As the days grow shorter and the leaves start to change, another transition is taking place in Minnesota: the arrival of fall beer styles. Oktoberfests, pumpkin ales and wet-hop brews are among the popular seasonal varieties. Plan your autumn beer adventure with a trip to these and other Minnesota breweries.
Few things signal the arrival of fall like the malty goodness of an Oktoberfest beer. You can find these Bavarian lagers at many taprooms around the state starting in September and going well into October.
Minnesota is home to the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the country, Schell's Brewery. Brewing German styles since 1860, sip their marzen style Oktoberfest beer.
Northeast Minneapolis is a haven for taprooms. Bauhaus Brew Labs is celebrating the season with Schwantoberfest, a Bavarian style Festbier featuring a rich, toasty malt balanced with a floral hop aroma of tangerine and orange blossom.
Further north near St. Cloud, you can taste the best Oktoberfest this side of Germany according to Paste Magazine at Third Street Brewhouse in Cold Spring. Surly's marzen also made the list at No. 20.
Think pumpkin pie in a pint glass! The best ones use real pumpkin in their recipes and add the familiar pie spices including cloves, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. Pumpkin ales are the perfect choice to accompany the turkey and mashed potatoes at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.
A good place to start is at Northeast Minneapolis’ Dangerous Man Brewing Co., where you’ll find the Imperial Pumpkin Ale. It’s a full-bodied and pleasantly spiced brew that will get you in the fall spirit.
Although not strictly a pumpkin beer, the Yamma Jamma Harvest Ale by Indeed Brewing Co. (also in Northeast Minneapolis) uses sweet potatoes in place of pumpkin and some familiar pie spices to create a refreshing autumn classic.
For another pumpkin brew in the Twin Cities, head out to Enki Brewing Company for Jumpin' Pumkins Ale.
When you’re in St. Paul, be sure to stop by Tin Whiskers Brewing Co. on East Ninth Street for the Schottky Pumpkin ale. The brewery combines the malty caramel backbone of an amber ale with the warm spiciness of pumpkin pie.
Finally, the new Forager Brewery in Rochester serves an Autumn Harvest beer made with fermented pumpkin from last year's harvest.
These intense ales are brewed during the September hop harvest. As the name implies, the hops are not dried but go straight from the vine to the brew kettle, often in a matter of hours. This allows much more of the essential oils of the hops to get into the beer, which adds a depth of flavor that needs to be tasted to be believed.
For a big hop brew in the north woods, head to Jack Pine Brewery just outside of Brainerd for the Harvest Red IPA, brewed with locally grown hops.
Another fall favorite is the St. Paul-based Bad Weather Brewing Co.’s Windvane Amber Ale. Unlike most amber ales, it has both rye and Belgian malt to create a complex and malty brew that’s the perfect choice for a cool autumn evening.
Find more Minnesota breweries and brewpubs in the Drink & Eat section.