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Brew Ales & Eats head chef David Grimsley delivers a 2 Pigs and a Hen burger at the eatery’s newly opened Detroit Lakes location. Brian Basham / Forum News Service

Detroit Lakes gastropub focuses on Midwest beers, twists on bar fare

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Detroit Lakes has tapped into something new.

Brew Ales & Eats opened in late June, just in time for the Fourth of July crush.

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The gastropub focuses on mostly Minnesota and Midwestern beers and twists on standard bar fare.

“The food is something we don’t find everywhere in Detroit Lakes. We have gouda pickles and a goat cheese quesadilla,” says Brew co-owner Gretchen Hunter. “It’s finer food than you’d find in most bars.”

Hunter is a big fan of the original Brew in Perham, founded by her childhood friend Alex Belquist and his wife, Britt. But she wasn’t always a big fan of the 23-mile drive to get there from her home in Detroit Lakes.

“I wanted a new place to hang out in DL and thought they should come here,” she says.

So Gretchen and her husband, Nate Hunter, partnered with the Belquists to open this new Brew.

It’s not just a re-creation of the Perham spot, but a place with its own flavor. During a recent visit, Brent Tharaldson lamented that the Detroit Lakes location doesn’t have some of the Perham favorites, like the pesto chicken sandwich or poutine – french fries covered in gravy, a Canadian delicacy.

Gretchen said the Detroit Lakes restaurant will unveil a new menu this week that will incorporate faves from Perham as well as her spot’s own signatures.

Already the gouda pickles and goat cheese quesadillas are big hits among Lakers.

Folded in an egg-roll wrapper, the gouda pickles are the best cheesy pickles in the area.

While quesadillas may be a go-to food for parents of picky eaters, this grilled cheese isn’t child’s play. Mixing in grilled chicken, bacon and walnuts, the grilled tortilla is filling as a lunch, and the side of citrus chimichurri adds extra zest.

Brew offers a variety of side sauces, from cilantropeno, sriracha and chipotle aiolis, to the chimichurri and a French onion dip.

“Ketchup and mustard is safe, and everyone likes that, along with ranch,” Gretchen says. “It’s kind of fun to try out and satisfy different taste buds.”

But their specialty is the meaty burgers and sandwiches. The 2 Pigs & a Hen, a quarter-pound burger topped with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg, has been a favorite, as has the Dubliner, a quarter-pound burger with Swiss cheese, bacon and Guinness aioli.

The heavyweight, though, is the Brueben, a quarter-pound burger topped with corned beef, Swiss and American cheese, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato and their own burger sauce (ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and spices) and Thousand Island dressing. At $11, it’s also the heavyweight item on the menu.

All sandwiches and burgers are served with house-cut fries or house-cut spiral chips.

While the focus is on beer, with 32 taps from mostly Minnesota and the Upper Midwest for a very reasonable $4.75, the full-service bar also caters to summery cocktails, with mojitos (including their own ginger mojito) and Moscow mules.

An attraction that’s not on the menu is a large outdoor wood-fed fireplace that’s burning from the time doors open at 11 a.m. Gretchen says even on hot summer days, the heated hearth is a draw with its smoky aroma.

The interior is just as engaging, featuring a modern, industrial look of reclaimed wood, industrial metals and concrete from Fargo architect Chris Hawley. The wood-and-metal tables and some of the art were designed by Grain Designs and the metal work fabricated by Schmitty’s Welding Inc., both of Fargo.

Located in the new strip mall right off of Highway 10 rather than right on the lake, Gretchen says the location fits with their theme.

“Instead of lakes, we look for railroad tracks to be near,” she says noting that the Perham location is in the town. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on on the lake, but there’s a lot of stuff that happens away from the lake. Not everyone lives on the lake, and we want to cater to everyone.”

If You Go WHAT: Brew Ales & Eats

WHEN: 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday (Detroit Lakes); 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday (Perham)

WHERE: Suite 111 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Detroit Lakes, (218) 844-5932; 124 Main St. E., Perham, (218) 346-5932

ONLINE: www.brewalesandeats.com

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