Pros: Stellar location with easy parking
Cons: Forgettable beer that sometimes runs out (?)
Number one reason you should go: The beer doesn’t take center stage at Clutch, but it offers an inoffensive backdrop to the enticing sights, tastes, and smells around it at Keg & Case Market. Make it part of your holiday shopping trip, and while you’re at it, check out the Star Tribune’s restaurant of the year, In Bloom.
One of the latest additions to the ever-booming St. Paul brewery scene is Clutch Brewing Company, located on the historic Schmidt Brewing campus within Keg & Case Market, which can best be described as a Midtown Global Market for people with a fair amount of disposable income. The brewery and market cater to tenants of the Schmidt Artist Lofts in addition to the general public.
The first time we ventured to Clutch, the beer was less than satisfactory. Specifically, it wasn’t there:
I was resentful at this, given (1) the lack of notice on their website or social media and (2) the 90 wasted minutes of rush hour driving. I ran up the stairs (Clutch occupies one half of the wraparound balcony that overlooks Keg & Case Market) to take some pictures and overheard some other would-be customers ask an employee who was leaving what happened to the beer.
“You guys drank it all,” she deadpanned and huffed out, clearly tired of answering this question.
Nice. I snapped a few pictures of the vacated brewery and left.
Our next visit to Clutch was much better. My favorite thing about Clutch is the smell. In Bloom, the eatery from the owners of Revival that was recently deemed Star Tribune’s restaurant of the year, imbues the market with the scent of campfire and beef jerky. The brewery’s vaulted location also makes it a pleasant place to pull up a seat along the balcony rail, chat, and gaze at the shoppers below.
Another note: parking at Clutch is easy to navitate. There is a parking lot that services Keg & Case Market in addition to plenty of street parking in the surrounding area.
In early November, the nascent Clutch had only four beers on their menu. We found them mild and serviceable, but forgettable. You can read my reviews of the three brews we tried at the Untappd links below: