612Brew is located in what is currently the most popular spot for breweries in the Twin Cities: Northeast Minneapolis. My and Mandi’s bike trip there from St. Louis Park took us on somewhat of a sightseeing tour of the city, and afforded this gorgeous view of the Grain Belt Beer sign and Hennepin Avenue bridge:
612Brew is in a brick building that houses several other businesses, including the Minneapolis BuzzFeed office. They have a courtyard with risers made out of giant hunks of stone, and next door is 612’s private event space, The Cellar.
At 7:00pm on a Saturday night, 612 was busy but not packed. We stayed for a few hours, and the crowd seemed to shift during that time period towards younger and louder. Still, we never had any trouble finding seating or hearing each other in the time we were there.
The only negative at 612 for me was the service. The beertenders were…not so much rude, but had this guarded “Whaddya want?” attitude about them. For instance, when I approached the bar, the guy beertender didn’t proactively ask what I wanted, but instead stared at me until I volunteered my order. I understand that doesn’t necessarily constitute bad customer service, but it’s not my thing.
The beer was interesting and decent. You can read my Untappd reviews of their Six American Pale Ale and Red Stack Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale here and here. It should also be mentioned the Vito Lucco Pizza Co. food truck was there serving very solid pies.
Pros: Busy but breathable, variety of seating options
Cons: Leery staff
Number one reason you should go: Between the Better Homes & Gardens stone risers, next-door hallway with its iconic CITY sign, and other patio and interior seating, a trip to 612 feels like a trip to several breweries at once. You can stay for quite a while and not get bored.
BONUS: LTD Brewing
I wasn’t originally going to include the Hopkins-based LTD Brewing in my list, but a spur-of-the-moment trip there on Friday night prompted me to write a review. LTD Brewing is located on what looks like your typical moderately upscale suburban shopping area street – the kind of area where all of the surrounding businesses are dark at 9:00pm on a Friday night.
LTD has a unique serving style in that they encourage you to go grab a seat so a member of the waitstaff can come take your order on an iPad, rather than stand at the bar. It was convenient.
The crowd was older, friendly, and family-oriented. One group had a couple kids with them and another brought their dog-family – an adorable fluffy Great Pyrenees and his puppy friend. There was a live bluegrass-sounding band playing inside. They seemed pretty good, but we chose to sit outside as it was loud (side note: why are live musicians in bars always miked? It’s not necessary!).
The beer was creative and there was TONS of it. They had upwards of 15 brews to choose from, including a triple IPA – my very first. You can read my Untappd reviews of their Brewberry Blueberry Pils, Rainy Daze American Pale Ale, and Sleepwalker Triple IPA here, here, and here. And yes, that is Connect Four below. They had a massive selection of board games as well.
Pros: wide variety of beer, friendly atmosphere
Cons: non-acoustic live music (why??), not accessible by public transportation
Number one reason you should go: There are plenty of reasons to hit up LTD Brewing – interesting beer, good crowd, board game entertainment. If you’re in the area or willing to drive a few extra minutes, you should go!