With a free tour, a free beer, and the opportunity to be in Minnesota’s second largest brewer, there’s really no reason for beer lovers not to go to Summit Brewing Co. in Saint Paul.
As a growing fan of local breweries and craft beer, I made it a goal to try out Summit Brewing while I was in the Twin Cities. (Coincidentally, this year is the company’s 30th anniversary!)
One aspect of Summit I really appreciate is that its founder, Mark Stutrud, went ahead and pushed to establish Summit even after receiving a letter from the Brewers’ Association of America discouraging him from doing so in the 1980s.
And now, the company exports beer to 14 states and has produced 46 different kinds of beers.
But apart from its unique story and founder’s perseverance, the experience of touring the facility itself is enjoyable. When I first entered the brewery, I was greeted by a friendly employee who checked my ID and then gave me three beer tokens that I was able to exchange for small glasses of beer. I opted to grab their Summer Ale as soon as she gave them to me.
Things kicked off in the brew house, which is easily visible from the tables out front. The group was also able to see where the beer is bottled, and we were able to exchange tokens for a beer sample during the actual tour, which was pretty nice.
There was a ton of information presented during the tour and I wish I could remember everything, but the following facts stood out to me:
- 10% of Summit’s beers go into cans, while 40% go to kegs that go on to restaurants
- Summit produced 130,000 barrels of beer in 2015, which is equivalent to about 260,000 kegs
- Summit will help other microbreweries – yes, its competitors – fix anything that may be wrong with their beers, according to the tour guide we had, because any time beer tastes bad, it reflects poorly on all microbreweries.
- Microbreweries account for 12 percent of the nation’s breweries.
- The company has 5 beer chemists for quality control
- Summit brewers are expected to be well-rounded when it comes to their craft – not specialized
- Beer is produced at this facility from 5-7 days per week
Going on this tour requires a reservation, and I would recommend choosing to go on a Saturday because there’s an added bonus of briefly exploring and freezing in the coolers – something weekday tours (which are offered Tuesday through Monday) don’t get to do, according to the guide on the tour I went on.
I loved Summit Brewing Co. and would recommend beer enthusiasts to do the same. I would definitely go back again. Cheers!