One of my favorite things about being a Minnesota girl (other than the lakes and my bittersweet love affair with Twins baseball) is the plethora of great craft beer offerings.
Distribution of Minnesota beers in neighboring North Dakota is pretty solid, but it’s not totally comprehensive. So trying beers that I can’t get in Fargo is usually at the top of my to-do list when I travel. That’s how Liz and I found ourselves at Bent Brewstillery in Roseville, Minnesota earlier this winter.
The brewery is tucked away in an unassuming office park, just blocks away from where we were staying at The County Inn and Suites. The neighborhood (can you call it that, if there are no houses?) is pretty quiet on weekends, but there were several other happy alcohol-loving souls there with us a few minutes after the doors opened.
Bent Brewstillery offers two year-round beers and a rotating selection of seasonal and experimental brews. This isn’t all that unusual, until you look closer and realize that that they’re not just serving up a bunch of IPAs, they’re also playing around with Gose recipes, brewing sours and creating flavored mead.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bent Brewstillery also distills spirits. (The “Brewstillery” tag makes more sense now, doesn’t it?) In addition to beer, the minds behind Bent also bring you gin, an Irish-Style Poitín (moonshine-y kind of whiskey) and a soon-to-arrive single malt whiskey.
Sadly, we couldn’t stay inside the taproom long. We were off to the WFTDA roller derby championships in nearby Saint Paul later (where we had plenty of beer drinking and people and derby watching still ahead of us — check out the photos here) so I tried a flight of beers so I could see what Bent Brewstillery was all about and still be able to legally and safely operate a motor vehicle in the not so distant future.
My samples included the two year round brews, Nordic Blonde and Moar IPA. I’ve never tried an IPA I didn’t like (I’m almost ridiculously easy to please), so the hop-heavy yet totally session-able Moar was right up my alley. (It’s an Scottish style, low ABV beer, so it’s a good intro to the IPA world.)
The Nordic blonde surprised me. It’s the first beer the Bent crew brewed and it’s an Amber Blonde Ale — kind of a cross between a blonde and a pale ale. It’s balanced, mellow and super drinkable (a combo I usually don’t reach for straight away) but I really enjoyed it.
One of the Brewer’s ExperimentAle options in the flight was #8 Fest Hop, a New Zealand Pale Ale, that was brewed for (and won) the Minnesota State Fair Homebrew Competition in 2014, It was bright and dry with a little more resin than I usually go for, but not in an unpleasant way.
The second experimental choice included was #7 Hil Yis! on nitro. This New Zealand Golden Ale was kind of piney, kind of creamy and worth trying, especially since it’s only available in the taproom.
Since Liz is more of a cider person than a beer person, I assumed she’d go for one of the beertails on the menu. Bent offers a small but solid variety of options for drinkers who just aren’t beer people or haven’t worked their way up to a brew just yet. These range from fairly conventional bloody beers to sangria and margarita inspired drinks made with Bent’s margarita mead as a base.
But she didn’t and she really liked the Nordic Blonde too. I used to kind of be her official beer translator and she was one of the people who inspired me to write this article on finding your gateway beer (wow, that makes me sound like I’m a bad influence…) and it made me weirdly happy to watch her ordering beer like a boss.
Oh, and speaking of things that make us happy, Liz really, really wants me to tell you about Bent’s bathrooms. (For a woman who loves camping, Liz is both particular and passionate about the state of public restrooms.) The taproom might be simple and the brewery industrial, but the bathroom is, according to Liz, well designed, and the actual toilet is “fancy”. If you care about such things like she does, she assures me you’ll be happy.
If more conventional details like a good selection of bold beers, a comfy taproom, brewery tours and cool looking growlers to cart home your favorites are what you look for in a craft brewery then you’re in luck, my fellow beer nerd. Bent Brewstillery has a lot that you’ll love.
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