2017 was an incredible year for Ale Adventures.
As we look forward to another great year of beer and breweries, we wanted to look back on 2017 and share some of our favorites.
Beaver Island Brew Co. in downtown St. Cloud is always a treat to visit. The Northwoods-decor and friendly staff make us feel like we’re sipping brews at a cabin on a lake up north with friends. Their slogan “Dam. Fine. Beer.” may be tongue-in-cheek but definitely no joke. The Sweet Miss stout and ’39 Red IPA are both staples and crowd pleasers, while the seasonal Oktoberfest and Tip Up Winter Ale and Brewer’s Series Union Suit Imperial Porter will have you wishing for Fall & Winter year-around. In addition, the staff at Beaver Island really believe in community — building it, being in it and giving back to it. They regularly host or participate in donation drives, pub crawls, charity events and more. Beaver Island is setting the bar for giving back to the community that supports them. For all these reasons, Beaver Island is one of our favorite breweries of 2017.
Alloy Brewing Company thrives quietly in Coon Rapids, MN slingin’ out some of the tastiest ‘burb beer like it’s nobody’s business. Actually, it is their business, and they do so from the cocoon of an old car dealership and car wash. You’d almost miss the place if you didn’t know what you were looking for!
Since opening their (garage) doors in June 2017, Alloy has won 16 awards, and no wonder — the taste and variety of beers is impressive! From cream and red ales to scotch and old ales, American and New England IPA’s to porters and stouts, they take their mission of having something for everyone seriously.
If we had prizes to give out, there would probably be a three-way tie for Gold amongst the Aluminum Alt Bier, Iron Arm Belgian Strong and Iron Kilt Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. The Altbier had a unique taste that reminded us of red licorice, unexpected but delicious. The Iron Arm Belgian Strong was full of vanilla and oak, warm and fruity. The Iron Arm was bready, boozy and dangerously tasty.
We really had an exceptional visit to Alloy, and it’s one we’d readily visit again soon.
Right next to Buffalo Lake in Buffalo, MN Hayes’ Public House is the pinnacle of an authentic Irish pub. After chatting with several regulars, we learned that the owner, Pugs, spent time in Ireland to research and absorb the pub culture there so that he, in turn, could give his customers the “feel of Ireland.” We picked up on that the second we stepped in the door; the decor — including numerous musical instruments and furniture pieces — is fantastically Irish.
Hayes’ motto is “Inspired Old Ales” which means they brew mostly “traditional British ales, with added twists.” We thoroughly enjoyed every beer we tried, but the standouts were: Clíodhna the Goddess Apple Ale and Bairín Breac. The apple ale was the perfect balance of the sweetness of apples/ spices and the bite of hops and malty goodness. We also discovered that you can mix it with the porter for a apple-y/bacon-y beer that’s out of this world! Bairin Breac is another gem of an ale. Fermented with homemade loaves of spiced raisin bread, we could pick out those flavors in this heavenly dark ale.
Run mostly by volunteers and fellow beer enthusiasts, Hayes’ also has some of the friendliest, warmest staff and patrons we’ve met in our Ale Adventures.
Wicked Wort Brewing Company in Robbinsdale, MN is like the quiet kid in your junior high class who keeps to himself, flying safely under the radar until unexpectedly auditioning for the school-wide talent show and showing everyone up with a solo dance performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” step-for-step, forevermore memorializing himself as a celebrity. That’s a long way of saying, for a brewery we didn’t know and hadn’t hear much about, it exceeded all expectations!
We loved the taproom’s kitschy feel — “eccentric” was the word that came to mind — with cushioned booths of an old 40’s lounge, chandeliers of a stately ballroom, wood accents of a lodge up north and wall-art of a grungy biker’s bar. While it all seemed oddly out of place, it somehow all worked.
The drinks were above and beyond what we’d anticipated, too! One thing we appreciated was how accurate the beer names and taste descriptions were — we could definitely taste the pecan in the pecan brown ale and fresh raspberries in the raspberry wheat ale. The double stout was also deliciously dark, rich and subtly boozy while the Kolsch was delectably dry and wheaty.
We may not have had many expectations walking into Wicked Wort, but by the end of the night, we felt like they had set the bar high!
Inbound BrewCo. in Minneapolis is credited as the beginning of half of Ale Adventure’s beer adventure, the place of Adam’s defining “Oh my gosh…I actually like beer!” moment. Inbound BrewCo. has been a favorite since and an experience we’re always eager to share with others. When Adam’s friend flew in from South Africa for our wedding this past summer, we took him to Inbound. When Adam’s youngest sister turned 21, we took her to Inbound. Many a warm summer evening has been spent with friends at Inbound’s patio.
Inbound has something for everybody, boasting an impressive selection of beer tastes and flavors. They do saisons especially well, their Imperial Saison is a customer favorite, and the drink Adam specifically credits as the first beer he ever liked. Other personal Inbound favorites include the apricot and mango ales, rye saison, milk stout, chocolate Belgian quad and Kolsch.
Inbound also has one of the best staff we’ve ever encountered. Every time we go in, they’re consistently warm, friendly and helpful and seem genuinely enthusiastic about their work. As long as they keep up the good attitude and great beers, Inbound will continue to be one of our favorite breweries.
With an excellent 2017 behind us, here’s to more great breweries and beer in the year ahead!