If you didn’t, you should, but if you won’t, the gist is this: Things are moving pretty damn fast here in Minnesota, but there’s no reason to think that’s not a good thing. Economic hubris may well be the precursor to economic failure, but I’m 100% along for the ride here.
The local beer boom has enabled the creation of this column. The breadth of creativity and drive in the brewing scene means that I’m able to find five new beers, without fail, hitting the market every month. Now, sometimes I have to coax breweries into telling me about new beers or I have to relax the standards of “new” a bit, but still, it’s a constant source of invention in the state. And we should be very cognizant of how lucky we are for that -- instead of being suspicious of a collapse.
Angry Inch Lies in Lederhosen
Marzen, 5.7% ABV, 24 IBU
October has so far been a big month for the newly established Angry Inch Brewing. Opening their doors back on July 29, the Lakeville upstarts haven’t gotten into the swing of the seasonal beer rotation just yet, but their new super-sweet marzen has just debuted to solidify Angry Inch as the South Metro suburb’s home for Oktoberfest.
Lies in Lederhosen is syrupy and warm, pouring with a beige hazelnut head. Premiering alongside What’s Your Weiss?, the malty Oktoberfest will hold down the fall season until the brewery’s October 29 Halloween party. On that day, they’ll release Nyctophobia, an ominous black ale, heralding the end of fest season and the beginning of a long, dark winter.
Lake Monster Last Fathom
Munich lager, 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU
Marzens aren’t the only way to celebrate October. St. Paul’s Lake Monster Brewing decided to ring in the year’s biggest beer month with a different German classic -- the dunkel lager, a dark, malty beer that gets its nickname from the Bavarian city of Munich. Instead of pouring their fest beer into a tall glass stein, Lake Monster has announced a new run of cans starring the once-taproom-exclusive known as Last Fathom.
Last Fathom pours a clear brown that glints with ruby in the autumn sun. Despite its onyx body, the beer goes down crisp. There are comforting notes of toast and nut, classic fall flavors in a beer that does right by its German heritage. You can find Last Fathom, along with three other Lake Monster offerings, in cans now at liquor stores and on the concourse at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Fulton Standard Lager
Lager, 4.5% ABV, 30 IBU
If you ask any brewer what their favorite beer style is, chances are they won’t say an imperial stout or a double IPA. No, people who love beer are enchanted by simple, clean lagers that go down without too much thought. That’s why the rise of the “craft macro” (think Jack’s Abby Framingham Lager, Sixpoint’s The Crisp, or even Grain Belt Lock and Dam) is unsurprising.
Fulton’s freshly launched sub-brand Standard finally hit liquor store shelves early in October, giving the crisp-as-hell lager the package its build truly deserved. With a brassy, heavy malt body and a finish that’s clean as Bud but without all the obvious corn substitution, Standard Lager isn’t as pale or piss-yellow as a Coors or Miller but a rusty amber that almost feels nostalgic in a pint glass. It’s blue collar to the last drop.
Insight Banshee Cutter
Coffee ale, 5.5% ABV, 18 IBU
Insight Brewing’s limited-run can series beers have jumped off the shelves. The bright yellow Phantom Taxi cans were a dramatic departure from the brewery’s normal slate gray offerings, and now they’ve packaged up another taproom darling into a striking tallboy for liquor stores.
Banshee Cutter was first formulated as Golden Cutter, a biscuity pilsner, but then the brewers added Up Coffee beans and created an iconically clean coffee ale. Banshee comes in a daring orange can, and a popped top gives way to huge Ethiopian cold press aromas. You’d think you were about to take down a stout from the smell, but the first sip goes down hyper-crisp and refreshing. With 160 pounds of coffee per batch, it’s a bit of a mindfuck to crack open something so golden and clear, but such is the intoxicating skill of Insight.
Fewer than 1,000 cases of Banshee Cutter were released to liquor stores, though it’s still on tap at their Northeast taproom. Dankbot -- a fruity UPA that’s also been rescued from retirement -- will take over as the next limited can in November or December, according to head brewer Ryan Mihm.
Grand Rounds VMO
Marzen, 5.7% ABV, 14 IBU
Rochester brew pub Grand Rounds has release a slew of new beers this fall, but their Vienna marzen Oktoberfest (VMO) is the undoubted starlet. Pouring a leaf-orange with a fluffy cream foam, it’s a great toasting beer for this fest season. Incredibly sweet, the beer coats your throat and palate with German nectar, but the effervescence keeps it from being overbearing. Prost to beermakers at Grand Rounds for this malty masterpiece.
Twin Cities denizens who aren’t down for the drive to Rochester may have the chance to taste Grand Rounds within city limits soon. Their Free William collaboration with Sociable Cider Werks is on tap around Rochester, and there’s a good chance it’ll find its way to Sociable’s taproom this month. The beer/cider blend is billed as an apple scotch ale though it tastes like boozy candy apples. If you don’t trace your heritage (or beer tastes) back to Bavaria, this may be the fall beer for you.