Over the past year or two Sj and I have started to frequent Mackenzie Pub in Downtown Minneapolis. This place has grown on us quite slowly, almost sneakily really. I went there with Dave, Kent and Sj several years ago after a trip to Rock Bottom, and I remember thinking it was a dive bar. More recently, Sj and I stopped here a few times either before or after shows at the Orpheum and I was shocked at how extensive the beer list was. On one occasion I noticed a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout peaking out of the cooler behind the bar and Sj and I shared that before a show. I figured now was the time to do a write-up on the place.
A small and unassuming venue from outside, Mackenzie looks like an Irish or Scottish pub based on their signage and awning. There is a small vestibule with an aged looking stained-glass piper to greet you as you enter the building. At first blush the place looks a bit like an old dive bar with a checkered floor and some some silvered macro-beer and whiskey mirrors adorning the walls. At second glance you notice craft beer signs hidden here and there. Then you notice the old bar backed with an ornate stained-glass design, and bristling with craft beer taps. They have 24 taps, most devoted to craft beers, and often having special releases of those. When we were most recently here they had 2011 Surly Smoke on tap, which our group promptly finished off.
If you frequent the place a lot, and they are in stock, one can join the mug club and get your own ceramic mug to keep at the bar. Sj and I did this last time we came in. You get your first beer in it free and thereafter you get 20 oz pours instead of the standard 16, not counting the big Imperial beers. A cool benefit, but one that I know the bartenders must hate.
My friend Dan Herman (the gentle giant of the Primary Fermenters club) had his birthday party upstairs recently, and kindly invited us to partake in the festivities. This was the first time we had been upstairs--a bit tight, but with a small accessory bar and its own set of bathrooms. Dan had a keg of Odell IPA on tap up there for us, but a lot of us kept sneaking down for different beers from the bar...so many choices! We had a great time there but I learned a valuable lesson that I shall share with you. 20 oz mugs are dangerous, and you can forget that you are drinking more than your average amount. Open taps may also influence that effect. I'm just sayin'.
There is a small kitchen which makes standard pub food and pizzas. The tater tots are nice and filling. We haven't had a lot to eat there so I can't give a ton of info on the food. The staff is usually really pleasant and helpful too. I have yet to have a bad experience with the bartenders or waitstaff here. The other day, after the AHA rally at Summit, we had come downtown to hit the Butcher & The Boar Founder's Beer Bash, but all the good beers had sold out in the first 30 minutes and we left that zoo behind. We meandered our way through the rain-soaked streets to Mackenzie and were able to find a good beer for all of us in much quieter circumstances.
I recommend this place as a relaxed neighborhood bar with great tap beers. They also do special events from time to time like the Long Dark Night when they served up a ton of Imperial stouts on tap. If you are downtown for a show at the Orpheum, take five steps to the left and head on in!