You're Going Where? St. Paul

You’re going where?

St. Paul

It might be smaller and less popular than its sibling to the west, but Minnesota’s capital city has a spirited side that is unrivaled by its twin.

By Melanie D.G. Kaplan Oct. 9, 2019


Twin schmin.

When I visited St. Paul this summer, I was vaguely aware of another city nearby. I saw skyscrapers in the distance and heard mention of a twin — a sparklier, sassier, busier, bigger city slightly to the west. A city that gets first billing and all the love.

I registered that other city in my mind and then dismissed it altogether. Because St. Paul, I discovered, is more fun than second fiddle and too important to be an afterthought.

St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota, the older and smaller of the Twin Cities. It’s quieter and more relaxed, wholesome and family-friendly, with an air of romance, as though it’s winking at a bygone time. It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthplace and boasts one of the country’s best-preserved neighborhoods from the Gilded Age. St. Paul is hardly a sleepy town — it attracts big-name entertainers, goes hockey crazy in the winter and this year opened Allianz Field, a gleaming world-class soccer stadium. I ran out of time during my visit before I ran out of highly recommended restaurants.

St. Paul may be accused of being the buttoned-up sibling, but it doesn't take long for a visitor to see the city's silly and spirited side: Take the baseball team's SpongeBob SquarePants promotion; the croquet group that plays in Victorian dress; the watering hole called Bad Weather Brewing Company; or the beloved Winter Carnival, featuring a legendary fight between King Boreas and the firetruck-riding Vulcanus Rex. Of course, if a SpongeBob-celebrating, croquet-playing, Vulcan-fighting city isn't your jam, there's always the other city. For the rest of us, there's St. Paul.

Local fave

Don’t let the jargony name scare you away from the 15Creative Enterprise Zone15Creative Enterprise ZoneGoogle Map: Halfway between St. Paul and Minneapolis, between Emerald Street and Prior Avenue, I-94 to the south and the railroad yards to the north.Website:, a neighborhood of artists, makers and entrepreneurs near Raymond and University avenues, between downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. Shop for records at Aghart and Barely Bros., vintage clothing at Shag Studio, and mid-century modern at MidModMen+friends (if you love the colorful handmade lamps, also check out Modilumi) and Succotash. Fuel up at Caffe Biaggio, a simple, old-school Italian restaurant. If you’re ISO a taproom, visit the Lab, a new test facility for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks; Dual Citizen, a kid-friendly brewery where you can order food from the Naughty Greek; and Urban Growler, which hosts, along with Dual Citizen, a monthly public book club called Books & Bars. Stop at Can Can Wonderland for a vintage arcade and mini-golf like you’ve never seen. This walkable neighborhood is accessible by light rail, so be green and hop on the Green Line.

Baseball bites with Rock Elm Tavern

Urban Growler RockHop Amber Ale is Featured.

Author: KARE Staff

Published: 7:17 PM CDT October 5, 2019

Updated: 7:17 PM CDT October 5, 2019

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Executive Chef Steve Johnson of Rock Elm Tavern stopped by the studio to share his pretzel charcuterie recipe, in honor of the Twins making the playoffs.

Steve says Rock Elm's flavor-forward menu is appealing to foodies and traditionalists alike.

Their dishes are inspired by classic tavern fare, which guests can wash down with a wide array of craft beers on tap, fine wines and mixed cocktails.

View the Full Video Here

Five Years of Beer For You

AUG. 10

11:30 A.M.-11 P.M. FREE


It’s been five years since Urban Growler tapped its first keg. At the time, it was the first women-owned brewery in the state. It was also was one of the first taprooms with a full kitchen, one of the first to emphasize brewing with local ingredients, and, yes, one of the first to note the importance of purse hooks at the bar. The beer, of course, is pretty great, too. Flagship brews include the self-proclaimed “lawnmower beer” Cowbell Cream Ale; the Midwest IPA, which won awards at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair; and the Kentucky Uncommon, which adapts bourbon-making techniques for beer. The celebration starts at 11:30 a.m. with three special beer tappings (Berliner Weisse, Rhubarb Bubble Brew, and Peachy Queen Milkshake), followed by more special releases throughout the day (Blue-barb Slushie! Cranberry Beet Cream Ale! Coconut Porter!), and ending with Jalapeno Cream Ale at 9 p.m. Other fun includes local arts and crafts vendors, afternoon DJ sets, and live tunes in the evening from Ross Johnson & Blue Yodel No. 9, followed by Chin Whiskers Band.

by Loren Green

Full Article

Tapping Into Minnesota’s Craft Beer Boom

Listen to Deb Loch share her thoughts on the most recent craft boom.

You can find cake-, lavender- and dill pickle-flavored beers in the North Star State.

Thursday, Aug 29 2019 • 11 a.m. (ET)

Would you try a jalapeño cream ale? Maybe a cotton candy milkshake IPA? If your answer is yes, you should head to Minnesota. The North Star State has a booming craft beer industry. But that wasn’t always the case.

Not long ago, craft beer wasn’t nearly as widely available in the U.S. as it is today. Between 2002 and 2007, employment at breweries across the country declined as large corporations like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors consolidated. In 2012, these two companies controlled nearly 90 percent of beer production in the country.

But between 2008 and 2016, the number of brewery establishments — many of them small businesses sextupled. The number of brewery workers grew by 120 percent. In the same period, shipments from the five major brewers (Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken, Pabst and Diageo) fell by 14 percent.

Minnesota was no exception to the trend. In 2011, the state was home to 35 craft breweries. Today there are more than 170 breweries operating in the state. Those breweries pump out nearly 650,000 barrels of beer a year.

At the Minnesota State Fair, local breweries show off their classic brews as well as their more experimental ones, which feature a wacky variety of flavors, including dreamsicle, elderflower, lavender, dragon fruit, push pop, pumpkin seed, cake, chocolate chip cookie, dill pickle, funnel cake, maple bacon and s’mores.

Won’t you try some of them with us? We sit down and sip at the Minnesota State Fair to talk and taste with the state’s craft beer insiders.

Produced by Avery Kleinman.


Full Article



Dan Beaubien / August 1, 2019 / Craft Beer Events


The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild All Pints North 2019 is in the books. This amazing festival is the highlight of the Minnesota craft beer scene. The number of Twin Cities and beyond beer geeks that descend on Duluth for a weekend of fun is massive. This is not just a festival, it is a weekend filled with fun and beer.

My Favorite Beers of All Pints North

Drastic Measures Humble Mumble

I had so much fun chatting with Brett Doebbeling, the founder and brewer at Drastic Measures. This beer illustrates how gifted Brett is when it comes to brewing great beer. You might think that this beer would be too sweet, however, you would be wrong. This beer highlights the cookie flavors of the Oreo. There is a depth and complexity to this beer thanks to the dark chocolate and roasted malt character. If you consider this a pastry stout, I think that it is in the upper echelon of what that style should be. I could, and did, drink more than just a sample pour of this because there is nothing cloying about it.

Town Hall Brewery Kellar Weisn

If you want to chase trends, there are plenty of breweries that have you covered. However, if you want classic beers that can educate you about styles around the world, you need to go to Town Hall Brewery. I caught up with brewer, Derek Brown, and we chatted about the Kellar Weisn. The best way to describe this beer is a blond Oktoberfest. It was heaven. Crisp and clean with a wonderfully satisfying malt character. It is everything I like about an Oktoberfest minus the caramel. It was a perfect beer for the festival.

Urban Growler Brewing St. Citra Pale Ale

I have said for years that finding a great pale ale in Minnesota is tougher than finding a unicorn in your garage. That doesn’t mean that breweries don’t brew them, they just forget to brew them in a balanced way. Urban Growler impressed me with this pale ale that drinks bright, juicy, and balanced. It had a fresh citrus peel nature along with lots of citrus flesh sweetness. What put this beer on the board for me was its deft hop bitterness to make the finish dry enough to want to keep on sipping.

Read on….

Urban Growler Brewing Company (Season 2 Ep. 11)

Makers of Minnesota

Urban Growler Brewing Company (Season 2 Ep. 11)


Urban Growler Brewery was started by Front of the House expert Jill Pavlak and Brew Master Deb Loch. Urban Growler is women-owned and operated and has great food that goes with their award-winning beer. Their taproom is a warm, inviting, giant community room where all are welcome.

Listen to this podcast to hear an inspiring entrepreneur story from two business owners that really are getting it right as they celebrate their 5th anniversary.

Follow this light-rail beer crawl along the Green Line, from Minneapolis to St. Paul

Grab a brew at any — or many — of these 19 taprooms along the Green Line.

By Michael Agnew Special to the Star Tribune

JULY 23, 2019 — 10:21AM

Taproom crawls are one of the newest iterations of the classic amble from one drinking establishment to another. Moving progressively from one location to the next is a great bonding experience among friends. With around 75 taprooms in the Twin Cities metro area, it’s not hard to string together a route.

However, conducting a taproom crawl involves imbibing a fair amount of beer. Indeed, that’s really the point — sampling, comparing and enjoying the wares at several of the area’s best breweries. But that also means getting from one taproom to the next. This usually involves one or more of the party remaining sober enough to drive, but the designated driver role is rarely the preferred way to experience the fun.

Take heart, would-be crawlers. Metro Transit has you covered. The Green Line light-rail train runs all the way from Target Field in Minneapolis to Union Depot in St. Paul. With 19 breweries easily accessible along the way, it offers a build-your-own-adventure opportunity. Pick your stops. Stay in one city or try them both. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Here is the rundown, starting in downtown Minneapolis and ending in St. Paul. All distances calculated from light-rail:

13. Urban Growler Brewing Co.
2325 Endicott St., St. Paul, 651-340-5793,

Route: (.6 mile) Walk north on Carleton St. Turn right onto W. Territorial Road. Turn left onto N. Hampden Av. Turn right onto Endicott St.

Taproom: Comfortably converted industrial space anchored by three copper-banded serving tanks towering at the center of the room behind the bar.

Best brews: After a few hours of riding and drinking, a lighter beer may be in order. Cowbell Cream Ale is just such a beer. It’s a refreshingly simple golden ale with low bitterness and subtle notes of toasted grain and corn.

Food: Urban Growler is one of the few local taprooms with its own kitchen. The menu features beer-friendly foods, such as Reuben or Cubano sandwiches, burgers and nachos.

Highlights: Large patio. Private event space.

Hours: Tue.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Taste Test: Hazy IPA

July 24, 2019 by John Garland


Everyone loves a Hazy IPA. They have powerful aromas of tropical citrus. They’re juicy on the palate and pillowy on the finish. A soft and mellow reprieve for drinkers who appreciate hops but are repelled by the bracing bitterness of West Coast IPAs. A canvas for experimentation, pushing craft beer into new realms and generating enthusiasm over new releases.

And yet, everyone hates a Hazy IPA. They’re flabby and imbalanced. A candy-sweet orange juice brew for the Capri Sun generation. An overpriced waste of hops. Anathema to brewers who diligently work to remove haze. An under-attenuated slurry of yeast. A venue for adjunct-addled laziness.

It’s high time for The Growler’s editorial staff to fully confront the most divisive beer style of the decade, the Hazy IPA, known formally as the New England IPA (NEIPA) and alternatively as the Juicy IPA, the bane of brewers, the scion of subreddits, the unfiltered, the unfinished, the breaker of boundaries, and the mother of controversy.

From its idiosyncratic beginnings in Vermont with The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, New England IPAs have rocketed to the top of the nation’s craft beer consciousness. Hazy or Juicy IPA (with 414 entries) was the most-competitive category for judging at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival, ending a 16-year reign for the now-demure American-style IPA as the festival’s most popular.

But who makes a good one around here?

To find out, we enlisted Jeff Merriman, instructor of Dakota County Technical College’s Brewing and Beer Steward Technology program, to help organize a double-blind tasting, in which The Growler’s editorial staff, eight Beer Judge Certification Program judges, and two Certified Cicerones rated 49 Minnesota-brewed Hazy IPAs against the BJCP style guidelines for category 21b. Specialty IPA: New England IPA.

These very same beers were also judged against the same style guidelines by the public at Unlabeled No. 1: Hazy IPA, the first in The Growler’s new series of blind tasting beer festivals, held July 18 in St. Paul (three days after the editorial blind tasting). Hundreds of tasters turned out for the event (we’ve crunched the data and returned their Top 10 favorites; see below.)

Here are the judges’ tasting notes on the top 12:

Advanced to the Best of Show Round 
(in alphabetical order)


Urban Growler Brewing Co. Cloudy Sunshine

7.0% ABV
Cashmere, Citra

Our tasting notes on this one were all over the board, from papaya and tangerine to biscuits and toast to leather and diesel. It sparked conversation. It evolved as it warmed. But it was undeniably juicy and supremely well-balanced.

Full Article and Results

DEB LOCH Featured in Brewer's Association

May 13, 2019

What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I’m the owner and master brewer at Urban Growler Brewing Co. in St. Paul, Minn. I’ve been a homebrewer since the 1990s. While on vacation in Minocqua, Wis., I saw a brewer hauling out spent grain and asked if he needed an assistant. I started brewing on a 7-bbl system. The brewery was 100-plus degrees, I was covered in yeast and grain, and I knew this was going to be my life. My partner, Jill Pavlak, and I moved to Davis, Calif. so I could complete the Master Brewers Program. When I returned to Minnesota, I did my apprenticeship with Summit Brewing. My partner and I immersed ourselves in the craft beer industry, finished our business plan, and opened Urban Growler in July 2014.

What’s new at Urban Growler?

We won Business of the Year for our local chamber in 2019; Business of the Year 2019 for the local LGBT chamber; favorite brewery from MN Women’s Press: and just took third at our local guild’s Brewers Cup Awards for our De-Lovely Porter.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

It’s such a unique industry. We are all connected for the greater good of the craft beer community. We are all competing for shelf space at liquor stores, but most breweries will help you out in a pinch without question. I also love the science behind brewing beer. I get very passionate about the whole process.

Name a favorite food and beer pairing.

A good burger and fries paired with maibock.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Graduating with my master’s in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Completing a 10.5-mile race with my best friend—we biked, canoed, and ran. It was brutal and memorable.

What’s your favorite beer from another brewery?

Märzen from Sudwerk Brewing Co. in Davis, Calif. and Pseudo Sue from Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Play golf and pickleball. Spend time with my partner and her family playing cards and eating (they like to eat).

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

When I worked in the medical device industry, I traveled to Slovakia. I learned how to say beer in Slovak: pivo.

This Queer Couple Was Ready to Open a Brewery, and Then the Bank Told Them No

May 30, 2019

By Ivy Knight

The best stories are the ones where people are told they can’t do something and they do it anyway. Think Field of Dreams, Erin Brockovich, Rocky.

Urban Growler’s Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch had a dream. Not to do anything super out-of-reach—they didn’t want to be movie stars or beauty queens or Millennial influencers. They just wanted to get married and open a business together. Living in Minnesota in the 21st century meant they couldn’t do the former until 2013. They only had to wait for the Supreme Court to strike down laws banning same-sex marriage—no big deal.

Once that happened, they set about to realize the second, more seemingly mundane of their dreams. They wanted to open their own business. But they had no idea how hard it was going to be.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever felt blatantly discriminated against,” Loch says, recounting the conversations she and Pavlak had with bankers as they began looking for a loan to open their own craft brewery. They met with so many different banks. Each one turned them down.

There were various reasons; they were neophytes, the area of town they wanted to open in was industrial and had no restaurant scene to speak of, and, most damning of all, they were women—lesbians!—who wanted to make beer.

Pavlak adds, “We heard ridiculous things like, ‘How will you girls carry those big heavy bags of grain? How will women your age keep those late-night hours? What if you get divorced?’” She shakes her head in disbelief. “Divorced?! Would you ask that of a heterosexual couple?”

They were waiting to hear back from bank number 12, ready to celebrate. This was going to be the one. They were at a brewing conference in Washington when they took the call. The banker said, “We don’t feel comfortable.”

The women were destroyed.

“We were like, ‘What do you mean you’re not comfortable? We’ve done everything you’ve asked of us.”

“We were devastated,” says Loch.

“I always joke that we’ve never both been in the fetal position at the same time,” Pavlak laughs.

They couldn’t believe it. They had everything in place, they found a perfect location at $4 per square foot, and still the banks wouldn’t help them. Because of their anatomy.

So they tried a new tactic. Loch brewed beer and Pavlak printed T-shirts. They made carnitas (with pork marinated in Loch’s porter) and sold shares in their future brewery. They hustled and gave tours in a freezing-cold warehouse space during a Minnesota February. They talked until they couldn’t talk anymore. They raised half a million bucks.

And then they went to another bank and got shot down again.

This time they really couldn’t believe it. With $500,000 behind them and still nothing? All they wanted was to open a goddamn craft brewery and host fish fries on Friday nights. What the fuck, banks?

They cried on the shoulder of Dane Breimhorst, a friend and the owner of Burning Brothers gluten-free brewery. He sent them to his banker at Pioneer Bank in Mankato, two hours away. The gentleman there weighed their business plan, overwhelming enthusiasm, stellar credit, six years of industry experience, Loch’s schooling (she attended the Master Brewers Program at UC Davis), and the half-million smackers and said, “Why, sure, we’ll give you a loan.”

Our whole purpose was to bring people together to sit down and have a beer. We all want the same thing from life—to be loved and accepted, period.”

That was five years ago. Now, when you take a Lyft to Saint Anthony Park, past warehouses and nothing much of interest, you will come around the bend and find a patio dotted with red umbrellas and filled with people under a big blue Minnesota sky, when the crabapple trees are just coming into bloom and the air smells like fresh green grass with a hint of frost. You’ve come to Urban Growler and it is packed. It’s the first women-owned craft brewery in the state, and Loch remains one of very few female head brewers in the industry.

They didn’t tout their feminine cred at first. “We want a rep for great beer. Who cares if it’s made by a woman?” says Pavlak. In the five years they’ve been in business they’ve seen an explosion in the number of craft brewers in the state, from 19 to 170. But even with that rapid growth, their women-owned-and-operated brewery beer is still the only one in Minnesota.

They are the ultimate example of sisters doing it for themselves.

“We’re very fortunate, because we’re not rich. People believed in us and wanted to be part of the story,” Pavlak tells me as we wind our way through the space, up to the large shared office on the second floor. “Our whole purpose was to bring people together to sit down and have a beer. We all want the same thing from life—to be loved and accepted, period.”

This June they’ll release their annual Pride beer, a lavender lemon summer ale called Let’s Dance. Their most popular beer is the Cowbell Cream Ale. They also brew a blueberry wheat beer, a pumpkin saison, a wild rice brown ale, and a chocolate mint brew inspired by Girl Scout cookies. Each is offered seasonally and there are usually ten selections on tap at any given time.

All those banks that turned them down? They’ve been sniffing around lately. They come into the brewery, ready to talk business with the little ladies who just happen to have a wildly successful brewery in the middle of an industrial wasteland, oblivious to the work the women and their friends and community and hugely loyal staff have done to make it so. Pavlak just offers them a frosted mug of maibock, the spring beer that customers go wild for, or sometimes a wit, a softer brew made with local rhubarb. She hands them menus and invites them to stay and enjoy lunch.

Pavlak and Loch are courteous but there is steel in their spines—steel put there by the constant rejection they’ve faced for being women, for being lesbians who dared to get married, for being interlopers into the hairy-chested world of hops and barley. They always tell those bankers the same thing: “No, thanks. We’re loyal to Pioneer Bank. They’ve been with us since day one.”

#Boomers In Business- Start-Up Brewery Serves Up Sweet Success

#Boomers In Business- Start-Up Brewery Serves Up Sweet Success

Diana Pierce

Published on Apr 13, 2019


Have you always wanted to start your own business? Think you're too old? You aren't. On this episode of What"s Next? with Diana Pierce, Urban Growler® Brewing Company owners Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak serve up their start up story. After 20+ years in corporate, these two combined their passions to create great beer, great food and space for everyone, becoming a first in the State of Minnesota for women owned brew businesses. Their story might #inspire you to follow your passion and create your own What’s Next chapter.

Cali Common is just the beer to go with Urban Growler’s fab Friday fish fry

By JESS FLEMING | | Pioneer Press

March 25, 2019 at 2:03 pm


Cali Common from Urban Growler Brewing: I love how so many of Urban Growler’s beers are food-friendly. Given that they are one of just a few breweries in town to have their own kitchen, it makes sense that they would have a decent number of beers that go great with what they’re serving.

In particular, I found this crisp, clean, slightly herbaceous beer, brewed with lager yeast but fermented at warmer temperatures, to be the perfect foil for the brewery’s Friday night perch fish fry.

If you haven’t been there to try the fish (or the beer) yet, I highly recommend making the trek soon. And get there early, because Fridays at Urban Growler are hopping.

International Bittering Units (IBU): 33; Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.3 percent

Urban Growler Brewing Company: 2325 Endicott St., St. Paul; 651-340-5793;

Dazzling plates worth dishing about: First up? Urban Growler’s perch fish fry

By JESS FLEMING | | Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: March 20, 2019 at 5:00 am | UPDATED: March 20, 2019 at 8:17 am


Fairly frequently, fellow food writer Nancy Ngo and I run across a dazzling dish while out and about, but we don’t always have a place for it in the newspaper.

Today, we are changing that by starting a new feature called One Great Plate. When we find a dish we love so much we can write a whole story about it, we’ll bring it to you.

This week’s dish really begins in 1992, when I arrived in Minneapolis to go to the University of Minnesota. I am from eastern Wisconsin, and naively assumed I’d be able to get a lot of the foods I had grown up with here. I was wrong on many counts, but the one food I’ve probably missed the most is the Wisconsin-style fish fry.

Where I come from, no one eats battered cod or pollock on Fridays — it’s 100 percent lake perch, lightly breaded, quickly fried and as addictive as potato chips.

I had pretty much resigned myself to an occasional indulgence when I happened to be in the motherland on a Friday night, but bless Urban Growler, because they have brought me that little taste of home.

The brewery is serving perch, breaded and fried, just the way I grew up with it, every Friday (not just during Lent) for lunch and dinner.

Co-owner Deb Loch is from Appleton, Wis., and her love for the perch fish fry runs deep. In fact, when she and Jill Pavlak were talking about opening a brewery, it was high on Loch’s wish list.

Current chef Jim Weides, who worked for D’Amico for nearly 27 years, and recently took over the kitchen at the brewery, said he’s not been allowed to tinker with the fish fry.

“I did not change it,” he said. “It’s pretty sacred to this place. Always the same fresh breading. Some people kind of expect it to be beer-battered, being that we’re a brewery. We would never batter it, though.”

Weides said he sources the certified sustainable lake perch from a company in Ontario, Canada, and the brewery goes through quite a bit of it.

“This is 100 percent lake perch, caught in cold northern waters,” he said, noting that they sold 122 fish fry dinners on the first Friday of Lent.

The generous portion of perch is served with fries, crisp, house-made coleslaw, tartar sauce and, as is traditional in Wisconsin, a slice of pumpernickel bread. In my parents’ neck of the woods, it’s often rye, and it’s also served with a thick slab of sliced onion. Weird, but true.

Weides said he’d consider adding a slice of onion for me.

That’s the kind of service I’ll be back for — maybe every Friday.

11 Delectable Fried Fish Baskets

11 Delectable Fried Fish Baskets

The best fried fish found outside a church basement

by Joy Summers@JoyEstelle  Updated Mar 6, 2019, 2:12pm CST

So long Fat Tuesday and hello season of sacrifice. The Friday night fish fry is a staple of the season when so many choose to skip meat on the last day of the work week. Wander through Wisconsin and a person can't throw a walleye without hitting a church basement fish fry during Lent. Around here, these restaurants are serving the goods that will leave your finger tips salty and a big smile stretched from ear to ear. Whether eating seafood for religious reasons or just love the smell of fresh fried seafood, there's a restaurant waiting with a fat, hot basket of battered fish.

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5. Urban Growler Brewing Co.

This brewery in Saint Paul batters up perch for its fish fry. The little crispies are served up with coleslaw, fries and pumpernickel rye bread.

Bacon & Beer Days

by Loren Green

At Urban Growler, the staff enjoy two things during every shift: a beer and a bit of bacon. The team will be sharing these two loves with their customers this week (Wednesday is National Pig Day, after all) when they’ll create a flight that pairs five specialty beers with crisp, smoked, salted pork. The beer menu is yet to be fully released, but it will include a dark coffee stout, a sweet maple California common, a rum-barrel aged porter, and Cowbell Cream Ale, their versatile flagship brew. Pig out on other treats as well, such as bacon mac ’n’ cheese, BLTs, candied bacon, and a one-time bacon sampler plate.

Against the grain


UPDATED: JULY 26, 2018 - 1:58 PM

How a biomedical engineer and a business sales guru became the founders of Minnesota’s first women-owned microbrewery.


Twin Cities residents Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak were on a bike ride one afternoon in the neighborhood of St. Anthony Park when they happened upon a rather old brick building, seemingly out of place among the industrial warehouses.

The 19th-century structure, though it used to be a horse stable and maintenance depot, housed a pottery studio and a vacant unit. Pavlak and Loch, who were shopping around for a space for their new brewery, immediately knew: This was the place.

Six years later, Urban Growler Brewing Company opened its doors to anyone and everyone looking for good food, good beer and a good time.

Pavlak, a Minneapolis native, studied at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for speech communications and psychology — two unlikely, yet effective qualifications for the owner of a brewery.

Pavlak spent most of her life working in sales, but she always dreamed of opening a restaurant.

“I wanted a restaurant,” said Pavlak, who quickly noted a key difference from working in high-stakes business sales. “If you screw up an order, it takes months to repair that relationship. If someone comes in here and they order a meal they’re not in love with, I can take care of that in 30 seconds, and they’ll be happy. It’s a much shorter sales cycle.”

Loch, meanwhile, grew up working in her family restaurant in Appleton, Wisconsin.

“Of course, the last thing I wanted to do was be in the restaurant business — because that’s what my folks did,” Loch said. “So I went off to college and became a biomedical engineer.”

Working in the medical-device industry by day and crafting home brews by night, Loch discovered a passion for brewing.

“Even though I went to undergrad in Milwaukee, I never realized that brewing could be a career,” Loch said. “In fact, being a biomedical engineer is perfect training for being a professional brewer.”

Full Article



Dan Beaubien / January 30, 2019 / Craft Beer Events

Winterfest 2019 really came off without a hitch this year. The beers were superb, the food pairings made a lot more sense, and the crowd looked better than ever. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild implemented after last year’s Winterfest and I think that they all made the festival a lot better.

Best Beers of Winterfest 2019


Urban Growler’s Vanilla Latte Blonde Ale & Chocolate Bouchon

I love a chocolate dessert with a nice cup of coffee. This pairing made me so happy. I had no idea what a Bouchon was, so I had to do some digging in one of my baking cookbooks. Apparently, it is a cork-shaped chocolate cake. Bouchon, the French word for cork, gives the dessert its namesake. This rich cake, dusted lightly with powdered sugar, was the perfect bite. The rich and perfectly baked cake went perfectly with the beer. The Vanilla Latte Blonde Ale has a nice sweetness to it that is deceptively crisp, thanks to the blonde Ale base. The crispness of the beer along with its coffee notes from the malt really heightened the rich and luxurious nature of the Bouchon. I would love to have these for dessert again and I hope that Urban Growler will bake some of these again.

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JANUARY 3, 2019


I really enjoy writing this article, but these awards get harder and harder every year! That’s mostly because there are so many great breweries in the state and partly due to some self imposed limits. Every award must go to a brewery I’ve visited in the calendar year and I won’t give a brewery the same award two years in a row. I also added a Best Innovation category to reward the breweries that are consistently pushing the envelope! I’ve visited almost 100 breweries in Minnesota and written posts about a healthy amount of them. If I’m missing your favorites I’d love to hear about them. Let’s get to it!

Best Food / Urban Growler Brewing Company


Urban Growler holds a special place in my heart as one of the first craft breweries my wife and I visited and their food and beer played a critical role in inspiring me to embark on this project. They were the first brewery to make me think that I was missing out on something special. Since they’ve opened, their menu has expanded and I’ve never been disappointed. It doesn’t hurt that their building is beautiful, the patio is great, and they make desserts with their beer!

Full Best of 2018



Dan Beaubien / January 9, 2019 / Beer Editorial

Dan’s Top 30 MN Breweries of 2018

Personally, 2018 was the worst year ever for me. At my day job, where I teach Language Arts at a middle school, 3 students passed away in the span of 3 weeks-2 because of suicide. Right after that, my mother passed away unexpectedly. For the next few months, I struggled mightily emotionally and fell into a bit of a depression. So, typically, when I look at a year in review, I can pinpoint moments and breweries that strung the year along as I live life passionately as a beer geek. 2018 was not one of those years.

Amidst the sadness and depression of losing irreplaceable people, I relied on friends and family. I also relied on craft beer. Ok, I know what you are thinking. How can it get darker than the first paragraph? Well, let me explain what I mean by relying on craft beer. I did not decide to one day clear out my cellar and go on a bender-I know better. However, I did embrace what craft beer has become for me. Over the years, craft beer has always been a way to decompress and enjoy time with friends or total strangers. My favorite taprooms became beacons of refuge-places to go and just be. I would doodle, read, and sip. When I was lucky enough to see a familiar face, they would join me and friendship would provide a respite from the pain of losing my mom.

So, it is bittersweet and somewhat difficult to look back at 2018. Yet, 2018, among its challenges, offered up some wonderful experiences with friends. Craft beer continues to provide me with joy and knowledge. Taprooms continue to be the backdrop for connecting with people and augmenting the thread count of my community fabric.

List Criteria

When I say best of 2018, there are several things that factor in to that. First, if I didn’t go to this brewery in 2018, it didn’t make the list. Second, breweries on this list had many quality beers that I thought really hit the mark. This list is not about who has the trendiest beer, although there are a few breweries on here who are leading the way when it comes to IPAs, sours, and pastry stouts. If a brewery makes my list, it means that their service is great, their message is easily articulated, and they are not just in it to make a quick buck. Luckily, places who adopt the latter as a business model don’t last long.

If a brewery makes my list, it is because they brew beer that I enjoyed and provided a space for me to enjoy the beer in. Last year, my list was so incredible that it appeared in a forum on BeerAdvocate. Many passionate beer geeks had taken issue with the fact that I did not put Surly on my list. Oh, they had a field day with that. There were a few people who actually read the article and understood my criteria. Others simply glanced at it and decided, as one person put it so succinctly, “Seriously though, there is fuckery going on at ‘Beerploma’.”

Love it or hate it, this is my list and a snapshot of my beer experiences throughout the year in Minnesota. My favorites are not going to be your favorites and that is ok. It is fine to disagree. I would even like to hear where you think I misstep in my rankings. I ask that you would do so with civility, but hey, this is also the Internet, so that is a big ask.

So, here we go, my top 30 breweries of 2018 in MN.


18-Urban Growler (St. Paul, MN)

Over the years, Urban Growler has always been on my list of places to go for fun. I love the vibe here. Jill and Deb have created a wonderful community and it shows in their staff and space. I also love that they continue to bring new innovative beers to the table. Recently, they added a mild and a Mexican Lager to the fold and they are both tremendous. This year’s barrel-aged porter was phenomenal. Their food is tasty and if you haven’t tried the fried chicken sandwich, drop everything and go there now to do so!

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