10 Reasons to Tour St. Paul's Summit Brewery
Amanda Fretheim Gates
My husband loves Summit beer. He’s selflessly tried several brands of beer just to make sure, but Summit always reigns supreme. So, how cool that his beverage of choice is a local commodity! For Father’s Day this year, I told him I’d take a day off work and take him on a tour of the place where his favorite beer is brewed. We had a ton of fun learning how beer is made, laughing along with our entertaining tour guide, and getting a Willy Wonkaesque view of St. Paul’s Summit Brewery. Here are ten reasons why you, too, should check it out:
1. It’s free! They encourage you to bring food to donate to Second Harvest, which is easy enough. (Also, no sandals!)
2. Ninety percent of Summit’s beer is sold in Minnesota, so anytime you drink one of their brews, you can rest assured you’re consuming something with a low carbon footprint.
3. In an agreement with the city back in the late '90s, the brewery bought the land it sits on from the city for just one dollar. As a stipulation of this great deal, they’re required to employ 50 St. Paul residents (and pay them a living wage). They’re keeping it local, and that’s really cool.
4. They let their brewers experiment three times a year, developing their own types of beer that they then sell for a limited time through their Unchained Series. My husband picks up these six packs whenever they’re in stores. And when they’re gone, they’re gone.
5. They’re coming up with new beers all the time. The latest is Saga, which is my husband’s new, hands-down favorite. On this tour, I tried the new Summer Ale; it was crisp, light, and refreshing.
6. Since light is what makes beer get skunky, they only use brown bottles for their beer, which keeps it tasting fresh that much longer. (Does that make you think about the beer you drink out of clear glass bottles? Hmmm.)
7. Speaking of bottles, on the tour you get to see where they bottle the beer. They can bottle 500 in a minute! (They can also fill one keg in a minute.)
8. You also get to step foot in the 40-degree cooler, which is stacked with 12 packs, kegs, and single bottles of the variety packs (which are boxed by hand, by the way). You’ll kind of wish that cooler was attached to your house.
9. After the tour, you get three free beer samples. Big samples. The day we were there they had eight on tap, from as light as the Pilsener to as dark as the draught-only Oatmeal Stout.
10. You can drink your samples on the patio, where they grow the hops, and in the gift shop, where you can buy everything from T-shirts, beer steins, and bars of soap.
So, great quality beer made by local folks who really care about the planet and the product they produce—that sure sounds like something I want to support; how about you? Cheers!
Summit Brewery tours are offered Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1 p.m., and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
**Tip: Tours fill up fast, especially Saturday tours. New slots are released up to four weeks ahead of time, every Monday morning. So, plan accordingly. To grab a tour on the Tuesday of our choice, I got online right away the Monday four weeks prior and snatched a spot. Wait too long and you might not get in when you want. Our tour had about 40 people, though, so there’s definitely room for a group or family. Kids under 21 welcome, they just can't partake in the samples.