Baseball fans need their pre-game pints and burgers, the former Heartland event space needed a tenant, and we all need a daily happy hour with $3 beer.
A prime location across from CHS Field makes Birch’s Lowertown a natural addition to Market House Collaborative, the food hall that also houses Octo Fishbar and the Salty Tart cafe. With an opening scheduled for September 11, here’s everything you need to know about the St. Paul brewpub from the team behind Birch’s on the Lake.
1. It’s not a second iteration of Birch’s on the Lake
Co-owner Burt Joseph didn’t feel it made sense to plop down a Birch’s on the Lake 2.0 in Lowertown. “They’re two different areas,” he says. “[Birch’s in] Long Lake was a different vision, more rustic... we didn’t feel you could duplicate that. We wanted to keep the [Lowertown space’s] warehouse structure and the old brick.”
However, the decor will include some nods to Birch’s on the Lake’s cabin-meets-supper club vibe, like a wall decorated with log cross sections. “It kind of reminds you of being behind a logging truck on the way up north,” says Joseph.
2. They’re emphasizing sour beers
Beers will be brewed on-site, (Birch’s is the first Minnesota brewery to have two different tasting rooms that both brew beer), with an emphasis on sour beers. “It can be hard for brewers to keep sours on tap,” says co-owner and brewmaster Brennan Greene. “We’ll always have one or two.”
Birch’s Lowertown will open with six beers on tap, including Birch's Blonde Ale, American IPA, Mexican Chocolate Milk Stout, Raspberry Shandy, and Coffee Chocolate Golden Ale. (Blood Orange Berliner Weisse, Citra Sour, and Session IPA will be added within a week or two of opening, as soon as brewing wraps up.) A daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. will feature $3 beer.
3. There’s wine and cocktails, too
Since it’s licensed as a brewpub rather than a taproom, Birch’s Lowertown can also serve wine and spirits. Whites, reds, rosés, and sparkling wines will be available by the glass and bottle, and Tattersall in Northeast developed the specialty cocktail program.
4. The place really is a collaboration between fellow Market House Collaborative tenants
The menu is a joint effort with Tim McKee and Shane Oporto of OCTO Fishbar. Meats will be sourced from Peterson Craftsman Meats, and bread and desserts will be made by the Salty Tart. The lineup of appetizers, burgers, and sandwiches has a globally-inspired feel, with items like chicken karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken with a ginger dipping sauce), a zatar-spiced lamb burger, and a beef heart pastrami sandwich.
We enjoyed a sample of the signature Birch’s Burger, made with a blend of brisket and chuck and topped with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, and Kewpie mayo (a smoother, creamier Japanese brand made with rice vinegar that's become a chef favorite). While options for vegetarians are somewhat limited, we were impressed with the bright flavors of the artistically composed endive salad.
5. You can pair your beer with Mucci’s pizza
In the classic bar food tradition, the menu will also feature frozen pizza. But not just any frozen pizza: Diners can choose from cheese, pepperoni, or meatball from St. Paul favorite Mucci’s.
289 Fifth St. E. #104, St. Paul
Update, 8/28: Birch's Lowertown has pushed its opening, originally scheduled for September 5, to September 11. Adjust your brewpub plans accordingly.