Winter Is Coming-Four Twin Cities Brewery Spots Embracing Winter Beer Time

Minnesotans, for the most part, are hearty folk when it comes to withstanding the elements. A silver lining of last winter’s pandemic shutdown was how many breweries provided ways to stay warm while people enjoyed their favorite beers outdoors. I remember going to Utepils last winter and having a blast sitting outside in their winter beer garden. I came away wondering why they don’t just do this every year. Granted, it is not for everyone. However, if you dress for the weather so that you can stay warm, enjoying winter beer time is easy in the bold north.

This year, there is no looming shutdown, although there are many people who still are not comfortable drinking indoors with the confluence of flu season and the ever-present threat of Covid-19. So, there are some breweries that have opted to provide an outdoor option for people willing to embrace the al fresco phenomenon of enjoying beers outdoors.

I wanted to highlight a few places in the Twin Cities that are providing something above and beyond the simple smattering of fire pits. Now, my definition of Twin Cities might be a little rigid. When I say Twin Cities, I am talking Minneapolis and St. Paul and maybe a first ring suburb. All of the breweries mentioned are located within the 494/694 loop.

Utepils Brewing Winter Beer Garden

Open officially as of Saturday, November 13th, the Utepils Brewing Winter Beer Garden a wonderful place to have a beer. Utepils has doubled-down on tents and seating that allows for people to stay out of the elements all the while enjoying remarkably well-made beers that transport you to all over Europe. They have flavors and styles for every taste. They will also be providing live music throughout the winter. Don’t worry, though, the musicians realize it is a winter beer garden and not Wembley Stadium. Dan Justesen, President of Utepils, is aware that beer is about the conversation. The musicians that play at Utepils will be a pleasant augmentation to an already laid back aesthetic.

What I appreciate about the winter beer garden at Utepils is that there is plenty of space. There are two large tents that shield drinkers from the elements. Of course, the gigantic fire pit in the middle of the area is kind of what anchors the winter beer garden. This incendiary beast kicks out some serious heat, so you can feel the tips of your fingers while you drink.

In the largest tent there are lots of beer hall picnic tables separated by smaller fire pits. Of course, all the fire pits and tents in the world can keep you as warm as a man trying to sandpaper a tiger’s ass in a phone booth, but if there isn’t delicious beer to consume, the warmth doesn’t matter much. Luckily Lunar Eclipse, a dark lager is the perfect beer with flavor to keep you warm.

Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative Themed Igloos

There are three themed igloos that can be rented for set amounts of time at Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative in Northeast Minneapolis. The three different themes are Ski Lodge, Back to the 70s, and 90s Sitcom. You can stay cozy and enjoy beers in a unique and toasty warm setting. A one-hour rental is $20.00 and a two-hour rental is $40.00. You can book your themed igloo rental here. Now, it is important to note that this is an enclosed space and not an open-air space.

I love that the themed-igloos provide a shielded place to drink as well as an incredibly fun aesthetic. My favorite is probably the 90s Sitcom. I can imagine putting down a few pours of Pocket Watch Pecan brown ale and then launching into quoting entire episodes of Seinfeld.

Forgotten Star Brewing Outdoor Curling & Warming House

When it starts to get really cold, Forgotten Star Brewing in Fridley, Minnesota, has a fun way for you to embrace Old Man Winter. They have 2 Curling rinks outside with a warming area that is out of the wind. They always have some quality beers on tap-my current favorite is the Doppelbock that is pictured. Forgotten Star has quietly been impressing me lately with their offerings. They are a short drive from Northeast Minneapolis. If you choose to venture that way, your exploration will be rewarded with a spacious taproom and some wonderful beer.

Although I have never done any curling, I have a lot of experience with twelve ounce curls. So, it stands to reason that combining an activity that requires concentration and balance with sweet, delicious beer could only be a good thing. I love how spacious their outdoor area is. I am sure that I will be doing my fair share of imbibing up in Fridley this winter.

Dual Citizen Tented Winter Wonderland

Smack dab on the border of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is Dual Citizen Brewing Company. They have a festive winter wonderland to provide the perfect backdrop for your beer hangs and Instagramming. I can think of nothing better than putting on your favorite winter drinking socks and savoring a pint of their Caress Me Brown while you bask in a Pinterest Paradise of winter decor. This space can be rented out for events. When there is no event, it is open to the public, so if you have your heart set on hanging out in the tent, you might want to call and make sure it is available.

This is a starter list to help prevent the cabin fever from messing with your winter mojo. Enjoying some winter beer time is probably deeply embedded in our DNA. I am happy that there are some Twin Cities breweries really leaning into it and getting creative this year. If you have another local spot that has something fun happening for the wintertime craft beer drinker, leave it in the comments. Prost!

Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer.  Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged.  If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at dan.beaubien@beerploma.com .