Joining the ranks of University Avenue breweries is the aptly named Dual Citizen Brewing Co. Named for its position on the border between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Dual Citizen opened its taproom in late January. Its production is focused on classic beer styles rather than trends.
Co-owner and head brewer Max Filter worked for Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing Company after attending the brewing program at the Siebel Institute. General manager Tim Kessler also studied at Siebel, and the two (who are cousins) have a long history of home brewing together. Dual Citizen has been a long time coming. It follows a 2010 brewing venture by the cousins that didn’t pan out.
The taproom is a beautiful, inviting space with high ceilings. Two walls with oversized windows allow for natural light, while the design is kept minimalist. The service was fair. The two bartenders during our visit were neither friendly nor uninterested. Prices were in line with other taprooms with 4-ounce samples for $2, pints for $6, and 10-ounce pours for $4.50 for nearly all the beers.
We tried the Lyndale Session Pale Ale for a lower-alcohol introduction to the brewery’s lineup. The aroma was mildly vegetal, an odor attributable to hops. Unfortunately, the flavor didn’t overcome the odd aroma, and the muddy taste contained some minerality and a vague butter note, possibly a byproduct of fermentation problems. The glass was dominated by bitterness and there was little discernible hop-derived flavor from the additions of Galena and Chinook hops.
Also among the menu’s easy-drinking beers was the Kellogg Cream Ale, which was similarly disappointing. An overly bitter flavor masked some of the issues in the aroma, including sulfur and rubber. On warming, this beer displayed fermentation struggles like imitation butter, a hallmark beer flaw.
From the darker beers, opt for the Grand Imperial Stout. Despite an eyebrow-raising lavender note on the nose, the depth of malt character ranged from toasted bread to burnt marshmallow. The finish was quite bitter, even for the style, but it didn’t take away from the malt flavor. With a little more body to elevate this from a colalike mouthfeel, Grand would be a notable success. But other dark choices fell short, from a coffee brown that’s all coffee to the peated dry stout with a chemical smoke flavor.
The clear winner of the taproom selections was the Spring Pale Ale. Though the aroma was faint, the balance of caramel malt and bright, fruit-forward hop flavor was pleasant. Over time, intense bitterness builds, but the herbaceous quality with notes of orange peel makes this beer the best of the bunch.
Dual Citizen will no doubt attract a crowd in the evolving Midway area thanks to amenities like the Green Line and attractions like Can Can Wonderland. Unfortunately, the first impression may be a miss for many visitors. The location and space may bring people back for a second try, and one can hope that the beers improve in the meantime.
Dual Citizen Brewing Co., 725 Raymond Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114; 651.330.4750. Tue-Thu 3 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri 3 p.m.-midnight, Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-8 p.m.