“Pantown Brewing is open…”
It was New Years Day, and we were on our drive home from the holiday weekend. Katie was on her phone, browsing.
“Wanna stop?” I asked.
“Let’s do it!”
Tucked away in the old Pantown neighborhood of St. Cloud, Pantown Brewing Co. brings the area’s history — and some old brewing equipment — to life again.
It was fairly quiet for 5pm on a Sunday evening. Then again, Nick behind the bar pointed out, it was also New Years day — “the day after one of the biggest drinking days of the year.” Nick’s face is a familiar one; we used to see him slinging at Beaver Island Brewing. As another customer was leaving, Nick sang him a very loud, boisterous farewell song.
“Can we get one of those when we leave?” we asked.
In its glory days, the Pantown Historic District where Pantown Brewing Co. is now located used to be home to Pan Motor Company’s workers and their families. According to Steve Backlaich’s article for ActiveRain, the auto plant was on a 22 acre plot of Northern St. Cloud and produced 750 vehicles between 1917-1921. That history is proudly displayed throughout Pantown Brewing’s taproom in things like the logo, the sign above the front door, the large mural just inside the door, the large 1919 Pan Car display, and various framed articles decorating the walls.
Even the taproom space — with its industrial colors, metal and wood accents and decorative leather chairs — seems to reflect a modern interpretation of what the original Pan cars might have looked like.
We had an opportunity to chat with one of the co-founders and -owners Marty. One of the questions we asked him was “How’s the reception from the community been?” Despite the slow evening we seemed to catch it on, he assured us the taproom had been busy since its open December 20. We also talked beer, of course, of which Marty shared some of the best advice he was given, coincidentally from one of Beaver Island’s co-founders Nick (not the same Nick behind the bar): “Just don’t make bad beer!” It seems like a no-brainer, but — as Marty pointed out — while it’s the sense of camaraderie and support that makes the brewery scene so unique, breweries must also challenge each other. “We don’t want to be brewing bad beer,” Marty said. “Cause if we do, someone who came up to St. Cloud to visit might not go over to Beaver Island — and vice versa — if they think all St. Cloud beer is bad.”
As far as Pantown Brewing’s beer goes, we couldn’t have been more impressed! At the time of our visit there were five available — a 1917 American IPA, a Classic Cream Ale, a Flat Iron Amber Ale, a Drop Forge Milk Stout, and a Raspberry Dream fruit beer. We genuinely couldn’t praise them enough. Every single beer was fantastic. The raspberry in the Raspberry Dream was perfect — according to Marty, even non-beer lovers love it. The cream ale, Katie’s favorite, was one of the smoothest and creamiest we’ve ever had, and the milk stout was easily one of the best milk stouts we’ve ever had. At the risk of setting the experience bar too high, we were genuinely and thoroughly impressed by Pantown Brewing’s start and look forward to seeing what else they come out with.
If everyone else’s experience is as positive as ours was, we expect really great things for Pantown Brewing Co. Not only will it be a great modern addition to Pantown’s historic neighborhood, but we think for St. Cloud and Central Minnesota at large.
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