Relaxing in Minnesota requires a few key components: dinner, booze, and lakes. The new Long Lake brewhouse Birch’s on the Lake brings them all home.
Birch’s on the Lake is the new name of Birch’s Restaurant, which got a makeover last year. They've moved into a lakeside building and added a brewhouse to the equation. Upstairs is a supper club, complete with a surf-and-turf menu, while downstairs is a brewpub that leans toward pub fare. The beer is available on both floors, but hours and menus vary between the two. The website offers some clarification; there are five different “hours” listings and as many menus.
Overall, the atmosphere is welcoming, mixing a modern suburban bar with a Northwoods cabin feel. The room is brightly lit and plays heavily off the view of Long Lake just outside. There is a deck attached, dotted with heaters and anchored by an ice bar. The view of the lake is lovely, and a fire pit closer to shore suggests this is a hot nighttime hang, though it doesn’t get used during the daytime.
Flights are not a menu option, but with individual four-ounce pours for sale, it’s easy to replicate them. The brewery serves eight house-made beers, spanning the color, style, and ingredient spectrum from blond ale to milk stout to Berliner wiesse. The offerings are mostly clean, flavorful, and intriguing. White Pepper Witbier is a little warm, but has a nice lemongrass note and a keen salinity that makes it crisp and refreshing. Amarillo IPA, a single-hopped IPA, is quite balanced, with orange and floral notes, but also a bitter finish.
On the darker end, Vanilla Milk Stout is a mid-bodied stout with a milk sweetness and a vanilla spice rather than full creamy profile as expected. It drinks more like a roasty porter with vanilla spice but it’s a solid offering, if a touch sweet for this palate. Least impressive is the Coffee Chocolate Golden Ale, which is sweet and dessert-like, but nothing like chocolate or coffee. But general impressions are that brewer Brennan Greene knows his craft, as the beers sampled were clean and suitable, interesting and distinct.
The food offerings upstairs are supper-club standards — and pricey. Starters on the supper club menu range from $10-$16; entrees from $21-$40. Sandwiches, tacos, and snacks on the downstairs menu are more affordable ($10-$14), as is brunch ($10-$16) with options like Prime Rib Benedict and a glazed pork belly and egg sandwich.
Birch’s on the Lake is a fun place for locals to get a few pints to unleash the weekend beast. The lovely lake view and serviceable beer menu are the main draws.
1310 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake