Before St. Paul was Minnesota’s capital city, it was a settlement with a tavern at its center on the banks of the Mississippi River. The settlement was known as “Pig’s Eye” for the area’s first inhabitant, Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, and his tavern. Though the name was changed years later, after Father Lucien Galtier founded the Log Chapel of St. Paul, the city’s legacy as a destination for thirsty explorers continued. This 11-mile craft beer bicycle tour is just the latest chapter.
Start with lunch at Great Waters Brewing Co., a downtown brewpub located in the Hamm Building, which was constructed on the original site of the Saint Paul Cathedral (replacing Father Galtier’s Log Chapel). Great Waters’ beers are brewed with water from a natural spring under the building; it’s also one of the few breweries in the state to offer cask beer, which is served at cellar temperature and lacks the carbonation of a kegged beer.
After lunch, walk south on Saint Peter Street toward the Landmark Center to rent a Nice Ride Minnesota bike at the station on 5th Street. (Nice Ride accepts credit cards. The rental will cost about $30 per bike for a five-hour tour.)
After you pick up your bike, make your way to West 7th Street and head west past the Xcel Energy Center to visit the mom-and-pop antique and curiosity shops and see the site of the old Schmidt’s Brewery.
Continue on for a half-mile more and your next stop, The Beer Dabbler Store, will be on your right. The Beer Dabbler stocks merchandise – glassware, bottle openers, shirts and caps – from craft breweries around Minnesota.
After The Beer Dabbler, continue down West 7th to Vine Park Brewing Co. to check out their brew-on-premises options and classes, enjoy a root beer, and pick up a growler of Vine Park’s beer.
From Vine Park, it’s a short ride to Summit Brewing Co., the brewery credited with starting the Minnesota craft beer boom back in 1986. The Summit taproom opens at 3 p.m. on Fridays, and tours are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (reservations are required).
After sampling Summit’s options, get back on your bike and continue to Flat Earth Brewing Co. The Flat Earth taproom is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and noon-6:30 p.m. on Saturdays, with brewery tours on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
From Flat Earth, navigate to Shepard Road for a leisurely ride on bike paths along the mighty Mississippi River. Keep your eyes open for giant concrete silos on your left, which are near the site of the original Pig’s Eye tavern.
Continue on the Shepard Road bike paths behind the Science Museum of Minnesota and under the Wabasha Bridge. At Sibley Street, make a left, then head up the hill to Kellogg Boulevard and make a left toward downtown and the Landmark Center to return your bike.
Learn more about Minnesota's growing craft beer scene on the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild website.