Although Maple Grove doesn’t have its own craft brewery, you can still experience the great local brews Minnesota has to offer. Here, we’ve mapped out a brew hop of six bars in Maple Grove with local beers on tap for your sipping pleasure.
From St. Paul’s staple Summit Brewery, to the lesser-known Badger Hill in Minnetonka, Minnesota is well represented at these local bars. So, head outdoors to explore what these Maple Grove locations have to offer —we’ve done the planning for you—and enjoy the autumn weather before the snow starts falling.
Beginning on the western edge of the city, Highlander Restaurant and Pub in the Rush Creek Golf Club, at 7801 County Road 101, is the first stop on our hop. It’s where you can grab Badger Hill’s High Road Everyday Ale. Highlander manager Bruce Michaelson says, “We do try to keep the majority of our tap lines to the local, craft brewers,” and keeping this Minnetonka brew on tap is proof. The local ale is made with Galaxy and Wakatu hops, and has the aromas of tropical fruit and citrus. Clean and dry, with a hint of sweetness, it’s a perfect start to exploring the flavors craft brews have to offer. Follow this with Rush Creek’s Amber Lager, which is brewed at New Ulm’s August Schell brewing company. With a bit more malt and very low bitterness, it’s an easily drinkable brew with extra character.
The Highlander provides a scenic view over the golf course as you grab your drinks at the recently renovated bar. With a stone fireplace to warm up on a chilly fall day, Michaelson says they “would love an opportunity to show it off to people that haven’t been here since the renovation.” Be sure to enjoy the crisp fall air as well by taking a step out onto the terrace where, if you’re there at sunset, you’ll get a great show of colors.
Manager Bruce Michaelson enjoys a brew at the Highlander.
Whirlyball, 13644 80th Circle N., is stop number two, and is a definite change of pace. After relaxing near the fireplace or on the terrace of the Highlander, Whirlyball will get your heart pumping with some competitive games. Before you suit up for a round of whirlyball though, grab another Minnetonka brew: Lucid Foto IPA. A true beer-lovers brew, this IPA is not for the faint of heart. Even with a whopping smack of citrus and hops, in both flavor and aroma it manages to avoid the bitterness that can accompany many IPAs. It is one of 16 beers on tap, so if a hoppy beer isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t be deterred.
Manager Nick Lambrecht says that a stop at Whirlyball will no doubt be “So. Much. Fun.” It’s not just a bar, but an entertainment center with laser tag and two whirlyball courts. This hop stop is a must to express your competitive side.
Head downtown and you’ll find Claddagh Irish Pub at 7890 Main Street N. It’s named for the Irish symbol representing love, loyalty and friendship, and you’re sure to find at least one of these qualities as you transport yourself to Ireland when you walk through their doors. You can order the traditional Irish Guinness, but belly up to the bar and try the Twin Cities favorite Finnegans Irish Amber. Brewed in St. Paul, it’s a medium-bodied ale with a creamy, malty finish. Not familiar with Finnegans? They’re a charitable beer company, donating 100 percent of profits to feed the hungry.
Before your glass is empty, order the Minneapolis brewed Surly Furious which, like its name suggests, will hit you full-force with flavor. Brewed with a blend of American hops and Scottish malt, you’ll notice citrus, pine, and caramel-toffee flavors coming and going with each sip. It’s an American India Pale Ale that beer connoisseurs will appreciate.
You’ll feel good ordering local brews, and a beer that donates to charity, but you’ll stay at Claddagh “for the craic!” says manager Mike Christianson. “It’s the Irish term for fun,” and it’s what you expect from strong Irish tradition.
Down the street, Malone’s Bar and Grill, at 12635 Elm Creek Blvd. N., will bring you back to this side of the pond with familiar American casual. Here you can order another St. Paul brew, Summit’s seasonal Oktoberfest. It’s only available for a few months during the fall, and is full of rich, toffee malt flavors, finishing with a light, clean hop.
This is the fourth stop, so you may be ready for a simple, refreshing beer that’s easy to drink. Grain Belt’s Nordeast fills the bill. Named after the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis, the brew is an American Amber Lager with a light hop, malt flavor and mild bitterness. It goes down smoothly, and keeps you going for the last two stops on the hop.
Farther down Main Street, hugging Hemlock Lane, is Granite City Brewery. It brews its beer on site, giving you more opportunity to try something new. Start out with The Bennie, a German style lager. This brew tastes the way it looks, with a deep caramel color matching the malty, nutty, sweet caramel flavor.
For something new on the hop, it’s time for Granite City’s Broad Axe Stout. This is as dark as beer gets, which means it’s a little like dessert. The oatmeal stout has notes of chocolate and coffee, with a roasted flavor that is rich and creamy. It’s not a beginner’s beer, but it is a treat for the taste buds. Its warm flavors emulate Granite City’s atmosphere which makes you feel right at home.
NOLA Bistro and Bar caps the evening at 204 Central Ave. in Osseo. Here’s a unique hop that will transport you down the Mississippi to New Orleans. “It’s one of the only restaurants with live jazz music,” says owner Vinay Mehta.
Here, the popular beer isn’t a Minnesota native, but NOLA was one of the first and is still one of the only bars carrying Oskar Blues Brewery’s Mama’s Little Yella Pils. Coming out of the craft brewing state of Colorado, this pilsner is made with pale malt, German specialty malts and Saaz hops, and is a smooth refresher.
In need of something solid to clear your palate before the last brew on the journey? This is your chance to try alligator. Juicy cuts of tail meat, seasoned, lightly breaded and deep fried go swimmingly with NOLA’s housemade tangy remoulade sauce. Or, you can dig into their spicy jambalaya or settle for blackened catfish with rice and slaw.
The last beer, Sweet Stout, another Lucid Brewery specialty, is like a liquid dessert. Creamy notes of coffee and chocolate with a sweet malt flavor welcome the perfect end to your Maple Grove brew hop and taste bud trip around the world, before calling a cab home.
Local specialties to enjoy
- Badger Hill’s High Road Everyday Ale
- Rush Creek’s Amber Lager
- Lucid Foto IPA
- Finnegans Irish Amber
- Surly Furious
- Summit’s Oktoberfest
- Grain Belt’s Nordeast
- The Bennie
- Broad Axe Stout
- Oskar Blue, Mama’s Little Yella Pils
- Lucid Sweet Stout
Beer Crawl Tips
Consider breaking the hop up into three different nights of two locations each or grab a friend, or three, and split your beer orders.
In whatever way you safely imbibe, visit maplegrovemag.com afterwards and share your feedback on these crafty brews.