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!

Full List & Article