Located a couple hours up Highway 371 in Nisswa, Minn., is a treasure of a place called Gull Dam Brewing. Visitors are greeted by a functioning water wheel, complete with a giant tap handle bearing the name of the brewery. Thirsty locals and tourists alike can be seen on the patio, which doubles as te main entrance to the taproom.

At first glance the menu isn’t all that palate-challenging. You’ll find some typical varieties such as a Wheat, IPA, a Rye IPA and a Scotch Ale. But don’t sleep on the Scotch Ale -- this is a complex beverage with notes of toffee and caramel and a touch of sweetness from the addition of maple syrup. The IPA won’t blow your socks off with hops. In fact, it's a bit more balanced than I prefer.

The space itself is 15,000 square feet including the cabin-style event space with a knotty pine look.

The brewery's 20-barrel system is easily big enough to handle demand at this point. Just 25 businesses have their beers on tap. The only one in the metro is Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. All the others are near Brainerd.

Local hops from The Farm on St. Mathias can be found in all of their brews, which are proudly made with 100% well water. Food trucks are on site during regular business hours and love music can be heard Thursday through Saturday.

If you find yourself in vacation mode, you’ll want to stop in and check them out.


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