I would not be so brazen as to suggest that we ought to discount cultures which haven’t got booze. I am certain that there are lovely things to appreciate about Brunei and Bahrain, where barbaric prohibitions are in effect, while you’re sober as a judge, but who would argue that embracing foreign cultures isn’t more fun while you’re half in the bag? Many people, I’m sure, but I don’t espouse such puritanical sensibilities.
Latino culture has improved the world’s drinking scene in two marked ways: mezcal, which presents the only civilized reason to eat an insect, and tequila, the liquid equivalent of getting hit by a freight engine when consumed in the right quantity. But our brothers and sisters from South of the Border certainly know their beer as well, which is demonstrated in full at La Doña Cervecería in Minneapolis.
The brewery is pure industrial chic, a style I’ve always liked because it leaves no question as to whether a room is properly ventilated. A long island bar serves a brewery’s most important function, and a kitchen named “La Tiendita” gives patrons what their stomachs need to properly digest libations. A large set aside area with a stage gives room for live music and special events, and a hallway gallery displays a series of paintings depicting Día de los Muertos skeletons in various poses. I visited during the off-hours, so rather than fútbol the televisions were showing the Padre Americano cartoon on TBS.
I was met by La Doña Cervecería’s president Sergio Manancero, an affable lug wearing a Steve Zissou red toque, who turned his college job delivering beer into a permanent one brewing it with a mission: in short, to celebrate the vibrancy, breadth, and depth of Latino and Minnesotan culture through superior beer, while raising awareness and providing support for social, economic, and environmental issues which impact the whole lot of us. Sergio’s operation is a rare fish — a “benefit corporation,” which seeks not only to turn profits but also to make a positive impact on the world. It’s hard enough to do one or the other, let alone both.
“We work with Latino businesses and nonprofits, have over Latino food trucks, and collaborate with Latino cooks as we’re able to,” said Sergio. “We regularly host a Spanish conversation club where guests can sharpen up their foreign tongues, yoga once monthly, and community soccer leagues. More than 80 teams join us to play fútbol, and game days really add to the energy of the taproom!”
While all nice things in their own rights, soccer, art, and yoga do not make a brewery — beer does. To attend to that all-important aspect of things La Doña Cervecería keeps towering steel fermentation tanks and other zymologic apparati bubbling away next to the action. Tucked aside are authentic mescal barrels, which age the really good stuff.
La Doña Cervecería’s flagship drink is their Doña Fría, a clean lager with pronounced corn and slight toffee flavors, something I personally categorize as a “lawnmower beer.” Their Sueños de Café could be considered a “snow shovel beer,” a brown ale with Chilean malt and Mexican coffee by UP Roasters and a stronger kick at 5.5 percent ABV. At 8 percent ABV their Ariana Grande leads the way, if you can handle the intense hoppiness of a double IPA. You can take these and other beers home with you in growlers or crowlers, but you had really better drink at La Doña Cervecería at least once so you can stare down a floral-eyed skeleton as you do so.
La Doña Cervecería is located at 241 Fremont Ave N in Minneapolis. You may learn more about them at dameladona.com.
By David Scheller