Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Fondue Fries Are Like an Edible Sports Bar
This relatively young brewery (opened in July 2014) prides itself on taking unique turns on classic German-inspired beers. That experience runs from the Bauhaus-inspired cans to the liquid lovingly housed by those cans. It's constantly upping its production, too. The decidedly non-German Sky Five Midwest Coast IPA is a must-try, and you’re probably best off imbibing at its Minneapolis taproom that has a full calendar of trivia and events.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Homeguys Munich-Style Helles Lager (4.6% ABV)
It’s a clean and easy malty beer with a low abv, so you could pretty easily enjoy a few with some friends. It’s a great beer for sitting on a porch on a fall night if it somehow stops raining before it starts snowing.
This brewery will allow you to purify yourself in the cool waters of Lake Superior. Bent Paddle makes all of its beer with water from the Great Lake, and it has become an Iron Range staple since opening in 2013. From the piney 14-Degree ESB to the beloved Cold Press Black Coffee Ale, almost every beer is a winner. The Venture pils might even make you shake the erroneous belief that pilsners are boring. It now has a new, expanded taproom across the street from its original location giving you one more reason to trek up north.
Fall Seasonal to Try: People Power Pilsner
A collaboration with Fair State, Bent Paddle has joined more than 70 breweries across the country to make a beer called People Power as a fundraiser for the ACLU. The beer is available in the Bent Paddle and Fair State taprooms starting on October 25. The only difference between Bent Paddle’s and Fair State’s People Power beer will be the water its brewed with, which is kind of a fun experiment if you want to go try both.
In a crowded craft beer scene, Fair State is too often overlooked. It has a unique voice, in part making a name with delicious sours. The Northeast Minneapolis taproom -- and its excellent patio -- is full of more Bretts and sours than you should try in a single sitting. The refreshingly mild Roselle, a kettle sour saison with hibiscus, might even appeal to those who haven’t yet sipped the sour Kool-Aid. However, a hop lover can still find plenty to like in the slightly floral and cleverly named Pahlay’Ahlay pale ale. (Somehow, that’s only the second best name at Fair State. It’s a distant second to the It’s Gold, Jerry! pale ale.)
Fall Seasonal to Try: Mirror Universe Hazy IPA (7% ABV)
One of the best IPAs in the US is back. Starting in October, you can grab Mirror Universe in its excellent Star Trek–themed cans. It’s a heavily dry hopped IPA that didn’t stick around long last time it was released. Put on your finest fake goatee and get some before it’s gone.
An OG among the garage taproom lot, Fulton might be one of Minnesota’s best-kept secrets. Its Sweet Child of Vine is a hoppy-sweet staple, and the Lonely Blonde is a reliable lunch-pail kind of brew. Doing simple things exceptionally well has been Fulton's calling card, but there’s plenty of creativity to be found as well. Its taproom, which just launched a permanent Airstream-housed kitchen from chef Scott Pampuch, is full of playful beers that are sometimes so good they have to become a permanent fixture like the Mosaic-hopped 300. It’s also ideally situated for grabbing catching a Twins or Timberwolves game.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Whiskey, War & Peace (11% ABV)
Fulton collaborated with Jameson to barrel-age its popular War & Peace imperial coffee stout. It’s intense and delicious, and it’s only available in the taproom for a limited time.
Indeed puts out a lot of beers. In lesser hands, that might not be a good thing. But no one is complaining here, especially if you’re sipping beers in its small but homey taproom. Its rotation of seasonal IPAs -- Let it Ride, Peach Bum, Let It Roll -- is totally delightful. Oh, and get your hands on a Day Tripper pale ale. You will regret nothing.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Flavorwave IPA (6.2% ABV)
Okay. It’s not a seasonal, but it’s a brand new year-round offering from Indeed. Inside the colorful can is a whole lot of IPA with fruity notes. It’s bitter and refreshing and just pretty damn good. A beertender at Indeed told me it tastes like every IPA style mixed together. A suicide slushie of IPAs. That sounds gross. It’s not. And he was kind of right in a weird way.
A handful of breweries in Minnesota feel deeply connected to Minnesota’s history and rural roots. Lift Bridge is one of them. If one beer could tell a brewery’s story, it’d be the Farm Girl Saison. It’s so Minnesotan, one sip might make you instantly knowledgeable about Warroad hockey and Walter Mondale’s youth. Though, the non-alcoholic root beer and the annual Peaks and Prairies collaboration show the brewery’s breadth and willingness to branch out. (You can track down the root beer at Sebastian Joe’s for a root beer float, which isn’t beer, but hell yes anyhow.) The almost always-busy taproom highlights the brewery’s prowess by showcasing new flavors weekly on Firkin Wednesday.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Fireside Flannel Brown Ale (4.7% ABV)
Lift Bridge’s annual fall release is basically autumn in a can. There’s nothing overpowering about it, with nice notes of coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon. You could indeed kick up by the fire and make a night of this beer.
Yeah, it's cider. It may be cheating to include it here, but I’m a cheater. Also, it’s worth noting there’s good cider in Minnesota. Part of the reason it’s worth cheating is even a non-cider-drinking beer lover might dig up something to high-five about at Sociable. The Hop-A-Wheelie drinks more like a beer than you’d expect. It’s dry, not too sweet, and full of hoppy layers. The taproom even serves hot ciders and keeps it local with food trucks outside the patio.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Rusty Chain Cranberry Apple Cider (6.6% ABV)
Cranberry might make it sound a little on the bitter side, but that’s not the case. Rusty Chain is a tart, refreshing cider that’s mild enough you don’t feel like you need to change things up after the first can. If cider is already a damn fine fall drink, cranberry cider is basically leaf peeping for your mouth. Pure fall.
St. Louis Park
You won’t find a ton of Steel Toe beers in cans or bottles, but what the brewery does, it does well. What it does well is kick you right in the chops. The Size 7 IPA is the perfect example. It’s everything a hops lover is looking for in a feisty hop-forward brew. Same goes for the Rainmaker India Red Ale. If most taprooms turn you off with their trivia nights and board games, Steel Toe is a minimal space and feels more like a bar than a taproom, except all the beer is good.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Rainmaker India Red Ale (6.5% ABV)
It’s not a seasonal, but it’s not always easy to find, either. Steel Toe’s India red is a crowd pleaser. It’s worth the trip out to the Saint Louis Park taproom if you can’t get your hands on it any other way.
When other Minnesota breweries were still in diapers, and taprooms didn’t litter every street corner, Summit was running the show. Its extra pale ale is a cornerstone of Minnesota brewing. It certainly has a legacy as your dad’s favorite brewery but has stayed fresh with a fleet of solid beers and the Unchained Series, which allows Summit brewers to metaphorically streak off naked into the night. If you want more of Summit’s playful side you won’t find in liquor stores, the Summit Beer Hall is often putting out special taproom-only beers and the prices will make you order an extra.
Fall Seasonal to Try: Dark Infusion Coffee Milk Stout (8.5% ABV)
For the first time ever, Summit is bringing back a beer from its Unchained series. (That series gives the reins to the brewers to do whatever they’d like for a limited run batch.) Dark Infusion is a rich imperial that has a lot going on from loads of malts to the sweet creaminess it takes on from the lactose.
The feisty brewery has built its reputation on Furious, but it carries so many good beers it’s almost unfair. The hoppy Todd the Axe Man is worth the trip alone, as well as the refreshing Xtra Citra pale ale and seasonals like the brett dark ale Pentagram, Wet, and the coveted Darkness. Plus, the spacious taproom is a ton of fun and has an impressive menu, making it okay to sit out on the massive patio playing yard games all day. (Or at least until the MN United game starts.) They also throw fun events like SurlyFest.
Fall Seasonal to Try: WET Wet-Hop Pale Ale (6.1% ABV)
Every year’s WET gets a slightly different hop bill. This year, Surly trucked in 6,000 pounds of Citra hops for the crazy brew day that head brewer Ben Smith tells Thrillist is “kind of dumb and over-complicated.” The result is a delicious bitter beer that will only be on shelves for around 45 days. (Also, Surly is dropping Darkness around Halloween. It’s one of the best stouts around, so don’t miss that.)