Monday, March 13, 2017

Northern Ale Guide, Stops 3, 4, and 5 - Rochester Road Trip

Stamp Number 3: Stagecoach Brewing Company, 101 East 5th Street, Mantorville, MN
Stamp Number 4: LTS Brewing, 2001 32nd Ave NW, Rochester, MN 55901
Stamp Number 5: Grand Rounds Brew Pub, 4 3rd St SW, Rochester, MN 55902

One day in February, we dropped the kids off at Nicci's parents' house for the night and took off an a super-early anniversary road trip to Rochester. I'd never been to Rochester except for a few occasions driving through, so I was excited - it's Minnesota's third-largest city, after all, so there's gotta be stuff to do. Plus, there were three stamps in our passport down that way, so that was an extra bonus.

Our first stop was Stagecoach Brewing in Mantorville, which isn't actually a taproom. It's a small office connected to a brewing facility. That's it. They don't even sell pints there. What they do is sit you down, hand you a beer, and tell you a history of brewing beer in Minnesota. It was fascinating to listen to, probably because Tod from Stagecoach is just so passionate about his craft. The experience was nothing like anything else we'll get from our passport, but it was nice nonetheless. 

Oh, and the beer was good. I gotta find me some Stagecoach Amber somewhere.

Mantorville is a small town, but it would have been a nice place to stay for an evening - there was a candy store just down the road from Stagecoach, and a wonderful-smelling restaurant called Hubbell House right across the street that looked like the place to be for not only Mantorville residents but also residents from all the towns around it. We might have stayed to eat there, but we were on a mission - Rochester was just 21 miles down the road, and we had two more stops to go that night.

Nicci's Fun beer, with LTS stamp.
First was LTS Brewing in the northwest part of town, surrounded by light industrial construction. It barely seemed like we were in Rochester, and the vibe was definitely more small-town taproom rather than big city. The interior reminded me of a VFW or Legion or something - very basic, with a setup designed to encourage large groups and socializing.

Naturally, Nicci and I parked it on a couch in the corner and drank our beer in peace, because who wants to be social? I had the Browncoat American Brown Ale, and she had Fun, which is the name of a Belgian-style blond that she liked (usually if "Belgian" is in the beer's description, Nicci is a happy girl). LTS had good beer, free popcorn, and enough of the stereotypical board games to make it a good place to hang for a few hours. They also had an outdoor patio, which would have been nice if it wasn't early February.

(Oh, and most importantly, they had a poster in the men's room showing the patent for the toilet paper dispenser, and it showed the inventor very clearly going over-the-top, which further proves that anybody who doesn't is wrong. And a heathen.)

We only had one beer each, because LTS didn't have a food truck, and we knew our last stop of the night, Grand Rounds, served food. We were a little wrong on that - Grand Rounds is a restaurant that happens to also serve its own self-brewed beer. I don't know if we were just overly hungry or if Grand Rounds is just that good, but that food was amazing.

Me trying to prove Nicci wrong at
Grand Rounds. I ended up being
wrong. Pictured is Nicci's Belgian IPA.
I did not take a picture of my beer.
We started with "beerbeque" chicken wings, which were great. I had a burger with bacon jam and beer cheese that was so good I kind of want to drive to Rochester right now to have it for dinner tonight. Nicci had the French dip - when I asked her just now about how it tasted, she simply said "oh my." So yah, it was good. So good that it overpowered the beer, which was also delicious. 

(That may have led to some difficulties, though. According to Tod, the head brewer of Grand Rounds just left over disagreement about the direction of the facility. That news was very disappointing to the random guy at Stagecoach who was wearing a Grand Rounds sweatshirt. It didn't affect the beer while we were there, but it might down the road. But still - go for the food, stay for the beer.)

Nicci had the Belgian IPA, which was a tough choice for her. It said "Belgian," which is usually her happy place, but it also said IPA, which is usually her sad place because of brewer's tendencies to put all of the hops into their IPAs. But the Belgian part of the name won, which made Nicci happy. I had a coconut stout. It was great and stouty, and went well with my burger.

Grand Rounds is in a nice area of downtown Rochester. There's an intriguing-looking bar right next door that serves all sorts of local taps, and a traditional dive bar named Kathy's just around the corner. There were lots of other little places to go right there, too, and it was right across from our hotel, so it was nice and convenient.

Or, it would have been. Except we had been to three taprooms in a single day, and ate a big filling meal, and we were tired. So on our special night away from our kids, we were asleep at 10:00, because we're old.

I was happy with our trip to Rochester. I'm a little disappointed it took me this long to get there to visit. I'll definitely go back. There are plenty of places to go and things to do and beer to drink there (I can also recommend Kinney Creek, which we stopped at while driving through last summer, although they're not in the passport). Plus, on your way out of, you can stop at Canadian Honkers for an amazing brunch. Just avoid one part of our trip - the wheel of the car almost falling off on Highway 52. But that's a story for a different day.

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