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Dampfwerk Distillery – Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by The Noms

This “German Steamworks”, Dampfwerk Distillery in located in the twin cities, specifically in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. They are a micro-distillery that produces European style fruit brandies, herbal liqueurs, gin, aquavit and whiskey.

 

Let me just start this post by saying how excited we were to finally go to Dampfwerk Distillery while we were in Minnesota. You will see why below!

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line of glasses on bar top with tastings of brandy

 

Dampfwerk Distillery (the name comes from the German words “steam works”) is a family distillery located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. They have created a cocktail lounge to capture the sociable drinking culture of Germany in this Minneapolis suburb.

 

Dampfwerk is a family run mirco-distillery that has built their reputation on fruit brandies. This is a definite change from the usual distillery trend of vodka. gin, or whiskey and then repeat/different iterations. Ralf Loeffelholz is German and his passion subtle and not subtle seasonal flavors and spirits is evident in their products. His upbringing in Germany comes with long forgotten recipes and memories of beloved spirits drank in different regions of the country.

 

Copper still in entryway

 

What made us to excited about Dampfwerk Distillery is a proper brandy sipping culture in a distillery. In their dark and elegant taproom, their spirits program is focused on intensely flavored European style fruit brandies and liqueurs. 

 

German-style spirits in Minnesota, that’s what to expect when visiting!

 

Dampfwerk Distillery logo on wall

 

Start of Dampfwerk Distillery

As a chemical engineer, Ralf Loeffelholz spent most of his professional career optimizing breweries and production facilities. When Ralf moved from Germany, he noticed that some German beers and sausages made it to the US, but never any of the niche offerings he grew up with. He wanted to change that. He wanted things that felt more like home, so, with his wife Mary, opened Dampfwerk Distillery in 2015.

 

Dampfwerk Distillery references their 200-year-old German recipe book. Using methods like a slowed down distillation for their gins and skin on fermentation for brandies, Dampfwerk calls their process the road less traveled. And it’s a path we were glad to taste and enjoy!

 

Outside of building, with double doors, blue sky with clouds

 

Dampfwerk Distillery

Not only does Dampfwerk make European style fruit brandies, they make gins, aquavit and herbal liqueurs, all with an American twist. The spirits are designed to be enjoyed with family and friends. (ok, done!)

 

Their 3,000 square foot Instagram worthy cocktail room features a fireplace, large tables and other comfy seating. At the bar, the focus is on neat spirits, flights, and classic cocktails. There is a patio (we didn’t see it) which features space heaters and gas fire pits for cooler days and nights.

 

Knowledgeable bartenders will walk you through tastings or their extensive cocktail menu. We can attest to the tastiness of the brandy flight as well as the liqueur tasting. They definitely showcased superior customer service, and talking about the history of their German style distillate.We talked especially with Graham, but everyone behind the bar was helpful and knowledgeable.

 

Dampfwerk Distillery is a high class destination that pays the utmost attention to detail. They offer bar snacks and charcuterie as well as the extensive cocktail list or tasting menu.

 

At their core is a commitment to simplicity and precision using old-school, German distilling traditions. They use custom, hand-hammered copper stills they imported from the Black Forest in Germany.

 

Line of glasses on bar top with brandy tastings in them

 

What Liquors do They Produce?

Dampfwerk is armed with the knowledge of German production, that farmers had the ability to make fruit brandies from their homegrown fruits. And apparently everyone did so: “there could be 120 houses in a village with 60 stills,” says Ralf.

 

Fruit brandies are big in the south of Germany and the closer you get to Austria, the more common they are. Dampfwerk is creating old fashioned spirits from high quality, local ingredients, and that  antique recipe book we mentioned earlier, that was translated from almost illegible German.

 

2 glasses with brandy tastings in them

 

Their Barreled Apple Brandy is made with Minnesota apples. It is aged for a few months in stainless steel and then a portion further aged in French oak barrels and blended back. The French oak is there to give a mellower wood flavor.

 

Then, there is their “Helgolander”, a bitter liqueur, a gentian root flavor that is balanced out with berries, herbs, and citrus. It is meant for sipping, but we brought some home to be used in cocktails.

 

 

glasses lined up in a row with a tasting of different color liqueurs

 

They also make an immature grape brandy made from local Frontenac Gris and Blanc grapes blended with Sabrevois with a peachy and citrus aroma aged in oak less than 2 years. Pear brandy which is floral and fragrant with hand selected Bartlett pears. London Dry Gin, Barreled Gin with floral notes, floral Crane Gin with notes of rosemary, chamomile, lavender and clove with juniper.

 

Other Liqueurs are the Rabbit in the Rye, a bitter and spicy warming sip, the Pfeffersack, an herbal bitter liqueur with saffron and myrrh. The Pfefferminz³ is Northern German peppermint liqueur best served frozen.

 

They make a Aquavit in the Northern German way and has a bourbon infusion.

 

Speaking of whisky, whiskeys are Christian’s project of choice. Christian is Ralf’s son. He’s excited to bring a traditional but international approach to the quintessential American spirit.  We tried the American Single Malt, but couldn’t buy the bottle, unfortunately. It is made from 100% Minnesota sourced pale ale and chocolate malt. Barreled in white oak barrels and finished in red wine barrels. It gave flavor and aroma of deep fruit, chocolate, toffee and caramel, and was divine.

 

Pink cocktail with orchid garnish in Nick and Nora glass

 

What Did we Drink at Dampfwerk Distillery?

We sat at the bar, which makes for the best bartender interaction.  We started out with 2 drinks at the top of the menu: first, their Peachi-Oh! Negroni: peachie-o infused Crane gin with their Helgolander. The second, their Weekly cocktail with had rhubarb for the seasonal aspect and featured gin, apple brandy, and Helgolander.

 

brown cocktail in rocks glass with Peachie-o garnish

 

We then got a charcuterie tray, as we wanted to try some flights, and tried the Brandy flight which featured their 4 brandies: apple, pear, barrel aged apple, and immature grape. Then we tried the herbal liqueur flight with Rabbit in the Rye, Helgolander, Pfefferminz³, and Pfeffersack. This was a lovely way to end, but then we decided to have 2 more cocktails!

 

Pink cocktail with orchid garnish and brown cocktail in rocks glass with peachie-o garnish on bar top charcuterie with meats and cheeses on slate, cocktails behind on bar top

 

We had the Pink Panther featuring aquavit and Helgolander, and the Smoke on the Water with American Single Malt and Pfeffersack. Do you see why we came home with the Helgolander?

 

brown cocktail in balloon glass and ice ball

 

They also have a selection of fish dishes, a cheese board, bon-bon selections, snacks and ice cream. Truly something for everyone, especially while doing flights.

 

Does the Dampfwerk Distillery Offer Drinks?

Yes! As we stated above, they have a great cocktail drink menu!

 

What Days is Dampfwerk Distillery Open?

Tuesday-Thursday 5-10, Friday and Saturday 5-12.

 

Red cocktail in tall glass with white foam and straw, purple flower garnish on gray bartop

 

As people enjoy more and more ways to enjoy classic cocktails with modern twists, they can still be hesitant to try brandy on its own. In this case, we think it should be embraced, as these are made with care and so much flavor.

 

Square bottles lined up on wood table from Dampfwerk Distilling

Cheers!

 

Tips & Tricks

  • Bar – sit at the bar if you can. The tables are great, but at the bar is an informative and fun experience.
  • Arrive Early – If you want that extra attention from the bartenders, try to get there at opening time. Well worth it!
  • Flights – order at least one flight – feel free to share with your party, or don’t, but worth it to try all the specialty liquors and liqueurs.

 

Dampfwerk Distillery

6311 Cambridge St

St Louis Park, MN

 

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Pink cocktail with orchid garnish and brown cocktail in rocks glass with peachie-o garnish on bar top

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