The holidays are a time where many Minnesotans who live in all manner of far flung locales return home to the North Star State for a big turkey dinner and a chance to catch up with family. Since flying takes longer than ever these days and nobody likes arriving to Thanksgiving empty-handed, we put together this list of breweries that are conveniently located near the freeways that you’ll be using to drive back to your hometown. Stop in, grab some beer to go, and pregame with a pint to steel yourself for Grandma’s prying questions about your love life.
I-35 Northbound: Three Twenty Brewing Co.
Beer: Rye Not Imperial Stout
Perfect for: Hipster Whiskey Snob Brother in Law
Just over an hour into your northward trek home on I-35, you’ll find the quaint Snake River town of Pine City, home of the charmingly woodsy Three Twenty Brewing Co. Their recently-released Rye Not Imperial Stout was aged in rye whiskey barrels, giving it a boozy and spicy note that should suit your skinny jeans-wearing, mustachioed brother in law just fine. Since he’s “a total foodie”, he’ll probably appreciate Three Twenty’s thoughtful additions of cacao nibs and Mexican chocolate to this velvety-dark brew, even though he’s “really more into whiskey these days.”
MN Highway 36/Wisconsin Highway 35/64: Lift Bridge Brewing New Richmond
Beer: Commander Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine
Perfect For: Craft Beer Dads
Lift Bridge’s expansive new brewery is a perfect pitstop for folks returning home to Wisconsin, and thanks to sensible ‘Sconnie liquor laws, you can shop to your heart’s content for packaged product in their taproom.
Commander has been one of the best barleywines in the local market for a long time now thanks to Lift Bridge’s clean, classic, and balanced approach to this big and caramely beer style. With its nuanced, bourbon-aged flavor, it carries the kind of gravitas necessary to win the quiet approval of the Craft Beer Dads at your Thanksgiving party, who will nod at you sagely and murmur “Great Beer. Great Beer.”
I-94 Eastbound: Hop and Barrel Brewing
Beer: Second Helping Dunkelweizen
Perfect For: Relative With the Weird Cranberry Sauce Fixation
We all have our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and we’re all passionate about our reasons for our choice. But whether we’re turkey people, mashed potato pushers, or gravy guzzlers, we can all agree: It’s weird when people say that cranberry sauce is their favorite dish. Favorite garnish? Sure, absolutely, that’s fine. But dish? C’mon dude, that’s just weird.
Anyways, if you have one of those folks in your family, Hop & Barrel in Hudson just tapped their delicious Second Helping Dunkelweizen. This satisfyingly malty German-style wheat beer was brewed with cranberry and orange, making it perfect for the cranberry sauce fiend in your life.
Highway 52 bound southeast: Thesis Beer Project
Beer: Leaf Peeping Pumpkin Blonde Ale
Perfect for: InstaMom Cousin
These days, Rochester has so many awesome breweries that a pit stop for a crowler could result in an all-day taproom crawl. We’re sending you to Thesis, who do awesome work with infusions, to pick up their seasonally appropriate Leaf Peeping Pumpkin Blonde Ale. This beer is gonna be a huge crowd pleaser for your InstaMom Cousins because it’s light and refreshing, with a flavor that plays like a classed-up version of every InstaMom’s favorite beverage: The Pumpkin Spice Latte. Hand them a glass of this, take good pictures of their adorably overdressed kids, and boom, you just added $10 to the gift card they were going to give you for Christmas.
I-35 Southbound: Lakeville Brewing Company
Beer: Britta’s Breakfast Chocolate Hazelnut Porter
Perfect For: Aunt With a Sweet Tooth
Hop in your rental and drive about 30 minutes south from MSP along 35w and you’ll find yourself in the orbit of Lakeville Brewing Company, a lovely brewpub with a tasty menu to match their tap list. Their Britta’s Breakfast is a rich and delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Porter that’s going to be a perfect sweet-tooth tonic for your aunt that always finds a way to house at least 6 cookies before dinner. The creamy, Nutella-esque flavors of Britta’s Breakfast should pair well with just about everything on the desert table, and your Sweet Tooth Aunt will know, because she’s never more than 6 feet from said table during the whole party.
Highway 169 Bound Southwest: Badger Hill Brewing Company
Beer: Baguette Eater
Perfect for: Jet-Setting Younger Sibling
The younger ones always seem so carefree, don’t they? While you’ve been grinding and saving your PTO, your Jet-Setting Younger Sibling has been gallivanting around the world having all sorts of fun adventures. Soothe your jealousy and their now-learned palates with this effervescent saison from Badger Hill in Shakopee. Thanks to a complex melange of fruity esters and a dry, spicy finish, Baguette Eater will be a great substitute for all the amazing champagne that your sibling has recently been enjoying without you.
Highway 7 Bound Southwest: LTD Brewing Co.
Beer: Emily’s Dream Tequila Sunrise Sour
Perfect for: Brunch Aunt
As you head out into the southwest ‘burbs along Highway 7, make sure to pay a visit to the charming Hopkins taproom of LTD Brewing. Their limited-release sour series Emily’s Dream always produces some great results, but this year’s Tequila Sunrise version is especially fun for sharing with family at a leftovers-laden Black Friday breakfast. Aged in tequila barrels with bright notes of blood orange and sweet cherry, this beer is a perfect gift for your mimosa-chugging aunt whose own living room is adorned with “quirky” wall art that reads “Brunch is a Lifestyle.”
Highway 55 Westbound: Spilled Grain Brewhouse
Beer: Dark House Imperial Stout
Perfect For: Relative Whose Fantasy Football Team is Tanking
At this point in the season, those of us who suffer from a deficit of luck and skill have found that our fantasy football prospects have withered on the vine once again, leaving us sour, broke, and in no mood to enjoy football. If you’ve got a relative who is currently sitting in DFL in their league, cheer them up with the spectacular seasonal stout from Spilled Grain in Annandale. Dark House is dark and inky (like your relative’s current mood) with enough rich, roasted malt flavor and alcohol content to revive the holiday spirits of even the most morose football fan.
I-94 Westbound: Bad Habit Brewing Company
Beer: Stoned in Paradise Mango Milkshake IPA
Perfect for: “Fun” Uncle
St. Joseph, MN on the I-94 corridor is the perfect place to stop for an inventive, boundary-pushing beer to bring with you to Thanksgiving dinner. In this case, we’re recommending Bad Habit’s mango-rific Stoned in Paradise Milkshake IPA for that one uncle who always takes a “little walk” just before dinner and comes back smelling like a “weird campfire” before talking your ear off at dinner about seeing ‘Floyd back in ‘87. Not only will this beer’s blast of tropical flavor and thick, sweet mouthfeel remind your Fun Uncle of his favorite cruise ship cocktails, but it will give him the opportunity to say “Stoned in Paradise” enough to bother Grandma, which is always funny.
Highway 65 Northbound: Garphish Brewing Company
Beer: Lemony Lemonkins Pastry Ale
Perfect for: Baking Moms
With an uncanny ability to pump out cookies, cakes and bars (*Minnesota voice*) of all shapes and sizes, Baking Moms are prized Thanksgiving guests. Bethel’s quaint and cozy Garphish Brewing has a perfect dessert pairing to grab on your way up North on 65. Their sweet and tart pastry ale Lemony Lemonkins does an amazing job of of mimicking the flavor vanilla and citrus flavor of a classic lemon bar thanks to the infusion of real graham crackers in the brewing process. Present this beer to your Baking Moms and Sweet Tooth Aunts and invite them to judge it, Great British Bake-Off-style.
Want to find more awesome breweries around the state of Minnesota? Check out our Land of 10,000 Drinks map!