Photos by Alex Roob
The infatuation with the IPA may be new but craft beer sure isn’t.
Town Hall Brewery opened at on the Minneapolis West Bank of the Mississippi River in 1997, and has won numerous awards over the last 19 years. Among those is their popular Masala Mama IPA, but the brewpub features a wide variety of traditional styles and modern craft innovations. With 19 beers on tap, 13 ciders, and more room for nitro and cask conditioned beers, there’s a solid mix of house-brewed beers and guest taps, though it leans toward their own creations.
Town Hall has a “home base” brewpub and two satellite locations that sell limited selections of their beer: Town Hall Tap and Town Hall Lanes, both in south Minneapolis. All three are brewpubs, meaning there is a full service restaurant on site, though the beer is all brewed at the West Bank “7 Corners” location.
Besides the food, a difference at brewpubs is the trend toward a heavy rotation of beers where the offerings vary on each visit. Town Hall has five year round beers: Dortmunder lager, West Bank pale ale, Masala Mama, Hope & King scotch ale, and Black H20 oatmeal stout. Masala Mama is a can’t miss IPA that predates the hop craze, Hope & King is a heavily roasted malty beer that’s black in color and hearty with a hint of smoke, while Dortmunder lager is clean and refreshing. The West Bank and H20 are also solid representations of style.
After that, it’s a steady mix of seasonal beers, one-off new recipes, cask and nitro beers, and a barrel-aging program that strives to keep at least one high alcohol barreled beer on tap at all times. Many of the beers are traditional in style, with a bit of a dryer finish (though it depends on the style). One-offs often feature new hops, like the Galaxy session IPA available through the summer and fall. In the current lineup, Tripel Vision is surprisingly dry instead of cloyingly sweet. Saison du Sieze, also of Belgian influence, is herbal with a cardamom pop. The wheaty Hefeweizen is very banana forward and one of their sweeter options, while IWL India wheat lager has the aroma and first impression of a hoppy pale ale but finishes with a lager sharpness contrasted by a citrus blast that would make a great pre-game pint. The heavier Outstandish Sweet Stout is both chocolaty and toasty, a soft-mouthed dark beer with a delicious semi-bitter chocolate profile.
Located at the busy intersection of 15 Ave. S where Washington Avenue turns into Cedar Avenue, Town Hall is a short few blocks from the Riverside exit off Interstate 94 and just two blocks from Interstate 35W on the other side. Landmarks nearby include the new US Bank Stadium (Go Vikings!), Guthrie Theater, the University of Minnesota (West Bank), and The Southern Theater.
As a brewpub, Town Hall has a full lunch-dinner menu of sandwiches, burgers, and entrees that take a mostly traditional bar and grille style with a contemporary twist. There is also a full bar and a curated whiskey selection, among other cocktail options. Republic, across the street, has 104 taps and more American pub cuisine, and Day Block Brewing Company is a short walk down Washington Avenue and makes a mean pizza. Inside the Guthrie, Sea Change brings high-end seafood to the Twin Cities.