It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since the State Fair was here—you just finished digesting 2018’s Messy Giuseppe, and there’s still a half-eaten bucket of cookies in the backseat of the car. Nonetheless, it’s back with all the Minnesotan glory you’d feel radiating off, say, a butter bust of Prince surrounded by crop art of The Revolution.
Among the State Fair-exclusive drinks are 39 new beers, seltzers, and ciders. Unfortunately, that’s too many beers for you to drink in a single visit. Fortunately, like last year, an infallible algorithm is available to help you construct your short list ... based on how Minnesotan they are.
Each beer is awarded points based on its ranking in essential Minnesota-based categories including sports references, local ingredients, use of State Fair foods, pandering to Minnesotan sensibilities, passive aggressive-ness, how many times it's been to the cabin this summer, and other categories our lawyers have censored because this algorithm is proprietary. Here’s the algorithm’s absolutely true, never arbitrary ranking.
Yeah, No, They’re Just Not Really Minnesotan
39. Orange Push Pop (Fulton)
Look, Fulton is great and a pale ale with citrus and tropical notes, orange cream, lactose, and its rim covered in “zesty orange sugar” doesn’t sound bad at all. However, the algorithm realizes how easy it is to dress up an orange Flintstones Push-Up like a melty presidential puppet. Last place.
38- 33. Cherry Passion Fruit Tart Ale and Summer Luv’n Orange IPA (Bent Paddle) / Mango Medusa and Onsie, Twosie LuLu Lucky (Surly) / Mango Star (Fulton) / Prickly Pear IPA (Fulton)
Passion? Tart? Blood? Medusa? Prickly? Luv’n? Surly describing a beer as having “a soft pillowy body”? I mean, the algorithm is gettin’ the vapors. Take your sinner’s delight elsewhere. This is a wholesome family affair. Why, just ask that shirtless fellow tossing his deep-fried lunch into a garbage can over yonder…
32. Peaches & Cream Ale (Castle Danger)
This is a step up on the devil juice above. It’s not too Minnesotan, but at least there’s nothing sexual you could say about Peaches and Cream Ale. Plus, who doesn’t love Castle Danger’s Cream Ale. [peach emoji] [peach emoji] Timothee Chalamet.
31. Berry Manilow (Utepils)
Okay. We’re stretching if we pretend there’s much Minnesotan here other than that one aunt of yours who probably lives somewhere like Jordan and has never stopped loving Barry Manilow after seeing him on Broadway once. What a voice! Still, it’s higher than the bottom of the barrel because that’s some solid pun work and the algorithm loves puns.
30. Lemon Meringue Pie Ale (Lupulin)
Oh, sure, we’d eat a slice of this blonde ale. But this here is bars country. Come back when you’ve got some Scotcheroos.
Admittedly, It’s a Stretch
29- 27. Berry Go Round Seltzer (Schell’s) / Cherry Firework Hard Seltzer (Lift Bridge) / Very Berry Frozen Hard Seltzer (The Freehouse)
The seltzer revolution has arrived at the State Fair. You know why seltzer are getting a bump here? Because it’s fun to watch your uncle hide how much he likes them while he drinks them all day at the cabin. It’s fine, Uncle Al. It’s fine. Everyone likes them. Stop putting it in a koozie and pretending you’re drinking something else. The skinny can is giving you away.
26 - 25. Honey Bee Lavender Honey Mead and Sparkling Honey Hive (both Sociable Cider Werks)
Look, the category says it’s a stretch, right? Bees. Mead. Lavender. It kinda seems a little outdoorsy. The algorithm has spoken.
24. Leinenkugel’s Hefeweizen (Leinenkugel)
No real logic here. It feels like a classic beer from a brand that was in the fridge when you were growing up. The sort of beer you’d end up with when hoping to steal Schnapps from the unfinished room in the basement that looked like a shrine to the Twins. There was never any Schnapps and you’d settle for beer… every time.
Oh Geez, Cousin Mindy From Io-wah Would Love That
21-18. Rosa Fresca (Indeed) / Sideshow Spritzer (Surly) / Slushy LuLu Limoncello (Sociable Cider Werks) / Coco-Lime Wit (Fair State)
All of these are drinks you can imagine enjoying on a dock up at the lake as loon calls fill the air. Aaaa-oooooo (The algorithm’s loon call is a work in progress, okay?) Lakes don’t exclusively exist in Minnesota, but when you think about it, you kinda believe that don’t you? The first is Indeed’s Mexican Honey Light dressed up with hibiscus and lime. Surly’s is a light sparkling lager with passion fruit and mango. The Coco-Lime Wit is self-explanatory, while Sociable’s made a Limoncello-style slushie from their Road Rash Shandy with lemon. Ja, these are some real cabin sippers.
17. Canoe Paddler Kölsch (Leinenkugel)
You can canoe in any state. I hear you could even do it in the ocean, but I wouldn’t know. It’s saltier than grandma’s Thanksgiving ham out there and that’s just too salty for me. Anyhow, the only good canoeing in the country is in the Boundary Waters. Points.
16. Crop Duster Lager (Fair State)
As the classic children’s book says, everybody farts. It’s not just a Minnesotan thing, so it probably shouldn’t be here. But it turns out the algorithm loves giggling about farts.
15-14. Lemon Drop Shandy (Tin Whiskers) / The Shandlot Mixed Berry Shandy (Bauhaus)
Shandy is a German invention. However, the algorithm is handing out points on two accounts. 1) German immigrants shaped early beer culture here. 2) The shandy revival in the U.S. came out of Wisconsin and that’s one of Minnesota’s earmuffs.
13. People Watcher (Finnegans)
There’s nothing better at the Great Minnesota Get Together than people-watching. The algorithm hates to lean too hard on a beer’s name, but drinking this pilsner on a bench as humans do their thing sounds like a swell use of time.
12. Cotton Candy Milkshake IPA (Big Wood)
Deep-fried foods seem like the quintessential State Fair food but think about it: You eat deep-fried shit all the time. Cotton Candy, though? Now there’s a State Fair-only food. You don’t go to Culvers and ask for a side of cotton candy with your butter burger.
11. Cotton Candy Cream Ale (Lupulin)
Cotton Candy Cream Ale comes out slightly ahead here. It’s only available in the Grandstand with tickets to a concert. Tucking it away to passive-aggressively keep it for yourself is a pretty Minnesotan move. Points.
10. Funnel Cloud F2 Ale (Bad Weather)
Cotton candy is the quintessential State Fair food? Wait… What’s that? Oh, god, that’s Funnel Cake’s music.
9. Mighty Magenta Dragon Fruit IPA (Bent Brewstillery)
On the surface, you might think the algorithm ranked this a little high. Look at the description. “Exotic dragon fruit” and “juicy New World hops”? Nothing Minnesotan about that. Then, boom, it hits you like you just realized the song on the radio is The Replacements. It’s made with 100 percent Minnesota malts and crafted by two State Fair homebrew blue-ribbon winners. Don’t be surprised if the little carbonation bubbles say Ope! when they pop.
They Get Upset When Reminded Mary Tyler Moore Never Actually Lived Here
8. Kirby Pucker #34 Arnie Palmer (Eastlake)
In spite of reminding us of the dark side of a once-loved figure, this third in Eastlake’s State Fair exclusive series means getting a Kirby is now officially a State Fair tradition. (Cindy where are you going? I’m getting a Kirby!)
7. Mini-Sotan IPA (Summit)
You think you can pander to us by putting Minnesota in the name and we’ll accept that? You might as well name it Kent Hrbek Wore Red Wing Shoes to the State Hockey Tournament but Was Late Because He Was “Up North” IPA. Jk. The algorithm loves it. This is the State Fair, not some hoity-toity Andrew Zimmern food hall. Points, dammit.
6. Elderflower Wheat Ale (Able)
Unlike grandma’s marshmallow salad, this wheat ale is made with all-Minnesotan ingredients. It’s so Minnesotan it has a tattoo of Walter Mondale on its inner thigh.
5. MN Haze (Lakes & Legends)
A Minnesota-grown hazy IPA? Yup. And it has a name that invites you to imagine what a Minnesota haze might be. The fog produced by one too many Greenies? The euphoria of reminiscing about what Uptown used to be like? A parking lot full of Trampled By Turtles fans?
4. Four Seam Screamer (Surly)
This almost got docked for being a West Coast IPA, but Surly brewed it with the help of former Twins pitcher Glen Perkins. Pandering to the algorithm? Yes. Do we care? No. This beer never forgot the glory days of Gov. The Body.
3. The Great Minnesota Handshake (Indeed and The Freehouse)
For the top of the list, it was a close call between the next two and this cream ale with strawberry and vanilla. To break the deadlock, the algorithm Googled Minnesota Handshake. (Do not Google that.) The cream ale with strawberry and vanilla (somehow) recovered and still makes the top three.
2. MN Brew Together Orange Dreamsicle IPA (Modist and Barrel Theory)
Even if Klobuchar won’t say it, we will: the Minnesota State Fair is the best state fair. We’ll take all the indulging the home team we can get. Plus, this was made with barley and wheat malt from Minnesota.
1. Great Minnesota Citra-gether IPA (612Brew)
Holy pandering to the algorithm. It’s not just a great name with a pseudo-pun. It’s a sessionable beer, perfect for strolling Dan Patch Avenue while sweating out those cheesy Sriracha funnel cake bites. This beer is so Minnesotan it can tell you the total number Ts and Ns in the combined names of Josh Hartnett and Seann William Scott without pausing to count.