Part of what’s best about the St. Croix Valley is the variety of places to enjoy a locally brewed craft beer. Plan your weekends around touring your way through St. Croix Valley breweries. There are plenty of options, and every brew and venue provides unique flavors. Here are a few of our favorites …
Maple Island Brewing
Located downtown Stillwater at 225 Main St. N.
What makes it fun: Order a flight of five to maximize your tasting, because this beer is not limited to measly barley, hops and water. Among the ingredients that have found their way into some of this brewery’s beers: ice cream, pretzels and even Cap’n Crunch Berries.
Try: “I Scream” beer, a brew made with about 60 pounds of local Nelson’s Ice Cream in each batch.
Let your funk flag fly at Oliphant Brewing at 350 Main St. #2 in Somerset, Wis.
What makes it fun: With a website that reads “we’re not possessed by the devil—no mama—we’re possessed by the oliphant” you should know that you’re in for a weird trip. Soak in the radiant throwback decor (there’s a wall full of VHS tapes, for example) and trippy outdoor murals while you sip.
Try: Crowd favorite Honees Honees, with a description that reads—hand to God— “don’t you hate it when you accidentally grab your spell book instead of your wallet?” If that description didn’t enlighten you, let this: it’s a beloved peanut butter and honey golden ale.
Located at 1900 Tower Dr. W. in Stillwater, Minn.
What makes it fun: The beer is great, but don’t sleep on the hard seltzer. Perfect for summer, it’s the buy local version of the summer seltzer you didn’t know you needed. One of our favorite flavors is St. Croix Berries, which is a berry blast of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry and strawberry.
Try: Sadly, the Mini Donut Beer is only available at the Minnesota State Fair, but you can order the Mini Donut Cream Soda anytime. But when you’re feeling beer, try the Farm Girl Saison or the Hop Dish IPA, both solid choices.
Located at 310 2nd St. in Hudson, Wis., just a skip from the St. Croix River.
What makes it fun: Arcade games! Kill time with foosball, skeeball and Big Buck Hunter. But if you want a little piece and quiet, the front room is game-free and conversation-friendly. You can take a brewery tour on Saturdays for funzies.
Try: The wildly popular and hop-forward Space Force double IPA. It’s half a joke based on the president’s proposal to create one and half an homage to Star Wars.
Pitchfork Brewing Company
Located at 745 Ryan Dr. in Hudson, Wis.
What makes it fun: This beer is seriously green. (Think less “St. Patrick’s Day” and more “sustainable.”) Not only are many ingredients locally-sourced—hops from area farms and pumpkins from the brewer’s garden, for instance—but Pitchfork prides itself on its environmentally-friendly brewing. Some examples: hops go in the compost, wort and yeast are used as fertilizer and spent grains turn into animal feed. As if you needed another reason to drink beer.
Try: Summer beer should be light and crisp, and the North of 8 Pilsner fits the bill.