The Best Twin Cities Taprooms for Live Music

Local act Ruben performing at Lift Bridge Tap Room in Stillwater.

Local act Ruben performing at Lift Bridge Tap Room in Stillwater.

While taprooms are often inside a brewhouse that's a workspace by day, they transform into a lively neighborhood gathering spot when the sun sets and the sanitary gloves come off. Beer pairs great with the other arts, and breweries in the Twin Cities region have taken note by adding some live music to their taprooms on select evenings.

Many breweries host special events a few times a year featuring music; those tend to be one-off block party affairs. Here, Gimme Noise has collected a list of metro taprooms that feature live music on a regular basis. Most spaces adopt a more coffeehouse feel with their musical selections -- with the decibels lower than at traditional venues. Acoustic and bluegrass are among the more popular styles, though rock, jazz, and brass show up too. Here are your Twin Cities taproom music destinations.

Bauhaus Brew Labs (Minneapolis)
Founded by musicians, it was a no-brainer that this taproom hotspot would end up a host. With Kickstarter funding a proper sound system project, it's sure to increase with time. In the winter, they're hosting live jazz on Thursdays, and plan for rock bands outside in the summer, including Haus band Viva Knievel (all cover free). With German-inspired beers ranging from pilsner to schwarzbier and the new "hoppy bock" seasonal Über Düber, the colorful taproom is a venue built with entertainment in mind.

Bent Brewstillery (Roseville)
Bent not only make beer, they make gin too -- though that can't be purchased at the taproom due to regulations. With a healthy lineup of seasonals and almost always a sour beer on tap, the brewstillery also hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night. Regulars include Ash St John and the Bent Brewstillery Band, fronted by John Hedit (Garage Logic). Harriet Brewing (Minneapolis)
Harriet is probably the quintessential Minneapolis taproom when it comes to music. There is live music at least four nights a week, most often free, with cover charges on Friday and Saturday. The taproom has something of a coffeehouse vibe with the small corner stage, lots of paintings, and couches, and the summer addition of the patio doubles the space and makes it more expansive. Styles range from bluegrass to blues and jam bands, as evidenced by their trippy logo and their role in the annual Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues Festival. Insight Brewing (Minneapolis)
New to the game in November, Insight has a spacious taproom that not only offers enough seats and room to move around, but features live music every Thursday at 8 p.m. There are no covers and no rules as to the style of music hosted. "Anything that sounds good with beer," summarizes the company's Ilan Klages-Mundt. Speaking of, their beer offerings include pale ale, porter, IPA, British bitter, and a variety of seasonals. Lift Bridge (Stillwater)
One of the state's first taprooms, Lift Bridge separates its ever-expanding brewing space from the taproom. There are no kettles and fermenters in the same room -- though a window gives a good view of the workspace -- but a cozy cabin-woods atmosphere that's warm and close to the action but without the industrial interruption. There are community tables and a classic bar with lots of space to more around, and live music is performed free of charge on most Thursday and Friday evenings. [page] LTD Brewing (Hopkins)
LTD in Hopkins has become a quick community hot spot, offering beers of the night, like American Dream, Night Terror, and Light Sleeper. They host live music every Friday night that mixes a regular rotation of artists alongside new ones. Big Trees and Becky Rae Dalton have been playing the second and third Fridays each month, while artists like Dan Israel and Pushing Chain also frequent the taproom. Generally speaking, the styles include bluegrass, R&B, folk, and soft rock. It's always free, with the volume varying based on music style, but always aimed to keep the room conversational, complementing without commandeering the room. Sociable Cider Werks (Minneapolis)
Minneapolis's only cider house (plus brewery) has music on most Thursday nights, mixing up styles though all are typically lightly amped or acoustic. The musicians line up in front of the fermenters, which gives a unique backdrop as they play next to the bar right in the middle of where the elixir is made. It can get cramped for a bigger event as it draws a crowd to the center of the room, but the building's wooden frame is well suited to un-mic'd acoustics. Urban Growler (St. Paul)
Urban Growler has both a great beer garden space for potential live music (if it ever warms up) and a cozy taproom space inside. The brick building has a warm tone that many of the industrial-themed spaces lack, and this plays well with live music, making it feel more intimate and distinct. Neighborhood resident Ross Johnson handles booking at present, with acoustic bluegrass, blues, and Americana dominating the styles on every first and third Wednesday of the month. Urban Growler calls it a "relaxed, 'pub' volume and atmosphere."

Some additional, but less regular hosts of live music:

612 Brew (Minneapolis)
The Northeast space is a modern and welcome environment with high ceilings, beautiful artwork, and an amazing amplitheatre space outside. Admittedly that space is summer only, but the brewery has music roughly once per month, outside, in the summertime. The beers are accessible and varied, from Gateway Park lager to Payback Oatmeal Porter, and it's a place to enjoy with friends. As with most of the spaces on this list, more plans are in the works because of the business's relative youth.

LynLake Brewery (Minneapolis)
One of the newer breweries in town, LynLake follows the Dangerous Man distribution method. Want their beer? Go to the taproom, or read about it from home. The taproom is the only place to get it. Eventually they aim to host music on a biweekly basis, but so far there have been just a few test runs as they work out the kinks. "We've had two 'rock' bands that were main features," says the brewery's Peter Heidorn, "but the preference would be to have acoustic music to accompany the atmosphere rather than demand attention," which makes sense in the large industrial building, where the sound of amplified music would be hard to compete with. Summit (St. Paul)
Summit Beer Hall hosts regular music once or twice a month, with no set schedule, as well as throughout the year for special releases and their annual Backyard Bash. Always focusing on local musicians, the styles range from rock to violin, set up in the corner of the space and playing over a small sound system.

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