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12welve Eyes Brewing in St. Paul wants to be like your friend's cool basement

The St. Paul spot has a balanced tap list, and a ton of character in its taproom.

One of St. Paul's newest breweries wants to be the place beer lovers come to hang out with friends. 

12welve Eyes Brewing opened in July in the basement of the historic Pioneer Endicott building in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood. (That lower floor once was home to a pre-Prohibition saloon and horse stables.) 

They opened the doors with 12 beers on tap, ranging from light and not hoppy, to dark and hoppy, with the goal of putting a new beer on tap every week, co-founder Elliot Grosse told GoMN when we visited in late September. 

Grosse – a longtime craft beer fanboy who's "still processing" the fact that he owns a brewery that beer snobs seem to like – wants to be known as a place that makes all sorts of beer well. 

In addition to the constantly rotating, wide variety of beers, they also hope to be a place where people feel comfortable hanging out that isn't super loud and crowded. Somewhere you can actually have a conversation and don't have to feel like you need to be drunk to stay, Grosse explained. Kind of like your friend's cool basement.

"We wanted to invest a lot in our taproom," Grosse said. "Not only is beer out product, but I like to look at it as our experience and our atmosphere is also our product." 

The hope is that the taproom is a place where people can come with friends, on a date, or stop and kill time, maybe get some work done. Here's a look inside the taproom: 

More about those beers

12welve Eyes' goal is to have 12 beers on tap, but they won't have any "flagship" beers – just "mainstay styles."

They'll have a variety of beers so the tap list is balanced. When you go you'll always be able to find an IPA, a lighter beer, a darker beer, and usually a sour.

But what those beers are will rotate, with some of the most popular offerings reappearing soon after they run out, Grosse explained.

The best-sellers so far are:

– Lowertown IPA. It's an American IPA with an ABV of 5.5 percent.
– Mosaic Wheat IPA. It's an American IPA with an ABV of 6.2 percent.
– SMaSH IPA. It's a single malt and single hop IPA.
– Legacy Chocolate Stout. It's made with chocolate from Legacy Chocolates, located in the same building.
– Cream Ale. A cream ale with an ABV of 5.3 percent.

Grosse said if you visit and your favorite isn't available, the beertenders can help you find a similar brew that you'll probably like just as much.

You can see the current tap list online here.

How do they taste?

When I visited 12welve Eyes, Grosse poured me samples of five different beers. I rated them based on our beer-rating scale – here's what I thought of them:

Legacy Chocolate Stout
It's rich and velvety, but not too sweet. I gave it a 4 out of 5 – I want this beer in my fridge so I can have it whenever I want.

Mosaic Wheat IPA
It's not too bitter, but is still hoppy. It's quite delicious – I'd give it a 3 out of 5, I'd definitely get this beer again.

Kiwi Berliner Weisse 
Tart and sour, but not like you're sucking on a Warhead candy. I'd give it a 3 out of 5. 

Wiiiiiiiiiiiit 
It's a light and crisp beer. I'd give it a 3 out of 5. 

Hüll Melon SMaSH IPA
I've never had a beer that tastes like this before – it's kind of peppery, but not spicy. It doesn't taste like your normal IPA. I for sure want to have this again – I'd give it a 4 out of 5. 

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