As I navigated through a parking lot riddled with cracked pavement, I passed by folks who seemed to know this place far better than I did. Skeptically, I made my way into a warehouse with the kind of back door you only see in music videos where everybody inside is probably far cooler than me.
It was a Wednesday night–a time you’d expect to find a few regulars and a host of empty seats in a taproom. Instead, as the faint aroma of weed washed over me, I opened the back door to a taproom filled with people. In fact, finding a seat was even a little difficult.
The brewery doesn’t feature reclaimed barn wood paneling or a big, shiny brewhouse. But, it did have something else: a hell of a lot of character. That is, if you call stuffed armadillos, funky local art, and tie-dye tapestries character, which I sure do.
The unassuming, eclectic atmosphere felt like the kind of bar you can’t write into any movie script, because it simply can’t be recreated. It is entirely produced by a collection of the folks who drink there. It’s the place where you’ll find both a dude in a Cabela’s sweatshirt and a 60-something hippie dressed like Leonard from the Big Bang Theory. It’s the place where you can be the only person dancing to the kick-ass live music, and you’re a part of the story, not a spectacle. It’s the kind of place where every piece of furniture is well-worn in, and you can tell, and that makes you love it even more.
Harriet specializes in Belgian ales and German lagers, so their menu featured many styles I had never explored. I opted for the West Side (Belgian IPA, ABV: 6.5%, IBU: 40), and stole a few sips of my friend’s Sooner Or Later (Belgian Style Blonde, ABV: 6%, IBU: 20). Both beers presented a pleasant surprise that I’d be happy to order again…and again
My advice tonight came from a bustling beertender named Dan. Growing up a missionary kid meant Dan lived on multiple continents–he grew up in Italy and later lived in South Africa and Australia. The adventurous spirit apparently never left him, because he’ll soon be moving to Alaska with his girlfriend, where they’ll both work on a train (him as a cook, her as a server).
Dan’s advice seems only fitting for his fascinating life story: Never stop exploring.
While you might not be keen on heading halfway across the country, or the world, in order to explore, that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from this advice. Exploration can be as simple as finding a new trail to hike, or a craft brewery to visit. Dan has been in Minnesota for 7 years and still finds new things to explore.
Cheers to exploration and finding amazing new beer, right in my back yard.