Everyone loves a good pub crawl. But with the influx of breweries popping up all over the Twin Cities it can be hard to know where to start. What city should I visit? Which neighborhood has the most breweries? What are the beers like at each place? And, of course, can I walk or bike to these places?
Well, after a few months of touring the cities and tasting the beers each brewery has to offer, Tap Talk decided to offer our services and is putting together local taproom tours to help guide you in your drinking travels.READ MORE: A Closer Look At Peter Cahill, The Judge Presiding Over Derek Chauvin's Trial
First we toured Stillwater. Next up, Carver County.
Carver County was the first county in Minnesota to be able to sell growlers on Sundays. The first Sunday, the county’s newest arrival, Waconia Brewery, sold 30 growlers.
Currently, just two breweries lie within Carver County limits. But with two more just outside the boundaries in western Hennepin County, three different wineries and a distillery, you’ll have more than enough to drink. For a look at how to get to these destinations, view our map below.
Excelsior Brewing Company
While Excelsior isn’t in Carver County (technically it resides in Hennepin Co.) it is often lumped into the community. Excelsior, Enki Brewing and Waconia Brewing Company even came together in July to create a Carver Co. brew for the Taste of Minnesota. Open since 2012, this surf garage-inspired taproom sits in the heart of Excelsior. Begin, or end, your tour at the oldest establishment on the list.
Things To Know…
Flagship beers: Big Island Blond (Blond), Bridge Jumper IPA (IPA), Bitteschlappe Brown Ale (Brown Ale), XLCR Pale Ale (Pale Ale)
Most popular: Big Island Blond Ale
Most awarded: Mr. Jimmies Baltic Porter
Owner’s favorite: “I’m all over the board. I have to look at the taps and think ‘What do I want today?’ I’ll drink a lot of the Spresso (a Cold Press Milk Stout) and I do fall back on the Big Island Blond Ale if I just need to cleanse the palate. But, I do the Bitteschlappe Brown Ale,” owner John Klick said.
What to start with: The newest seasonal brew.
Owner’s one word description: Passionate
Author’s note: While the flagship beers at Excelsior are good brews, their seasonals get a lot of attention. Mr. Jimmies is a seasonal, as is the Spresso. Around the winter solstice they created a Shattered Solstice Ale that had 20 pounds of ginger in it which got great reviews. They really explore the depth of flavors in their seasonals and it pays off. While part of it may be their limited availability, a large part of the reason these brews don’t stay on tap long when they come around is the quality.
Excelsior is located at 421 3rd Street in Excelsior. They are open 4 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 to 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 12 to 11 p.m. on Saturday.
Learn more about Excelsior Brewing Company by reading their feature on Tap Talk.
Just one year after Excelsior opened, Enki Brewing opened their doors. Located roughly seven miles from their predecessor, the two taprooms are connected by a bike path. The inspiration for their name comes from the Sumerian god of water and mischief, but also offers a homage to the past as the co-owners met while working at Nike.
Things To Know…
Flagship beers: Victoria’s Gold (Blond), Journey Pale Ale (Pale Ale), Reunion Red Ale (Amber Ale), Tail Feather IPA (IPA) and Cacao Porter (Porter)
Most popular: Sales – Tail Feather. Taproom only – Victoria’s GoldREAD MORE: Protesters March Through Downtown Minneapolis On Eve Of Chauvin Trial
Seasonal(s) on tap: “A couple weeks ago we made a beer for our anniversary. We made a nice Belgian strong ale for that,” head brewer Jason Davis said. “Our seasonal beer is a Hefe Weiss – Hootenanny Hefe Weis.”
Owner’s favorite: Journey Pale Ale (Davis) and Reunion Red (Dan Norton – Co-owner)
Owner’s one word description: Friendly
Author’s note: Most breweries tend to have a laid-back vibe, but Enki oozes relaxation. They are located right on the shores of Steiger Lake in an old brick building that has a very comforting feel to it. The taproom is small, but there is a lot of outside seating. If it’s available, get the creamer reserve. It has the smoothness of a porter while still being a bit lighter. It also has a hint of sweetness to it. And at 9.5 percent alcohol it packs a punch!
Enki is located at 7929 Victoria Drive in Victoria. They are open from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 2 to 10 p.m. Friday, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Learn more about Enki Brewing by reading their feature on Tap Talk.
Waconia Brewing Company
Just over seven miles from Enki lies the newest addition to Carver County, Waconia Brewing Company. Coming up on their year anniversary, the budding brewery is very active within their town. Aside from booths at chamber events, they host a monthly event called “Drink One Down For The Town” which helps raise money for a local event.
Things To Know…
Flagship beers: Carver County Kolsh (Kolsh), WacTown Wheat (Wheat), 255 Amber (Amber Ale) and 90K IPA (IPA)
Most popular: 90K
Owner’s favorite: Amber (Dee DeLange – co-owner) Kolsh (Bob DeLange– co-owner)
What to start with: Bob and Dee agreed, a flight of six. “I’d push them to get a flight. Just so they can try them all,” Dee said.
Owner’s one word description: Cozy
Author’s note: If you’re a hops person, try the featured hop series. I’ve seen a few breweries play around with a hop series, but this is the only brewery on this tour that does that. It’s a really fun way to experience the flavor of a specific hop. Fridays regularly feature music and there’s always a good selection of food trucks.
Waconia Brewing is located at 255 Maine Street West in Waconia. They are open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Learn more about Waconia Brewing Company by reading their feature on Tap Talk.
Wine, Liquor And Beyond
If you’re feeling a little full, or have a wine lover among your group, Waconia is home to three wineries.
Schram Vineyard, which also serves beer, is located just 2.6 miles from Waconia Brewing Company. Four miles from Schram, around the curve of Lake Waconia, lies Parley Lake Winery. Another three miles and you can visit Sovereign Estate.
For those looking for something a little stronger than wine or beer, try J. Carver Distillery. Just two miles from Waconia Brewing Company, J. Carvery distills three types of gin and two types of vodka.MORE NEWS: Jury Consultant: Picking Jurors In Derek Chauvin Trial Will Be 'Herculean Task'
Finally, the second Hennepin County Brewery near Carver Co. is Lucid Brewing. A little over seven miles from Excelsior, it would be an ideal place to start, or end, your tour. Lucid is located at 6020 Culligan Way in Minnetonka. It’s open from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Fridays and 12 to 8 p.m. Saturdays.