Category: Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, A Minnesota Craft Beer Institution, Celebrates 19 Years

Like a "Mom" tattoo, only better. If you've ever noticed the quilted banners at the brewery that highlight Town Hall's awards, you've seen Pete's mom's work. A fitting memorial.

Like a “Mom” tattoo, only better. If you’ve ever noticed the quilted banners at the brewery that highlight Town Hall’s awards, you’ve seen Pete’s mom’s work. A fitting memorial.

Before Steel Toe Size 7, there was Masala Mama. Before Surly Darkness, there was Czar Jack, and long before barrel-aged beers were popular—Town Hall was putting beer in barrels. Nineteen years ago a young Pete Rifakes opened the doors to the Seven Corners mainstay, in hopes of bringing great beer to the Twin Cities. To say that he has accomplished that is an understatement.

At the time, brewpubs were where you went to get a great beer. Summit and Schell’s blazed the trail but you often purchased their selections at the liquor store, or at an upscale bar here in the Twin Cities. Places like Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery and Sherlock’s Home were where you went to find something different, or particularly interesting. You weren’t “hip” if you were seeking these beers out. You were probably a homebrewer or a beer geek looking for inspiration. These are the kind of people that keep head brewer Mike Hoops around after 16 years. “The nice thing [working at a brewpub] is you’ve got direct interaction with your customer base” he says. “As long as we’re making good beer they’ll keep coming in. Our growth is limited, but our fingers are the only ones on our beer. I really like this environment” said Hoops.

Mike Hoops, Barrel-Aged Week 2014. Photo: Ryan Anderson/

Mike Hoops, Barrel-Aged Week 2014. Photo: Ryan Anderson/

Brewpubs also tend to have a little more freedom to play around with different styles partly due to the batch sizes being smaller. It’s super fun making different beers” he says. “Let’s give ‘em a reason to keep coming in.”

Hoops (formerly of Fitger’s Brewhouse) was hired on in 2000 after their original brewer John Haggerty left and things could not have worked out any better. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery has since taken home 15 Great American Beer Festival medals and changed the way we think about beer here in Minnesota. Their Masala Mama IPA was the number one rated American IPA on both Beer Advocate and Rate beer for years.

To celebrate 19 years, the brewery will release Three Hour Tour Coconut Milk Stout, Mango Mama (a mango version of their influential IPA Masala Mama), along with some barrel-aged releases later in the week.

Mango Mama was born at an Indian restaurant where Hoops and some of his brewers were enjoying a meal back in 2007. They ordered their food extra spicy he remembered and they wanted to cool their mouths off. “We ordered a Mango Lassi [Indian Yogurt drink] because our mouths were burning, and the fruit sweetness mellowed out the spice.” They played with recipes and found one that worked, deciding on the name Mango Mama.

Mike HoopsHoops wondered if he could do something similar with a Stout so he played around tirelessly with different forms of coconut before finally settling on coconut chips. That beer would be called Three Hour Tour (a personal favorite of mine), a Coconut Milk Stout.

What does the future hold for Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery? “We’re starting to mess around with sours. It’s on the horizon” he says.

If there’s one thing to celebrate with the West Bank brewpub, it’s that consistency, quality, and innovation are a recipe for success. Just ask your favorite brewer, it’s where they go drink and learn about beer.

Anniversary Week Schedule:
Monday, Oct 24: Double Beer Release! Anniversary Ale & Three Hour Tour | 5pm

Tuesday, Oct 25: Anniversary Beer Dinner | 7pm

Wednesday, Oct 26: Mango Mama in Pints & Growlers (64oz growlers available) | 5pm

Thursday, Oct 27: Beer Trivia at THB with Trivia Mafia | 730pm
Thursday, Oct 27: Throwback Thursday Menu | All Day

Friday, Oct 28: Barrel Sampler (Manhattan Reserve, Twisted Trace, and Buffalo Bock) | 5pm

Saturday, Oct 29: Free Brewery Tours | 12-5PM
Saturday, Oct 29: Russian Roulette Release | 11AM


Noteworthy Beers from Autumn Brew Review 2016

With so many fantastic beers on display at the 16th annual Autumn Brew Review, it’s hard to choose favorites. Instead I’ve highlighted some that stood out. Here they are:

Whiskey Queen from Indeed Brewing – A smooth Russian Imperial Stout that delivers flavors of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, stone fruits and oak to the palate.

Twisted Zweig from Forager Brewing – This was probably my favorite beer at the festival. An Imperial Berliner Weisse aged on black currants. Sour, juicy, and extremely drinkable. You’d never know this was an 8% (ABV) beer, which is almost dangerous. This brewery has really impressed me this summer and it would be worth your while to visit them down in Rochester. I was honestly shocked that there wasn’t a line at this booth.

Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout from Dangerous Man – Smooth and creamy milk chocolate with a little bit of heat (alcohol) on the end. It’ll be fun to explore some these barrel-aged beers coming out of Dangerous Man in the coming months.

IWL from Town Hall Brewery – This wheat based lager was very heavy on my two favorite hops—Mosaic and Citra. Another fine creation by Mike Hoops and his team of brewers over at the Seven Corners brewery. There’s a reason it’s the first place I take anyone new to the Twin Cities.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout from NorthGate – Dark stone fruits, chocolate, and bourbon dominated the flavor profile of this one. Nice example of the style for a brewery that focuses on British ales. This one stood out among the many other Imperial Stouts available at ABR.


Minneapolis Cider Week Celebrating 6 Years

The cider scene in Minnesota has been growing over the years and for the sixth time the fermented apple beverage will be celebrated for an entire week from June 6th – 11th. Minneapolis Town Hall will host the event once again and to kick it off all of the Town Hall locations will offer 12 ciders on tap at any given time.

When they started this six years ago there was only one cidery in Minnesota, now there are 14. Of those, Four Daughters, Loon Juice, Milk & Honey, Number 12 Cider House, Sapsucker Farms Yellow Belly, Sociable Cider Werks, Sweetland Orchards, and Wyndfall will all be featured at the Seven Corners location, Town Hall Tap, and Town Hall Lanes. The schedule for Minneapolis Cider Week is as follows:

All Week

Ciders Take Over the Taps at Town Hall Locations
Town Hall Brewery, Town Hall Lanes and Town Hall tap will each have at least 12 ciders on tap all week.

Tuesday, June 7

Cider Dinner and Seminar at Town Hall Tap
7 p.m., Tuesday, June 7
Enjoy a cider-paired course dinner from Town Hall Tap featuring presentations from cider makers representing Minnesota cider makers Milk & Honey and Sweetland. Tickets are $65 and limited — call (612) 339-8696.

Thursday, June 9

Minnesota Cider Competition
Cider makers are invited to submit their homemade ciders for prizes, including a large cider collection. Register and find more information at There is a $7 entry fee.

• Deadline to enter is 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 31 — submit entries at Northern Brewer on Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis. Participants must submit two bottles per category entered (Dry, Sweet and Other).
• Awards ceremony is 7 p.m., Thursday, June 9, at Town Hall Tap.

Saturday, June 11

Cider Fest at Town Hall Brewery and Republic 7 Corners
1–5 p.m., Saturday, June 11
Discover hard-to-find ciders alongside favorites from local, national and international producers including Keepsake, Milk & Honey, Sweetland, Wyndfall, Yellow Belly and more. Tickers are $35 for unlimited samples and a Cider Week glass.


Five Beers to Try at Winterfest


If you are fortunate enough to attend the 15th annual Winterfest on either Friday or Saturday, you are sure to get a taste of some of the best locally made brews. Here are some of the highlights for both nights.


Apricot Vista from August Schell Brewing Company – The latest in the Noble Star collection was aged for a year before Jace dropped 4,800 pounds of apricots in the tank. That tank by the way is from 1936 and will be on display at Star Keller when it opens in May.

Cherry Double Shot Double Black from Bent Paddle Brewing – This Bourbon barrel-aged version of their Black Ale received an infusion of cherries along with double shots of Madagascar Vanilla and Cold-Press. Have we mentioned that the Cold-Press comes from Duluth Coffee Company? Enough said.

Cabernet Barrel-Aged Belgian Dark Strong Ale from Dangerous Man – This is one of my favorite beers that they’ve made over at their Northeast brewery. Stone fruits and sweet caramel are prominent in this complex brew that was aged for almost a year in an oak Cabernet barrel. Let this one warm up a bit in your hand a little while and you’ll be rewarded.

300 from Fulton Brewing – All that really needs to be said about this brew is that it’s one of the best locally made IPAs. Expect blueberry and tropical fruits on top of a clean Pilsner malt base. Somehow the folks at Fulton are making this happen year-round and you won’t hear me complain.

Blackberry Gose from Junkyard Brewing – This Blackberry Sour Ale looks interesting and will be a nice change of pace from all of the really big beers being poured at the festival. Gose is an ancient German style of beer that goes back 1,000 years, and is unique in that it was traditionally brewed with salty water. Junkyard is based up in Moorhead so this also serves as a grand opportunity to get an introduction to their brews without the drive.


Imperial Cocoa Hefe from Blacklist Brewing – Chocolate and bananas will be the theme with this German-style Hefeweizen. Blacklist has always made interesting beers and they will now be able to better showcase them in their new space located in downtown Duluth.

Imperial Raspberry Truffle from Lupulin Brewing – I was able to try this version of their Porter at an event recently and I was impressed. The name of this one sums it up, big time chocolate with loads of raspberries. Who needs dessert?

2016 Fiddle Smasher from NorthGate Brewing – NorthGate is now 3 years old and they celebrated by releasing this Scottish Wee Heavy Ale. This version will be served from a cask and it tips the scale at over 8% ABV.

Saaz Pils from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery – Sometimes there is nothing better than a clean Bohemian style Pilsner, especially when it’s made by someone who loves them as much as Mike Hoops does. Saaz hops are known for their spicy and earthy characteristics and they are what define this style of beer. This is one of my favorite styles of beer hands down.

Gin Botanical Freewheeler from Sociable Cider Werks – This cider looks interesting on many levels. For one, this sat in Wander North Distillery’s botanical basket and also on top of a bed of fresh spruce needles. Nothing says Minnesota like evergreens and apples.


Fair State Celebration

medallion-smIn case you hadn’t heard, several Minnesota breweries were honored by RateBeer recently. The list includes the likes of Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery and Surly Brewing Co.

Fair State had the distinction of beating out over 5400 new breweries to be named one of the top ten new breweries in the world. Pretty rad. This is the first time a Minnesota brewery has been on this list. RateBeer also ranks Fair State’s lagers highly, with its Festbier and Kazbek Kellerbier ranked 7th and 2nd in their respective categories.

Minneapolis Town Hall was recognized as best brewpub in Minnesota and also was honored as of the top 100 breweries in the world. The ever-awesome Town Hall Tap was also honored as best restaurant in Minnesota.

Surly Brewing Co. also received some nice awards, ranging from being listed as one of the top 100 breweries to individual worldwide and Minnesota specific awards for beers such as SurlyFest, Abrasive, Todd the Axeman and more. Visit RateBeer for the full list of winners.


Fair State is celebrating their honor with a month of parties to say thank you to their supporters and fans. They start on Friday at Grumpy’s NE and follow up next week on Thursday at Republic 7 Corners (5:00pm),  331 Club on Friday 3/4; Red Cow North Loop on Wednesday 3/9. We’ll be doing special tappings at each place, and Matt, Niko, and Evan will all be in attendance to chat with whoever wants to say hi.

They cap things off with a party at the brewery on Friday, 3/18. Members get half priced beer all night, but everyone is welcome.  If anyone’s not a member, for this whole celebration new sign-ups will get a free t-shirt with their Membership. They’ll also be tapping the second in their series of Member Designed beers, a Baltic Porter with maple and black pepper.