Pros: Unique theme, attention-grabbing beers
Cons: A bit of a drive compared to other Twin Cities breweries
Number one reason you should go: HammerHeart Brewing Company offers up a well-executed, one-of-a-kind concept in a backwoods, log cabin space. Every good Minnesota Viking should go experience it, especially if you like smoky beers.
If you ever find yourself cruising through the rolling green hills, pine trees, feels-more-north-than-it-is city of Lino Lakes, you may run across an unusual sight. Just beyond the Chanticlear Pizza and the American Family Insurance, you see it. The antlers probably catch your eyes first, then you realize: you’ve stumbled upon a slice of ancient Minnesota history: a viking compound.
Of course, it’s not a viking compound, but HammerHeart Brewing Company. Still, as you pass under the fluttering flags of Norway, Sweden, and Scotland and through the dragon-crested doorway, nothing about the interior of HammerHeart (besides the ever-present metal soundtrack, maybe) dissuades you from the fact that you have entered into a structure of old.
Indeed, it is founders Nathaniel and Austin’s vision that HammerHeart:
will continue to brew beers inspired by NORSE and CELTIC history, lore, old world tradition, beauty and wonder of dense forests, running water, towering mountains and of course, all forms of heavy metal.
Nordic inspiration aside, HammerHeart is just a damn great place to hang out. We posted up at the bar with friends for close to two hours, chatting with the beertender, slugging back intense, smoky ABV-bombs, and generally enjoying the atmosphere of a taproom where we didn’t have to hunt for seats or shout to hear each other.
As for food, HammerHeart has food trucks on most Saturdays and sells VonHansons Pretzels for snacking on (these guys you seem to see at every brewery nowadays). If you really want to get fancy, though, you can head about a mile down the road the McDonald’s like we did (McChickens FTW). As with most taprooms without a steady food supply, HammerHeart allows and encourages bringing in food from outside.
Like the Norsemen by whom they were inspired, the beers at HammerHeart are bold, powerful, and spirited. They were unique in that almost all of them incorporated smoke at some level and they had an unusually high average ABV, with 6 offerings coming in above 8%. Standouts included the sweet, well-rounded Olaf the Stout and the smoky, imposing Surtr’s Flame IPA. Read our reviews of those, as well as the other brews we tried, at the Untappd links below: