Cold Spring Brewing Company has been a fixture in the little Minnesota town that inspired its name for more than a century. And now the company’s craft beer division, the two year-old Third Street Brewhouse, is the public face of the brewery and a way for beer enthusiasts to experience the company’s history and its brews in an interactive environment.
“Even though we’ve been brewing beer since 1874 — this is the 140th anniversary of Cold Spring Brewing Company — we have a brand new, state-of-the-art brewhouse,” says Vice President and General Manager Doug DeGeest. “We are old, but we are new. We’re proud of our past and we’re passionate about our future.”
The Third Street Brewhouse features a fully operational, 160,000 barrel capacity brewery, a bottling and canning operation and a taproom where visitors can sample the newest brews. The entire complex is open for free tours on Friday evenings.
When visitors stop out to the brewhouse, they’ll find a wide range of beers to try.
“We try to do different but very satisfying beers that range from a nice hoppy beer to a nice malty beer, good solid beers that cover the spectrum,” Doug explains.
One of the most unique beers at the Third Street Brewhouse is the seasonal Sugar Shack, a sweet, creamy maple stout made with maple syrup harvested from the Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum and Forest, located just 12 miles down the road from the brewery. The monks have given the brewers exclusive rights to the syrup for beer making, which means this is a totally unique stout that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. It’s available from November to March.
When asked about the best beer for new beer drinkers to try, Doug likes to offer options. “It depends on what your experience is,” he says. “If you’re a light beer drinker, we have two that would fall on the lighter scale. We have our Rise to the Top Cream Ale. It’s a cream ale, but it has nothing to do with dairy. It’s an old style beer and the name comes from the color and the creamy head that forms on the beer. It’s very easy drinking.”
He also recommends the Hunny Do, a mellow and slightly sweet wheat beer that’s available as a summer seasonal. “It’s flavored with honeydew melon, which is very refreshing. So if you’ve heard about this craft beer stuff but you’ve not sure what it is, those would be good to start with.”
Doug says the wide variety of beers on the menu are a result of the 13 brewers on staff.
“We have such a wide array of talented brewers with interesting backgrounds,” says Doug. “We combine those people together and let them loose and let them do something different.”
When I first asked Doug about his favorite beer in the Third Street Brewhouse line-up, he wasn’t biting. “That’s like asking what my favorite child is,” he protested. “That’s hard!”
Eventually though, he did give me the scoop. “I’m more of a malt forward person, so our Lost Trout brown ale is very satisfying for me. Although I’m learning to appreciate the wonderful taste of hops in our Spotlight IPA.”
That’s the one I’m looking forward to trying, I tell him, since it features six different kinds of hops, including Cascade hops, which are a weakness of mine.
The great thing about visiting a brewhouse taproom is that you don’t have to pick just one beer. Instead, you can try a little bit of everything and discover what you like best as you go. Samplers are just $5 at the Third Street Brewhouse and when you find something you love, you can get a pint for $4.
Tours are currently on Fridays (click here to book one if you’re in the neighborhood) but expanded hours are coming soon. “It’s not always easy for people outside the region to get in so that’s why we’re going to open from noon to five on Saturday through the summer and fall,” says Doug.
The brewers at the Third Street Brewhouse have big things planned for the spring and summer. In addition to crafting their year-round brews and a rotating selection of seasonal beers, the brewing staff is also working on some new varieties.
“We have some special brews planned,” says Doug. “You’re going to see us do either a very malty or a very hoppy, big beer.” Beer enthusiasts should check the company’s Facebook page for release dates since Doug is certain that “something like that will only be available on a limited basis.”
If a trip to Cold Spring isn’t in your immediate future, you can find a beer near you using their handy beer locator. Third Street Brewhouse beers are widely distributed across Minnesota and western North Dakota and they’ll be expanding into South Dakota in 2014.
Readers in North Dakota and Minnesota can also try Third Street Brewhouse products at the Fargo Craft Beer Tour in Fargo on May 10, 2014. The company is also a frequent participant in the St. Cloud Craft Beer Tour. (A quick note from me: Prairie Style File is a marketing partner with the Fargo Craft Beer Tour, but this is not a sponsored post.)
Third Street Brewhouse
219 Red River Avenue
Cold Spring, MN
Friday: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: Noon – 4:00 p.m. (Coming soon for summer and fall 2014)
Follow them on Facebook for updates on taproom hours and other events
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