Feb162014

Craft Beer Revival in Minneapolis

Having been in Minneapolis for about 60 hours, my knowledge of the beer scene is limited, yet rapidly expanding. Minnesota appears to have a thriving craft beer brewing industry.

This was the first beer sign to catch my attention in Minneapolis.

Grain Belt Beer

Historic Grain Belt Beer billboard on Nicollet Island from 1940. Originally the letters flashed in sequence. In the late 1960s, Grain Belt was the 18th largest brewing company in the U.S. In 1976 the company was acquired by G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Minneapolis brewery was closed. A new company acquired the brand in the 1990s and resumed Grain Belt production. In 2001, a craft beer called “Brewer’s Cave” was introduced, but the company went bankrupt in 2002 and was sold to August Schell Brewing Company. Today, the Grain Belt brand is brewed for the Minnesota market.

One of the interesting stories I heard when researching Nicollet Island is the small island’s limestone caves were excavated and used in the 19th century to store beer in a year-round constant temperature environment.

 

Gluek's Mural

This mural on the side of Gluek’s Restaurant and Bar caught my attention. Gotlieb Gluek operated one of the original breweries of Minneapolis, starting in 1857, one year before the city was named Minneapolis.

Before Prohibition, its 86 tied houses helped Gluek sell 95 percent of its beer within Minneapolis, but distribution broadened once it survived Prohibition. It brewed beer at its NE Marshall St. complex until 1964, when the brand was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Co., LaCrosse, Wis. Cold Spring Brewing ended production of Gluek in 2010. The old Minneapolis brewery with walls five feet thick was sold to a boxmaking company, which tore it down in 1966. That was just a tantalizing few years before the 1977 attempt to demolish the nearby Grain Belt brewing complex, by which time the preservation movement had taken hold. The neighboring Gluek mansion was also razed.

Gluek’s history here predates the city – Steve Brandt, Star Tribune November 3, 2012.

Gluek’s Bar is worth a visit even if only to see the historical photos on the walls.

Gluek's Bar

A fire gutted Gluek’s Bar and Restaurant in 1989. The interior was restored and Gluek’s continues on. The restaurant is one of the oldest in the country. Gluek’s beer sold on site today is produced by Cold Spring Brewing, Minnesota.

Craft Beer Revival in the Grain Belt

Finding a bar with Happy Hour is an easy task in Minneapolis. Prior to finding Gluek’s, I noticed a sign outside 508 Bar and Restaurant on North 1st Street.

508 Bar Minneapolis

Happy Hour: $3 taps Mon-Sat 11-6:30, Mon-Thu 9-12.

A quick calculation told me 508 Bar & Restaurant sells $3 pints during 57.5 hours each week.

There were about 15 craft beers on tap with seven brands from Minnesota. Surly Furious IPA was my first taste of Minnesota craft beer. Surly Brewing Company has been producing beer since 2005. Lucid Foto IPA was my second Minnesota craft beer.

Lucid’s tagline is

FROM CLARITY IN THINKING COMES EXCELLENCE IN DRINKING.

Even better than $3 pints was the birthday bash on Saturday February 15, 2014 for the 6th anniversary of 508 Bar with a complimentary open bar from 8-9pm for free beer. Now that surely was a Minneapolis crowd pleaser.

508 clock

It’s 5:08 somewhere…

Devil’s Advocate

On my walk to The W Minneapolis – Foshay, I came across an intriguing sign in the window of Devil’s Advocate bar.

Devil's Advocate

“You are being watched. Your favorite beverages are being tracked. Your conversation recorded and your movements mapped. We can offer you the perfect cover. A place to expose your secrets, confront the unconfronted and challenge the expected. Play Devil’s Advocate.”

Devil's Advocate happy hour

Devil’s Advocate with 40 craft beers. Happy Hour Daily 3:00 – 7:00 pm.

Happy hour is alive and well in Minneapolis. That is a welcome site for this traveler wandering the cold streets. Typically, I rarely go to bars. Normally, I am not in sub-freezing temperatures at home in Monterey, California. The pubs of Minneapolis have introduced me to warm conversations with several friendly locals.

After walking hours around the city, I had not seen a single grocery store, except a Whole Foods by the Mississippi River on my walk to Nicollet Island. Eventually I found myself at Lunds market on Hennepin Avenue. I strolled the aisles looking for beer to no avail. Finally, I asked a woman in the store serving complimentary pizza bites and I learned that Minnesota law requires alcohol sales be in liquor stores and not food stores. Also, these liquor stores are closed on Sundays.

Fortunately, I found Lunds Wine & Spirits store on Saturday.

Local Brews

Lunds Wine and Spirits Hennepin, Minneapolis.

“Enjoy Local. Our Commitment – At Lunds, we define local beers as those brewed here in our region – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. We also strive to buy, sell and promote interesting microbrews from small producers whenever possible. In doing so, we support both small businesses, and the community in which we live and work. Our local and small batch approach allows us to provide you with innovative and delicious beverages in a more sustainable and responsible manner.

Number of microbrews in store today 573.

Number of local brews in store today 105.”

Lunds Wine and Spirits

Craft brewing is alive and well in Minneapolis and the grain belt states.

 

On a totally different note: Last month I attended the Detroit North American International Auto Show courtesy of Ford Motor Company. My focus for the event was learning about electric cars. The auto show indicated electric is the high growth market for improved auto technology.

Lunds Market at Hennepin in Minneapolis is less than two years old. This was a cool sight to see outside the grocery store.

Lunds parking

Two reserved parking spaces at Lunds for electric/hybrid cars with ChargePoint stations.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. Downtown has never been very residential (until recently) so it explains the lack of grocery stores. I noticed the Whole Foods being built last Summer and remember thinking “finally”. Get just a bit outside of downtown and you start to see the massive Cub and Rainbow food stores or the slightly higher-end Lunds or Byerlys.

    Glueks is the first bar I ever snuck into (as a high-schooler). Before the ’89 fire I had friends of friends who worked in the kitchen so we had an “in”. I’d put on my best radio voice and order a pint of Glueks. Good times, bad kid.

  2. Big fan of Devil’s Advocate; have had a number of good conversations over a pint there. Very solid beer program and good food.

    Also along the lines of craft beer, Surly is definitely the big name in town (and rightfully so), but just north of the river is a line of breweries (and a cidery) that are very worthy of a visit. I just hit up the four on Friday since I was stuck in Minneapolis until Saturday morning due to the CLT weather.

    – Socialable Cider – Very laid back cidery, also make a couple beers. One of their options is a 50/50 stout/cider, which I’d never tried before. Really difficult to find though (especially after dark) so you need to look on their website for directions.
    – 612 Brew – The weakest of the four by far, but the tasting room is nice and they did have one really nice beer (the winter IPA).
    – Indeed Brewing – Probably had the best single beer (Rum King) of the four from visit. Lower key than 612, but some nice people. There were a couple beers I really wanted to try that I just couldn’t try and still make it to Dangerous Man.
    – Dangerous Man – Very solid offerings. Had a chocolate milk stout that was very tasty and a single hop (Summit) IPA that was also a highlight of the evening. Honestly by this point in the evening I was getting slightly (okay, not that slightly) tipsy, so objective ratings were getting a bit tough 🙂

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