Sláinte, beer people of Minnesota.
The biggest drinking holiday of the year is upon us, and everyone’s stocking up to get their Irish on. Of course, the American rendition of St. Patrick’s Day is a liiittle different than the Irish version, and that should be reflected in what you’re drinking. While you’re celebrating in your Very American way, why not put aside that Guinness and celebrate with some Very American beers?
This month’s Local Suds is replete with the greatest (at the moment, anyway) domestic beer style: the American IPA. Call it hazy, call it New England, call it ridiculous, but the craft brewers of Minnesota are doing their best to make it a tradition. Enjoy it while it’s popular, and make this St. Paddy’s a full-on American affair.
Bent Paddle Pordij
IPA, 8.2% ABV, 70 IBU
Bent Paddle rolled up in March to teach Twin Citians that Dulith can compete in the hazy IPA game. Over four pounds of Rakau, Waktu, Simcoe, and—of course—Citra hops were put into each barrel of their new tallboy, Pordij (pronounced “portage” and intentionally misspelled so you don’t confuse it with these folks). The beer is a grapefruity canoe-load of hops that stands its ground with an 8.2% ABV. Unlike most of its competitors from the Twin Cities, Pordij is a clean pour that goes translucent at the bottom. The finish will clench your thirst after a long day trekking Voyageurs.
Modist Shook Pineapple
IPA, 7.3% ABV, n/a IBU
By this point, Modist are certified hypebeasts. Every beer they drop goes over like like an exclusive pair of Jordans (see Dilly Dilly, Mango Milkshake IPA, and Hype Towel for reference). Their latest sprint-to-the-liquor-store beer is Shook Pineapple, a Denali-hopped milkshake IPA brewed with vanilla bean and real pineapple. Shook Pineapple is a frothy, dessert-y bastard that debuted earlier this year in the taproom, but now you can pick it up in highlighter-pink tallboys all around the city. Be wary, though: Your liquor store is probably already running low on this softer-than-satin indulgence of a beer.
Fair State Mirror Universe
IPA, 7% ABV, 33 IBU
Fair State is also turning a taproom hit into a tallboy with the release of their haze bomb, Mirror Universe, on March 13. Following the success of their Modern Times collaboration Spirit Foul, Fair State decided to in-house the haze and add lupulin powder, creating the Star Trek-inspired Mirror Universe. Savvy taphunters may have tried the imperial Interphasic Shift version, and Fair State co-owner Matt Hauck says a new variant with grapefruit, Transponder Malfunction, will hit shelves Thursday, but the pineapple-scented original is still where it’s at. Mirror universe pours an almost iridescent gold and is one of the most sessionable hazy IPAs—not for its ABV, which is still no joke at 7%—but for its simple, repeatable finish.
612 Cloud Wars
Hefeweizen, 5.3% ABV, 10 IBU
612Brew just celebrated five years, but 2018 is an inflection point for the Northeast stalwart. New head brewer Austin Myhran is focusing on improving the brewery’s reputation amongst an increasingly discerning craft beer crowd, and his fifth anniversary cypress-aged white IPA was a start, but the next release they’re staking their reclamation on is the can release of Cloud Wars—their Sorachi Ace dry-hopped hefe. Cloud Wars pours with a gauzy pillow on top, giving off big whiffs of lemon. The beer itself is dreamily soft, like all wheat beers should be, but there isn’t a ton of yeasty herb flavor clouding the palette. It’s a gentle place to land should you happen to find yourself in the 612 taproom, but look for cans of this beaut in liquor stores starting March 20.
Schell’s Citra Blanc
Lager, 6.7% ABV, 44 IBU
Through tides and trends, Schell’s has endured by doing what it’s always done: making superlative beers by style. It might not buy you much fealty these days, but their new Citra Blanc shows that the New Ulm classicists can hang with the anti-style crowd. Citra Blanc is an India pale lager that leads with citra hops and a distinct lemon scent. But it’s the classic German Hallertau hops that drives the beer, with bright, Bavarian flavor. For those who are tired of the palate-dominating IPAs on the market, Citra Blanc is the way to have your hop serving without going into New England overload.
Brewers interested in being featured in Local Suds should email [email protected]