be exciting for beer drinkers, it poses a dilemma for start-ups; how do they differentiate themselves in an increasingly flooded beer market? I posed this question to each of the brewers I interviewed. Aside from Leech Lake Brewing, whose very existence in small town Walker makes them unique, they all gave very similar answers. In every instance they cited the growing market for craft beer as a reason for optimism.

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Craft beer sales increased 10 percent last year despite declines in the beer market overall. For these would-be brewers, an expanding market means there is room for at least one more. They are also counting on the support that Minnesota beer drinkers give to local brewers.

While these things may be true, a growing market is not limitless and craft beer drinkers are famously fickle. None of these brewers-to-be directly addressed how they would make their beers stand out in the crowd. I guess the future will tell. I, for one, am looking forward to welcoming them into the Minnesota beer scene. Visit Website Michael Agnew. Some of the post-Surly upstarts have been pretty blah or just plain bad.

The positive effect Surly had on the MN beer scene aside from their own product was getting Summit and Schell to raise their game and in showing out of state brewers that the market was ready for them.


If I want a pale ale, IPA, porter or pils the choices are vast. Good luck with that as a business model. Thank you all! Mmmhmm Harriet Brewing!

Minnesota Fall Brewcations

Keep it up. I completely agree with Brian that several of the local upstarts have been lackluster and it is reflected unverified in their business results. Contrary to your beliefs, however, I believe a sound business model which focuses on quality and continuous improvement throughout their processes will succeed ala the megaton Surly. Best of luck to all these startup breweries mentioned in the article. Certainly the business community is starting to take real notice of the craft beer scene.

The media coverage has been steadily increasing for several years. With all due respect to Surly, their existence has no effect on what we do at Schells. To flatly state that they were the cause of any changes here is a logical fallacy…and a bit insulting. The Schell lineup at the time Surly launched was solid and a bit underappreciated but not all that inspired.

The same could be said about Summit. Be nice ;. What am I missing? Give it one more year and see….. Way to say, Dave Berg!


How soon we forget! It was a big hit with my roommates and me. If you want to chat without the peanut gallery you can PM me at BA. This is a great article.

Hop To It: Brewery Wedding Venues | Minnesota Bride

They have 4 times as many breweries in WI compared to MN. Very disappointed in this purchase, but I did learn that I need to check the copyright date before my next purchase. February 1, - Published on Amazon. April 23, - Published on Amazon. This book is a must for anyone that enjoys fine crafted beer. Go to Amazon.

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Discover the best of shopping and entertainment with Amazon Prime. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery on millions of eligible domestic and international items, in addition to exclusive access to movies, TV shows, and more. Back to top. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Their locations allow for three pleasant day trips with stops that loop you out of the city and then back again.

Begin the first trip by heading southwest to Waconia. The first stop is also one of the most picturesque. Seven acres of grapevines border the landscaped patio that features bocce courts and tree-shaded tables. They host regular events and classes in the taproom and the vineyards, including Highland Games, yoga and painting classes. There are typically eight to 10 beers on tap in varying styles. They change frequently, so check the website for the current selection. One of the better brews on my visit was Smoking Aces Porter, a lightly smoked black beer with notes of caramel, bitter chocolate and licorice.

Also nice was Mocha Monkey, an English-style brown ale made with cold-press coffee from a Waconia coffee shop of the same name. But they can sell growlers. They give a free pint with every growler purchase.