September in Minnesota usually means it’s time to trade our weekends away “Up North” for game days, apple picking and other fall fun closer to home. But the end of summer also marks Minnesota’s hop harvest season and a great opportunity for a short trip to a local hop farm or a brewery for a fresh hop event.
Lift Bridge Brewing Co.’s 7th anniversary party – Pickin’ and Grinnin’ – felt like the perfect kickoff to fall. I had my second Oktoberfest beer of the season, watched the Gophers win and helped pick hops for the Harvestor – the brewery’s seasonal fresh hop ale. The hop picking process is really kind of addicting. I liked just eliminating huge clusters from a vine. Put down the Candy Crush and play this instead.
The anniversary party made for a great excuse for a day trip to Stillwater. For me, Lift Bridge is really the brewery that began my interest in craft beer so I like to get to their taproom as often as I can.
Maybe you can’t pick hops the next time you visit the Lift Bridge taproom, but you can check out my favorite downtown Stillwater picks. Plus, maybe the Harvestor will be ready by the time you get there.
Stillwater Olive Oil Co. — Stop in and calm your buzz with a few nibbles of bread and artisan olive oils. I have a small collection of oils and vinegars growing and this is by far my favorite bottle shop. My latest pick? A Harissa-infused olive oil to spice things up.
Mara Mi — This gorgeous modern paperie also doubles as a coffee shop if you need a pick-me-up. I like browsing their bright selection of notebooks, mugs and gift bags. I picked up a little something for an upcoming birthday – and espresso.
The Green Room — This restaurant was a great accidental find and now I go there every time I’m in town. Sitting at the bar in the beautiful brick building, I like to sample their fresh take on many Asian staples including samosas, tandoori chicken and curry – but the Green Room specializes in global flavors of all sorts. They also have a really fun cocktail menu. If there’s something like the Green Room in Minneapolis please don’t let my wallet know…
And my all-time favorite: Tremblay’s Sweet Shop! There’s a lot of candy here, but I only have eyes for saltwater taffy. I can also vouch for the truffles, fudge, Oreo balls, etc.