Category: Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Ten Iconic Minnesota Beers

Minnesota has a rich brewing history dating back to the mid 1800s. Breweries such as Wolf Brewing in Stillwater, Minneapolis Brewing Company, Schell’s Brewing, and Hamm’s in St. Paul paved the way for the many breweries we enjoy here today.


It’s really pretty incredible to think how large the brewing scene has become once again, especially amid a society so hell bent on counting every calorie they put in their bodies. But here we are in the middle of a pandemic—with nothing but time to reflect on what got us here.


Here are ten beers that have helped define what local brewers are capable of. Some have been around for over 50 years, and some were formulated and brewed within the last ten years.


Schell’s Pils – A classic version of what a German Pilsner should be. One could argue that this recipe was one of the better American-made versions in production the past 30 years. Clean, crisp, and refreshing—this beer could be found in most brewer’s refrigerators across Minnesota. The brewery has since dropped this from their lineup, but here’s to hoping it makes a comeback.


Summit EPA – This is the first craft beer that many Minnesotans were introduced to. Anything outside of a standard American Lager was hard to come by around here, even in the 90s when many across the country were drinking beer from Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Deschutes and many others. Mark Stutrud brought this recipe to life back in 1986 and it’s still every bit as good today.


Surly Furious – Many were skeptical when they saw this beer in 16 oz. cans (thanks Linda Haug) on the shelves of liquor stores. A hoppy red ale in cans? This revolutionized the way people thought about packaging beer here in Minnesota. Oskar Blues had been doing this since 2002, but Surly had the foresight to put their boldest beer in larger cans for sale in four packs.


Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter – Often imitated, but never duplicated, this beer has converted plenty of “non-beer drinkers” to craft beer fanatics. This is literally Minnesota’s “dessert beer” and rightfully so. It tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in liquid form, a gem amongst many imposters. Their recipe for success in Northeast is simple. Brew unique beers that people will love, and they will come and spend their money.


Minneapolis Town Hall Masala Mama – Ask any homebrewer, brewer, or beer nerd around town what their favorite IPA was 15 years ago, and they’d say it was Masala Mama. This was the best IPA recipe in the Midwest and was the brainchild of Mike Hoops who still runs the show over at their Seven Corners location. This is easily the most influential IPA ever to be born here in Minnesota.


Fulton Lonely Blonde – The craft beer for your dad, uncle, or cheap beer crushing friend. This beer is full of flavor but is approachable to all who try it. Minnesota patios sell a ton of this from April through October and year-round for that matter. This is your perfect boating beer, and one that I keep in my fridge on the regular.


Fair State Roselle – This is a perfectly executed Kettle Sour that is an ideal choice for any wine drinker or sour beer fan. Roselle is tart, fruity, and floral and it set the standard for what local brewers are doing within the sour beer category.


Steel Toe Size 7 – Before the “haze craze” people actually used to appreciate a good West Coast IPA. There is no better example of the style than the one made in St. Louis Park. This beer is far from balanced with big citrus notes and a clean finish. There’s a reason why this is their number one seller.


Grain Belt Premium – This was once brewed by the Minneapolis Brewing Company right after Prohibition ended. Now this clean, Minnesota classic adjunct lager is made by Schell’s Brewing Company who bought the recipe back in 2002. Corn and blueberry notes come through in this legendary beer which can be found at any dive bar across the Twin Cities.


Barley John’s Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale – A classic Brown Ale from one of the original brewpubs in town. Roasty malts and subtle chocolate and vanilla satisfy the palate in this classic Minnesota beer. Homebrewers in the Twin Cities have long admired this underappreciated offering, and it’s still being made some 20 years after being introduced. Find this one on tap at the brewpub located in New Brighton.



Blessing of the Maibock

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is bring back their oldest tradition this Saturday at 5pm – the Blessing of the Maibock. Reverend Aron Kramer returns yet again to bless the Maibock at Town Hall and usher in spring. This is an awesome event and we think you should go! Bonus: free maibock!


Saturday, May 4, 5 p.m. blessing, following by free maibock until 6 p.m.

Town Hall Lanes Fresh Hop Fest

Now in its 5th year, Town Hall Lanes’ Fresh Hop Fest will take place this year on Saturday, October 14. This year’s Fest will include about 30 breweries with a variety of fresh hop and other fall-inspired beers like Oktoberfest, Pumpkin, Wood-Aged, ciders and more. The event will also feature live music, food and more. Tickets to the event are  $40 and you can grab them

For Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery this marks year 12 for their fresh hop beer, Fresh Hop 100.



1–5 p.m.Saturday, October 14
Town Hall Lanes (outdoor event)
5019 South 34th Ave., Minneapolis

Participating Breweries:

  • Bad Weather Brewing Co.
  • Badger Hill Brewing Co.
  • Bent Paddle Brewing Co.
  • Boulder Beer Company
  • Castle Danger Brewery
  • Fair State Brewery Cooperative
  • Founders Brewing Co.
  • Inbound Brewing Co.
  • Indeed Brewing Co.
  • Insight Brewing Co.
  • Lake Monster Brewing Co.
  • Lift Bridge Brewing Co.
  • Loon Juice
  • Mankato Brewery
  • Milk & Honey Ciders
  • New Holland Brewery
  • North Loop Brewing Co.
  • Surly Brewing Co.
  • Sweetland Orchard

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest Saturday

As I write this, tickets are still available for Saturday’s Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. In its short history, the event has quickly become Minnesota’s premiere Winter (…er Spring?) festival with a finely-curated list of rare, one-off and specialty beers from 30 select breweries from Minnesota and across the country. Suffice to say that this event includes plenty of excellent food, entertainment and more.

I am, of course, a dumbass and won’t be there so here are Five beers I’ll really f&#@ing miss from this year’s Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival:

  • Indeed Wooden Soul: Ephemeral
  • August Schell Electric Empress
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse Tequila Barrel 1100 Wheatwine
  • Bemidji Brewing Flanders Sour Red
  • Steel Toe Brewing Before the Dawn with Tart Cherries

That being said, there are a lot of interesting beers. Learn more by checking out the program or visiting their website.

Download the program here.

Buy your tickets here.

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest, Saturday, March 11th, 7-10pm.
Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul

Town Hall Brewery Barrel-Aged Week Preview

Barrel-aged beers are trending in Minnesota and across the country. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery has always been ahead of the trends here in Minnesota winning a gold medal in 2001 at The Great American Beer Festival for their Russian Imperial Stout, Czar Jack.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is celebrating Barrel-Aged Week beginning on Sunday, February 19th at 10 am with the pre-sale of 750 ml growlers. This means that you will wait in line to get tickets which will allow you to return to the brewery the day that beer is released and pick up your growler. There will be new beers released every day of the week beginning with the Foolish Angel Series.

Barrel Selection:
The art of barrel-aging beers begins with the barrel selection process. Head brewer Mike Hoops heads down to Kentucky every year to select the whiskey barrels that he will use to concoct many of these beers. There are a multitude of factors that go into choosing the correct barrels. Most bourbon barrels are made out of white oak from the southern portion of the United States. The barrels are then “charred” which mellows the tannins found in the wood and acts as sort of a carbon filter. This will contribute to the flavor of the whiskey, and afterwards the beer stored in the barrel.

According to Town Hall head brewer Mike Hoops the barrels are an ingredient just like hops and grain. The base beer can be the same every year, but the beer will come out a little different each time. “Barrels are harder and harder to get now” says Hoops. Back in the year 2000 (the first year that he made Czar Jack) he was able to purchase that barrel from the Jack Daniels General Store. “We paid $45 for that first barrel, and $75 to ship it” he said chuckling.

One of the biggest factors is the level of humidity in the space where the barrel is stored. This often means that barrels that are stored higher up in the warehouse could be considered more desirable. Barometric pressure causes the bourbon (during first use) to penetrate deeper into the staves which creates the ideal vessel for imparting flavor into the beer during the barrel-aging process. Hoops wouldn’t elaborate on the extent of his standards but it was clear in speaking with him that the level of char, and the depth that the whiskey penetrates the staves are important in this process.

Manhattan Reserve is one of the best barrel-aged beers made at Town Hall. The story behind it is just as interesting. Hoops’ father-in-law loves a good Manhattan cocktail. Mike wanted to create those flavors in a beer and gave it a whirl. The result is nothing short of spectacular. This beer starts out as a Grand Cru on red tart cherries, and is then stored in Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey barrels for a number of months.

This is the best event put on the brewery all year so you don’t want to miss out. For the full schedule of releases, see below:

Barrel Aged Week Release Schedule 2017:

Sunday, February 19th | 10am

750ml Growler Pre-Sale | If you’re looking to take home this year’s barrel-aged releases, this is your chance! Tickets go on sale at 10am; beers can be picked up once they are released on tap.

Monday, February 20th | 5pm

  • Foolish Red | Belgian-style Quadrupel aged in French oak red wine barrels.
  • Foolish Angel | Belgian-style Quadrupel aged in bourbon barrels.
  • Single Barrel Reserve Foolish Angel | A very special single-barrel offering.

Tuesday, February 21st | 5pm

  • Manhattan Reserve | Belgian-style Grand Cru with red tart cherries, aged in bourbon barrels.

Wednesday, February 22nd | 5pm

  • Twisted Trace | American Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels.
  • E.T. Wee | Scottish-style Wee Heavy aged in bourbon barrels.

Thursday, February 23rd | 5pm

  • Eye Wine Red | Minnesota Honey Ale aged in French oak red wine barrels.
  • Eye Wine White | Minnesota Honey Ale aged in American chardonnay barrels.
  • Le Baltique | Baltic Porter aged in French oak red wine barrels.

Friday, February 24th | 5pm

  • Project 3106 | Belgian-style Strong Brown Ale with kumquat and chocolate, aged in bourbon barrels.
  • Buffalo Bock | German-style Weizenbock aged in bourbon barrels.

Saturday, February 25th | 11am

  • Czar Jack | The grandaddy of them all. Russian Imperial Stout aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels.