The name really says it all. Big Wood Brewery’s Tap Room is located in White Bear Lake, MN tucked away between 4th and 3rd street off of Cook Ave. The entrance is located off a well lit alley and as you walk in, the entrance kind of reminds me of Cheers. Its not as open an entrance as cheers, but its elevated higher then the rest of the bar. I half expected the people to turn around and welcome me with a hearty BILL! Unfortunately everyone was focused on enjoying the wonderful beer served up by Big Wood.
Around the main tap room there is a large amount of wood decor. The floors were wood, the tables were wood, the bar was wood. The name really says it all. I went to Big Wood on a Saturday night after working all day in my hotel. I wanted to grab a beer and some food. The tap room was almost to capacity when I arrived. The main room has about 6 bar top tables, a mini stage with a coffee table and chairs sitting between the speakers. Past the bar is where the brewing happens. After grabbing my first beer from their big wood shaped bar I started scoping around for a place to enjoy said beer. I wandered to the back room through a Shire like entrance. I half expected to find Frodo and Bilbo hanging around but was greeted by a room full of people that stopped what they were doing and stared at my like I just walked into their home unexpected, or like i just s…t in all of their cheerios. Before doing an about-face I notice that the room is the breweries stock room. In the middle of the room was a ping pong table with bar top tables around and shelves full of brewing supplies.
Back in the main room I found a seat on the stage next to a guy wearing a Wisconsin crew sweatshirt. I take the seat and enjoy my beer with Green Day playing on the speakers. My first beer was the Morning Wood Coffee Stout, with an ABV of 5.5% with a smooth coffee forward taste. I order to keep things comfortable I sparked up a conversation with the guy in the Wisconsin sweatshirt. He was out for a celebratory beer, Wisconsin had made it to the final four that night. This gentleman worked for 3M and used to work for GM in Farmington Hills, MI so we talked about that and the auto industry.
Once I finished the Coffee Stout the gentleman had finished his beer and took off. At the same time a seat at the bar opened up so I quickly jumped up to claim the seat. For my second beer I ordered their Imperial Stout, Black Anvil. Coming in at 9.5% ABV the Imperial Stout is full bodied, brewed with magnum and saaz hops and dark Belgian candy sugar which gives the beer hints of toffee, dark chocolate, graham cracker, and raisin. It was served from draft into a tulip glass with little to no head. The high ABV is definitely noticeable but not many of the other flavors came through besides the raisin. The do not serve food in the Tap Room, but you can take home some of their excellent beers in growlers.
I enjoyed my experience at Big Wood Brewery. Like most Tap Rooms, the lack of TVs made it a little awkward for a single person to just hang out. I suppose it’s to force you to spark up a conversation with other patrons at the bar or the bartenders. I would recommend Big Wood to any friends who visit Minnesota. If I lived close, I imagine it would be an excellent place to start your night with a group of friends.
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