“If you brew good beer, you’ll always have people coming back,” Elliot Grosse, the co-president and brewer of 12welve Eyes, said. Between the small sign out front and the modest interior of the brewery, I could tell that 12welve Eyes has only one priority: good beer. The brewery itself is relatively new; it was opened last summer by three “four-eyed” friends. Their homebrewing began around 2013, when Elliot and his two friends all pitched in to buy one brewery kit. The beginning of their brewing careers wasn’t easy and they moved from the Twin Cities four times. Before they knew it, however, demand was rising for their modest home-brew. The “12welve eyes” were ready to open business.
12welve Eyes has a magnificent location, wedged between two light rail stops in the middle of downtown St. Paul. You can practically see the Mississippi River and Union Station from the doorstep. There aren’t many micro-breweries in St. Paul, given that most new breweries flock towards Northeast or areas near Downtown Minneapolis.
“I don’t want to be the n’teenth brewery in Minneapolis.” Grosse said. 12welve Eyes’ owners embrace Minnesota’s brewing history and future. For example, the location of 12welve Eyes Brewery was a saloon before prohibition. The building still contains the historic underground tunnels that paved the way for prohibition mobs to smuggle alcohol in to buyers. Minnesota’s present-day infrastructure is also built right in the brewery: 12welve Eyes is the first brewery connected to St. Paul’s skyways. Breweries in St. Paul are finally matching their numbers pre-prohibition, and Grosse wants to be part of the growth. To him, the brewery is a place for socializing; people are welcome to spend long hours to simply talk and have a good time.
The brewers are incredibly creative. There are always several beers on tap and the 12weleve Eye tries to release a new beer on tap each week. They distribute to several liquor stores across the Twin Cities, and even provide the liquor stores with different flavors of beer each week.
The surprise isn’t only seen in the beer; almost every day, there is a new food truck parked in front of the brewery. When I went, R Taco was making fresh tacos. I would recommend their fish tacos. You never know what beer you’ll be getting and you never know what food you’ll get, but you always know you’ll have a good time. Additionally, 12welve Eyes likes to support the local community. They only distribute to Twin Cities-area liquor stores and use ingredients from local coffee roasters and chocolate shops. They even sell local homemade beef jerky!
In the future, I can see myself coming back to 12welve Eyes. The building is welcoming, the staff is friendly, and the beer is good. Out of the beers I was able to try, my favorite has to be the Legacy Chocolate Stout. They use a local chocolatier, Legacy Chocolates, to make a special rich chocolate and its flavor shines in the beer. If you want good food, good beer and a good time, I’d recommend visiting 12welve Eyes Brewery, located at 141 E 4th Street, St. Paul.