JLBeers: New craft beer and burger hot spot

Originally based out of Fargo, N.D., JLBeers has been answering the call for local craft beer curiosity since 2009 with four locations now in Minnesota. The newest location on St. Germain Street in St. Cloud is no exception. With over 40 beers (mostly craft), on tap and its signature simple burger menu, it is quickly becoming a hot spot for beer enthusiasts and foodies of any age.

Sticking to its close quarters mantra, “seating for 1,000…47 at a time,” the location is a bit cramped. The newly remodeled 100-year-old building sits near the Stearns County Court House. Of course, downtown parking was scarce, but once inside the welcoming staff and immediate assistance made up for that.

A diverse assortment of customers chattered around us as a table was cleared for us to sit. By no means upscale, I found the atmosphere inviting and comfortable. It certainly wasn’t overly boisterous with 50 TV’s all catering to the eager sports fan and screaming patrons. Quite simply, it was a nice place to visit and unwind from a long day.

Being able to hear the people I go to dinner with is always a plus in my book. Our server, a bubbly young gal named Lisa, was more than helpful when it came to recommendations of both pub and grub. She inquired about our tastes and offered up a few suggestions that may align with them nicely. Being more of a wine drinker myself, I opted for a Magners Pear Cider pint while my husband (a devout Coors man) chose the Third Street Brewhouse Minnesota Gold Lager. Both of us were pleasantly surprised with the aroma and flavors of each different ice-cold brew. Neither of us has ever wandered into the realm of craft beer before but we were anxious to give it try. Of course he sucked his down in no time and decided to branch out his new-found beer enthusiast wings and try a Fargo Brewing Company Original Lager which didn’t quite impress him like the Minnesota Gold had. On the other hand, I slowly sipped my pear cider and enjoyed every drop. To me it was similar to drinking a crisp, yet sweet white wine oddly with no hint of beer flavor at all.

Another waitress placed a postcard and pen on our table. She said we could fill it out and they would mail it for us. It was aptly inscribed with the JLBeers logo and “wish you were here.” After we filled it out, she retrieved it yelling, “BEERMAIL!” The phrase was promptly repeated by all staff members in unison. How great is that? Whoever was the marketing genius that thought of this cheesy but effective gimmick surely deserves a raise.

As a short person, I must confess that the taller-than-average bar stools and booth seats were challenging for me to get in and out of but I managed. However, if I would have stayed longer and had a few more of the delightful Magners Pear Ciders I may not have landed on my feet. Short people, consider wearing heels or bringing a person capable of hoisting you.

Our burgers were the bomb! I ordered a BLT Blu which was a basic ground beef patty with bacon, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese and mayo. My partner indulged in a Mt. Rushmore burger that included what the menu called monumental flavor with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and teriyaki sauce. With fresh cut fries as a side, we both relished every last bite. As an added bonus, the buns were lightly toasted which I appreciate. I don’t enjoy soggy buns.

Overall, I would give the St. Cloud JLBeers a 4.5 stars out of 5. I would definitely recommend everyone check it out. Although it is not a family friendly joint, it was a good evening getaway for us as parents. It would also be a perfect hangout for that small group of college friends looking for a more low-key Friday night. Cheers!

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