Welcome to Minnesota, football fans! Now get yourself a goddamn beer.
Though Minnesota sorta invented Prohibition (sorry), brewing has been a heralded tradition in the North Star State since the 1840s. Today, the craft beer scene here is among the best in the country, with 30 breweries opening in the previous year alone, bringing the state to a grand total of 150.
The beer here is so plentiful it’s practically unsustainable, and for someone hitting the Twin Cities for one football-packed weekend, it’s an unnavigable expanse. Allow us to streamline the field. Here are the Minnesota-exclusive beers you have to try if you’re in town for the Super Bowl.
Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout
Stout, 5% ABV, 28 IBU
Dangerous Man is frequently cited as the best brewery in all of Minnesota. The Northeast micro has staked this claim on the reputation of two playful flagships: Peanut Butter Porter and Chocolate Milk Stout. The latter is a can’t-miss. Chocolate Milk Stout is silken and creamy, blending the perfect amount of lunchroom nostalgia and roasty stout goodness. Like all Dangerous Man beers, CMS is only sold at the brewery, but you can stop in the adjoining growler shop (open Thursday and Friday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.) and grab some for the road.
Availability: On tap or in crowlers at Dangerous Man’s brewery in northeast Minneapolis.
Fair State Pils
Pilsner, 4.9% ABV, 40 IBU
Fair State Brewing Cooperative has kept one thing consistent across a panoply of different styles: an incredibly clean finish. Pils is Fair State’s most loving expression of this intention. Crisp and flaxen, it’s an almost romantic homage to the Czech beers that Fair State’s brew team idolizes. Sure, the co-op may be known more for their daring sours and hazy IPAs (lately), but it all comes home with this simple, masterful brew. Fans of the classics should seek out their newly canned Vienna Lager, which bests big brother Pils with a perfect 100 style rating on RateBeer.
Availability: On tap and in crowlers at Fair State’s brewery in northeast Minneapolis. Also in liquor stores and on tap in the Twin Cities metro.
Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale
Coffee ale, 6% ABV, 34 IBU
When beer and coffee mix, it’s usually the java that’s left to do the heavy lifting. The ale bows to the adjunct. Such is not the case with Bent Paddle’s Cold Press Black Ale. The Duluth brewery infused their flagship black ale with Duluth Coffee Company’s Crazy Juice cold press, creating a glorious equilibrium between malt roastiness and coffee bitterness. And you don’t have to drive to the North Shore to get your hands on it. CPBA is readily available all around town.
Availability: In liquor stores and on tap in the Twin Cities metro.
Town Hall Masala Mama
IPA, 6.4% ABV, n/a IBU
It’s been a decade, and Masala Mama is finally getting the recognition it deserves. The flagship IPA of Seven Corners brewpub Town Hall was rated the best IPA in Minnesota by Food & Wine in 2016, putting it on equal footing with legendary beers such as Sip O’ Sunshine and Hopslam. Masala Mama is hopped with an array of seven different hops, giving it hints of of both fruit juiciness and resinous pine alongside a sweet caramel body. It’s an iconic brew, and trying a pint is a mandatory experience for any visiting beer lover.
Availability: On tap and in growlers at Town Hall’s brewery in Seven Corners, Minneapolis. Also on tap at Town Hall Tap and Town Hall Lanes in Minneapolis.
Modist Ritual Night
Stout, 6.3% ABV, n/a IBU
No one can make beer like Modist Brewing can. Not only do they have the technological advantage of their one-of-a-kind mash filter, but their brew team has a level of experience and creativity few can match. This creativity is typically showcased in their Deviation series. Deviation 004 was a brilliant Mexican chocolate stout brewed with red chili. With vanilla and chocolate sweetness, a tinge of cinnamon, and the lingering, satisfying burn of chili, it quickly became one of the favorite beers the young brewery ever produced. In November, Modist decided to bring the mole-esque stout back as a full-time tallboy offering, rechristening it Ritual Night.
Availability: On tap and in growlers at Modist’s brewery in the North Loop, Minneapolis. Also on in liquor stores on tap in the Twin Cities metro.
Barrel Theory Rain Drops
IPA, 7.5% ABV, n/a IBU
When Barrel Theory opened last June in Lowertown St. Paul, it was immediately thrust into the conversation of best breweries in the state. Early indications were that Key Sublime berliner weisse would be the beer that cemented their presence on the scene, but their New England IPA Rain Drops has stolen the hearts of the beer community. So juicy it’s almost squishy, Rain Drops is a stunning sensory experience. The double dry-hopped version somehow improves on the formula by adding gobs of Citra and Vic Secret hops.
Availability: On tap and in (rare) crowlers at Barrel Theory’s brewery in Lowertown, St. Paul.
Steel Toe Size 7
IPA, 7% ABV, 77 IBU
Seven is a lucky number for Steel Toe. Their 7% ABV, 77 IBU IPA put the St. Louis Park brewery on the map and won them the first ever Best Local Beer designation from City Pages. Fantastically bitter and grassy, Size 7 is your classic West Coast IPA, but it’s unusually refreshing for a beer of its gravity. If you prefer to session your Portland-style pales, turn to sister brew Size 4. If you want to go the other direction, infamous triple IPA Size 11 (you can guess its ABV and IBU) just came back into season this month.
Availability: On tap and in growlers at Steel Toe’s brewery in St. Louis Park. Also on in liquor stores on tap in the Twin Cities metro.
Junkyard Peanut Butter Bandit
Stout, 6% ABV, 20 IBU
Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter may be the go-to PB beer in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Moorehead’s Junkyard Brewing has entered the market with its eyes on the top prize. Hints of toast and dark chocolate pervade the Peanut Butter Bandit, but this flagship brew is practically all roasty, delicious peanut butter. A beer this decadent works well as a dessert course, but don’t sleep on its potential as a breakfast beer.
Availability: In (a few) liquor stores in the Twin Cities metro.
Eastlake Kirby Pucker
Sour ale, 5% ABV (varies), n/a IBU
Not a single beer but an ongoing series, Eastlake’s Kirby Pucker is an institution in the Twin Cities beer scene. There’s always a creative iteration of this Twins-themed sour on tap at the baseball-minded brewery in the Midtown Global Market, and the series is now in its 17th edition. The latest is a fruity kettle sour with pineapple and coconut, but Eastlake also has Kirby Pucker no. 8 on tap -- a playful beet-flavored gose. And who knows when the sour maestros at Eastlake might surprise us with Kirby Pucker 18.
Availability: On tap and in growlers at Eastlake’s brewery in Midtown Minneapolis.
Castle Danger Castle Cream Ale
Cream ale, 5.5% ABV, n/a IBU
In a somewhat surprising turn, Two Harbors brewery Castle Danger took home the Best Beer category in 2017’s Best of the Twin Cities issue for their Castle Cream Ale. Why does a simple, unadorned brew from three hours north of Minneapolis deserve that designation? Well, take a swig of a golden can of Castle Cream Ale. You won’t have to process much. It’s good in the way puppies are good. Your heart tells you to love it, and so you do.
Availability: In liquor stores and on tap in the Twin Cities metro.
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