Local Suds: 5 Minnesota beers to drink in February

Photos by Jerard Fagerberg

Photos by Jerard Fagerberg

Beer is at its best when it’s in conversation.

That's true not only when it's being debated between drinkers, but also when it’s in dialogue with other beers. After all, drinking is deeply contextual. Beers exists because of and in reaction to other beers, and this conversation is what keeps the scene churning out greatness.

This month in Local Suds, we explore the relationship between several new beers. There’s a trend-responding Brut IPA and a trend-evolving pastry ale, but I’m talking more specifically about the beers here that come with a sister brew. By creating a juxtaposition, these pairs teach more about beer than any one could do alone. Plus, you can cheers yourself while you take both down simultaneously.

Modist/Junkyard the Bar Side Episode 1: Betsy’s Bright Idea
Stout, 7.5% ABV, n/a IBU

When North Loop’s Modist Brewing and Moorhead’s Junkyard Brewing got together to make a beer, they were inspired by Gary Larson's irreverent comic strip the Far Side. What resulted were a pair of parallel milk stouts, one brewed at each location. The more readily available is the Modist-brewed Episode 1: Besty’s Bright Idea, a blonde stout that’s made with lactose, Wesley Andrews coffee, peanuts, and cacao nibs. For a beer with so much tossed in, Betsy’s Bright Idea is a fantastic bit of fun. It’s deceptive in how simple it looks. It pours a flaxen gold, but the flavor is a silky chocolate dream. Tastes like a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on honey wheat bread. Episode 2: Betsy’s Dark Secret is (you guessed it) a dark version of the same beer that should appeal to anyone looking to get more Reese’s Cup out of the collaboration.

Inbound Wildberry Milkshake Sour
Gose, 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU

Last week, Inbound BrewCo launched a brand-new pastry ale line. Unlike the big, cake-y pastry stouts that dominate the market, Inbound’s interpretation has light, clean, fruity flavors. The inaugural is Wildberry Milkshake Sour, a lactose-driven gose that smacks of raspberries and blackberries. It sits somewhere between rose champagne and pie filling, with a beautiful effervescence and fruit syrup sweetness. The slight hint of vanilla evens it all out, making a second or third tallboy as delighting as the first. This initial pastry ale should be around all February, with a pineapple upsidedown cake-inspired beer coming on its heels.

Omni It’s Like This and It’s Like That
Double IPA, 8% ABV, n/a IBU

It’s sometimes difficult to deduce what individual hops add to a beer, so Maple Grove brewer Omni created a pair of New England double IPAs that help elucidate just what two ubiquitous hops contribute to the style. The first of the two is It’s Like This, a Citra-hopped pineapple cake of a beer. Here, the hop’s incredible fruitiness is drastic, but so is its scraping bitterness. It’s Like That shows off the Mosaic hop’s soft finish and tongue-sopping juiciness. Kind of audacious to name two East Coast IPAs after a song that made West Coast hip-hop famous, but that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating the learning experience in this mixed four pack.

Lake Monster Brut IPA
IPA, 6.4% ABV, 45 IBU

Lake Monster’s seasonal release schedule may have been hindered by the government shutdown, but now the cryptozoology-themed St. Paul brewery is back with a followup to the outstanding Apricot Gose. Their brand new Brut IPA puts the beer’s profile of Rakau, Ella, Motu, Citra, and Amarillo hops front and center, mixing the tropical characteristics with the dry, palate-clearing of champagne. Lake Monster’s seasonal offerings should oscillate between IPAs and sours for the rest of the year, government fuckery notwithstanding.

Insight Mega Dankbot
Double IPA, 8.6% ABV, 100+ IBU

It’s hard to believe that, in 2019, the resinous, sky-high-IBU IPAs of the Willamette Valley are considered throwbacks—but here we are. Insight Brewing has been perpetuating the value of the dank West Coasters of the late aughts with their standby Dankbot IPA, but now they’re going double or nothing with their new double-dry-hopped double IPA, Mega Dankbot. Mega Dankbot is a parade of palate-scalding CTZ, Amarillo, Citra, and Cascade hops, but it’s all balanced by a rye-like sweetness in the malt. If you find yourself obsessed with the juicy, hazy New England IPAs of today, grab a four pack of Mega Dankbot to remind yourself why you started drinking craft beer in the first place.

Brewers interested in being featured in Local Suds should email [email protected].