Girls’ Night Out: Hop Aboard! Taking a Trolley Tour of Local Microbreweries

As our group gathers for our microbrewery trolley tour, we notice that our trolley has a name. We are about to board the trolley Charlie. In fact, all the trolleys, including Charlie, at the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company are named after the Mayo family and partners: Will, Alfred, W.W. Mayo, and Henry. 

Historically, many streetcars were often named after locations and/or famous leaders (Louisiana, Napoleon and Jackson, for example), and, yes, there was even a streetcar named Desire. 

Whether it is trolley cars, microbreweries or beers, a good reason exists for every name. 

First Stop: Forager Brewing Company

Forager Brewing Company derives its name from the process used to forage ingredients in their hand-crafted brews from local growers. Simply put, foraging is the act of searching for food or provisions. 

 While at Forager, we are able to sample several different beers, from lightest to darkest, the first being a brew named Minnesota Uncommon. 

What is uncommon about Minnesota Uncommon? Owner Sean Allen says, “There is a style of beer called California Common, but our brewers are doing our version of the same style of beer. Because it isn’t common here in Minnesota, we call it Minnesota Uncommon.”

Second Stop: LTS Brewing Company

LTS Brewing Company gets its name from the adage, “Life’s too short to drink bad beer.” And good beers also come with good names. During the tour, we are able to sample a flight of four beers, namely Karma (a light, easily palatable beer), Fun (a bit more on the hoppy side), Inspiration (an IPA that is really on the hoppy side), and Ctrl-Alt-Del (a dark beer with caramel and coffee flavors). 

Brandon Schulz, engineer by day and LTS brewer by night, says, “Ctrl-Alt-Del was named because it was a reboot of the northern German Altbier style.” 

Third Stop: Kinney Creek Brewery

Kinney Creek Brewery was the first brewery to open its doors in Rochester since Prohibition over 90 years ago. The brewery was named for a creek just south of Rochester where it was originally planned to be located before the laws changed.

“Prior to 2011, tap rooms weren’t allowed in Rochester,” owner Donovan Seitz says. “We began with a beer named Lady Liberty and then were offered three more beers of our choosing.”

Kinney Creek offers a variety of games to ease interaction with friends and other beer aficionados at the brewery. For the daring at heart, Jenga stands tall, beckoning you from the center of the room. They also offer board games, cards and a game called Hammerschlagen, which in German means “hammer striking.”  Although the games were engaging, the beer is named the real winner in our group. 

Fourth Stop: Grand Rounds Brew Pub

The name Grand Rounds was chosen carefully based on creating both a sense of community and a learning environment. 

The term “grand rounds” is used in the medical community as a gathering where learning can take place. Today, medical grand rounds are oftentimes meetings and discussions that occur in auditoriums and lecture halls. Historically, however, medical grand rounds took place at a patient bedside. 

At Grand Rounds, we are provided with four different brews. We sample Kraus Anderson Minnesota-Kolsch, Hop Bollocks Session IPA, Freedom Strong Scotch Ale, and Hawaii 507 Coconut Stout, named for the coconut and bourbon vanilla bean flavors added to the brew. 

The lesson we learn at Grand Rounds—and throughout the tour—is this: No matter what your favorite beer is called, and no matter what trolley you ride in, a Rochester microbrewery tour is a hopping good time. 

Kim Zabel, a Plainview-based freelance writer and photographer, is a musician, artist, Zumba instructor, and lover of the land here in Minnesota.