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Experience What’s on Tap

Brewing up Flavor and Fun

Imagine going to a brewery and just serving yourself the beer of your choice and ordering some great food to go along with it at the same time. No need to wait for a bartender to free up or a server to come to the table. Does it sound too good to be true? It’s not. Bear Cave Brewing, which celebrated its first birthday this May in Hopkins, offers all this and more. 

“It's like a candy land for guys,” says owner Jillian Link, who along with her late husband, Nate Bergeland, brought this cutting-edge idea to the area. With innovative iPourIt taps and Toast’s Mobile Order & Pay menu, customers can check in, have their credit card and license scanned, and then receive a small plastic card they can use at the tap walls. 

Men, and women of course, can dispense drinks by the ounce if they want to taste, say, the Bear Slayer, or have a whole glass of the Hop/Kin, which is made in collaboration with a local brewery down the street. 

“We have a number of beers that we always keep on the [tap] walls, and then we have some rotating things that we try,” she says. “For example, in the fall, we made a pumpkin beer with locally grown pumpkins. This gives us the opportunity to experiment with different flavors in small batches.” 

While many of the beverages are made on site, the brewery also partners with local purveyors in order to offer more varieties.

One of its flagship beers, Nate's Passion, is a passionfruit hazy IPA. “If you knew Nate for more than 10 minutes, he'd ask you, ‘What's your passion in life?’” says Jillian. 

With its ordering system, customers are empowered to do things on their own timelines and per their choice. “You just scan the QR code and order, and the food comes out very quickly, so for busy moms and dads who might have a couple of kids in tow, they can have a nice time here,” she says. “We have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages that the kids can enjoy like our made in house lemonade and iced tea.” Of course, if anyone needs help or has questions, tap tenders are always available. 

Since not every adult is a beer drinker, the brewery also offers house made hard seltzer, local cider, wine and cocktails such as a good old-fashioned margarita created by manager Jimmy Pickering. There’s even local kombucha.  

Bear Cave Brewing has three floor levels that offer three very different experiences. On the main and upper levels there are 20 taps, while the lower level, the Bear Cave, has 12 and resembles a speakeasy. “That's where there's a taxidermy full-mount bear from Saskatchewan. Nate was an avid hunter and when we started throwing names around for the business, that’s how it became Bear Cave Brewing.” 

It also has a huge main level patio and an airy conservatory leading out to a rooftop deck. The patio welcomes friendly dogs and has a food menu just for canines. There are water bowls, comfortable mats, and pergola posts to secure them in case their owners want to go inside and grab another drink. 

Each level can be rented out for private parties, even weddings. Customers can also meet with head brewer Charles Chapman to make their own personalized beer and create custom labels for the bottles.

Another unique offering is the people food. You won’t find traditional burgers or wings here. There are two menus: pizza and not-pizza. “We have this beautiful Marra Forni pizza oven, which was designed in Italy, but made in the U.S.,” says Jillian. “That was actually an important thing for Nate and for me too - to have as many U.S. products and local purveyors as possible. 

“We were able to hire Marc Paavola, a fantastic chef who's well known in the community. He's been really creative with the menu.” One menu item consists of a salad with togarashi flavored crickets! Unique for sure.  

“Beer and food pairing dinners are also once a month,” she says. “Chef Marc, and our general manager, Dan Murray, who is also a trained chef, collaborate each month on the menu and the execution. It's held in the Bear Cave and includes five food courses along with beer pairings. It’s a great night!” 

The brewery features a weekly lineup of music indoors on Wednesdays, and in the summers, has Sunday Sounds on the rooftop deck. Bring your dad to Bear Cave for Father’s Day and give him a real treat by experiencing everything it has to offer. 

“Nate would've loved what we’re doing,” says Jillian. “I think he'd be really proud. He passed away before we opened, but he had a really tight group of college friends who are all professionals now. They have been so supportive, and they come here to hang out because we all feel like we have Nate with us when we're all together.”

1201 Main Street, Hopkins | (952) 426-3214 | BearCaveBrewing.com 

“It's like a candy land for guys."

  • Nate Bergeland. Photo by Kristen Miller of Sun Sailor.
  • Dan Murray, Jillian Link and Charles Chapman.
  • Dan Murray, Jillian Link and Charles Chapman.