Together, the Twin Cities -- Minneapolis, Minnesota’s largest city, and Saint Paul, the state capital -- form the 14th most populous metropolitan area in the United States. Within the sprawling seven-county area, travelers can expect to find inventive establishments for all their beer, wine, and spirits needs: a family-run distillery making national waves, a craft beer pioneer, a scenic riverfront winery, and more. This Midwestern enclave is sure to quench your thirst.
Here are the best spots to enjoy a boozy beverage on a visit to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Fulton Beer originally opened in the trendy North Loop neighborhood in 2009; it expanded into Northeast (NE) Minneapolis in 2014. The lively and laid-back ambiance is sure to delight any visitor to the area. There’s no shortage of fun names for the brews: Try one of the landmark beers like the Sweet Child of Vine IPA or the Lonely Blonde American Pale Ale. But Minnesota’s fourth-largest brewery hasn’t just mastered beer -- a recent expansion into alcoholic beverages has already proven fruitful (pun intended). Brand new to the Fulton operation is a line of hard seltzers in flavors like berry, lemon lime, blood orange, and grapefruit. Plus, a revamped Airstream food trailer rests just outside the North Loop taproom and serves up simple yet elevated grub like hot dogs, sandwiches, and sausages.
Barrel Theory Beer Company
Saint Paul’s Lowertown area is home to another wondeful beverage stop, Barrel Theory Beer Company. The company’s tagline is “Uncompromising passion for beer and community,” and it shows. Barrel Theory even welcomes input from customers on what local causes to support. Plus, the quality brews speak for themselves. Sample the perfect Minnesotan IPA, aptly named Boat Shoes. The rich Java Oats coffee stout is another standout. Guests can feel free to bring in takeout from their favorite spots to enjoy in the taproom.
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery
The West Metro’s Waconia, roughly 45 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, is home to the next stop on our Twin Cities beverage road. Opened in 2008, Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery started as a traditional winery and has now expanded to include craft beer options, too. In warm weather, try their three stunning rosé varieties, the Laketown, the Semi-Sparkling, and the Marquette, all featuring Minnesota-grown grapes. Another fantastic wine available at Schram is the single varietal 2016 sangiovese. For a more structured experience, consider a guided winery tour; most Saturdays from May through October, there’s a $30 Wine to Vine tour and tasting option available.
Du Nord Craft Spirits
Du Nord’s moniker is a nod to the Minnesota state motto, L’Étoile du Nord, or “the Star of the North” in French. This business, opened in 2015 in Minneapolis, was the first cocktail room in the Twin Cities area. The husband-and-wife team behind Du Nord Craft Spirits use Minnesota-grown grains in their chic urban distillery. They produce small-batch, artisan gin, whiskey, liqueurs, and vodka. The L’Étoile Vodka and Fitzgerald Gin are among the most popular products. Weekends are best for visiting this establishment, as public tours plus tastings are only offered on Friday nights and Saturdays during the day.
Dangerous Man Brewing Company
This beer producer is housed in a former bank in the NE Minneapolis neighborhood. It provides a welcoming environment in its family-friendly taproom with a focus on small-batch production. The taproom is also well known for displaying tons of art as well as a plethora of plant life. The on-tap options are always changing, which means that multiple visits during a trip to the area can glean new favorites each time. Dangerous Man opened in early 2013 and hasn’t stopped pouring innovation since. Try the Peach Citra Sour, Belgian Table Beer, Peanut Butter Porter, or Boku Berry Braggot.
Urban Forage Winery & Cider House
Southeast Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood is home to another great beverage destination in the Twin Cities, Urban Forage Winery & Cider House. The company produces 100 percent gluten-free and natural wine, ciders, and mead using locally sourced fruit. Urban Forage has a couple cool options for travelers to the area, including a trivia night on Thursdays and winery tours and tastings on Sundays. Be sure to sample the four ciders on tap, Minnesota-made red wine, and honey mead. Special seasonal offerings may be available as well, such as rhubarb wine or black currant cider.
Tattersall Distilling has developed a huge portfolio of more than 30 all-natural spirits and liqueurs in just four years of operation. This Logan Park gem has already achieved national prominence with numerous award-winning products. And it just launched a new Signature Series that promotes collaboration between noteworthy chefs and artists and the distillery to make brand-new merchandise. Tattersall’s NE Minneapolis cocktail room is located in the historic Thorpe Building and features a rotating schedule of local food trucks. Try the Bootlegger in the sweet summertime, Apple Brandy in the fall, the wine-based botanical Americano in the winter, and the Scandinavian-inspired Aquavit in the spring. Or simply chat with the helpful bartenders who will happily stir up something perfect for you.
Tin Whiskers Brewing Company
Another Saint Paul hotspot, Tin Whiskers, is currently making waves with its funky new Bot IPA series. Each month during summer 2019, the brewery will release a limited-edition new IPA. For those visiting at other times of the year, do not fear. Tin Whiskers’s flagship beers are great, too. Try the staples Flipswitch IPA and Wheatstone Bridge. This establishment is also known for its Spark Series beers, which are inspired by sweet treats. Some winners are the Bit-O-Honey Blonde and Salted Nut Roll Ale.
Lift Bridge Brewery
Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater, Minnesota, is next up on our list of best beverage experiences in the Twin Cities. This East Metro establishment, located about 20 minutes from downtown Saint Paul, offers a tour plus tasting on Saturdays for just $8. Some standout brews include the Mango Blonde, Fireside Flannel, and Farm Girl Saison. Mocktail enthusiasts will also be satisfied with Lift Bridge’s non-alcoholic offerings, including old-fashioned root beer, black cherry soda, and Minnesota State Fair-inspired Mini Donut Cream Soda. Other fun favorites are the hard seltzers, especially the Northwoods Juice Box combination of apple and cranberry goodness.
Located in NE Minneapolis, Norseman Distillery is another small-batch craft cocktail distillery that shouldn’t be missed. Norseman was the first legal microdistillery opened in Minnesota after the Prohibition. Besides the usual tours and tastings, this spot offers unique and interactive cocktail classes for different levels of mixologists. It produces nearly 20 different products, from classic vodka to bartender-favorite fernet to seasonally inspired strawberry rhubarb gin. Norseman’s industrial chic tasting room is open seven days a week, which is extra convenient for travelers to the area.
This establishment offers an extra-scenic beer experience for visitors to the Twin Cities. The odd name pays homage to Minnesota’s Scandinavian roots. In fact, according to the website, utepils is Norwegian for the first beer enjoyed in the sunshine after a long, dark winter. The outdoor beer garden offers serene waterfall views of the Harrison neighborhood of West Minneapolis, and the brewery features a ton of choices for the thirsty traveler. The German-style Radler is a winner, as is the signature Czech-style Pils. Ask the bartenders about the limited-time seasonal offerings as well.
Taking inspiration from all over the world, Insight Brewing has established itself as a must-visit spot in Minneapolis. Offering everything from a West Coast-style IPA to a London-style porter to a Norse-style blonde ale, this urban taproom transports visitors around the globe. Besides beers available all year round, Insight sells special Brewmaster’s Vault creations, seasonal offerings, one-time collaborations, and limited-edition releases. Consider a visit any day of the week.
Lakes & Legends Brewing Company
A love letter to the City of Lakes, Lakes & Legends Brewing Company in downtown Minneapolis’s Loring Park has it all, from delicious brews to a pretty locale to a well-honed connection to area farmers. Popular Lakes & Legends drafts include the Belgian-style Barncat, the sweet and sour Raspberry Honey Ale, and a citrusy Pilsner named Marigold. Plus, Lakes & Legends is the only Minnesota Grown brewery partner in the whole state.
It’s easy to see that Minneapolis-Saint Paul has plenty of unique offerings for beer lovers, winos, and craft distillery fans. Check out some (or all!) of the above businesses on your next trip to the Twin Cities.