St. Paul is the smaller of Minnesota’s Twin Cities and when you’re the smaller sibling, you are often stuck in the proverbial shadow of the larger and more recognizable brother or sister. For this reason, many people pass on visiting St. Paul altogether, choosing to spend all of their time in the state’s largest city, Minneapolis. But those who do decide to make their way to the state’s capital city are often surprised at some of the attractions, the restaurants, and the beer. A good example of a pleasant surprise is Great Waters Brewing, located at 426 St. Peters St. in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
Brewpub with a Capital “B”:
Great Waters Brewing is a St. Paul establishment that dates all the way back to 1997. The establishment is a brewpub and that means, of course, that they serve food as well as beer. The menu consists of American food options such as pretzels, chicken wings, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and assorted entrees. Many who dine here give high marks to the jambalaya, St. Paul Burger, and other menu options.
Walking inside Great Waters Brewing, guests will discover an atmosphere that is quite restaurant and pub- like, but devoid of any distinctive theme. It is comfortable, however, and guests will feel right at home sitting at one of the tables or at the bar. If the weather is nice, they have an outdoor patio, too, where you can eat, drink, and people watch.
At Great Waters Brewing, guests can expect to find about 10 beers on tap at any given time. Cask beers are a specialty here and they account for about 1/3 of all beer sales. There is no canning or bottling at Great Waters Brewing. All of the beer is kegged or served from a cask.
Let’s Try Some Brew:
Great Waters Brewing serves large and small servings/samples of house beers. Here is a list of the beers I tried when I was there, listed alphabetically by name, with the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:
- 3 Wheats to the Wind, Pale wheat ale, 3.25
- Blackwatch Oat Stout, 3.5
- Golden Prairie, Blonde Ale, 3
- Monster Cookie Sticke, Altbier, 3.75
- Saint Peter Pale Ale, 3.5
- St. Andrew’s Cross, Scotch Ale, 3.75
Overall average rating: 3.46
I liked the St. Andrew’s Cross Stitch Ale best, but the Monster Cookie Sticke Altbier was tasty as well. I definitely recommend the cask beers if any are available, as they are among the specialties served here.
St. Paul is Calling
Great Waters Brewing is a downtown brewpub with some good, agreeable food and beer and it’s positioned to make access a breeze for those who live/work in downtown. It’s a good choice when you want some food with your beer, are looking for a quick and satisfying lunch, or just want to drink a brew or two as you watch the people passing by.
I had not previously heard of Great Waters Brewing but in my efforts to find some places in St. Paul to visit, this brewpub was recommended. I visited as part of the Great Beer Now Twin Cities Brewery Tour of 2017 and while most of my visits took place in the larger, sister city of Minneapolis, I didn’t want to neglect St. Paul and made it a point to include breweries in the capital city as part of my agenda.
I was able to find time to talk with some of the personnel at Great Waters Brewing and I was surprised to learn that the brewery was founded in 1997! That may not be a big deal to most American industries, but 20 years of age is mighty old in the craft beer world. I was equally surprised to learn that Great Waters Brewing produces under 1,000 barrels of beer annually. The fact that they have been around for two decades would make you think they would be larger. The smaller size tells me that they want to be this way. They have no intention of expanding to a large size, preferring instead to be a small, friendly brewpub with consistent beer, food, and service.
Great Waters Brewing got its name from the “holy” water that exists on site and is used to brew the beer. To clarify, the brewpub was constructed on the site of the former St. Paul Cathedral and now enjoys water from a natural spring water well, directly beneath them. As any beer lover knows, fresh, clean water is critical to brew the best beer possible and this water supply is responsible for helping Great Waters Brewing craft so many memorable beers over the years.
St. Paul, Minnesota will probably never attract the attention afforded its larger sibling on the other side of the Mississippi River, but St. Paul does have attractions worth taking the time to visit. For food and beer in downtown, Great Waters Brewing is that place- a friendly pub where you can grab a quick bite to eat, enjoy a cask conditioned ale, and people- watch from safe confines. Pay a visit to Great Waters Brewing the next time you’re in the capital city of St. Paul, Minnesota. And tell then Great Beer Now sent you.