Operation: Take-Out • Slow-Roasted Pork Shank Tacos and Mexican Vienna Lager from Inver Grove Brewing Company

Each week, Operation: Take-Out brings you specially crafted meals for two with ideal beverage pairings from your favorite local restaurants. We’d like to thank Hop & Barrel Brewing for their underwriting support in the month of June.

THE RESTAURANT: This week’s pork shank taco spread comes from Inver Grove Brewing Company, a sister brewpub to the Lakeville Brewing Company.

Inver Grove Brewing Company opened just 10 months ago in Inver Grove Heights and went all-in on equipping the new location with a brewing system. “We’re the second brewery in Minnesota to have a second location where we’re brewing on-site,” says co-owner Glen Bruestle. “We were going to do a plain restaurant and we thought, ‘you know, it’d be a lot cooler if we could brew as well.’”

While the pandemic has challenged both his businesses, Bruestle is resolute about the future.

“It’s a tough time, it’s a stressful time,” he says. “But the people of Inver Grove Heights and the people of Lakeville have been very good to us. We’ve been busy with takeout. It’s a hard time and it’s stressful but we’ll be there at the end of this thing.”

THE MEAL: A tender, intensely flavorful bone-in pork shank is the star of the show in this meal package. “We roast it for about 2½–3 hours and it’s sitting in the center of the plate,” says Bruestle. “It’s surrounded by rice and black beans cooked with jalapeño, onions, red pepper, honey, and cumin.”

Beyond the beans and rice, the pork has a rich and varied supporting cast: everything from a half dozen tender, fresh-grilled tortillas to cotija cheese to crema to cilantro to pickled onions to chips and pico de gallo.

This meal is less a single taco experience than a customizable, mix-and-match, choose-your-own adventure. We’ve been to 100 or so taco restaurants in the metro or beyond (see our Minnesota Taco Atlas) and this array of quality sides and beautifully prepared meal stacks up.

As for the beer: the plate comes with two branded pint glasses and two Crowlers of the brewery’s refreshing and mellow Tres Equis Mexican Lager. The beer is a suitable match for both a taco plate and a warm, humid Minnesota summer afternoon. “When we have it out, it’s a beer that goes really really fast,” Bruestle says.

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Hop & Barrel Brewing Co., located in downtown Hudson, Wisconsin, takes a modern approach to classic beers. Hop & Barrel is best known for its clean and classic Minnesconsin Helles, its wide variety of IPAs, and the innovative brewing behind its true-to-flavor Lemon Breaker Shandy and Paul & Babe’s Breakfast Ale. Regardless of your taste, Hop & Barrel brews a little something for everyone!