If you want to sample a lot of craft beer in one sitting, these are the best spots in North Dakota to do it. This list includes some of the coolest beer halls, quirkiest dive bars and most beer-friendly restaurants in the state.
To make this list, a bar or restaurant needs to offer beer from nearby breweries as well as a large selection of craft beer in general. It also needs to be a uniquely local concept (only Midwestern, North Dakota owned chains allowed) with a staff that understands beer. There are no craft breweries on the list, since I already cover them extensively on this site, but there are several places that share space or ownership with a brewery.
When I started making this list (which ultimately got so long it didn’t fit in my book, North Dakota Beer: A Heady History!), there was a fairly sharp distribution divide between eastern and western North Dakota. The fact that Grand Forks and Fargo have Minnesota sister cities meant that beer lists in the east tended to be heavier on beers from Minnesota and Wisconsin, while out west, “local” meant Montana beers as much as (or even more so) than beer brewed in North Dakota. I used to have to go to Minot to get beer from Utah, Idaho or New Mexico, but I’m finally seeing these beers in the Red River Valley and I can now order unusual Minnesota and Wisconsin beers in western North Dakota, so that east/west divide might soon become a thing of the past.
No matter which part of the state you visit, you’ll find a greater selection of beers from North Dakota and around the region than ever before. Even the newest breweries are distributing much sooner — and to a wider geographic area — so you’ll be able to sample more beer from the region than you would have even a few months ago.
So here’s to a fabulous beercation! Let me know your favorite North Dakota beer bar in the comments below.
Craft Beer Bars in Multiple Cities:
North Dakota Locations: Bismarck, downtown Fargo, south Fargo, West Fargo, Minot, Grand Forks, Watford City
Beer List: First up, this place only serves beer — and burgers and fries. Look for a huge selection from all over the region and the world.
Local Beer: You’ll find an extensive range of North Dakota option (including limited releases) and brews from around the upper Midwest.
The Vibe: This is fast casual food for beer nerds who don’t mind getting cozy. The menu jokes that it offers seating for 1,000 guests…47 people at a time.
Fun Fact: The “J.L.” in the name is in homage to Jim Lauerman, who once operated a legendary bar in downtown Fargo.
The Blarney Stone Irish Pub
North Dakota Locations: Bismarck and West Fargo
Beer List: With 30 beers on tap and 10 bottles, this place gives beer drinkers many American craft beer options and (given the Irish pub theme) a better than average selection of European beers.
Local Beer: Look for North Dakota flagship beers as well as other Midwestern favorites.
The Vibe: Clubby and cozy, with lots of stone, dark wood accents and blazing fireplaces
Fun Fact: This 21+ pub restaurant and bar in downtown Bismarck is the original. It inspired a second location in West Fargo.
North Dakota Locations: Grand Forks and Fargo
Beer List: You won’t find a single domestic macro beer on any of the 24 taps.
Local Beer: Look for a deep selection of North Dakota beer from across the state (including lots from the restaurant’s sister brewery, Rhombus Guys Brewing Company) and many Minnesota beers.
The Vibe: Laid back (kids of all ages can color on the tablecloths) with a great rooftop patio at both locations
Fun Fact: Fill up a new growler with any Rhombus Guys beer at the Fargo store and score a pint of Rhombus Guys beer for free – all day, every day.
The Starving Rooster
North Dakota Locations: Minot and Bismarck
Beer List: This place offers 28 taps, the majority of which feature craft beer.
Local Beer: You’ll find several western North Dakota beers and the state’s best selling-brews, as well as beer from Minnesota and Montana.
The Vibe: Foodie-friendly pub grub in an upscale industrial setting — think reclaimed wood mixed with metal accents
Fun Fact: This spot offers a five-course beer dinner several times a year.
The Walrus Restaurant
Beer List: There are a whopping 41 beers on tap at The Walrus, and not a single macro lager among them. They literally ran out of wall space for taps.
Local Beer: You’ll find a comprehensive selection of North Dakota and Montana beers on tap, as well as offerings from South Dakota and Minnesota.
The Vibe: A beer-centered bar that doubles as a restaurant you can bring the family or a date to
Fun Fact: When the new owner took over in 2009, she added so many taps, bottles and cans that this place was rumored to have had the biggest selection of beer between Minneapolis and Seattle.
Bismarck Ale Works
Beer List: The 27 tap beer menu is comprehensive and features styles from around the world.
Local Beer: You’ll find plenty of beer from Bismarck Brewing on tap, since the two businesses share a space. There are several other beers from North Dakota breweries (with an emphasis on Bismarck-Mandan) and throughout the Midwest.
The Vibe: Locally sourced food with a German twist, in an atmosphere inspired by European pubs and beer halls.
Fun Fact: Challenge your palate with barrel aged porters, sours, or stouts or try a rauchbier in specialty magnum bomber bottles.
Peacock Alley American Grill & Bar
Beer List: The 26 beers on tap are heavily craft, with an emphasis on regional breweries.
Local Beer: Until Edwinton Brewing Company opens across the street, you can try there beer here. (There are currently 11 of on tap.) Look for other Midwestern beers too.
The Vibe: Historic and genteel, with a 180-seat bar, killer steaks and lots of politicians kicking back after work at the state capital.
Fun Fact: The building used to be the Patterson Hotel, which secretly served alcohol and offered illegal gambling during prohibition.
A beer flight at Front Street Taproom
Front Street Taproom
Beer List: The 27 beer tap list runs the gamut from beer nerd crowd-pleasers to more esoteric offerings to that can make the most jaded beer aficionado smile.
Local Beer: It’s all local beer. Every single beer that Front Street Offers is brewed in North Dakota, South Dakota or Minnesota.
The Vibe: Quirky, tongue in cheek hipster historic — taxidermy, pressed metal ceiling details and art that’ll make you go “hmmmmmm.”
Fun Fact: There’s a cellar that nobody seems to know about and a mezzannine where you feel like you’ll bonk your head on the ceiling. (But unless you’re NBA tall, you actually won’t. Promise)
Sidestreet Grille & Pub
Beer List: About 70% of of the 50 tap lines are dedicated to craft beer. And there are dozens of other bottles and cans available for beer nerds to geek out over.
Local Beer: A constantly rotating selection of North Dakota, Minnesota and other Midwestern brews keeps the regulars curious and the hard core craft beer fans more than satisfied.
The Vibe: Relaxed and casual, with plenty of seating, generous pub grub portions and live music.
Fun Fact: Sidestreet features a brewery of the month and hosts tap takeovers for local and regional breweries.
Wurst Bier Hall
Beer List: This is a beer-lover’s paradise, with 41 beers on tap and more in bottles in cans. It’s weirdly satisfying to watch your Untappd selection pop up on the display board.
Local Beer: There are always enough North Dakota beers available for a flight and lots more from around the the region.
The Vibe: Community-oriented German beer hall, complete with communal tables. The German/European influence shows up in the food as well. I wrote a little about the beer hall vibe when Wurst first opened.
Fun Fact: Bring a group and drink from das boot – a 64 ounce boot-shaped glass that comes with its own surprisingly complex drinking game.
Bratwurst at Wurst Bier Hall
Brick & Barley Bar & Restaurant
Beer List: With 48 beers on tap and even more in bottles, this place puts beer in the spotlight. Selection rotates constantly so the staff can showcase offerings from craft and microbrewers across the country.
Local Beer: Selections from North Dakota and across the Midwest are featured.
The Vibe: The 64-foot bar has pride of place and the pub food menu is laid back and beer-centered as as atmosphere.
Fun Fact: Since selection changes often, you can take your favorite brew home in a 64-ounce growler. They refill any 32 or 64-ounce growler as well.
Jonny B’s Brickhouse
Beer List: Jonny B’s has 24 taps and there’s not a single domestic among them. (The only non craft beer option is root beer!) This is a brave stance for a small town North Dakota bar and it’s paying off, big time.
Local Beer: The well balanced beer menu has lots of North Dakota and Minnesota beers in rotation.
The Vibe: The atmosphere is cozy, all brick and reclaimed wood. It’s also physically cozy, thanks to the woodfire oven used to make the place’s trademark pizzas.
Fun Fact: Jonny B’s is housed in a building built in the 1880s. That’s about as old as a building in this part of North Dakota can possibly get.
Boots Bar and Grill
Beer List: There are 10 tap lines at Boots and seven are beers from the region. That might not sound like a lot compared to bars in the eastern part of the state, but it’s a very respectable total for western North Dakota.
Local Beer: The locals consider Beaver Creek Brewery, just across the border in Wibaux, Montana, to be their local brewery.
The Vibe: Enthusiastically western and laid back, with tables branded with the cowboy boot logo
Fun Fact: Jim, one of the co-owners of Beaver Creek Brewery, plays at Boots with his band most summer weekends.
The Blue Rider
Beer List: There are just 10 beers on tap, but this tiny spot stocks a stunning 75+ in bottles and cans.
Local Beer: You’ll find a few North Dakota flagship beers here, as well of options from all over the region.
The Vibe: Drinking here is like hanging out in your eccentric, bachelor uncle living room. (You can read my take on the art bar vibe here.)
Fun Fact: Nearly everyone that works here is affiliated with the local university, the art world or Minot’s punk scene.
The Tap Room
Beer List: The 16 tap beers and unusual selection of fruit beers and Belgians made this a beer geek’s paradise. (I wrote a bit about this craft beer bar in its earliest incarnation a few years ago.)
Local Beer: The selection rotates, but you can find North Dakota and Minnesota brews on tap here. Montana beer shows up often as well.
The Vibe: Take a tiny, underground space with a rustic speakeasy vibe, decorate it with reclaimed wood and add a staff of beer connoisseurs.
Fun Fact: Owner Jon Lakoduk is one of the first two people in North Dakota to receive the title of Certified Cicerone®.
Williston Brewing Company
Beer List: There are 40 tap lines behind the bar, with a very respectable number of them dedicated to craft beer and seasonal rotators. You can also choose from 80ish bottles and cans. (Whoa.)
Local Beer: Look for North Dakota and Montana flagships and beer from around the region.
The Vibe: This expansive restaurant and bar has a masculine vibe (leather, dark wood, furniture with a little heft).
Fun Fact: Okay, this technically not a brewery, because they don’t make beer onsite. But they do carry beer brewed especially for them.
What about you?
What’s your criteria for a good craft beer bar?
How many of these bars and restaurants have you visited?
Which spots are next on your “must visit” list?
What’s your go-to beer style?
Which beers do you want to explore next?
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