To avoid a very early morning drive to St. Cloud for the 8 am conference start the next morning, a group of us headed up the night before for some pre-conference socializing at Granite City.
Reading Granite City's history, I discovered that I've been to the first two locations of the chain: the original in St. Cloud, MN and their first expansion in Sioux Falls, SD. Because they serve a narrow range of beers with few seasonals, I rarely go there. For those that don't know of Granite City's fermentus interruptus system, the base wort is brewed in Iowa and then transferred by truck to locations to be finished at the local pub. Or, at least that's my understanding the last time I read about it. Their website avoids mentioning this except for an oblique reference via the Granite City tank truck in the article.
Started with the seasonal Berkey's Brown since it would be new. My friend Heather peaking above the draft said it was cloyingly sweet. Too me it tasted like under fermented homebrew. I was disappointed and moved on to the Brother Benedict's Bock before finding the best brew of the stop--Broad Axe Stout, which was still mediocre.
In between, I ordered the only vegetarian item on the menu: tomato basil flatbread. It was good, but not a full meal. The service was relatively good, though slow at times because the bar was full. The staff at the flagship seemed to be working very hard for the business, but the product just doesn't deliver. Fortunately, great friends made the night even though the beer left me flat.