“‘Grumpy Is Good’ — Oh, this is perfect for me!”
That’s according to my mother-in-law Laurie as we pulled into the gravel parking lot at Disgruntled Brewing. My wife Katie, father-in-law Dave and I all laughed; Laurie is one of the cheeriest, funniest least grumpy people I know (unless certain students in her 6th grade class are involved). Grumpy may be good, but we hadn’t made the trip north for bad vibes; with Laurie’s retirement from teaching just a week away and this being our long over-due first-time visit to Disgruntled, the mood was celebratory.
From the outside, Disgruntled appears unassuming. Located at the end of a gravel road in a more industrial, worn-down part of Perham, the building is little more than a long tin can — nothing fancy. Pulling into the parking lot, though, we immediately noticed the patio area that extend into the surrounding woods; tall pine trees skyrocketed from well-placed mulch, reaching high into the sky and providing both shade and hanging support for the patio lights strung from tree to tree.
Inside, we found the taproom smaller than the outside of the building implied, though also uniquely novel. Accented with lots of wood, metal and warm lighting, it seemed appropriate and reflective of the industrial Northern-MN culture of Perham. During the winter, the space might easily be filled to capacity with patrons; but the late-afternoon temperature outside — somewhere in the low 80’s — had dried off the morning rain and was making for perfect patio weather.
Leading up to our visit, we’d heard plenty of great things about Disgruntled’s beer. Ask either Katie or me, and it would probably make a list of Top 5 Most You-Gotta-Try Beers in Minnesota. With 12 on tap to choose from, there was certainly plenty to try. Fortunately for us, Disgruntled is in both the Northern Ale Guide and Hop Passport, and you can bet we took advantage of our BOGO’s.
So far, the rumors we’d heard about Disgruntled were living up to the hype. That changed quickly, though, with our first sips. Amongst the four of us, our first round of drinks was pretty sub-par, leading us to wonder if there was more truth to the Disgruntled name than intended. After all, they pride themselves in “skilled, artful Midwest brewing. Beer-flavored water from St. Louis,” their website asserts, “this is not.” And yet, that’s exactly what I thought my American Amber/Red Ale (Guvnor) tasted like. If not beer-flavored water from St. Louis, then certainly from Perham. The Pale Wheat Ale (Creeper) and Blonde Ale (Toasted Blonde) were little better — unimpressive, weakly brewed, poorly flavored. Of the four of us, only my father-in-law Dave enjoyed his drink — an Otter Ale Pale Ale. To be fair, he did enjoy it so much that he ended up taking a growler home, testament, perhaps, to the truth that everyone’s taste is different.
Round two proved better; the Dry Irish Stout (Wee Sinister) was definitely dry, very much like a dark-roast coffee though not quite as enjoyable as the more caramel-y, medium roast-like Bulletproof Brown Ale. The Juicylicious New England IPA was especially delicious, though — the hazy, smooth and full body beer perfect for the still-rising temp outside. Again — testament to the fact that everyone’s palate appreciates different tastes — Laurie surprised us all when she tried and enjoyed the Irish Stout! The rich texture and dark flavor, she told us, was like drinking an iced coffee.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit to Disgruntled. While there were a few beers that left us a little “disgruntled,” the beers we did enjoy made up for it, and the neat patio space, we thought, made the whole trip worth it. Getting to share the experience with Katie’s parents made our little ale adventure that much more special, and we’re already looking forward to and planning our next one (tentative plans are looking like Ashby Brewing in Ashby, MN)!
Here’s our full review (categories are rated out of five 🍺):
- Beer Selection (number and styles available): 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Beer Taste (expected of style): 🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Location (find-ability/ accessibility): 🍺🍺🍺
- Atmosphere/Venue: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Service (of staff): 🍺🍺🍺🍺
If you’ve been to Disgruntled Brewing what did you think?