From the outside, Foxhole Brewhouse is the definition of a “hole-in-the-wall” kinda place.
Sandwiched between a Bar & Grill on one side and a performing arts theater on the other, out-of towners like us could very easily miss the unassuming facade front as they navigated downtown Willmar, MN. Like my (Adam’s) very Christian mother used to say, though, “It’s not what’s on the outside that matters but what’s on the inside.” She wasn’t wrong, and what’s happening inside Foxhole Brewhouse is certainly impressive!
The taproom was warm and local though familiar — not necessarily cut-and-paste but reminiscent of other barroom-style taprooms like Shakopee Brewhall’s or Blacklist Artisan Ales’ in Duluth. A quaint vestibule area between the front door and the actual taproom did add a unique touch.
The deep blue walls, natural lighting and slapped-together vintage furniture and artistic accents reminded us of the Shadowbox Lounge at Goat Ridge Brewing Co. we’d just come from before, offering a distinctly different vibe to the more rustic, bar-like taproom. We’d later learn that this space was originally intended to be part of the restaurant next door before being given to Foxhole as an additional event/party space. A little out-of-place compared to the rest of the brewery, we still liked the vestibule and would have settled there for our visit had we not made plans to meet with the owner and headbrewer Ryan inside.
We arrived before Ryan — who was making a trip in just for us — and were met by his son Avery behind the bar. Avery walked us through the menu, offering insights and recommendations impressive for someone his young (though legal, we’re sure!) age; clearly, the brewery business is a family one. With too many great options to try — the Double J Form Oil Cream Ale, Perkins Lumber Peanut Butter Porter, Talking Waters Brewing Co. collaboration Philsner Pilser and U.S. Beer Open Championship Gold medal-winning Old Snaggletooth English Old Ale all stood out — we started with a flight.
If there’s a list of breweries that don’t make bad beer, Foxhole’s on it! We’re always a sucker for a peanut butter beer, and the porter was delicious — rich, smooth, well-balanced and easily drinkable, we had an additional full pint before we left. The cream ale was perfectly malty and sweet; the pilsner — an imperial at 7.5% ABV — was beautifully crisp with hints of floral; and the Old English Ale easily earned its gold medal status with noticeable notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruit and boozy aromas.
The name “Foxhole Brewhouse” comes from family heritage and Ryan’s days as a home brewer. Ryan’s last name “Fuchs” is German for “fox.” Back when he was home brewing and hosting home brewing parties, his wife Liv nicknamed their home “foxhole,” and the name stuck!
Coincidentally, our visit came just days after many of Minnesota’s craft breweries gathered at the state capital for Brewer’s Day — a day and opportunity for the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild to appeal legislation regarding various laws, regulations and bills.
We asked Ryan if he had joined the others at the capital; he’d not. The metro and bigger-reputation breweries tend to have more influence and a bigger voice, he indicated, though he did say that they had a good idea of what was happening out at the “boonies breweries” and trusted them to advocate for him. Curious to know more, we pressed, “What would you like to see done or what would help Foxhole and the other smaller, rural breweries?” Either out of neutrality or just genuine contentment, Ryan didn’t seem to have an answer, simply shrugging and returning instead to issues that had been brought up at the capital such as the ability for a brewery to sell cans in their own taproom, to sell collaboration beers in both taprooms, and for large-scale breweries to sell growlers again. We always enjoy hearing the story behind a brewery and getting to know the people who made it happen.
By the time we left Foxhole Brewhouse, we were 2/3 of the way through our brewery tour for the day and growing more and more impressed by the craft beer scene in SW Minnesota! If you ever find yourself in Willmar, don’t pass on an opportunity to visit Foxhole Brewhouse!
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