March is a busy month for breweries.
Between the St. Patrick's Day special releases and the jump from winter to spring seasonals, there's a lot rotating through the brew tanks. It's a nice reminder of just how productive and imaginative the brewing scene is here; this list could be 20 items long, and it'd still cover only a small percentage of March's offerings.
We narrowed the options down to these five beers:
Summit Unchained Us and Them
American IPA, 7.2% ABV, 90 IBU/Session IPA, 4.2% ABV, 55 IBU
Billed as "a two-thread experience," the 21st entry in Summit's highly touted Unchained Series is actually a pairing of brews that kicks off the St. Paul brewery's 30th anniversary. Released in late February, Unchained 21 covers the spectrum of the ostentatiously popular IPA. Based off the Saga IPA recipe, the two brews — a session IPA and an American IPA — are twins separated at wort. Both beers are the brainchild of brewer Gabe Smoley, and both use the same grist to greatly different ends. The session IPA is light and crisp, showcasing the clean taste of citra hops, whereas the American IPA has a much stouter alcohol taste and a deep malt body, showcasing New Zealand hops. Unchained Us and Them is available in mixed six packs and is best enjoyed two at a time.
Urban Growler Maibock
Maibock, 6.8% ABV, 26 IBU
Urban Growler has a lot going on. Between releasing gads of beer this February/March — including a barleywine, chai porter, apple saison, and oatmeal stout (out on St. Paddy's day) — and a planned expansion for October, the St. Paul brewery is running at full sprint these days. But that doesn't mean they don't have time to enjoy the progress they've already made. This week will see the release of Urban Growler's spring fest beer, the carefully malted Maibock. Served in a dimpled stein, this German-style beer (also known as a helles bock) is lagered over the winter in preparation for the coming of spring. With a frothy head and a pale finish, Urban Growler's take on the Bavarian classic calls for a prost to the brewery's achievements thus far as well as those to come in 2016.
Double IPA, 9% ABV, 99 IBU
LynLake Brewery has easily the best outdoor drinking space of all the breweries in Minneapolis. The Uptown rooftop calls for refreshing spring beers to be enjoyed in the sun, and they've begun to unveil their thaw-welcoming program with Mos'Citra, which has been on tap since early March. Mos'Citra is a candy-tasting double IPA that still washes out with plenty of grass. Its unfiltered, orange-ish body and stubborn, frothy lacing betray the high alcohol volume, but the taste does not. Mos'Citra is a perfect beer for happy hour on Lyndale as soon as sweater weather officially resumes.
Lift Bridge Brotherhood
American lager, 4.5% ABV, 15 IBU
The popularity of 93x's Half-Assed Morning show has spawned a cult following known as the Brotherhood, and they hand-picked Stillwater's Lift Bridge to make the perfect beer for their audience. Due out on March 12, Brotherhood is billed as a "smooth-ass beer" (not to be confused with Wisconsin's Good Ass Beer, which is bad). Lift Bridge brewers confess that there isn't really an adequate genre signifier for the beer, but it falls pretty closely to the adjunct lager category. With a utilitarian drinkability and a light body, it's a great addition to Minnesota's already proud line of tallboys. Proceeds from the sale of Brotherhood benefit the Minnesota Military Families Fund, so you can feel good about drinking this pounder of old-fashioned suds. Also try the brewery's Irish Coffee Stout, which was released March 5 and should be available through spring.
Red ale, 4.1% ABV, 26 IBU
In Irish, "rua" means "copper-colored" or "red-haired," so Omni Brewing brewing Zack Ward named his red ale Rua. But the cheekiness doesn't stop there. He also added fresh ginger to the whirlpool, a hat-tip to his carrot-topped friends who'll be celebrating St. Paddy's Day with the Maple Grove brewery. The ginger adds a lightness to the normally overly sweet malt of the red ale, and the herb lingers after a swallow. In Ward's original homebrew, he also added candied ginger, but going all-fresh has allowed him to make Rua a refreshing pour he hopes to have every year from spring to summer. Rua is out in the Omni taproom starting March 16.