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Food & Drink

7 Terrific Twin Cities Breweries for the Whole Damn Family

Kiddo-friendly drinking destinations can be tricky to find. Start with these spots.

12:42 PM CST on February 7, 2024

Facebook: Utepils Brewing Co.|

The Utepils beer garden? It rocks.

I like a well-crafted cold one as much as the next guy. Maybe more.

I also have small children, which constrains my ability to enjoy cold ones at the time and place of my choosing. My children are the reason—and, to be clear, I love them dearly, but they are the reason—my spouse and I will never be Minnesota brewery completionists.

But that’s fine. We have the next best thing: a mental list of the best Minneapolis (and Fridley) breweries for families with younger kids. It’s the product of years of trial and error, some of it truly mortifying. If it helps even one Racket-reading parent avoid even one “Oh God, we shouldn’t be here!” moment, its job is done.

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Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative

1712 Marshall St. NE #100, Minneapolis

Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative’s new(ish) location overlooks the Mississippi River, but its blufftop outdoor area is “a little meh,” as a fellow-parent friend puts it. Leaves down, you’re looking across at Northern Metals’ infamous, now-shuttered scrapyard.

No matter. Inside, the same friend says, Broken Clock has a “cute little area for kids” with kid-sized couches, chairs, and rugs—ideal for a lil’ controlled chaos. Also present: arcade games. And there’s more open floor space than Broken Clock’s original California Street spot a ways upriver.

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Forgotten Star Brewing Co.

38 Northern Stacks Dr., Fridley

Do your kids like trains? 

Mine do. Which is why they absolutely love visiting Forgotten Star, a former naval factory on the northern edge of the massive BNSF railyard straddling northeast Minneapolis, Fridley, and Columbia Heights.

Trains are always visible through Forgotten Star’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The expansive outdoor area offers even better views, weather permitting. They’re mostly freight, but “sometimes [passenger trains] pass by and you can see people waving from the windows,” says Emmy, a Forgotten Star taproom worker reached for comment specifically about the trains.

Kids love people waving from trains. They also love freight car graffiti, Emmy reports. And on the rare occasions when there’s not much doing in the railyard, they love frolicking around Forgotten Star’s outdoor curling courts, fire pits, and multipurpose tent.

Inside, Forgotten Star is huge—former factory, remember—but as a quasi-destination brewery, it’s crowded more often than not. If the multipurpose room all the way in the back isn’t open, camp out under the mural on the far side of the main hall. 

That’s where monthly Sunday story-and-craft sessions happen, according to Emmy. Less frequent kids’ programming includes an Oktoberfest petting zoo (mid-September) and Soccer Shots sessions (occasionally during the warm months, with a free beer per parent).

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56 Brewing

3055 Columbia Ave. NE #102,  Minneapolis

Forgotten Star’s almost-neighbor also has a nice outdoor area. It features a wraparound patio deck, reclaimed parking area with a real wood-burning fire pit, and one of the biggest cottonwood trees you’ve ever seen. 

No trains here, but come winter, 56 Brewing has something almost as good: temperature-based dynamic drink pricing. The (in)famous Pint-o-Meter kicks in at 42 degrees, incrementally dropping pint prices from the usual $7 to $2 once it's below 14 degrees (above zero).

“You’d be surprised how many people go for those $2 pints,” says Joe Wirth, 56 Brewing’s chief technical officer. The catch, obviously, is you have to drink outside. But if you have older kids who enjoy playing in the snow and it’s not below zero, that should not be a problem.

And if it is? 56 has a half-dozen pinball and arcade machines, though they’re often occupied by intimidatingly skilled adults. The never-used interior loading ramp is a blank slate for free play, no skill required. Upstairs from the bar, a small alcove beckons board-gamers.

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Venn Brewing

3550 E. 46th St. #140, Minneapolis

Venn Brewing has very good beer and a solid patio with space for kids to roam. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days, it doubles as a coffee shop popular with families and work-away-from-home folks. It has an active food truck lineup, with weekly appearances by Potter’s Pasties and Brick Oven Bus, the latter of which was just praised by Racket. It’s just steps from the 46th Street light rail station.

These are all great selling points, but you already know what makes this transit-oriented brewery so popular with the young’uns.

“The difference-maker for us has been [that] the kids can watch trains and big accordion buses go by,” says one regular who absolutely knows what’s up.

Look, I don’t make the rules.

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Insight Brewing Co.

2821 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

Speaking of rules: Are you a fun, edgy parent who lets your pre-kindergartener play on old (and short!) concrete staircases to nowhere? 

Cool, me too. Join me at Insight Brewing Co., where well-supervised children can stair-frolic before a seldom-used side door. (It’s almost certainly an emergency exit, so, like, follow the law.) 

Upstairs and around the bend is a more conventional kids’ corner with comfy couches and potted plants. Check the game stand near the bathroom, and grab the most reasonably priced THC-seltzer 12-pack in town on your way out: $35 as of this writing.

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Arbeiter Brewing Co.

3038 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis

If my older child becomes a professional brewer, he’ll have Arbeiter Brewing to thank. More specifically, he’ll have to thank the very friendly Arbeiter worker who stood before the towering steel tanks and spent what must have been 20 minutes explaining the brewing process. 

My kid and his buddy sat in rapt attention the entire time.

Kid-friendly beermaking lectures are just the icing on Arbeiter’s cake. We meet our fellow-parent friends there on the semi-regular for the rad arcade section and comfortably out-of-the-way side area with enough seating for several medium-sized families. There are board games and card sets and food trucks most days too.

The Utepils beer garden? It rocks.Facebook: Utepils Brewing Co.

Utepils Brewing

225 Thomas Ave. N. #700, Minneapolis

Sometimes, your kids just wanna run around and count ducks. Y’know?

They can do this at Utepils Brewing, along with any number of other relatively safe, nature-based activities. 

Utepils has the nicest outdoor space of any brewery we regularly visit. It’s part standard brewery patio, part outdoor beer hall, and part woodsy backlot with group seating scattered amid the trees. It all overlooks a marshy stretch of Bassett Creek—hence the ducks.

Yes, this primo outdoor space gets quite crowded in nice weather. But unless Utepils is hosting a seasonal festival or musical performance, it’s rarely crowded inside and out. When the party heads outside, bring the kids in for a low-key round of pool or table shuffleboard.

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