Driving down Highway 52, on your way to Rochester, you always notice a building all by itself on the south end of the highway. For many years, it was a cheese shop, then it became a bottle shop. But after the original owners retired and shut down the business, a new one emerged. Enter South by Southeast Minnesota Brewing. Opening up in 2020 was a risk, given the circumstances, but the big blue barn on the side of Highway 52 has proven that it was a risk worth taking.
We have family down in the area, but we haven't had much of a chance to visit breweries in southeast Minnesota due to the pandemic. We stopped by recently on a Saturday afternoon. Business was pretty steady that day. A lot of people were stopping in on their way to Rochester. We, on the other hand, were heading back north to the Twin Cities.
When you walk in, and look to the left, and you feel like you're at a brewery. There's tables, games, and, of course, the beer. To the right, you feel like you're in a cabin. There's couches, and even a fireplace, with a deer head above. There's a real small town vibe to the place (Pine Island's population is about 3500 people), but you also don't feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Look straight ahead, and you'll see the tap menu, plus news and events from the brewery.
Outside, there's plenty of outdoor seating at picnic tables, plus there's a playground for kids to play on while you enjoy your beer. There's a decent amount of parking, so that won't be an issue going there.
We each started with some lighter beers, with Sami starting with their Easy A Blonde Ale, a really nice and refreshing beer. Will started with their Lazy Day IPA, a low ABV IPA that is easy to drink, and lives up to it's name. It's perfect for a lazy day. Will followed that up with their Trailhead Amber, another nice and refreshing Amber Ale, and, at 4.1%, is easy to have one and not feel overwhelmed. Sami got a little adventurous, and went with their latest release, Magical Unicorn, which is a wheat beer with honey, with some sour notes, and infused with hibiscus. The magical part is the glitter in the beer. This is a first for us, as we've never had a beer with glitter in it. It was tart, crisp, and refreshing, definitely something you'll enjoy, if that's your kind of beer.
If you're on your way down south, stop on Highway 52 in Pine Island, and check this place out. You'll have good beer, and good times.