The remodeled Summit taproom. (Photos by Chris Riemenschneider)
When Summit Brewing completed construction on its current facility in 1998, the term “taproom” probably would have been mistaken as a place where kids rehearsed dance routines in shiny, noisy black shoes. In fact, Summit president Mark Stutrud remembered how the space that’s been serving as the brewery’s taproom in recent years was designed simply as a place “to give staff somewhere to eat their lunch.”
This weekend, the pioneering St. Paul brewery celebrates the grand opening of its much grander taproom, newly dubbed the Summit Ratskeller. The makeover offers many keeping-up-with-the-joneses touches befitting a modern taproom, like cooler overhead lighting, bike racks and recycling bins. But it also gives the space more of a classic German beer hall vibe.
Summit moved its 130-year-old red oak bar more into the center of the room and increased its tap lines to 20 beers, including brews available only there at the mother ship. It also decorated the walls with a giant video screen and photos of brewers at work and a map of old Bavaria. New, less tippy wood tables and chairs were brought in. And a giant black walnut table known as the Stammtisch will also be added as a nod to classic beer halls, and in keeping with Stutrud’s description of the Ratskeller as “more of a social space.”
Playing off that theme after cutting a ribbon outside the brewery’s new front entrance Wednesday, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said he hopes the Summit Ratskeller can further his goal to “lessen the divisiveness” in the city and “get out of our communities to get to know each other better.”
“There are few vehicles that do that better than drinking beer together,” Carter added.
Look for special events at Summit all weekend, including live music from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Trivia Mafia on Saturday and special beer tappings each day. Here’s a rundown of the Ratskeller festivities:
Thursday: Opening at 2 p.m. with the Blue Fire Pizza food truck, live music from 6–8 p.m. with singer/songwriter Amanda Standalone, and tapping of Summit Ratskeller Exclusive Number 1, a super-aromatic 8.2% ABV unfiltered IPA with a walloping 70 IBU (!) with notes of grapefruit and orange peel.
Friday: Opening at 2 p.m. with the Wyn 65 food truck, music from 6–8 p.m. with bluegrass greats the High 48s, and another limited beer, Summit Ratskeller Exclusive Number 2, an unfiltered IPA, this one weighing in at 7.5% ABV and 60 IBU with big dank and fruity notes of mango, clementine, apricot, pineapple and bubblegum.
Saturday: Opening at noon with the Ninja Sushi food truck, a Summit-themed edition of Trivia Mafia beginning at 6 p.m. and a Summit Ratskeller Exclusive Number 3, a limited roasty and smoky brown ale with 5.1% ABV, 42 IBU and notes of maple syrup, light roasted coffee, graham cracker, spice and wood.
Sunday: That’s right, the brewery will be open on Sundays now, noon to 6 p.m., also with new tour times at 1 and 3 p.m. The first Sunday will feature an extra keg of that Exclusive Number 3.
Summit: 910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul, 651-265-7800. summitbrewing.com