Beer weekend: Bike Minneapolis taprooms
July/August 2014 | By Michael Agnew


Saddle up and hit Minneapolis’ best beer spots on two wheels.

When the snow’s gone, Minneapolis blossoms into one of the best places for bikes and brews: Routes crisscross the metropolis, making it easy and pleasant to pedal from one beer destination to the next. Plus, summer sunlight sticks around until 10 o’clock, so you can ride late into the evening to take on the taps.

DAY ONE: Start the afternoon at the intimate taproom of Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park, a first-ring suburb west of Minneapolis. Brewer Jason Schoneman crafts top-notch Pacific Northwest style ales heavy on the hop aromatics; his spectacular Size 7 is the best IPA in the state. From Steel Toe it’s a 10-mile ride past hundred-year-old homes, manicured gardens and Lakes Calhoun and Harriet before turning east to follow a wooded, parkland trail along Minnehaha Creek to Lake Nokomis and on to Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub. Everything’s smoked—even the delightful porter. Go straight for the smoked porketta sandwich (a juicy mound of pork smoked 18 hours, topped with smoked Swiss), the “huh?” egg salad (one bite, and you’ll get it!) and a side of onion rings with doughnut-like breading. A quick, 1.5-mile ride north takes you to your final destination, the taproom of Harriet Brewing in the working-class Longfellow neighborhood. With brightly colored walls and a laidback, hippy vibe it’s a happy place to end your ride. Sip a West Side Belgian-Style IPA on the patio while grooving to the live jazz or bluegrass music that happens every night.

DAY TWO: Brunch at The Freehouse brewpub, where a pork belly Benedict, lobster toad-in-the-hole and beer-grain pancakes make equally good foundations for the chocolaty No. 4 Stout. Ride a half-mile to Fulton Brewery’s taproom, perfectly pitched in the shadow of Target Field and fueled by a friendly crowd of diehard Twins fans. Everyone here roots for the Sweet Child of Vine, hoppy enough to be an IPA, but with a solid, sweetish malt backbone. Take in a game, then it’s a 3-mile ride east along the Mississippi River on the West River Parkway, past the historic Mill Ruins Park (center of the flour industry that built the city in the 19th century), and the old Grain Belt beer sign opposite the river at the Hennepin Avenue Bridge. Jog over to Washington Avenue and make your way to the newly remodeled Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, the oldest brewpub in the Twin Cities and still its best. Join the eclectic crowd sipping on Masala Mama IPA. Walk your wheels around the corner to the Cedar Avenue location of stellar, bustling beer bar Republic and refuel with house-made sausages, chicken-chorizo tacos and taps from Minnesota brewers unreachable by two wheels—Bent Paddle and Bad Weather among them.

DAY THREE: Trade bike pedals for sample paddles on a taproom crawl of the Northeast brewery district; at under 2 miles, you won’t need your bike shorts. Start at Dangerous Man Brewing, recently named the Twin Cities’ top taproom by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A hipster hot spot, the window-lined, high-ceilinged space keeps it from feeling crowded, and the velvety Chocolate Milk Stout is a must. A .8-mile ride along Northeast 15th Avenue leads you to Indeed Brewing’s stately taproom. Oak-paneled walls and tables carved with the signatures of luminaries like Theodore Roosevelt evoke a lumber baron’s clubroom; head out to the sunny beer garden to sip a Shenanigans Summer Ale. Call ahead to 612 Brew to see if there’s a concert on the patio; if so, swing by for a Rated R Rye IPA. End the weekend a few blocks away at Sociable Cider Werks’ rustic taproom. The cidery embraces hops and grains to provide the bitterness and structure Midwestern table apples lack; the pitch-black Spoke Wrench Stout Cider is a gem that makes a tasty transition from chocolaty roast to crisp apple tartness.

Published July/August 2014