Microbreweries are everywhere nowadays. So taprooms, while most adhere to trends, usually bare unique qualities that stand out. Some go with a progressive style, others go with a rustic chic ambiance and some boast an industrial vibe. There are probably other new and colorfully labeled interior and exterior styles that I’m leaving out, but I think you get my point. I bring this up because I found a place in Minneapolis that is genuine to the area. This gritty midwestern locale not only boasts a large taproom, the brewing machinery glistens in the same open expanse. I knew when I set eyes on the Forgotten Star Brewing Company’s building, I’d remember this place for awhile.
I wish I could say I researched Minneapolis area breweries for hours on end. That’s not even close to the truth. Today’s place was the nearest brewery while googling a trendy spot. What I found blew my mind. I’ve visited four micro-brewing places in and around Minneapolis, including recently closed Surly’s on the U of M campus. The other three, including Surly’s, didn’t come close to satiating my soul like the Forgotten Star.
Grabbing a beer at the Forgotten Star Brewing Co….
I’ve been to enough breweries in the past three years. I know what’s run of the mill, what falls short and what is exceptional. And as I turn onto Northern Stacks Drive, surveying a very modern office building complex, the sinking feeling in my stomach tells me I might not be pleased. I shrug, as I think to myself, ‘I’m here for my sister’s family, not the beer’.
I’m visiting for the weekend. However, right now, as it’s early Friday afternoon, everyone in her family is tied up with work or school. So I figured I’d check out a brewery…because that’s what I do when I have time and money. So, since the name sounded interesting, I chose the Forgotten Star Brewery. Actually, the huge seller was that it was a nine minute drive from the hotel.
Like I said, I’m driving through an office building complex. It then yields to the most historic Industrial setting I’ve ever set eyes on, at least when it comes to micro-breweries. Long twin smoke stacks stretch towards the sky, as they rise from a genuine brick building. I shake my head, this is cooler than I could’ve ever imagined. It’s obvious that this is not some recreated structure, this is the real deal. Adding to the ambiance, a railyard serves as backdrop. I check out the procession of boxcars that are lined along the rusty rails. A grassy beer garden buzzes with chatter between the industrial building and the tracks.
I’m thinking I’ll have a drink in this beer garden, as I pass a quaint concrete patio before glass paneled garage doors. I find a side door, and make my way in for a brew.
Inside, I’m blown away. The interior, contrasting with the exterior’s 19th century sweat and grit vibe, is chic and cool amongst the aged walls. A vast taproom yields to sheening brewing apparatus lined right along side the comfortable drinking space. Here, I don’t find your typical bar. Instead, I survey a small order counter, with two men manning the station, and a small line of patrons. I wait, and it isn’t long before I can make my purchase.
The beer list isn’t long, having nine options. I’m not ultra-crazy about a few of these choices, yet, I find a rye titled ‘Rye Not‘ and am sold. As I receive my selection, I head towards Forgotten Star’s beer garden.
I should mention that I’ve driven to Minneapolis from Green Bay today. Save for bathroom breaks, it was a non-stop trip. So I’m pretty starved, and I fear what a strong beer will do on an empty stomach. Not to fear; I find a food truck placed right at the edge of the parking lot.
Though the food is quite expensive, I’m thrilled that the truck is here. I get a spicy Chicago dog and enjoy it under a warm mid September sun. The beer is delicious and I’m full of anticipation. These days, I rarely get to visit the Orstads and observe them in their natural habitat. And I’m feeling optimism, as I’m surrounded by vestiges of my grandparents’ days.
As I eat, I mull over this buildings conception, which I haven’t explained yet. It was erected in 1929, with the impetus of the Great Depression looming. It served as the boiler room for the Northern Pump company, which manufactured fire fighting water pumps. However, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Northern Pump Company became a manufacturing site for naval guns. I have read that it was one of the most prolific factories during World War II.
When I’m done, I’m eager to leave. By no means does that have anything with the Forgotten Star’s beers, service or ambiance. It has everything to do with seeing family, and this industrial revolution type setting hints at a memorable stay to come. Thanks to those who put together the Forgotten Star Brewing Company. I wish you well!