There are just too many damn beers being released in Minnesota to keep up with them all. But that doesn't mean we can't try.
That's the spirit of Local Suds, a roundup of Minnesota beers that are new to the market and worth getting your hands on. This is just a sliver of the diversity and creativity in the Minnesota brewing scene, but it's a good start.
Finnegans Hoppy Shepherd
Session ale, 4.6% ABV, 50 IBU
It's rare to see a new beer from Summit-contracted charity brewery Finnegans, which makes the release of Hoppy Shepherd all the more exciting. Debuting tomorrow in liquor stores, Hoppy Shepherd joins Irish Amber as their second full-time offering (Blonde is currently on hiatus). Aside from the "liquid karma" you get from drinking a Finnegans (100% of profits go to charity), the beer itself is an uplifting drink. There's a tickling lightness to the body that washes down with a definitive scotch malt sensibility. Hoppy Shepherd is made for volume drinking, thus the manageable ABV, but what makes that possible are the aromas of apricot and tangerine that precede the beer, making the next sip a tantalizing prospect. Hoppy Shepherd can be found at Burger Jones, Applebee's (Blaine), Uptown VFW, Cuzzy's (Chaska), Morrissey's, and on Concourse G of the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport as of February 11.
Bad Weather S.M.A.S.H. IPA
IPA, 6.3% ABV, 70 IBU
The second in Bad Weather's S.M.A.S.H. (single malt, single hop) series debuted February 5 at the St. Paul taproom. S.M.A.S.H. IPA features the same malt profile as its predecessor the S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale, but it was built to glorify the chinook hops it uses. Not unlike the brewery's Hopromancer, S.M.A.S.H. IPA is a potent palate eraser. Pouring cloudy and nearly orange, it's a thick, aromatic drink much in the tradition of the American go-big-or-go-home IPA. It's sure to be a favorite of IBU chasers, but it still possesses a caramel sweetness. Co-founder Joe Giambruno doesn't know how long the chinook IPA will last on tap, but he did say three new beers will be introduced in the taproom this week, so you basically can't lose.
Bent Brewstillery Salinity
Gose, 4.7 ABV, N/A IBU
Roseville's Bent Brewstillery is kind of running roughshod on their Funked Up series right now. The combination brewery/distillery has Berried Gose, Brett Bavaria, Hay Lee's Comet, and Salinity all on the market in various stages, with Currantly Cherry set to debut this month. But the series' 12th entry, the Salinity gose, is by far the most exciting offering in the line. Based on an ancient German-style sour beer made with salt, goses are making a comeback in popularity, and Salinity is the best Minnesota gose recipe on the market right now. It pours incredibly cloudy — like crushed apple cider — with a good deal of sediment at the end, making for a particularly thick drink. But the flavor profile is complex. There are gads of fruit, all submersed in the surprisingly refreshing saltiness of the beer. There are kegs at the taproom waiting to be tapped, but other than that, only a few of these bottles will be at retailers, so act fast.
Boom Island Django
Hop bier, 6% ABV, 37 IBU
The American obsession for big, bitter IPAs has made its way to Europe, and the Belgians have responded in kind with the hop bier — a traditional cloudy blonde that's respectfully hopped. In the tradition of the tradition-defying Boom Island Brewing, Django is a hop bier that draws influence from America and Belgium as well as New Zealand, incorporating wai-iti hops from the Land of the Long White Cloud. The name Django is an homage to Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who was a source of inspiration for the Boom Island crew as they were subverting and improvising the pedigree of their new year-round offering. Boom Island will be celebrating the release of Django (which can be found in some liquor stores already) on Saturday, February 20. Jazz will (of course) be played in the evening.
Bauhaus Über Düber
Imperial sparkling ale, 8% ABV, 65 IBU
Northeast crafthouse Bauhaus Brew Labs is known for easy-drinkin', sessionable beers, but that all gets thrown out in the Über Düber series, which emphasizes "big and funky" brews. Last year saw the release of a hoppy bock, but 2016's offering is a total departure from conventional beer classifications. Bauhaus calls it "an effervescent, golden daydream inspired by the land down under." Inspired by Australia's Cooper's Pale Ale, Über Düber is effervescent and features a bevy of very latent fruit notes. It's also a seeming oxymoron — the signifier "imperial" often denotes harsh tones of alcohol and wood, but Über Düber is deceptively smooth, finishing with brewery-trademark crispness and a clear, easy paleness that'd lead you to believe you were drinking a beer with half the ABV. You can find the Oz-inspired Über Düber in liquor stores in 22-ounce bottles and on tap at the brewery in 12-ounce pours.