Pros: A haven for Badgers, Packers, and Wisconsin fans of all stripes
Cons: Beer that’s good, but not quite Wisconsin-level good
Number one reason you should go: If you’re a Packer fan, it’s a necessity. If you’re not a Wisconsin fan, it’s a way to get a taste of Wisconsin without actually having to go there.
Having gone to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my undergrad, I received a world-class education not only in journalism, but in Wisconsin bars as well. Though it is technically a brewery, The Herkimer Pub & Brewery‘s chief claim to fame is as the Twin Cities’ unofficial Badger/Packer bar, so I was curious to see how it measured up.
If you’ve ever been to the Herkimer during a Packer game, you know the coterie of Packer fans that come every week during football season to cheer on their team with an almost religious fervor. I once made the mistake of coming late to a game thinking I’d get a seat and was met by a teeming, screaming wall of green and yellow.
In the off-season The Herkimer definitely has more of a neighborhood pub feel than your average industrial warehouse brewery, and the traditional U-shaped bar and drop ceiling surrounded by booths and a shuffleboard area instantly put me back in Wisconsin.
The bartender at The Herkimer seemed somewhat harried, but still maintained an almost aggressively down-to-earth and friendly demeanor – another hallmark of Wisconsin bars.
If its patrons’ chief focus isn’t necessarily on the beer, The Herkimer’s own focus certainly is. Their beer page delves into many different metrics of their brews, including ABV, IBU, SRM (color), OG (gravity), and one I hadn’t heard of before: number of decoctions. Decoction mashing involves “transferring about a third of the Mash (malted barley and hot water mixture) to another vessel where it is heated to conversion temperature and the starches in the malt change to sugar. It is then boiled and returned to the Mash Tun.” This procedure helps achieve the “crisp, round, dry” characteristics all brewers of malty beers strive for.
The beer at The Herkimer is fairly average, though they are distinctive in their proficiency at brewing a wide variety of beer styles. No beer stuck out to us as particularly terrible, and the heavily floral, buzzy Slushbox Session IPA is a beer I would definitely buy again. See our rating for that brew, and some of Herkimer’s other brews, at the Untappd links below:
- Bock (2.5/5)
- Fastback Pale Ale (3/5)
- Handy’s Lager (3.25/5)
- Jeffrey Kream Ale (2.25/5)
- Slushbox Session IPA (4/5)