Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 10 Minnesota Beers

The Minneapolis CBS affiliate, WCCO, released their list of the 10 best local beers. While there are some bright spots, the piece casts its net too wide, ensnaring some less then deserving brews, perhaps in the name of the diversity. Thus, it's BOTB's task to set Minnesotans and our neighbors straight as to the best beers from the land of 10,000 lakes.

Many of these beers have been reviewed in some fashion by BOTB and most have earned the much coveted "Beer of the Week" designation. Where I have previously discussed a brew, I have put a link for your reading pleasure.

In no particular order:

1. Surly Furious

In 2007, Minneapolis based Surly was named Best Brewery In America by Beer Advocate magazine. Furious is the beer that got them there. A british style ale with gobs of hops, Furious' bold taste is reminiscent of the West Coast IPAs and APAs that redefined the art of American brewing. The hops evoke hints of apricot, and the bitter finish smacks refreshingly off the lips. Surly's flagship makes Minnesota proud.

2. Surly Cynic

More on Cynic here.

3. Surly Bender

More on Bender here.

4. Summit Winter Ale

More on Summit Winter here.

5. Summit Hefe-Weizen

More on Summit Hefe here.

6. Summit Koelsch

More on Summit Koelsch here.

7. Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

A relative new-comer to the craft beer scene, Stillwater based Lift Bridge takes its name from the city's famous (infamous?) St. Croix River crossing. Farm Girl is actually a little rough around the edges (lacks a little body, lacks enough aroma), and will have to take the silver medal behind Cynic as Minnesota's best Saison. It is, however, still a pleasure to drink and tastes great sitting on a Minnesota lake in summer.

8. Flat Earth Ovni

Ovni is a Biere de Garde, which I'm pretty sure is French for "delicious." Big caramel and toffee notes in the aroma with just a hint of hops. Ovni tastes a lot like it smeels: smooth and caramelly with an earthy finish. Although new to the St. Paul brewery's repertoire, Ovni just might be their best.

9. Flat Earth Belgian Style Pale Ale

More on Flat Earth Belgian Style Pale here.

10. Fulton's Sweet Child of Vine

Fulton's is the new kid on the block in Minnesota brewing, and they're off to a fine start. Their Sweet Child is an IPA (although I might argue APA), which pours an exceptionally dark amber. The hop profile is strong on the fruity side, with some grapefruit and general "sweet fruit" scents. You can also pick up a slight smell of pine. The body is bold and hearty, with enough of a biscuity back to stand up to those hops. An excellent first effort.

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james said...


Fulton's - I want to like it soo badly! I'll keep trying until it tastes good ;)

As for Furious.. no mention of the grapefruit taste? And don't forget Coffee Bender.. IMO a way more mentionable variety than possibly some of the Summits on here. Surly does a great job w/ their beers.

Also: speaking of MN.. too bad we don't have more crafts, eh?

Brau Bros? Also a beer I wish I liked. It all tastes soo peat-y! Yuk!

And then there is macro crap. Grain Belt Nordeast? God forbid the rest of the world now thinks that people from Northeast enjoy that shit. *scathing, I know.

If I'm going to drink shit beer, it's going to be a PBR. But hey.. that's me.

Now.. What about Fargo Stouts? Simatic Belgians? Hoffman Ales?

Now we're cookin'... chuggin'.. etc.

RyanSimatic said...

Surly does a great job with most of their beers, but not all of them. Coffee Bender never really needed to happen in my opinion, because the original Bender is evocative of coffee on its own. That said, there really aren't many "coffee" beers that I like. Even Lagunitas, who I love, makes a really lousy Cappuccino Stout. Putting coffee in your brew is a really delicate thing for me.

Also, there's pretty much no debate that Summit Koelsch is world class brew. Their rendition of the classic German style is second to none: a model for other American breweries to follow.

As for the Hefe, it's the best wheat beer I can think of available locally that's not from Germany. Oberon is pretty much a shadow of its former self, and that 312 stuff from Goose Island is a cruel joke. If it's better than a Bell's and a Goose, it's at least worth a mention.

Fulton's? I don't know what to say about that. I think it's a noble first effort. :)

PaulNoonan said...

Had Cask Conditioned Surly Darkness at the Chicago Craft Brewers Festival. It's one of the 5 best beers I've ever had and superior to the more famous 3 Floyds Dark Lord.

While I was standing in line to get into the Brew Pub at 3 Floyds on Dark Lord Day I heard the second half of a sentence from the person standing behind me. "I think I like it even better than Dark Lord."

I asked "Are you talking about Surly Darkness?"