Deb and Jill of Urban Growler took the scenic route in their brewery opening. After years of fundraising, planning, and building, their dream has finally materialized in their little slice of industrial Midway heaven.
Why did it take so long? It wasn’t lack of organization or hard work, by the way. If you missed my first interview with them, I’ll remind you that the two wanted to build walls, brew beer, and serve food from a place of financial stability and organic growth. Similar to other crowdfunding in the beer industry, they asked friends and neighbors to donate at different levels, for different rewards.
Despite a hotly anticipated Grand Opening to happen on August 27th, fans of Urban Growler are aware that the beer has been flowing for a few weeks already!
St Anthony Park and the surrounding neighborhoods are being reinvigorated by places like Urban Growler, “located just five blocks off of the Raymond Avenue Station of the new Green Line along the eclectic University Avenue corridor. With Bang Brewing right next door (literally!), Burning Brothers Gluten Free Brewery within a mile, and Tin Whiskers at the end of the line in downtown St. Paul, the new Green Line is a great way for enthusiasts to get a taste of the evolving St. Paul craft beer scene.” – Jill Pavlak
I have had high hopes for Urban Growler from day one. I visited last weekend and left with a big smile on my face, muttering something like “yessss! I knew it.”
Brewer Deb Loch came out of the gates with a modest but smart line-up of widely appealing beer: a cream ale, a rhubarb wit, a session IPA and a Kentucky common. With a selection like this, appropriate for the season and the food menu, most drinkers will find more than one option to be excited about. And with all choices hovering around 5.2-5.5%, that is okay.
I started with the City Day Ale, a hazy-orange Kentucky common based on the recipe for Bourbon, but made to beer strength. Similar to the version at Sisyphus, this one isn’t sour, but it is delicately tart and refreshing.
Aside from top-notch beer, the service absolutely sets Urban Growler apart from the dozens of new Minnesota breweries. In my time at the bar, I heard multiple servers using appropriate language to describe food pairings, styles and history, and to discuss Sunday Sales. It was very impressive. In a space that is full of character, with the right amount of openness and coziness, it feels like a comfortable barn party.
The Cuban sandwich was very good, served with plain crudites, which, given their house-made ranch, didn’t disappoint me at all. The thick-cut ham and ciabatta creation was just the right size for the price.
The first beer in their Plow-to-Pint series, which features ingredients from local farms, is the Rhubarb Wit. The beer is the color and cloudiness of raw honey and delivers very full yeast notes on the aroma. Rhubarb is a mild ingredient that reads as crispness, and potentiates the wheat character. Paradoxically, It becomes slightly more bright and tart on warming.
Jill explains that the favorite beer is up for debate, but overall the crowd has been pleased. Those who previously shied away from wheat beers have expressed their enjoyment in the rhubarb, and expanding people’s palates has been very fulfilling.