Bike Rack Grades for Saint Paul Breweries

[A Minneapolis brewery.]
If there’s one thing that’s really simple that Saint Paul can’t seem figure out, it’s bike racks.

Bike racks are so easy to get right, and almost everywhere in Saint Paul get it so wrong.

Oh, and garbage collection.

OK. Let's try again. If there are two things that are really simple that Saint Paul can’t seem to figure out, it’s bike racks and garbage collection.

Oh, and crosswalks… Oh yeah, and tax assessments for street maintenance… And bike boulevards…  And walking in and out of downtown... And snow plowing.

Oh hell, let’ s stick with bike racks for a second.

[Only in Saint Paul.]
Bike racks are easy and inexpensive, all things considered. And yet it seems that nowhere in Saint Paul makes bike racks a priority or manages to install a bike rack that actually works well and is easy to find.

This is true almost across the board, from businesses to schools to libraries to municipal buildings. It even holds true for breweries — breweries! — which, let’s be honest, if there is one kind of business that should be catering to trendy young bearded beer-drinking bicyclists by having good bike racks, it’s breweries.

When Clutch Brewing opened up recently in the Keg and Case Market and even they, with all the high-end aplomb, did not have good bike parking, I figured it was time to look into the situation with Saint Paul breweries on a (keg and) case by case basis.

Also, I’ve taught geography for years and am used to giving out grades, so here goes.

What the bike rack grades mean:

  • A+  Ideal, a Minneapolis-brewery-level achievement.
  • A  Good effort, good outcome, good bike parking.
  • B  At least they tried, and it could be worse.
  • Technically there is a bike rack, but whoever bought and/or installed the rack had never parked a bike before and it sucks.  
  • D  They didn’t try, but you can still park a bike thanks to nearby poles or gas meters.
  • F  Failure. 

As always, any breweries that have problems with their grades can revise and re-submit their work for full credit.

[All Saint Paul breweries in alphabetical order]

12welve Eyes: C 


A weirdly bad bike rack — just a railing in an alley — but they installed it there, so they get some partial credit? It is hard to mount your bike on the curb and affix it to the railing, and even if you do, you might still be worried a truck will squash it. Also, you’re in an alley. (You can also lock your bike to one of the nearby window wells.)

That said, it does say “bike parking” on the brewery’s sandwich board sign, which is the equivalent of putting a bad term paper in one of those fancy plastic binder covers.

A poor effort. That said, while this rack would normally merit a worse grade, this brewery might get some credit for extenuating circumstances.

[Not good.]

Bad Weather: B

Good, but turned in late and needed revisions.

After a few poor showings, finally came up with something that does not suck. The first effort was bad, then it was hit by a car and removed. They came back with a good rack within sight of the door, even if it is small. There are also a few small racks installed on the sidewalk.

Still underwhelming and under capacity, but could be worse.

[Before revisions.]

Bang: A+


The best bike rack in Saint Paul. Much like their beer, gets all the details right.

Barrel Theory: C [Updated.]

Somewhat plagarized.

Nothing but parking meters. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. They do have an actual lollipop rack installed on the sidewalk. Could use some more.

[More please.]

Blackstack: C- / D+


A wheel bender in a difficult alcove. Very disappointing, hard to read. Almost worse that they tried and failed than if they hadn't tried at all. [See also this report.]

Burning Brothers: [Unknown]

(I have not been here.)

Clutch Brewing: B- / C+ [Pending revision.]

Not great, and docked points for lateness.

When they opened they had no bike racks at all, but apparently there are a couple hoop racks along the sidewalk now.

[Note: I am being told they have submited new bike racks for revision.]

Dual Citizen: A

Great effort, not ideal location.

They have lots of bike racks (including a deluxe two-level bike rack!) in the back by the patio. If you bike to the front door, though, there is nothing but parking meters.

[Extra credit!]

Flat Earth: C- [Updated.]

Wasted potential.

You have to chain your bike to a hand railing for the staircase steps. There is a basic cheap rack to the left of the front door, but it's weak sauce. This brewery could do so much more if they connected the patio to the bike trail and installed a couple good racks there. I am hoping there are extenuating circumstances, and would be wiling to offer an ‘I’ (incomplete) so that they can re-take the class again.

Great Waters: D+

Just passed.

At least it’s downtown, so there are plenty of sign poles and tree guards around.

[Typical downtown Saint Paul bike parking looks like this.]

Lake Monster: A

Great work!

Spacious wonderful racks in sight of the front door.

[They are still working on unicycle parking. If only there was a safe way to bike there!]

Summit: B

Good, but incomplete.

Four Dero racks are a good start, but should have at least three times as many of these lined up along the patio and parking lot.

[Not ideal; more racks please.]

Tin Whiskers: D+

Copied from the same source as Barrel Theory.

Please note that parking meters cannot be used as a legitimate source for full credit.

Urban Growler: C+

Shoddy work, could be better.

A small cheap rack in the otherwise spacious parking lot. Lots of room for improvement.

Wabasha: D

No effort here.

Railings are not a legitimate source to receive full credit.

[Lots of bikes, zero racks.]

Waldmann: A-

Could use some more revision, but otherwise good work.

A large bike rack on the patio grass is great, though it is a bit difficult to find and use some of the time.


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Adam said...

Cannot believe it's still an issue at Blackstack. I rode past that thing and didn't even recognize it as a bike rack. Approached it not sure it was. And thought to myself, well, regardless of whether it's intended to be, it will work.

I had to circle Waldman a few times before find the rack too and then decided on Bad Weather instead.

Eric Saathoff said...

Flat Earth has something now. Not great, but something. I don't have a picture.

Bill Lindeke said...

ok corrected.

Mike Foley said...

Keg and Case bike racks are just awful. They are the kind you're suppose to just put your front wheel into. If you want to lock your frame to the rack, you'll have to take up almost the entire rack for just a single bike. It's madness. It's like they're doing it poorly on purpose.

Dana said...

They replaced those with several rows of lollipop racks that are quite nice

Unknown said...

I believe burning brothers has good parking right in front of the entrance. I'd say A or A-. And I disagree on Urban Growler. They put as much as the could fit in a reasonable spot and have a second rack farther away for plenty of capacity. And if anything you were generous on Wabasha. So bad!

Jason Burbul said...

Our weekend beer hop is Lake Monster, Dual Citizen, then Surly(I claim them as St Paul as it is east of the big river). All great in both bikes and beer not to mention 80%+ bike lanes from our start at Marshall and Snelling and relatively flat.

If you add a category you should grade Izzy's - a mandatory stop on this ride home. I'd give them a D as your voluntary uncredentialed student teacher.

Jason Burbul said...

Also - I'd like to give Bang the "build it and they will come award" for bike infrastructure. There are zero bike lanes to get there from University Ave and it's a heavy industrial area. No obvious reason to put that many racks there, if at all.

Last Friday we were enjoying the fire pit on a chilly 40 degree evening and up rolled a group of no less than 20 riders. Businesses that think Cyclists don't spend money when they are riding or after they discover a business by bike are completely disconnected from reality and are missing out on an opportunity for some low cost marketing.

Lindsay said...

Barrel Theory has 2 out front and 2 on the side street. Three of the four were installed shortly after opening by the brewery after applying to the city and getting approval. Be sure to check them out if/when you stop by to see for yourself! Cheers!

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