Minnesota has been in a full-fledged beer boom in the last few years. The historic Land of Sky Blue Waters (that’s the Hamm’s jingle, of course) went from having a mere handful of existent breweries (Grain Belt, Summit, and our alt-craft-scenester heroes Surly) to dozens. Which is to say nothing of the brewing boom going on in Wisconsin, a mere hop-skip from St. Paul, and all that’s going on in nearby states like Iowa and Colorado. All of this brewing has resulted in a nice, weird phenomenon in the Twin Cities: A beer connoisseur rivalry between St. Paul, home of The Ale Jail, and Minneapolis and the western suburbs, home of the Four Firkins.
Now each store gets special editions, limited allocations, and hosts only-for-them beermaker afternoons. You can’t consider yourself a real beer nut and only go to one of these stores. In the same way that, a generation ago, a hipster could spend his day in Minneapolis record-store hopping from Garage d’Or to Oar Folkjokepus to the Electric Fetus, a hipster today will spend it bopping from Ale Jail to Four Firkins and back again. Owners Paul and KaTrina Wentzel are also owners of the boutique wine shop directly next-door to The Ale Jail, a spot called the Wine Thief, and recently opened an all-local dairy gelato shop on St. Paul’s main drag, called Cow Bella—which is to say they’re making St. Paul elite, surprising, and delicious, and making the twin rivalry between the Twin Cities more vital and fun than it’s ever been.