Metro brewery

Steel Toe Brewing

There is an air of humility about this under-the-radar St. Louis Park brewery that is refreshing in the often-bombastic craft-beer world. Founder and head brewer Jason Schoneman is not in it to be the biggest and baddest. His pride lies in running a successful business, supporting his family and employees, and making the best beer he knows how. And for the past five years he has quietly brewed some of the best beer in the state. Size 7 is arguably Minnesota's finest IPA. From the light-bodied Provider Blond Ale to the rich, black Dissent Dark Ale or Before the Dawn black barleywine, you can't go wrong with any of Steel Toe's award-winning brews. 4848 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park, 952-955-9965,

Outstate brewery

Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Before it even opened, it was clear that Duluth's Bent Paddle was going to be something special. The brewing team of Colin Mullin and Bryon Tonnis came to it with 20 years of professional brewing experience between them — a rarity in today's frenzied world of brewery openings. Flagship beers include a first-class pilsner, an award-winning amber ale, a delightfully juicy IPA and a smooth, chocolatey black ale. Quality across the board. Add to that a lineup of solid seasonals and specialties, including a barrel-aged black ale with a double shot of cold-press coffee and vanilla, and you have the recipe for beer-nerd nirvana. 1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth, 1-218-279-2722,

New brewery

Able Seedhouse + Brewery

Traditionally, most breweries malted their own grains. By the 20th century, most had turned the task over to professional maltsters. Today's artisanal movement is leading some small brewers to take it up again — Able Seedhouse among them. The northeast Minneapolis brewery has partnered with the University of Minnesota and local farmers to grow new barley strains developed for flavor over yield. A small germination bed and kiln will allow them to malt that grain in-house to supply a portion of their grist. Did we mention? The beer is pretty good, too. Our favorite, the House Red, delivers layers of malty depth — caramel, biscuit and toast — topped by sprightly citrus hops. 1121 NE. Quincy St., Mpls., 612-405-4642,

Sour beers

Fair State Brewing Cooperative

With the years-long quest for tongue-searing bitterness finally running its course, it seems that sour has supplanted hoppy. Tart and funky wild-fermented beers are a rapidly rising trend, and Fair State in northeast Minneapolis has been cranking out a steady stream of well-made brews to bring a pucker to your lips. The taproom selection regularly features an assortment of sour ales, including experimental treats from their LÄCTOBÄC series. The secret to Fair State's sour success is microbiologist Levi Loesch, whose skillful wrangling of wild yeast and bacteria brings out the best that these wild-fermentation bugs have to offer. 2506A Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-444-3209,

Barrel-aged beers

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Town Hall brewer Mike Hoops first put beer in a bourbon barrel in 2000, well before barrel-aging was a thing. That beer won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It's been all uphill from there. The program now includes 12 varieties of barrels including wine, bourbon and rye whiskey. Hoops has developed an understanding of just what kind of flavor each barrel type will deliver. He goes to the distilleries himself in search of the perfect wood, then builds his beers to suit the barrels. With selections ranging from a vinous, strong saison to black and boozy imperial stouts, the brewery's annual Barrel-Aged Week in February is an event not to be missed. 1430 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-8696,


New wine shop

Henry & Son

Gretchen Skedsvold and Mark Henry are on a mission: to find libations made in a "nothing-to-hide style of winemaking, brewing or distilling" for customers "looking for something they may not have had before." Their lofty, urbane outlet adeptly accomplishes those feats with a tightly focused selection of wines from small-scale producers around the world, and beer and spirits from right here in the Land of 10,000 Craft Brewers. Skedsvold and Henry also have prompted wholesalers to bring in brands that had never reached the Gopher State. But it's just as much about value: Perhaps the store's most popular feature is the "12 under $12" wine shelf. Savvy, attentive service, too. 811 Glenwood Av., Mpls., 612-200-9517;

New(ish) Minnesota winery

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery

Minnesota wineries continue to improve, thanks to some combination of grapes from the West Coast, cold-hardy varieties planted here, and perhaps some fruit wines. Tucked into the southwest corner of the state, Round Lake has taken giant leaps in all three realms since hiring Washington transplant Sam Jennings in 2014. Even the wines from that year's cruel vintage (remember the polar vortex?) are fresh and flavorful, and Jennings has a deft hand with Marquette and La Crescent grapes from the University of Minnesota. Some of the wines are available at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis, but hey, an excursion to Nobles County is not the worst summer idea. 30124 Hwy. 264, Round Lake, 1-507-945-1100;

New wine list

St. Genevieve

No trend has excited wine aficionados more than the emergence of grower Champagnes, made by the people who grow the grapes. And no venue in town champions these wines more heartily than St. Genevieve, with even some off-the-menu ones often at the bar. Chef/owner Steven Brown and manager Brie Rowland are carrying not only a boatload of these beauties, but also other bubble-licious sparklers and a lovely, focused array of lighter red, white and pink wines. The restaurant is dubbed a buvette, which sounds vaguely naughty but actually translates as "refreshment room." Cin cin! 5003 Bryant Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-4843;

Outstate wine list

New Scenic Cafe

More than a few folks say that this restaurant is worth the drive to Duluth, even if you have to immediately return to the Twin Cities after dinner. But that stratagem precludes delving deeply into an incredible, and incredibly affordable, wine list. Deftly chosen from all over world by Wendy Durrwachter, the glass and bottle offerings often come in around retail prices. On Wednesdays, all the fermented grape juice is half off, making for insane bargains. Naturally, all the wines are food-friendly, and chef/owner Scott Graden's dishes are uniformly wine-friendly, as well. 5461 North Shore Dr., Duluth, 1-218-525-6274;



Tattersall Distilling

Everything Dan Oskey touches turns to stone-cold pleasure. After refining killer cocktail lists at the Strip Club, Hola Arepa and the Hi-Lo Diner, Oskey teamed up with childhood friend Jon Kreidler at a distillery that has been crushing it since last summer. Tattersall's array of 11 libations, heavy on gin and fruit-infused liqueurs, has been a big hit in stores. Even better, the distillery is open Wednesday through Friday evenings (with live music) and Saturday afternoons (with tours and a food truck). Or try some at home with dandy cocktail recipes from the website. Urbane Dane, anyone? 1620 Central Av. NE., Suite 150, Mpls, 773-710-7358;