North Dakota has welcomed not one but three new craft breweries and brewpubs in the last few weeks, so stay tuned for lots of upcoming beer coverage! I started with the brewery closest to me, Prairie Brothers Brewing Company, which is located just off of I-94’s 45th Street exit in Fargo. Here’s a peek inside.
Brewer Don Kenna has developed over 80 recipes during almost eight years of homebrewing and he’s bringing some of his favorites to Prairie Brothers customers. The newest brewery in the F-M metro opened on April 7th, and Don hopes that his south Fargo taproom will attract south Fargo residents looking for a friendly neighborhood spot, as well as travelers exiting off the interstate and folks working at and visiting people at the new Sanford hospital just down the street, which is set to open in July.
The taproom is drenched with natural light from west facing windows. It’s a quiet, laid back spot for a drink in this rapidly developed neighborhood. It’s decorated in a way that Don describes as “prairie” or “rustic,” but that I think of as being distinctly Midwestern male-friendly — think reclaimed wood, wildlife art and the requisite beanbags/cornhole boards tucked away in the corner.
“We’re looking at keeping it very simple,” Don told me before the brewery opened. “We just want to have that local, neighborhood taproom feeling.”
The beer is similarly fuss-free and accessible. Don is focusing on brewing more traditional styles with a focus on malt forward and balanced varieties. He’s also working on a Canadian Pale Ale, the only brewer in North Dakota doing so to my knowledge, so I’m looking forward to trying that when it’s ready.
Prairie Brothers Brewing Company had six beers on tap when I stopped in to get approval on the final edits for my North Dakota beer book: Dreamer Cream Ale, Pilot Pale Ale, Irish Red Ale, Working Capital IPA, Duane’s Brown Ale and the Coco Boingo Chocolate Milk Stout. (That’s them pictured below, in precisely that order.)
Contrary to popular belief, drinking beer while editing a book about beer doesn’t really work as well as one might hope, so I told Ross the bartender I could only have the mini-est of mini beer flights. He just grinned and poured me a teeny bit of each. I told him he was an enabler and we laughed, mainly because we both knew perfectly well that I was gonna try every single one of them anyway.
The cream ale caught my attention first, since I very few other North Dakota breweries regularly feature this subdued American classic in their line-up. The Prairie Brothers’ version is super mellow and so light it’s almost clear. You know how a Mexican beer on the beach tastes as refreshing as water on a hot day? This is kind of like that. If you’re new to beer, this is where you start.
In what is quite a departure for me, I actually liked the milk stout the best on this particular day. It’s rich and mellow with a little bit of a coffee bite mixed in with the chocolate notes. I usually gravitate towards the happiest of IPAs, funky sours and super malty brews, so playing around on this end of the beer spectrum was a nice change for me.
Nothing in Prairie Brothers Brewing Company’s current line-up is terribly full bodied or hoppy, which makes it a good place for craft beer newbies to try a flight. Beer nerds will be interested to see which styles Don tries next and how the current beers change over time.
When a brewery is this new, you never quite know what will end up being a flagship or a seasonal favorite. Brewers always have their own goals, of course, but sometimes an experiment becomes a standby and favorite beers evolve and change. When you stop out and support a taproom in its infancy, you actually have a chance to influence that conversation in a very direct way and to watch the brewery and its client base grow.
This connection is one of my favorite parts of watching the craft beer scene in North Dakota unfold. We’re living in the middle of craft brewing history, folks! So get out to Prairie Brothers Brewing Company and have a beer!
What about you?
What do you think of Prairie Brothers Brewing Company?
What kind of beer is your favorite?
What do you look for in a neighborhood bar or taproom?
Prairie Brothers Brewery and Taproom
4474 23rd Ave South
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