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Appetites: New batch of taprooms serving up in NE Minneapolis 'brew district'

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612Brew
The taps at 612Brew will include four beers, with one, a black ale called Zero Hour, available exclusively at the 612Brew taproom, Broadway Street and Central Avenue NE. The first batches of beer were being brewed Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at the space which is still under construction, but will open next month.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

There's something serious brewing in northeast Minneapolis. The bar story of 2012 was the explosion of taprooms in the Twin Cities. As the New Year begins the pace isn't slowing.

Tom Horgen from the Star Tribune and contributor to "Appetites" talks about what's brewing in Minneapolis.

Tom Horgen:  The Surly Bill, which allowed for breweries to sell pints on site, paved the way for more micro-breweries. We now have our very own "brew district" in northeast Minneapolis.

Indeed Brewing opened in a big way last summer. A handful of breweries will open in the next month in northeast, making this area a true hotbed for taprooms. It's only fitting because northeast has a long history of brewing because of Grain Belt Brewery.

Tom Crann:  There are so many cool, old buildings in northeast, like the Grain Belt Brewery building. Are any of these breweries taking advantage of the area's old character? 

Tom Horgen:  I recently took a tour of 612Brew, a long-awaited brewery that is under construction in an old warehouse space at the corner of Broadway and Central. Plans are to open in early February.

The space is gorgeous. The four owners have put the taproom right in the middle of the brewery, so it'll be a total sensory experience for visitors. They've paid a lot of attention to the details in the design. The bar and tables are made from old bowling alley lanes. The fermenters are mirror-polished steel. Outside is a courtyard with a mini-amphitheater constructed from giant stone blocks from the old Metropolitan building.

612Brew
612Brew co-founders Robert Kasak, left, and Ryan Libby clean up after sanitizing a fermenting tank Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at the brewery and taproom set to open next month. The first batches of beers were being brewed over the weekend.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Tom Crann: What about the beer?

Tom Horgen:  They were so busy brewing for the opening I couldn't get a taste. When opened, they'll have four taps and one exclusive taproom-only beer: a black ale.

They're doing something really different with food: One of the owner's families owns an Indian restaurant, Tandoor, so they'll have Indian street food in the brewery. They'll also have regular food trucks parked outside.

Tom Crann: But I understand you were able to try some beers at another brewery that will open very soon?

Tom Horgen:  This past weekend I was able to slip into the soft opening of Dangerous Man and came away really impressed. It's basically a one-man brewing operation and it is unlike any other brewery in the Twin Cities. It's a taproom-only brewery, meaning they won't be distributing his beers to bars and stores right away. Instead, the only place you can get the beers is in the taproom at the tiny brewery, located on 13th Avenue near the 331 Club and Anchor Fish & Chips.

Owner Rob Miller, who is also the bearded fellow featured on the great logo, has done an amazing job with the space, located in a former vintage furniture store. The style is an incredible mix of timber and copper. There's a long bar with a lot of seating.

Miller really wants the place to be a neighborhood hangout for beer drinkers. He is starting with six beers on tap, such as a hop-heavy IPA, a chocolate milk stout and Belgian golden strong. I tried them all. The flavors are complex, but very approachable. Most are $5 a pint.

612Brew
Adam Schill, the brewer at 612Brew, checks the clarity of the first batch of a pale ale called SIX on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at the soon-to-open brewery and taproom at Broadway Street and Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Customers are encouraged to bring food from neighboring restaurants, such as Anchor and Element. And it's very family friendly; the taproom also has house-made sodas.

Look for Dangerous Man to be open on the weekends and then in February expand to probably five days a week.

Tom Crann:  There are more breweries coming?

Tom Horgen:  I hear Northgate Brewing will be opening soon, but that one won't have a taproom.

This cluster of taprooms is what really makes the northeast brew district special. Here is what's different: When taprooms started popping up last year, most were reacting to the change in the law, so the breweries had to shift space to make room for their taprooms. But these northeast taprooms — Indeed, 612Brew and Dangerous Man — were able to sit back and design their taprooms along with the rest of the brewery. What we have are three of the city's best-looking taprooms in one small area. Pub crawl!

Tom Horgen covers nightlife for the StarTribune. He also writes about Twin Cities culture in a column called The Dig. Follow him @tomhorgen.