Though many of the beers mentioned in those rankings still hold up, so much in Minnesota brewing has changed since the pieces were written that the authority has all but worn off. That’s the nature of the beer scene we’re dealing with—the superlatives roll over like tap lists at the Happy Gnome.
Still, that’s not to say those earlier lists weren’t right. Go drink a Masala Mama, and tell me it doesn’t belong on both.
BlackStack Thunder Lizard
IPA, 7.2% ABV, n/a IBU
Did you buy a purple brontosaurus sweatshirt? If so, you might enjoy the latest collaboration between BlackStack Brewing and the Science Museum of Minnesota. The two businesses have been working together on tinker nights at the St. Paul taproom, but now they’ve taken their partnership to the next level, co-releasing a double dry-hopped IPA called, naturally, Thunder Lizard. Thunder Lizard makes use of Azacca, Vic Secret, Falconer’s Flight, and Zeus hops to create a complex, dank IPA. Yes, it’s juicy, but Thunder Lizard is more creamy and earthy than anything. Only 225 cases will be canned, but 150 crowlers will be released at the co-branded party on Tuesday, June 5. Get your hands on it before it’s a fossil.
Bent Paddle Tea Break Blonde
Blonde ale, 6% ABV, 20 IBU
Paddle Break got an upgrade for Bent Paddle’s new infusion series. The Duluth brewery added lemon zest and green tea to their blonde ale, making it even more refreshing and relaxing. The slight herbal bitterness of the tea plays in nicely with the German and Czech hops, and the bright lemon notes balance off the slight grain flavor of the pilsner malt. Halfway between beer and a tall glass of iced tea, this might be the perfect lawnmower beer.
Kolsch, 5% ABV, n/a IBU
Surly is careful to call their new HeatSlayer a “kolsch-style beer” because it isn’t brewed within 50 kilometers of Cologne, but we’re not so precious. Biscuity and clean as a steam whistle, HeatSlayer is built to bridge the season between maibock and Oktoberfest, and in that spirit, it’s as near a kolsch as any Minnesota biermister could hope to get. Of course, the hop character is dialed up a bit, but it’s that crisp, refreshing German maltiness that washes the palette. HeatSlayer is the featured beer in Surly’s new variety pack, which hit shelves on May 21 and also consists of Hell, Xtra Citra, and of course, Furious.
Lupulin Sexy Hops #1
IPA, 6% ABV, 50 IBU
Is Lupulin the best IPA producer in Minnesota? BlackStack, Barrel Theory, and Fair State might argue otherwise, but the Big Lake brewery has staked its claim to the hop throne. Their latest release, Sexy Hops #1, is the first in a series of one-off IPAs showcasing Lupulin’s skill with the most emergent new hop strains. Though it pours cloudy and nectarine beige, Sexy Hops is not your uber-trendy New England IPA. A trio of New Zealand, Kohatu, and Vic Secret hops give the beer an incredible parching dryness that’s undercut by a current of pulpy fruit. It has more bite than you may assume from looking at it, but not playing to expectations is this beer’s sexiest quality.
Lake Monster Blood Orange Citrus IPA
IPA, 6.5% ABV, 60 IBU
A lot of IPAs claim to be “juicy,” but Lake Monster goes over the top with Blood Orange Citrus IPA. The new seasonal leads with a huge, fragrant dose of blood orange. It’s an enduring scent captured from the fruit puree and peel added to the beer and further accentuated by the ever-present Citra hops. The overt fruit flavors are balanced by the oats in the malt bill, which give the beer a creamy softness. Blood Orange Citrus IPA will be available for a limited time on tap and in 12 oz. cans.
Brewers interested in being featured in Local Suds should email [email protected].