“Alright, boys – up the wooden hill!”
We’ve never met James’ and Sean’s grandfather, but we can just picture him — wide stance, hands on hips, kindly but stern — sending the brothers to bed.
It seems an unusual name for a staircase and an even stranger name for a brewery. But once you know the story and the context behind it, it seems more than fitting — an homage to and memory of a man. And not just any man, one of the best kinds of men — a grandfather.
Even before visiting, we’d heard really positive things about Wooden Hill Brewing Company in Edina, MN. The food was delicious, we’d been told, and the space was fun and unique. One of our earliest impressions was a photo posted to the brewery’s Facebook page of their new sign out front — big, bold, vintage-looking light-up letters that spelled “BREWERY.”
Sure enough, Wooden Hill was what we’d heard and more.
“We want our taproom to bring people joy.”
That’s what Sean — the older of the brothers and entrepreneur between the two — told us as he gave us a tour of the facility. We loved that, and we could easily see how Wooden Hill would bring joy. Even on a gloomy day, the hand-painted blue and red/orange walls and beams, hanging light bulbs and funky art pieces hanging from the walls could brighten anyone’s dreary disposition. As it was, the midday sun of an unusually warm winter day lit up the taproom with lights and colors second only to the Minnesota State Fair. It didn’t take long for us to love everything about Wooden Hill’s space.
Of course, aesthetics are only part of a great brewery experience. After all, most people visit for the beer, and Wooden Hill’s didn’t disappoint. While there’s no doubt Sean’s entrepreneurial spirit helped make the brothers’ dream a reality, it was James’ passion for home-brewing that started it all. He received his first home-brewing kit from his older brother when he was 21 — a testament to the team the brothers still make.
With 20 taps available, we found no shortage of traditional and non-traditional beers at Wooden Hill. Flagships include a pre-WWII era Kolsh; gluten-reduced, white-wine like saison; triple-hopped juicy IPA; and chocolatey wheat stout. Some of our personal favorites included the more experimental beers: a cold-brew infused Coffee Cake Brown Ale; cranberry and raspberry Pixie Catcher Sour; and Harlem Shake strawberry banana milkshake IPA. Our only regret is that we missed some of the previous unique releases like Caramel Frap coffee cream ale, Raspberry Pi fruited pale ale, Cinnamon Crunch brown ale and Cocoa Crisp chocolate vanilla brown ale. Needless to say, Wooden Hill is a brewery worth following on Facebook or Instagram or subscribing to their email list for updates so you don’t miss out on future releases!
Adding to Wooden Hill’s allure is their kitchen, which we’d also heard great things about. Run by 2014 Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay finalist Jordan Roots, Wooden Hill’s kitchen offers concession-style food including gourmet burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, fancy fries, chicken strips, Bavarian pretzels and more. Unfortunately, we visited on full stomachs and didn’t try anything, only giving us another reason to visit soon!
If Sean and James’ hope is to bring people joy with their taproom, then it’s no wonder we left with such big smiles on our faces. The brothers and their team were wonderfully warm and receptive towards us — not uncommon in the craft beer community, we’ve found, but always appreciated. The taproom is perfect for both a quick in-and-out meal and drink or an afternoon spent drinking over games with friends. Whatever the reason for visiting, we’re pretty confident you’ll climb “up the wooden hill” at day’s end a little more joyful than you felt before.
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): 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
Adam & Katie