May 1st, 2016
After emerging from Passover and gluten-free purgatory, we decided to immediately get back on the barley train. All aboard!
Fair State opened in September 2014 and has garnered quite a bit of acclaim in that short time. At the RateBeer awards in February, they were named the best new brewery in Minnesota for 2015 and the 10th best new brewery in the world (out of over 5400 eligible breweries worldwide!).
The brewery operates under a unique model–at the time they opened, they were only the third cooperatively-owned brewery in the country, and the first in Minnesota. Under the cooperative model, members actually own a share of the brewery and may elect and run for the brewery’s Board of Directors. Members also get a number of other perks–early access to limited release brews, happy hour discounts, and in the future, annual refunds.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative
2506 Central Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Beer (Variety, Self Brew/Local, Taste)
IDK: I admit to a massive bias in this review, because Fair State is probably my favorite brewery in town. Every single beer I’ve tried there has been good at worst, and most are excellent. If you visit, you are pretty much guaranteed to get something worth drinking, and this visit was no exception. My only beef is the lack of flights, but they do offer smaller pours of all of their beers. I had a couple of smaller pours to myself, then split a couple more with Dan for a flight-like experience.
- Pils (4.25 out of 5): This beer is a testament to the beauty of simplicity. It only uses one malt and one hop, but it looks gorgeous (pale gold and crystal clear) and punches well above its weight in the flavor department. About as good as it gets for the style.
- Lactobac 12 (4): A sour with lemon juice, lemongrass, and ginger. Beers with a lot of adjunct flavorings, even when good, are not usually something I want more than a glass of. I could drink this one all day.
- Pomp Le Moose (4): Farmhouse IPA–a dry, fruity, spicy IPA with lots of farmhouse yeast character.
- Dorado Gold (3.75): A pale ale with El Dorado hops and brettanomyces. Pretty good, but I’m just not the biggest fan of the funk of brettanomyces in hoppy beers.
Overall beer score: 4 out of 5.
DHM: I echo Ian’s sentiment on the beer at Fair State. The first time I tried it out, and I was generally, really impressed with their selections. Yes – it was disappointing that there were no flights – but the small pours they offered were a nice option. I tried all of Ian’s beers plus Schwarzbier and the Vienna Lager. They were all refreshing. They were all tasty. To note – the Lactobac and the Lager were probably my favorites. I could see myself drinking these at length. 4 of 5.
Aggregate Score: 4 of 5
Environment (Noise, Service, General Ambiance)
IDK: We were there in the late afternoon on a Sunday and the place was pretty busy. Still, we were able to find a table and had plenty of room for our baby accoutrements. The crowd was pretty mixed, but there were several other babies there. The taproom itself is long and narrow, but they also have a nice outdoor beer garden out back. There were a few people with dogs (dog-dogs!), and they were happy to let my son say hello and squeal in delight. They don’t serve food, but you can bring food in from any of the excellent eateries nearby on Central. Some places–including Parkway Pizza–will also deliver to the taproom. Overall, a very casual and congenial vibe. Service was fast and friendly. 3.5 out of 5.
DHM: Fair State Co-op is located in NE Minneapolis on Central Ave. While the taproom itself (and beer garden, which I didn’t visit) accommodated us well enough parking was not the best when we first arrived. I eventually found some street parking – but when you’re shuffling a baby and a stroller around – a lot would have been nice. (Very possible that I missed this as well…)
The tap room – as Ian said – was a long narrow number. It worked out well since the main party that was there was occupying the front half. I could imaging, however, that things could get significantly more difficult to navigate when it gets full. Service was great, they had hot pretzels (but ran out of mustard!) and we got a Parkway Pizza delivered. 3 of 5.
Aggregate Score: 3.25 of 5
Kid Friendly-ness & Facilities (Changing tables, Kids Area, Stroller Friendly)
IDK: The taproom isn’t big, but we had plenty of room for strollers even though it was a little busy. They haven’t always had a changing table in the bathroom, so I was very happy to see that they have now installed one. It is inside the stall (at least in the men’s room), which is not ideal, but it’s definitely better than nothing. They did not have any high chairs–an unfortunate oversight. 3 out of 5.
DHM: About what Ian said. I used the changing table in the men’s room while we were there and it was serviceable, although if you had a very fussy baby and someone was using the stall – you’d be out of luck. Still – major props for having one at all. We were successful in navigating the room with a stroller – but it would probably be more ideal to have a carrier. 3 of 5.
Aggregate Score: 3 of 5
IDK: They have cold press coffee on nitro, as well as kombucha. I got there late and was a bit frazzled by the time I came in, so I forgot to see what else there was. I promise someday I’ll be good at reviewing this category, but today is not that day. NA
DHM: I know that Daniel got a craft soda… yeah I didn’t really pay that much attention either. Sorry! NA.
Aggregate Score: NA
PatP Final Say:
Fair State is not the most kid-friendly brewery we’ve visited, but it is heartening to see that they have made tangible steps to become more so since I started frequenting the place. Still, there’s room for improvement. The beer, however is the star of the show and well worth a visit in our opinion. There are few breweries in town producing such consistently good beer, and their track record is especially impressive considering their relative youth.
Final Score: 3.42