Top 5 Minnesota Craft Breweries {2020}

Top 5 Minnesota breweries in 2020

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Kayla

In honor of Small Brewery Sunday, I decided to round-up my favorite breweries visited in 2020. Even with restaurant and brewery limitations this year, my husband Jeremy and I managed to visit over 20 craft breweries in Minnesota.

Hop Passport

Last year, we received one of the best Christmas gifts ever – our very first Hop Passport {thanks Matt & Em!}. This little guy was our 2020 tour guide amidst a year of unpredictability, and it made for some fun road trips!

Hop Passports are currently available for 20 different states. For the 2020 Minnesota edition, 100 breweries were listed. Show your passport at participating locations and get 50% off your first two beverages (essentially buy one beer, get one free).

Pricing for this beer passport ranges from $18-35 each depending on the state. States like Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with more participating breweries will be on the higher-end ($35) compared to states such as Kansas/Missouri or Tennesse with less than 50 breweries listed.


Another one of my favorite tools for connecting with the local beer scene is through Untappd. Untappd is a social platform for checking into and rating beers. Think FourSquare, but for beer {old school reference, I know}.
To keep up with what I am drinking, “toast” me here.

Untappd screenshot
Untappd screenshot

With Untappd, you can earn badges, search for nearby breweries, create wish lists, toast your friends, and much more. The app also comes in handy for looking up beer ratings when you are succumbed to decision paralysis at the liquor store. You know, when you are presented with a cooler of options, and it’s hard to not judge a beer by its cover!

Which brings me to my top brewery pick for 2020 – Bad Habit Brewing. Their artwork is incredibly captivating and created by the legendary Logo Mo. I mean, seriously, how much better of a name can you get?! 🙂

#1 – Bad Habit Brewing

While I live only a few miles away from Bad Habit Brewing, I’d like to think it doesn’t contribute to any bias in this post. Fortunately, I feel my only prejudice is judging the variety of IPAs a brewery offers, particularly hazy IPAs, in which Bad Habit reigns supreme.

Having visited many {but definitely not all} breweries in Minnesota, Bad Habit has unquestionably had the largest {and best} variety of IPAs. At any given time, I would estimate they have nearly a half dozen IPAs to choose from.

Some of my favorites Bad Habit brews include: Skinny Minny {low cal IPA – yes, because I am a dietitian 🙂 }, Dark Addition {chocolate milk stout}, Same Day Delivery {pale ale}, Sour Sundays {fruited sour – the perfect breakfast beer!}, and Rather Ripped Blood Orange {milkshake IPA}.

Besides a varied and spectacular beer selection, the staff at Bad Habit Brewing is incredible. Enduring the unique circumstances of 2020, Bad Habit weathered the storm and always put safety ahead of sales.

For many reasons including {IPA} beer selection, atmosphere {hello, 90s alternative music!}, and staff friendliness, Bad Habit is most deserving of spot numero uno on my list.

#2 – Thesis Beer Project

Ahhh, Thesis, how I miss you. Coffee shop by day, brewery by night, what more could a gal ask for?!

Thesis Beer Project is tuned into the local community and exhibited creative ways to engage with their customers even through the unexpected circumstances of 2020.

For instance, Thesis has a tap series {For the Good And Thirsty} where a percentage of proceeds goes to local charities like the Gift of Life Transplant House.

Thesis also went out of their way to host top-notch local talent for all to enjoy whether it was in-person or virtual livestream concerts. This was incredibly refreshing, because I don’t know about you, but I miss the hell outta live music!

Some of my favorite beers of 2020 from Thesis Beer Project include: Fun Fact {imperial double milk stout}, For the Good And Thirsty {American pale ale}, Accidental Gold {golden ale}, and Rookie Card {American IPA}.

#3 – Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Bent Paddle Brewing takes the cake for the best taproom of 2020. Spacious with ample space inside and out, you are sure to find seating suited to your mood.

Tucked in west Duluth, Bent Paddle is walking distance from OMC Smokehouse which I highly recommend saving room for!

Bent Paddle Brewing Beer Menu_Aug 2020

My top picks from Bent Paddle include Shred Alert {hazy IPA}, Pôrdij #4 {American IPA}, and Bent Hop Golden IPA.

#4 – Spilled Grain Brewhouse

Spilled Grain Brewhouse offers unique, small town vibes with big city beers. Their award-winning beers have claimed over 25 awards at the state and national level.

The staff at Spilled Grain Brewhouse was incredibly friendly, and the taproom is combination of rustic and charming. I mean look at this gorgeous ceiling?!

Spilled Grain Brewery Growler in snow

One of my favorite beers from Spilled Grain Brewhouse was the Great White Buffalo. A cream ale by disguise, this beer has an aroma of fresh brewed coffee but looks like a pale ale. It’s a total trip!

The combo of coffee and cream ale made it the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for a long day of yard work {above}.

#5 – Jack Pine Brewery

Nestled in the Brainerd Lakes area, Jack Pine Brewery was one of our favorite pit stops in central Minnesota.

The “beertenders” at Jack Pine are second-to-none and genuinely friendly. The atmosphere was very laid back and everything you could of a Friday afternoon on your way up ‘nort.

As for beer, I thoroughly enjoyed Jack Pine’s Experimental IPA #17. According to the staff, this IPA was a spinoff of their better-known Lone Wolf IPA.

Jack Pine Brewery_Interior Growler wall

Jack Pine Brewery has a large, grassy outdoor area which is dog-friendly if you’re looking to bring your pooch along. When we visited in July, they were working to expand an outdoor stage area for live music. It looked like it would have fantastic viewing from the entire patio upon completion.

Honorable Mention

Lupulin Brewing

Jeremy and I LOVE Lupulin Brewing‘s beer selection {again, with the large variety of IPAs!}. Hooey, is one of Lupulin’s better-known and more widely available hazy IPAs, and one of Jeremy’s favorite. Personally, Make IPA Piney Again is one of my all-time favorites.

While I will always rave over Lupulin’s wide variety and high-quality beer, the atmosphere is what made this brewery an honorable mention versus a top-five contender.

Compared to other breweries we visited in 2020, the staff isn’t quite as out-going or friendly. And it wasn’t one visit in particular. We visited Lupulin 2-3 times over the course of the past year, and each time, we enjoyed the brews but were underwhelmed with the service.

2021 Prospects

So that sums it up. My Top 5 Minnesota Craft Breweries for 2020. I realize this list is not all-inclusive, and I would love to hear your feedback!

Which brewery is your favorite and deserves to make the cut for 2021? Comment below with your favorite Minnesota breweries and why they are worth the stop {or stamp if you’re repping the beer passport 🙂 }.


Yours truly,

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