Best New Destination Taprooms

Bent Paddle Brewing Company

The Bent Paddle tap room opens at 3 p.m. Fridays and, on a recent one, within 15 minutes every seat was taken with patrons lined up six deep at the bar. It’s the busiest place in an otherwise lonely, industrial stretch of West Duluth, with the crowd a mix of working-class and outdoorsy. In the adjacent warehouse, beers being brewed “bend the tradition,” the owners like to say, of classic styles. Flagship beers such as the Venture Pils and the 14° Extra Special Bitter, which took home a bronze medal in last year’s Great American Beer Festival, are also available in cans at Twin Cities liquor stores. •

Canal Park Brewing

In the heart of Duluth’s tourist hub, Canal Park Brewing’s glassy façade overlooks Lake Superior with killer views, inside or on the patio. The restaurant/brewery has a comfortable, accessible vibe, with a chalkboard menu describing what’s being brewed behind the bar and hanging light shades made from glass growlers. The food menu includes soft pretzels and burgers, shore lunch and beer-can chicken. And Canal’s “beer from the middle of somewhere”—IPA, brown ale, oatmeal stout—are all marketed in a playful, welcoming manner. As they like to put it, “Strangers are just future friends looking for a beer, right?” •

Castle Danger Brewery

Last year, Castle Danger Brewery moved from tiny digs in its namesake North Shore community (so small it’s unincorporated) to downtown Two Harbors, expanding production from a 3-barrel system to 30. The casual spot draws families gathering to order pizza and pair it with pints—the most notable of which are its premier beer, the Danger Ale, and summer seasonal, the highly sessionable Castle Cream Ale. •

Gull Dam Brewing

Nisswa’s only brewery is easy to spot: just look for the log cabin with a giant water wheel churning a pond. Gull Dam’s tap room is around back in the warehouse, which feels far homier than it sounds if they’ve brought in a musician to strum her guitar. Gull Dam’s brewing process uses well water from Gull Lake’s underground aquifers and hops grown in Brainerd. The beers are unfiltered to retain flavor, whether the wheat beer’s crispness or the scotch ale’s hints of malt and maple. •

Jack Pine Brewery

Tucked into a Baxter industrial park, Jack Pine’s operation feels only a bit larger than a homebrewer’s garage: They brew 100 gallons at a time, in tanks about as tall as a teenager. Yet Jack Pine offers a range of beverages, from agave cream soda to Dead Branch Cream Ale (sometimes infused with fresh jalapeños) to porter aged in whiskey barrels. •

Red Wing Brewery

Now beer joins pottery and work boots as one of Red Wing’s notable manufactured goods. Pair a Lake-Pepin-inspired Pepie’s Porter or a Stoneware Stout with a pizza—the crust is made from leftover spent grains from the brewery. •

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Best New Destination Taprooms

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