Last week I finally had some free time to check out someplace on my brewery list, someplace I’ve been eagerly waiting to have a beer at. A free night from chores and work, out at the newest brewery in St. Paul? Add in the historical aspect of this being the first women owned and brewed microbrewery in Minnesota and my interest is peaked.  After work I headed right over to Urban Growler without delay to get a look at this highly talked about brewery for myself.
First impressions are one of the most important pieces of any first meeting, even when that meeting is between you and a new brewery. I like a taproom where I feel comfortable, where I can sit and have beer with a friend or on my own while working. I want to be treated like I’m welcome and walking into Urban Growler felt like I was being welcomed into a friends home. Not only was Urban Growler clean and comfortably lit, but its exposed brick walls and local photography gave the taproom a cozy feel. I found a seat and settled in when something caught my eye. On a chalkboard, near the center of the room, boasted a message. ‘Kill the keg’ it begged of me. If I could kill the keg of Rhubarb Wit I could be the proud winner of a pint glass.  I knew then what my first beer would be.
It was only moments before my server came by to take my order and I almost fell off my chair when he handed me a food menu. Dear Gods of beer, thank you for the tap rooms with food. As someone who regularly suffers from the dreaded drunken munchies (there was that time the hubby had to step in and abort my after festival Dominoes order before it reached the triple digits), I am grateful for even a frozen pizza. But a full, fresh, hot menu of options? For not the first time in my life I regretted that snack before leaving work. Believe me though when I tell you, that I caught myself staring at my fellow patrons, perhaps somewhat creepily, as they devoured delicious looking food. Next time food menu, I will come for you.
But I did have the beer (poor review this would be if I didn’t). I did start with the Rhubarb Wit and if they have any left (spoiler alert: I did not kill the keg. I tried.) you should make it a priority to try before we are fully in the grasp of fall. Summery and fresh, the rhubarb was not overpowering, more of a sweet tangy after taste. I was pleasantly surprised to taste that the coriander in the beer wasn’t overdone, but just right. I don’t mind spices in my beer but often times I find that they are overpowering to the other flavors and my palate. The balance in this was perfect. I had two.
Rhubarb Wit (left) and Blueberry Wheat (right)
Next up was the Blueberry Wheat, the menu boasting that this was the second in their Plow to Pint™ series. Plow to Pint™…my farm girl roots were intrigued. What Urban Growler is doing is partnering with local farms for some of their ingredients, literally from the farm plow to the pint in your hand. As I continued reading I found that the Rhubarb Wit was the first beer in this series. I love the fact that the brewery is sourcing local ingredients and supporting their farm community. The concept isn’t new to the restaurant world but this is the first time I’ve noticed a brewery taking up the model. Genius. And it shows in the beer. The Blueberry Wheat, also fresh and fruity, yet not overly sweet. I find most wheat beers to be very drinkable and this beer was right on in that aspect.  Hopefully this one stays around a little into the fall so I can give it a second go around.
For my next beer (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving) I went for the Cowbell Cream Ale. For my ‘quantity’ drinking I like a good cream ale and this is a good cream ale. Trust me, you’ll like it if you’re a fan of cream ales. Light and fresh, it’ll quench your thirst a couple times over without knocking you on your butt. I wish I’d gotten a growler.
I probably should have left after that one, but since I wasn’t driving, I decided to have one more…a little one though! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, at Urban Growler you can get a half pint! I love it! Sometimes, I want a little less beer. Usually because in the long run I’d like to drink a little more beer, but different beers. There’s nothing worse than staring at a lovely beer menu, knowing that with that slightly full feeling, you’ll have to cut your sampling short.  But the half pint gave me room to explore! Which I did with the Amber Skyline, a gorgeous amber ale. This was perhaps my favorite of the night, which surprised me. While I like ambers, they aren’t usually my first selection. I will be going back for this one though. It was a smooth, caramel beer with that wonderful sweet maltiness to it. This one will have its place in my fall beer rotation.
With work coming early in the morning I had to bring the night to a close. I thanked my servers, who were beyond friendly and fun. On the way out I checked out the beer garden and was a little sad that it had been too blustery out, and I too summerly dressed, to have enjoyed a beer outdoors. It was beautiful though and as soon as the weather permits, I plan going back to enjoy it with my pup. It’s always a plus to sit enjoy a great beer with your best friend. Even if next time I’ll have to drive because, well, he’s a dog. There will be a next time though, and a time after that. So check out Urban Growler if you haven’t already. I for one can’t wait to see what they have in store for St. Paul.