If you have met Dawn and Steve Finnie, you know how passionate and genuine they are. When Steve left Grand Rounds, it left a void in the Minnesota craft beer community. Luckily, that void is now closed and all is right again in Rochester. Dawn and Steve Finnie are opening up their long-awaited brewery, Little Thistle this Friday, August 24th at noon. There will be bagpipes, smiles, beer, and the start of a new beer story.
Little Thistle Brewing
Little Thistle Brewing is right off the Douglas Trail at 2031 14th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Little Thistle has a spacious location that will be host to many beer events in the coming future. Steve will brew on a 10 bbl system with lots of fermenter space to keep the thirsty patrons happy. The bar is absolutely beautiful with a backdrop of pristine subway tile, the tap handles stand out emphatically and dare you not to order a beer. A distinct shade of blue runs through the entire place to bring it all together. There are some old-school video games inside and on their spacious outdoor patio, there is plenty of room for a couple games of bags. The taproom is going to be a place where families can come and relax, something that Rochester definitely needs.
Be Humble, Drink Local
It is important to the Finnies to have a place for the community to gather and be together. They have put their own hearts into the place and that sense of hospitality and warmth is palpable. There are different types of seating for different types of interactions. From high top tables to seating for pairs, any sized group will be able to call Little Thistle Brewing home. With a little help from friends in the industry, Dawn and Steve are ready to hit the ground running to ensure a high-quality experience can be had.
Little Thistle Beers
To start off, Little Thistle will feature a lineup with something for everyone. They will have a lager, a Scottish ale, a session IPA, a mango & passion fruit sour, and a NEIPA. Amidst these offerings, there is definitely something for everyone. Dawn and Steve understand that the Rochester community is ready to embrace craft beer. They also know that the drinkers down there might be starting from a place of less craft beer experience and will need to have beers that are approachable.
Of the 5 beers they will have when their doors open to the public on Friday, I tried 3 of them at the soft opening on Sunday night. The lager is clean and crisp with a nice cracker and bready malt character. The Doug Lager, named for the trail that goes past the brewery will no doubt appeal to everyone. The Beautiful Day session IPA w/ Simcoe is a bright and grassy offering. It is well-balanced, but definitely has a bit of back-end bitterness to satiate the hopheads.
The Brave Woman, a Scottish Ale, is named for Steve’s great-great-grandmother who heroically saved 15 sailors whose boat had capsized off of the eastern coast of Scotland. I am sure that Steve feels pretty accomplished in opening up his own brewery, but until he saves 15 sailors from certain death and brings them home to cook them dinner and tea, he isn’t Batman. The Brave Woman Scottish Ale is sessionable at 5.5% ABV and has a wonderful roasted malt aroma. The caramel from the malt is evident and it only gets better as it warms up.
Opening up Little Thistle has been a long time coming and I am sure I speak for people in the beer industry as well as locals in Rochester when I say I am excited that they are starting a new chapter. Dawn and Steve Finnie are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. The fact that they have sacrificed so much time and effort to bring us a place to enjoy beer can only be described with one word: humble. I am happy for them and look forward to my next trip down to Rochester, MN. Prost.