A Minnesotan's Guide to Craft Beer
By Rachel Hutton, Minnesota Monthly
Artisan breweries are booming. Taste the range of Minnesota's brewing talent with our picks for some of the best beers in the state, available in bottles or cans.
1. Schell's Pilsner
One of the oldest breweries in America, New Ulm-based Schell's introduced its "specialty" beers some 30 years ago, including this light-but-full-bodied Pilsner. It's one of the best American examples of the classic Bohemian beer, an accessible step up from mass-market lagers.
2. Lake Superior
The Duluth brewery has been making this brew since opening in the 1990s. We've been guzzling it, their take on the ultra-crisp, refreshing German Kölsch, ever since.
3. Lift Bridge Farm Girl
Founded in 2008 and named after Stillwater's most iconic transportation infrastructure, Lift Bridge has become a household name with this sweet, yeasty, citrus-kissed Belgian farmhouse ale.
4. Third Street Brewhouse Rise to the Top
Fans of New Glarus Brewing's famous Spotted Cow have been digging this Cold Spring, Minnesota-based newcomer's Cream Ale, which is mild and easy-drinking with a floral, slightly funky flavor and creamy head.
5. Olvalde Farm Auroch's Horn
As assertive as you'd expect from an ancient ale once consumed from the horn of the auroch (a now-extinct wild bull), this fruity, honey-sweet, high-alcohol beer with a thick, almost chewy texture is brewed at a one-man operation in southeast Minnesota.
6. Boom Island Brimstone
Northeast Minneapolis's new Boom Island Brewing Company specializes in Belgian beers, and this brand-new tripel has mild, fruity, bread-y flavors that belie its strong alcohol content.
7. Brau Brothers Bancreagie
With a last name that's the German word for beer, these three southwest Minnesota brothers were practically destined to brew such gems as this challenging-but-beguiling reinterpreted Scotch ale that's intensely smoky, with a whiff of barnyard.
8. Summit Extra Pale Ale
Minnesota beer drinkers can't get enough of their hops, and this St. Paul brewery's flagship brew whetted the local palate for pine needle-sparkle way back before craft brew was cool, in 1986.
9. Surly Furious
This bellicose beer came out of a Brooklyn Center warehouse in 2006 and spawned Minnesota's recent craft-brew revolution, with a throat-searing 100 IBU—the maximum rating on the International Bitterness Unit scale. All those hops give Furious a grapefruit aroma and a juicy bite.
10. Fulton Sweet Child of Vine
One of the easiest-drinking hoppy beers, the Minneapolis brewery's favorite son has more balance than bite, with a smooth, smoky finish.
11. Steel Toe Size Seven
This St. Louis Park upstart's Northwest-style IPA is an aggressive kick in the hops.
12. Flat Earth Cygnus X-1 Porter
As dark as its namesake black hole, this smooth riff on an English porter from St. Paul's quirkiest microbrewery is rich with roasty flavors of chocolate and malt.
13. Grain Belt Nordeast
In 2010, the iconic northeast Minneapolis Grain Belt Brewery was honored with the introduction of this mild amber lager, considered a "gateway" craft brew with more flavor than Grain Belt Premium.