Taproom crawls are one of the newest iterations of the classic amble from one drinking establishment to another. Moving progressively from one location to the next is a great bonding experience among friends. With around 75 taprooms in the Twin Cities metro area, it’s not hard to string together a route.
However, conducting a taproom crawl involves imbibing a fair amount of beer. Indeed, that’s really the point — sampling, comparing and enjoying the wares at several of the area’s best breweries. But that also means getting from one taproom to the next. This usually involves one or more of the party remaining sober enough to drive, but the designated driver role is rarely the preferred way to experience the fun.
Take heart, would-be crawlers. Metro Transit has you covered. The Green Line light-rail train runs all the way from Target Field in Minneapolis to Union Depot in St. Paul. With 19 breweries easily accessible along the way, it offers a build-your-own-adventure opportunity. Pick your stops. Stay in one city or try them both. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Here is the rundown, starting in downtown Minneapolis and ending in St. Paul. All distances calculated from light-rail:
Stop #1: Target Field/North Loop
In Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood, there are four breweries within easy walking distance of one another. You can take in one or more before even boarding the train.
1. The Freehouse
701 Washington Av. N., Suite 101, Mpls., 612-339-7011, freehousempls.com
Route: (.4 mile) Turn left onto N. 5th St. Turn right onto 5th Av. N. Turn left onto Washington Av. N.
Taproom: Slightly upscale brewpub with modern decor, bar and table seating. Bustling hangout for millennials, business folks and after-work happy hour gatherings.
Best brews: #49 City Girl Coffee Stout will give you a quick caffeine pick-me-up that will carry you through the crawl. Nutty, cold-press coffee aromas hit immediately as you raise the glass. Coffee carries over into the flavor with a note of roast malt bitterness. A touch of sweetness gives this rich and creamy beer the character of cafe mocha.
Food: You can’t go wrong with a breakfast menu that includes items like the Fried Chicken Stack, a hand-battered fried chicken breast smothered in sausage gravy on ciabatta French toast. The menu also includes an array of elevated pub food, from sandwiches and salads to entrees.
Highlights: Patio seating. Private event space available. Full bar and guest taps.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun. 7:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
2. Modist Brewing Co.
505 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-454-0258, modistbrewing.com
Route: (.2 mile): Turn left onto N. 5th St. Turn right onto 5th Av. N.
Taproom: Warehouse/industrial space with sleek, modern accessories.
Best brews: Modist is known especially for its hazy, New England style IPAs and pale ales. You’ll always find a good assortment of these on tap. The flagship Dreamyard has a juicy, tropical fruit-laden aroma that will blow you away before you even taste it. Also check out First Call Coffee Lager. This beer confounds expectations from appearance to taste. Pale gold in the glass, it packs a caffeinated, nutty punch of fresh cold-press coffee.
Food: Rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Patio seating.
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 4-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-midnight, Sunday noon-8 p.m. Also two hours any day before home Twins games.
3. Fulton Beer
414 6th Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-3208, fultonbeer.com
Route: (.2 mile) Turn left onto N. 5th St. Turn right onto 6th Av. N.
Taproom: An industrial feel, yet casual and comfy, with lots of dark wood. Large tables can accommodate larger groups or communal seating, and smaller high-tops for more intimate groups.
Best brews: In addition to the Fulton standards — Sweet Child of Vine, Lonely Blonde, 300 and Standard Lager — you’ll find a large selection of specialty beers. If you’re in the mood for something dark and roasty, Proper Porter is a good bet. This rich and creamy American porter is loaded with flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. The hop bitterness makes its presence known and lingers into the finish, reminding you that this is an American-style porter.
Food: A vintage Airstream trailer converted into a food truck offers a simple menu of classic Midwestern fare.
Highlights: Patio seating. Live music on Sundays from 3-5 p.m.
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Friday 3 p.m.-midnight, Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.
4. Inbound Brewco
701 N. 5th St., Mpls., 612-615-8243, inboundbrew.co
Route: (.3 mile) Turn left onto N. 5th St. Walk three blocks.
Taproom: A gritty, factory feel with the brewery behind black chain-link fence and blocky, workbench-like wooden tables.
Best brews: Inbound’s beer list highlights the latest beer trends — milkshake and cloudy IPA, kettle sours and a peanut butter beer — along with a few classic styles. The Dry-Hopped Berliner Weisse is especially good. The floral and tropical fruity hop aroma is amazing. Lemony tartness is subdued and supported on a bready wheat base.
Food: Rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Limited outdoor seating. Trivia on Mondays. Occasional live music.
Hours: Mon.-Fri noon-midnight, Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-midnight.
Stop #2: Warehouse District/ Hennepin Av.
5. Clockwerks Brewing
25 N. 4th St., Mpls., 612-339-9375, clockwerksbrewing.com
Route: (.2 mile) Walk one block northeast on 1st Av. N. Turn right onto N. 4th St.
Taproom: A small, steampunk-themed space. The brewery behind the bar enhances the steampunk decor.
Best brews: Stick with the hoppy beers here. Equanaut IPA showcases bright citrusy and apricot hops on a bed of biscuity malt.
Food: Small plate charcuterie or cheese selections. Heggie’s pizza.
Highlights: Small patio. Pool table.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Fri. 3 p.m.-midnight, Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-8 p.m.
Stop #3: Government Plaza
6. Finnegans Brew Co.
817 5th Av. S., Mpls., 612-454-0615, finnegans.org
Route: (.4 mile) Walk one block southeast on 4th Av. S. Turn left onto S. 6th St. Turn right onto 5th Av. S.
Taproom: The room is narrow, deep and a little dark. An almost room-length glass wall allows a nice view into the brewery and barrel room. Large TV screens in the front play sporting events, but can be a bit loud if you’re seated at the bar.
Best brews: Cluster Truck American IPA packs a citrusy aromatic punch before you even take a sip. On the tongue, it’s all grapefruit peel and pineapples. Bitterness is assertive, but balanced by a light, grainy sweetness.
Food: Popcorn, light snacks and frozen pizzas for sale in the taproom. Or you can order pizza from Red’s Savoy in northeast Minneapolis. Finnegans guests get 10% off their order.
Highlights: Patio. Brewer’s Den available for private events. Occasional trivia and live music events.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 2-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-8 p.m.
Stop #4: U.S. Bank Stadium
7. Day Block Brewing Co.
1105 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-617-7793, dayblockbrewing.com
Route: (.4 mile) Walk north on Chicago Av. to Washington Av. S. and turn right.
Taproom: Day Block takes its name from the historic 1883 building in which it is housed. Exposed brick walls and the restored original facade help maintain the historic feel of the place, while angular lightwood booths and steel chairs bring it into the 21st century.
Best brew: Frank’s Red Ale is named after the building’s last tenant before becoming Day Block. It’s a malt-forward beer with notes of caramel and toast. Citrusy hops and moderate bitterness provide a lifting contrast.
Food: Full menu of sandwiches, salads and specialty pizzas such as the delicious Banh Mizza, a pizza based on the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich. Try the flights of housemade pickled vegetables and bacon.
Highlights: Full bar. Event spaces available for rent.
Hours: Tue.-Wed. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Stop #5: West Bank
8. Town Hall Brewery
1430 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-8696, townhallbrewery.com
Route: (.2 mile) Go up the stairway and follow to Cedar Av. to Washington Av. S.
Taproom: Wood paneling, exposed brick, a high tin ceiling and a glorious antique bar give the place the feel of a 19th-century saloon. Town Hall makes some of the best beer in the Twin Cities.
Best brew: Every beer in the year-round lineup is solid, especially the nationally recognized Masala Mama IPA. But the real draw is the ever rotating list of seasonal and specialty brews that run the gamut of styles from crisp pilsners to Belgian grand cru and raspberry imperial stout. The beer list usually includes at least one of their incredibly complex barrel-aged beers. West Bank Pub Ale is a subtler and more sessionable English best bitter. It has a more assertive bitterness than many English examples available here, but the caramel malt and earthy hops are right on target. And at just 4.8% ABV you can enjoy a pint and keep on crawling.
Food: A solid, reasonably priced selection of standard pub fare.
Highlights: Full bar with an excellent selection of guest beers, ciders and scotch.
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-midnight.
Reboard the Green Line train at the West Bank station and head toward St. Paul to continue the taproom crawl.
Stop #6: Prospect Park
9. Surly Brewing
520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls., 763-999-4040, surlybrewing.com
Route: (.4 mile) Turn right onto 4th St. and left onto Malcolm Av. SE.
Taproom: Large, impressive beer hall with an imposing view of the huge brewing system behind a high wall of glass.
Best brews: With 35 rotating taps, you’re sure to find a beer to your liking. Most of the Surly favorites are here, along with a mind-boggling selection of specialty brews. Once common rye IPAs are now somewhat of a novelty. Side Eye Rye IPA is a welcome find, pulling together the peppery spice of rye with citrus-heavy hops and light caramel malt.
Food: Surly takes beer-hall food to another level with its menu of charcuterie, sausages, smoked meats and greens and grains. Coal-fired, New Haven-style pizza upstairs.
Highlights: Large outdoor beer garden. Private event space. Outdoor movie screenings on Monday nights. Live music events.
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight.
Stop #7: Westgate
10. The Lab
767 N. Eustis St., Suite 115, St. Paul, 651-313-6888, thelabmn.com
Route: (.4 mile) Walk southeast on University Av. Turn right onto Eustis St.
Taproom: Spacious, sunny and cheerful, the bright colors and wall murals just make the space feel happy. This is a tap-your-own-beer place. You get a card that racks up charges based on how much you pour. Try as much or as little of any beer as you desire.
Best brews: The Lab brews pilot and test batches for other breweries and submits them to public scrutiny. The beer menu is always changing. The dry and roasty stout on nitro was a favorite on a recent visit.
Food: The Lab Food Truck features a menu of sandwiches and wraps, nachos, street tacos and other small bites.
Highlights: Patio. Private room available for rental.
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Fri. 2-11 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.
Stop #8: Raymond Avenue
11. Dual Citizen Brewing Co.
725 Raymond Av., St. Paul, 651-330-4750, dualcitizenbrewing.com
Route: (.2 mile) Walk northwest on University Av. Turn left onto Raymond Av.
Taproom: A rustic modern space that maintains the vintage industrial feel of the building. A wall of windows brings in ample daylight.
Best brews: Dual Citizen offers well made beers that taste like beer. Kellogg Cream Ale is a light refresher that highlights a Cheerios-like taste of toasted oats, although there are no oats in the beer. Low bitterness and light herbal hops finish it.
Food: Order in from nearby restaurants. Occasional rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Monday night trivia. Pop-up grill nights with the Naughty Greek.
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Fri. 2 p.m.-midnight, Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-8 p.m.
12. Lake Monster Brewing Co.
550 Vandalia St., Suite 160, St. Paul, 612-964-6288, lakemonsterbrewing.com
Route: (.6 mile) Walk southeast on University Av. Turn right onto Vandalia St. Turn left onto Wabash Av.
Taproom: Aside from a few upgrades, little has been done to alter the old railroad freight depot where the taproom is located. Wooden-top tables and shop stools fit right in. String lights and exposed bulb fixtures give an aura that is both festive and in keeping with the history of the space.
Best brews: Lake Monster’s Empty Rowboat IPA was selected as one of the state’s best in a blind tasting sponsored by Growler Magazine. It’s a fairly restrained IPA with notes of toffee and toasted biscuit that meld nicely with floral and orange-citrus hops.
Food: Rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Patio seating. Available for private events.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Friday 2 p.m.-midnight, Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-8 p.m.
13. Urban Growler Brewing Co.
2325 Endicott St., St. Paul, 651-340-5793, urbangrowlerbrewing.com
Route: (.6 mile) Walk north on Carleton St. Turn right onto W. Territorial Road. Turn left onto N. Hampden Av. Turn right onto Endicott St.
Taproom: Comfortably converted industrial space anchored by three copper-banded serving tanks towering at the center of the room behind the bar.
Best brews: After a few hours of riding and drinking, a lighter beer may be in order. Cowbell Cream Ale is just such a beer. It’s a refreshingly simple golden ale with low bitterness and subtle notes of toasted grain and corn.
Food: Urban Growler is one of the few local taprooms with its own kitchen. The menu features beer-friendly foods, such as Reuben or Cubano sandwiches, burgers and nachos.
Highlights: Large patio. Private event space.
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
14. Bang Brewing
2320 Capp Road, St. Paul, 651-243-2264, bangbrewing.com
Route: (.6 mile from light rail) Located next door to Urban Growler. Look for the silver grain bin. You can’t miss it.
Taproom: The Bang taproom is an actual corrugated metal corn bin. The round space feels bigger on the inside than it looks from outside, but it is intimate. The taproom is right in the brewery. The bar rolls out of the way when there is work to be done.
Best brews: From grain to yeast, every beer at Bang is 100% organic. One favorite is Farm, a saison-style beer with prominent peppery notes and background banana from fermentation. It’s a dry and bitter brew with grapefruit and grapefruit pith flavors accentuating the bitterness.
Food: Northern Fires Pizza, Thu.-Fri. 4-9 p.m., Sat. 2-9 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Highlights: Brick patio with steel-covered pavilion surrounded by native prairie gardens. Fire pit.
Hours: Thu.-Fri. 4-10 p.m., Sat. 2-10 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Stop #9: Fairview Avenue
15. Black Stack Brewing
755 N. Prior Av., St Paul, 612-369-2932, blackstackbrewing.com
Route: (.7 mile) Head northwest on University Av. Turn right onto N. Prior Av.
Taproom: Huge former factory space with white-painted walls and columns rising 20 feet to the ceiling. Light streams in through the eastern wall of windows. Conversation pits with couches and cushioned chairs create intimate islands.
Best brews: Local 755, the New England style IPA, is the biggest beer draw. It sports intensely fruity hop aromatics and mild bitterness. Brewer Bob DuVernois varies the hop bill, so you may find different versions available for comparison.
Food: Rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Available for private events.
Hours: Mon.-Thu., 4-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-10 p.m.
16. Burning Brothers Brewing
1750 W. Thomas Av., St. Paul, 651-444-8882, burnbrosbrew.com
Route: (.4 mile) Walk southeast on University Av. Turn left onto N. Wheeler St.
Taproom: This has become a mecca of sorts for celiac- and gluten-intolerant beer fans. The room is cozy, but bustles with activity and warmth. People know each other here and talk spreads beyond individual groups.
Best brews: Shandys are a popular draw. Typically built on a base of the brewery’s flagship Pyro Pale Ale, these tasty fruit infusions meld citrusy American hops with tart lime, cranberries or orange blossom honey. Others are available seasonally.
Food: Rotating food trucks.
Highlights: Regular game nights and trivia.
Hours: Tues.-Thu. 4-11 p.m., Fri. 2-10 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m.
Stop #10: 10th Street Station
17. Tin Whiskers Brewing Co.
125 E. 9th St., Suite 127, St. Paul, 651-330-4734, twbrewing.com
Route: (.2 mile) Walk northeast on E. 10th St. Right onto N. Robert St. Left onto E. 9th St.
Taproom: Full walls of windows provide loads of natural light. Long beer-hall style tables and an assortment of board games encourage social interaction. The brewery is visible behind the bar, underlining the overall industrial feel of the place.
Best brews: Wheatstone Bridge has floral chamomile as the dominant note. Supporting sweetness and honey flavors bring to mind a soothing cup of chamomile tea. This was a 2018 bronze medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival.
Food: Sawatdee Thai or Black Sheep Pizza deliver to the brewery.
Highlights: Wednesday night trivia. Tingo drag bingo every other Monday.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 4-10 p.m., Fri. 3-11 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.
18. Barrel Theory Beer Co.
248 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-600-3422, barreltheory.com
Route: (.5 mile) Walk southeast on Cedar St. Turn left onto E. 7th St.
Taproom: A cozy, yet sophisticated space incorporating exposed brick, 19th-century foundation stones and rustic wood paneling.
Best brews: New England IPA is a specialty here. The flagship brew Raindrops has primary notes of lemon/lime citrus, with yellow and orange tropical fruits close behind. There is virtually no malt character here and bitterness is subdued. It’s a pleasant quaff.
Food: Bring your own from many nearby restaurants.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.
Stop #11: Central Station
19. Stacked Deck Brewing
421 Cedar St., St. Paul, stackeddeckbrewing.com
Route: (.2 mile) Walk northwest on Cedar St.
Taproom: Neon, concrete and vaguely art deco/1970s accessories give the space the feel of a casino nightclub in a warehouse.
Best brews: Mermaid Ninja is the perfect summer beer. This light, low-alcohol session ale is brewed with kiwi and cucumber. Cooling cucumber comes through loud and clear. Citrus and fruit follow, accentuated by resin and grapefruit pith hop flavors. Goes out clean and dry.
Food: Bring your own.
Highlights: Available for private events. Giant screen TV for sporting events.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 3-10 p.m., Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-7 p.m.