Instead, I’ll talk about the other source of beer outrage this month: the ridiculous roster of beers being poured at this year’s Minnesota State Fair. The 27-beer jamboree features flavors from funnel cake to key lime pie, pissing off the legion beer-for-beer’s-sake drinkers on the internet. Sure, it’s an over-the-top way to use your skill as a brewer, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Fulton and Summit are among the anti-absurdity crowd, so the mud-stickers will have their druthers as they troll the aisles of stick-enhanced foods, but for those who like their indulgences fried and liquefied, the beer is meeting the standard the Pronto Pup set years ago. And thank God, because if there’s one thing the State Fair stands for, it’s the indefensibly ridiculous.
Double IPA, 8% ABV, n/a IBU
Before Omni’s stellar milkshake series began, there was FAD. Launched as the Maple Grove brewery’s anniversary beer last September, FAD (short for freakin’ awesome delicious) is now staking a foothold on liquor store shelves in 16 oz cans. FAD is a super juicy NE double IPA that both celebrates and scoffs at the haze trend. The big-name hops (Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo) carry the load in this beer, giving the body that enviable silky, orange juice consistency. Sure, every brewery is doing one now, but how many are doing it this well?
Modist/Dangerous Man Lemongrab
IPA, 5.8% ABV, n/a IBU
Thanks to the relationship between Modist head brewer Keigan Knee and Dangerous Man head brewer Rob Miller, you can now get Dangerous Man beer in cans at liquor stores. Lemongrab brings the two former coworkers back together in an incredibly creative take on the fruited IPA. Lemongrab is tarted with lemon, hopped with Citra, and elevated with raspberries, finding a rare middle ground between shandy and IPA. Just like pink lemonade, Lemongrab is bingeable and refreshing—a great counter to the homogenization of the current IPA trend. And yes, it is named after insufferable Adventure Time character Earl of Lemongrab, who can be seen bisected on the can’s label.
Steel Toe Peach/Mango Tart Ale
Sour ale, 5.3% ABV, n/a IBU
Tasting like dried, candied mango and light kettle lacto, Steel Toe’s new sour may not be very creatively named, but it’s a tightly crafted beer from one of the style’s local forebears. You still get that viscous mouth coat that sours have, reminiscent of Warheads, but it’s not an overbearing tart. There’s nothing confrontational about the beer at all, and you can take it in a bigger serving size than your average sour. If, for some reason, that doesn’t sound like your style, Steel Toe also just tapped a barrel-aged version of their Provider blonde ale that tastes just like a mint julep.
Fair State Keller Kazbek
Pilsner, 5% ABV, 38 IBU
Fair State’s summer crusher is back in a meaningful way. For one, the co-op brewery took the serving size down to a 12 oz can. Second, the beer is no longer tethered to the underperforming Festbier, standing on its own like the glorious yeasty bastard it is. Since this pilsner is unfiltered, the body is foggy and full. The Kazbek hops give it a slight hay-like scent and taste, building on the cereal scents in the malt. This is a beer that beckons to be drank in the yard, or at least with the windows open.
Festbier, 5.9% ABV, 28 IBU
There’s perhaps no brewery in Minnesota with more reverence for the German brewing tradition than Bryn Mawr’s Utepils. Naturally, their festbier (which isn’t a marzen, dammit) is an exemplar of the style. Sweet and autumnal, Receptional is a mugful of Reinheitsgebot love. The beer emerges from a mustache-gripping pillow of foam, going down roasty and warm. At 5.9%, it’s on the lower end of the ABV scale for the style, so a four-pack of tallboys goes down with gleeful ease. Chase with salty, salty pretzels.
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