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Even beer nerds can learn something on a Bitter Minnesota brewery bus tour

Time: 2020-07-10 Comment: 49

And for people new to the craft beer scene, or maybe those who haven’t spent much time in one city or the other (the service operates in Minneapolis and St. Paul), I think it’s definitely worth the time and money.

Tour guides drive you and a small group of fellow beer enthusiasts on a blue school bus to the breweries, where you can drink as much or as little as you like — all beer is included with the tour.

Tickets are $75 per person, which might seem steep until you consider the cost of transportation between those breweries, were you to arrange for it yourself, would equal at least half the ticket price. If you’re a moderate drinker and have a few small beers at each brewery, the cost is easily recouped.

Our Friday night tour went from 6 to 9 p.m., and because we took an Uber to the first brewery, we extended our night by simply opting out of the transportation back to the pick-up site. Of course, beers we drank after 9 p.m. were extra, but since we’d had plenty in the previous few hours, that amounted to just a few dollars.

The bus picks up customers at either of a few designated places before heading for the first brewery, in our case, Modist.

Modist, an innovative brewery that makes beer that is often way outside the box, was a great start. Though I’ve toured a lot of brew houses, I never turn down the opportunity to see how any particular brewery customizes their process. In the case of Modist, they make beer in a way that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Without getting too technical, most breweries mill their grain but still leave it mostly intact. Modist pulverizes theirs and sends the mash through a cutting-edge, accordion-like mash filter, the likes of which is usually only seen in very large scale brewing.

The process uses a lot less water, and it also allows the brewery to use grains that you don’t usually find in beer, like rice and spelt, and also to use higher quantities of some grains that tend to clog up traditional systems, like oats.

We tried a few beers at the downtown Minneapolis brewery, including the funky, tiki-inspired Tropic Level: Blue and a beer made from leftover Rise Bagels.

We hadn’t been to the next brewery, Broken Clock, which is hidden in a very industrial area of Northeast Minneapolis. The beers there were a little disappointing after visiting Modist, but it didn’t stop us from exploring the menu and finding a cherry-key lime gose that we all enjoyed.

The last stop on our tour was one of my favorite breweries, Fair State. The brewing cooperative always has something fun and new, and their flagships are also rock solid. We sampled our way through the menu, finding one smoky pilsner that is already off the menu, but also enjoying the brewery’s awesome kettle-soured, hibiscus-infused saison, Roselle. There was even a version that included the addition of some berries.

Due to time constraints, a brew house tour was only available at one stop (Modist), but given that theirs is probably the most interesting, we didn’t mind that.

The tour includes snacks (bags of chips and pretzels) and water, which is nice to have on the bus. If you want to eat at a food truck, you’ll have to pay for that on your own. We ordered barbecue from Minnesota Barbecue Co. to be delivered to Fair State, which was a cool option. It’s one of just a few places that the new Travail-affiliated, takeout-only spot delivers to.

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