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Sherlock's Home, Minnetonka Minnesota CLOSED?? Surely please God no!!~~

  • m

For seven or eight years I've been beer-commuting 647 miles from Oklahoma to Minnetonka to drink real ale as often as I can (without being declared clinically insane).

As a Brit who loves everything about the USA except for its beers, Sherlock's offered a hoppy oasis in a changing world. An (only slightly inconvenient) watering hole away from home.

Hey, I just drove the pilgrimage again on Sat Jan25, and believe you me I had *quite* a thirst going by the time I drove into the parking lot at 600pm after 11 hours on the road, mainly I-35.


Saturday Prime-Time and . . . C-L-O-S-E-D!!!!

Dark as night. And yet just a month on last visit around Xmas, all well and no signs or word of trouble.

A note on the door: "Sherlock's Home is Closed" but no further information offered. I know this was a niche concept on the real ale front, but the food was relatively mainstream and the bar congenial for every drinker, not just brewpub fans. The beers were the finest in the US if you crave authentic English ale taste.

Can someone please tell me (lie to me if necessary!) this is just temporary? Or offer any further information?? This is like losing a family member for me & my wife. You will see several places herein where I have recommended the place as crackerjack AOK. In cities with hideous chain restaurants by the godzillion, all flourishing, I can't believe this has happened.

Nor can I face flying 5500 miles for a decent pint.

Any information please? Is it simply yet "another closed restaurant"? Or can someone hold out any hope for revival or reincarnation . . . or explanation for temporary closure ("kitchen fire" he surmises with optimism)?

Bloody Hell!!!!!! I love the place. I have (I calculate) driven almost twice around the world in terms of mileage solely in order to drink there (it's 1294 miles per trip, and I tally visits as at least 30). I can virtually guarantee I am the recordholder there. Sanity notwithstanding.

p.s. Bloody Hell!!~~

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  1. It is true. They closed permanantly the last week in December. A link to the story is below (but doesn't say much.)

    Link: http://www.startribune.com/stories/43...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Danny


      1. re: Mike
        Charles Hill

        Bill Burdick, the brewmaster of Sherlock's Home is now with Granite City Food & Brewery. NASDAQ:GCFBU I'm sure he didn't forget to bring his recipe book. His technique is called Fermentus Interruptus. If someone drives from Oklahoma (where the beer is more like beer flavored water) to Minnesota, I should make the trip from Kansas City. I visit the 75th Street Brewery here for a good ale. I would like to compare to see what I'm missing.

        -Charles Hill

        Link: http://www.gcfb.net/press.htm

        1. re: Charles Hill

          Whoa them wagons Charles! I have drunk the Granite City brews (at Sioux Falls location). It's not AT ALL like Sherlock's real ales. In fact not much (if at all) better than the slop most brewpubs schlepp up: namely, oversweet, underhopped, far too cold. For a beer like Bishops Bitter you might try Horsham Sussex UK or East Anglia . . . fares are cheap right now. The demise of Sherlock's (PLEASE let it be reincarnated one day) is a national tragedy. It's not to be replaced overnight that's for sure.

    2. b
      Brad Ballinger

      Alas, it's sad but true. When they first opened, there wasn't much around that area - Campiello didn't exist, neither did Woody's, and I'm sure there are other places that have sprung up. And Sherlock's had survived the multiple turnovers of the place across the parking lot (don't even know what it's called now).

      I used to work on Blue Circle Drive, and Sherlock's was a great after work place.

      Over time, though, the food never really amounted to much, and that place wasn't going to survive the long haul on pints and scotch only. Brit's Pub downtown isn't nearly the same thing.

      1. Mike,

        As you've already learned, Sherlock's does appear to be closed.

        If you are up this way, you may want to try Great Waters Brewing in St. Paul. I don't claim any great beer expertise but I am a fan of ales and care enough to have done a little home brewing. Great Waters is my favorite local brew pub. They serve 4 cask conditioned beers via beer engine and at a much more civilized temperature than the US-standard ice cold. There is usually a bitter, a couple stouts (cream & irish) and sometimes a scotch ale. They also serve 4 other beers on regular, forced co2 taps. Probably there are a couple lagers; I never get that far down the menu.

        I can't suggest that you make a special trip for Great Waters - I've got no idea if it would be an acceptable replacement for Sherlock's Home for you. Still, you sound pretty crazy; it may be worth a try.


        1. Maybe these guys can help you find another decent pint (perhaps even closer to home!):

          Link: http://www.beeradvocate.com/

          1. This is deeply sad.

            1. w
              William Hill

              I've only just discovered this place has closed. I used to live in Minneapolis. Being mad about brewpubs, this was my favorite. I used to go there often and it was always busy. The food was good as well, but the hand-pulled ale was the big attraction for me, as for you.

              I now live in England and have plenty of good beer surrounding me, in fact I work at a brewery (Greene King)but I am gutted that this place has closed. Was planning a trip there this May or June.

              Did you ever find out why it closed?

              5 Replies
              1. re: William Hill

                I used to live in Hopkins 12 years ago.
                Last week I flew in on business and drove a friend over to Sherlock's to show off.
                It was dark when I pulled up, and the lights were off. I sat there in the parking lot and just about cried.
                How was this possible?

                1. re: William Hill

                  It remains a mystery to me why it closed. I never did hear from anyone who truly knew. Obviously it wasn't paying its way I suppose. I still feel the loss today almost at the end of 2006, and, in fact, have never since returned to Minneapolis St. Paul. You used the right word "gutted". For those of us who loved the place something is perpetually now "missing". Never to be replaced. When I visit big cities I do sometimes try to track down "real ale" (ha!!!! "real" in WHAT SENSE exactly? real ****!) but it's like inflicting pain on one's self for the most part.

                  Incidentally, might we know each other by sight. I am the large short-red-haired guy who periodically showed up with wife and/or friends to drink lots of pints (from Oklahoma). Were you one of the fabled "regulars" who frequented the "south side" of the bar? :-)

                  Also one wonders what became of Phil, the excellent and legendary bespectacled bartender. One struggles to think of him in alternate venues of imbibement.

                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                    Well...as long as this thread got dug up, there's a new place in there called Jimmy's Food & Cocktails. Got a writeup in this month's issue of MSP Magazine.

                    1. re: MSPD

                      Coincidently, Phil is one of the bartenders at Jimmy's, the restaurant mentioned above. He's still the same old great bartender. The Beer Hunter used to say "Phil had eyes in the back of his head. I never waited more than a moment for another beer" RIP MJ

                      1. re: starofindia

                        Thanks for that snippet of info. Are the 2 sets of 4 beer engines still in situ as well? Maybe Phil has a cask or 2 of "old stock" he can draw upon for ex SH regulars . . . . nah I am dreaming and fantasizing again.

                2. Still have never found (except in Toronto) any beer (real ale) in the US to replace Sherlock's.

                  Last "venture" was Milwaukee Ale House. They can make real ale, only they had made a porter so cloying and sweet that only an inebriate 5-year-old could love it.

                  Maybe if they ever venture into a hoppy bitter style . . . . . [dreams contemplatively]

                  It's May 14, 2008. 5 years and 4 months since Minnetonka's Darkest Saturday Night.

                  Only trips to the UK (rather pricey these days) seem left.

                  I have heard rumors of the Granite city in St Cloud having cask. But at this stage I feel like I am on the same sort of endless quest as Messrs Greenstreet & Lorre for the Malt(pun)ese bird.

                  It's hard not be be (bishops) bitter. But must look at the plethora of pints of pure pleasure prior to Dec 2002.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                    Don't be bitter. I swear (but my memory is very sketchy) someone was mentioning something about bitters to me recently. At Merlin's Rest on Lake Street in Minneapolis? I don't recall the details, but maybe that person will chime in. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, you could just go check it out. Or, if you don't want to face the same bitter(s) disappointment as the OP, you could call ahead.

                    P.S. Don't let the Canadians know you just said Toronto was in the U.S. ;-).



                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Nothing so spectacular as Sherlock's Home, but the aformentioned Merlin's Rest pub has Fuller's ESB (Extra Special Bitter) on draft. Very tasty if you happen to live in Minneapolis anyway, but not worth driving from Texas. You can find it in bottles in some large liquor stores (such as MGM Liquor Warehouse here in the Twin Cities).


                    2. re: bishopsbitter

                      The following bars/pubs have cask conditioned ales on occasion or always:

                      Town Hall (their own, hand-drawn)
                      Bulldog NE (cask conditioned Bells or Rush River ales on Wednesdays I believe)
                      The Muddy Pig (cask-conditioned (US) imports, not sure if it is a regular thing, but I've found them there)

                      If you've been up here again and not been to Barley John's, you are speaking out of turn regarding the state of beer in the Twin Cities. The Little Barley Bitter is a first rate bitter with all the great malt but not the over-hoppiness of an IPA.

                      1. re: Foureyes137

                        Thanks for these tips. After visiting 8 times (or more) a year for many years I've never been back after the heartbreak of 2003. But it might be time to once again set myself up for major disappointment . . . (must be the most likely based on what's gone before) or perhaps Salvation.

                        Barley John's is a new one on me. Is Bulldog NE (as in Northeast (TCs) or Nebraska?) I assume the former.

                        Yes, it stands to reason that all the folks who developed the taste for cc ale at Sherlock's either emigrated, took monastic orders, or found some place to go instead.

                        But the problem does come if the beer is not quaffable in mass quanities (ref the well-made but ultra sweet (not in a bad beer-making way just over sweet) porter in Milwaukee.

                        I think it is fair to say that the place serving well-kept cc ale and expecting its patrons to know the difference (many apparently don't expect this and let things slide owing to lack of apparent perception by the punters I think) between ale in tip-top condition and slops, is the exception and not the rule.

                        I have had an urge to go to the airfare sites and see what's on for MSP. So thank you for that.

                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                          Sorry, yes the Bulldog Northeast (there is a sister Bulldog in Uptown, hence the distinction).

                          As I am sure you know CC ales have a VERY short shelf life, and all but Town hall, are not drawn, but rather a 1/4 barrel is tapped on the bar and drawn by gravity. In this case, you see when it is tapped and when it runs out so hopefully this alleviates the slop-factor.

                          As for airfare, Sun Country has a gate at DFW and Houston I believe, get on their maling list, last minute round-trip fares $200.

                          1. re: Foureyes137

                            The 1/4 barrel is essentially the MO Sherlock's used for its Winter Warmer (gets into yet another slough of despond of recollection of Ghosts of Sherlock's Past). I have no problem with that concept at all except perhaps that minus a friss thru the aerator may leave it a bit more like a sipping drink than a quaffing one. With Winter Warmer this was the whole point but anyway. I must research Town Hall and BJs BDog.

                            Also Great Waters (St Paul) I have not heard referenced. I have never been there but had heard that cc'd was part of their line-up? True/false? Closed??

                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                              Great Waters is still alive and well. http://www.greatwatersbc.com/

                              I wish "Mike" were still here to read these latest developments.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                But DQ this ***IS*** the OP, Mike!

                                Alive, well, . . . and still :-( depressed :-)

                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                  HA! I didn't realize that! I hope we find a solution for you!


                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  "Properly cellared, conditioned, and then served at cellar temperature (52°). Hand pulled from our four English beer engines."

                                  From Great Waters web site. Their ales look a bit strong for an all-day session but who's caring. So long as one can stagger/crawl or otherwise quasi-perambulate along the Skyway to the Radisson . . .

                      2. Mike (aka bishopsbitter) here.

                        I have to admit that I feel deep down if I just keep periodically updating this thread for a decade or two, one day someone will post "Sherlock's Is Reopening!!!!!!!!"

                        I suppose I still hold out for a Beatles comeback as well, even though 2 have passed away.

                        Simply have not (cannot) reached the "acceptance" phase.

                        Sherlock's got me through a really tough time personally, not with the booze, but by providing a place (how few are these?!) GUARANTEED to provide spiritual & emotional uplift upon entry (albeit after a 647 mile, 12-hour, drive).

                        Happily those poor times are behind and in fact just were when Sherlock's upstaked. So I should be grateful for that.

                        It would be good to hear from any other ex regulars about their Post-Sherlock's-World experiences. However, do monasteries HAVE email? I suppose so in Minnesota they will.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                          Ok, so heres what I know. Bill and Carol Burdick were pretty overwhelmed by running the restaurant all by themselves and were nearing retirement age. By closing and starting G.C., they were able to still own a restaurant but without having to run the entire thing themselves. When they started G.C. it was with just one other guy and one location but now I believe this has changed. There are multiple locations of G.C.
                          I went to High School with and was very good friends with Bills son Bob. I worked @ Sherlocks for a summer as a busser. Met some of my very best friends there, unfortunately some of which I am not in contact with anymore. When I was old enough to drink in public I went to Sherlocks like religion every single monday night until the night of close. (New Years 03 I believe). It was musical madness, started by the bartender Linda, who is prob one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I play the guitar banjo and mandolin but mostly mando back in those days. It was the first place I ever really played in front of people and boosted my confidence immensely. Phil was an awesome bartender and is still a good friend. Every night when I went in, by the time I got my instrument unpacked, there was a pint of Gold Crown and a Jameson on the corner of the bar ready for me.
                          I loved the Turkey and Cheddar with the side of Cranberry Relish. The fish and chips were effing epic, and I have never found anything even remotely comparable.
                          These were some of the greatest times of my life and I'm glad to see so many others that feel as strongly as I do about Sherlocks. Jeremiah
                          P.S. If anyone knows Lavin Masters or how to get a hold of her please let me know. :)

                            1. re: deadstrings

                              Hey, you've brought fond memories by the score flooding back for me too. There are so few "special" places. All down to the ownership and a certain synchronization of place, people, times and traditions. I too loved the fish and chips but it was "Bishops Bitter" that was the real and only draw. Next to King and Barnes "Sussex Bitter' (sadly K&B are no more either although "Sussex" is still brewed by a corporate brewery for ex K&B houses) Bishops Bitter I think was the best beer I have ever tasted, and tasted, and tasted (Bill siad he wanted the hops to stay with you for at least an hour!) period. The peculiar juxtaposition of trifle and bitter is another fond memory. Wherever they are I wish Bill and Carol well. Like Johnny Carson they left at their peak with nothing else to be said or done that could have been a better run for Sherlock's. Wish (that said) it was still with us. I miss it like a limb.

                          1. If you are looking for cask conditioned ales, great waters in st paul usually has a couple on tap.

                            1. OMG! Thanks for posting this. Even though Sherlock's has been closed for years now, I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in STILL being heartbroken about it. I moved away 10 years ago, and, like many of you, came back for a visit to find it closed. ...all my old friends who-knows-where, and the best beer in the world (which I still crave to this day) no longer. It was actually my understanding that Bill took ill, though I don't know for sure what happened. However, though the ales may be gone, the "gang' doesn't have to be separated forever. If you all were as devoted to Sherlock's as you say you were, you will remember "Monday Midnight Music Madness," (which eventually started bleeding over into Thursdays, as well). This is Jenn. :)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: wildflower8

                                Always good to recall those times. Every time I have been I have missed him but I believe Phil the SH bartender is still working in the same building now now a sort of wine-bar-ey fusion-ey (not my kind of) place. Occasional sightings of Michael Jackson stick in my mind. But it was also about the thirst building up on the 12 hour (10.5 with a following wind) drive from Oklahoma. Also a place where my mother (suitable on the bitter then gin and tonics) divulged a huge "family secret" to me. Also very fond memories of visits there with a dear friend now departed the earth. Two beers in the whole world I crave the most (and now both RIP) are King and Barnes "Sussex" bitter and Sherlock's Bishops Bitter. Almost identical although Sussex a little paler orange. But both session bitters without parallel. I often find myself wondering where that Sherlock's group of avid cask ale loving regulars ended up. I never find the same cross-section in any other place as showedup @ SH. It was a unique institution and I wish it had prevailed but it sounds like Bill's mo that if he couldnt' run it just how he wanted he'd rather have it closed than sold and taken over by lesser knowledgeable-about-beer and malts landlords.

                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                  So he sold out and started Granite City, who's beer and food are well below average. I say good riddance to the sellout. I do miss the beer.....

                                  1. re: ibew292

                                    Granite city I agree is a bit of a nightmare on the beer front. The food (in its infancy at least) seemed a tad better than chain average but with an unfortunate predilection for orange marmalade [a substance never suited to any savory dish imo] saucing! I did make the pilgrimage to the original one (in the Granite city: St Cloud) on rumor that there they had cask ale. Indeed they had a beer engine, but it was a dusty [literally] museum piece: not in use, nor ever likely to be again (according to the bartender) as there was no demand for cask (!!!).

                              2. 8 years passed, and still feel my own pain! You'd think in a country like the US SOME other place would be able to craft UK style cask ales. You'd think . . . . . . . . . .:-) . . . . . . . . . . :-(

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                  hey BB, i just saw this post after your bump, below. have you run into or sampled the (msp local) surly cask ales around town since you posted? the beer is terrific imo and the establishments that have a surly cask behind the bar are generally nice little places for the food, drinks and atmosphere.


                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    I was just at the Dubliner (30 minutes ago) and I think it might have been on there. But it's not gravity or beer engine stuff. What then the deal?

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      OK entered the zip code in the web site and plenty of places listed. I will try Surly. Thanks sk!

                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                        hello again BB. surly beers are made locally and are extremely common on tap at bars all over town. surly's cask ales are considerably rarer, and these tend to be found at places with a more serious beer list/clientele. you may want to call around to confirm there is a surly cask behind the bar, or start a new thread on surly cask, as not every bar in msp serving surly furious will also have a cask behind the bar. but don't let that stop you from sampling surly's regular tap beers, they are very good!

                                  2. Wait, Sherlock's Home closed?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kevin47

                                      Oh yes. Many a long LONG year. (The one [and only] at Red Circle Drive, Minnetonka.)

                                    2. 8 1/2 years later and I still have not laid the ghost of Sherlock's Past. Today took it into my head to visit the old building and have lunch at Jimmy's food and Cocktails. Bittersweet indeed. The ceiling is all that remains but that remains somehow potent.

                                      Also remaining is a more-than-steady (indeed robust) trade and old-school, how would you say? upscale-with-a-zip service (just as Sherlock's used to have). You can see they don't hire any-old waiters and waitresses here: they are clearly quite good at what they do and appear willing to go the extra mile.

                                      If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, ordering the crab-stuffed walleye is a sign I must have reached that stage ready for the white coats. It was only after it arrived that it looked familiar. And it was still unappetizingly undercooked and with crab stuffing this is always (the idea of lack of a thorough heat-thru under the boiler or in the oven) offputting in a visceral and basic way. For all I know it was blitzed to the temperature of the Sun and then let to cool down waiting to be served: but with crab I like to be sure. And the walleye was undercooked a little sugesting timing was off.

                                      So all in all not the greatest but other food looked good. The wine was OK. the surrounds very congenial and "clubby" in the good sense you see in places in Manhattan like the Odeon of old.

                                      Part of the reason for going at all was to try to chat to ex Sherlock's bartender who still works there but he was not on duty. I have always wanted to say hi and also ask "where the heck did all the real ale drinkers go to after SH closed?" Or are they, like me, shell-shocked ruins of their former selves?

                                      On Jimmy's all I can say is avoid the crab-stuffed walleye. It may be well executed normally but if not it's not a great experience. But this place has a trade which suggests it's more often "on" than "off" with its dishes, drinks and service. It also makes one wish that SH had soldiered on over the hump of whatever brought it down although now I say that I believe the owners Carol and Bill wanted to retire anyhow. It's likely would not have been the same, although there were plenty of talented younger brewers . . . and whoever "Jimmy" is could surely have just as well run this place under the Union Jack :-)

                                      Ah sometimes memories make one miserable don't they? Gains never seem to offset losses in the latter-day stock market and life in general. Perhaps we should have a "reset" switch as part of the human anatomy.


                                      Jimmy's Food and Cocktails.
                                      phone: 952-224-5858, 11000 Red Circle Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343

                                      Jimmy's Food and Cocktails
                                      11000 Red Circle Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bishopsbitter

                                        All crab is pre-cooked through just so you know, they are essentially warming it up.

                                        1. re: Alsama

                                          It's a fair point . . . but if you've ever been made sick by a kamikaze krab kake (as I have, and ditto likely from precooked lump meat) under-temp crab remains again a "reflex" (not to mention vomit reflex: oh I just did) and visceral minus. I know they dish up loads of the things daily at lukewarm temp's . .. but for me it doesn't work. And besides the walleye itself could have used another minute or two. It was a touch under-done betrayed by its texture under the knife. Jimmy's is not horrible by any means.