At this point in the Minnesota State Fair’s history, the new drinks list might just be more anticipated than the new foods.
It certainly is longer.
With 53 brand-new beers, wines and drinks to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to try them all (though a merry band of us will attempt to do just that early next week).
So I’m here to offer you the 10 that I’m most excited to try as someone who knows the local beer scene — and the trends within it — well.
This year’s list, like last year’s, is heavy on fruity and sweet beers and drinks, and while I understand novelty is the name of the game here, I really do wish there were more pilsners and straight-up IPAs on the list.
With that said, in no particular order, here are my picks:
1. Berry Go Round Sour: A mixed-culture Berliner Weise aged for more than a year in 80-year-old cypress wood layering tanks before being refermented on raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. (August Schell Brewing Co.; available at LuLu’s Public House, at West End Market, south of the Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater)
2. Coco-Lime Wit: This summer sipper is a blend of lime- and coconut-infused witbier and tart wheat beer. (Fair State Brewing Cooperative; at Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street, at The North Woods)
3. Crop Duster Lager: An American lager made with real corn. (Fair State Brewing Cooperative; at The Hangar, located on the northeast corner of Murphy Avenue and Underwood Street at the North End)
4. Elderflower Wheat Ale: A showcase of Minnesota-grown ingredients, this ale pairs locally grown wheat with Triple Pearl hops from Mighty Axe Hops Farm for a soft melon and sweet citrus flavor. (Able Seedhouse + Brewery; at Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues, outside The Garden)
5. Four Seam Screamer: This West Coast-inspired IPA was brewed with the help of former Minnesota Twins All-Star pitcher Glen Perkins. It delivers hop flavor, with tropical notes of orange, mango and pineapple. (Surly Brewing Company; at Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues, outside The Garden)
6. Kirby Pucker #34 Arnie Palmer: This third in a series of State Fair exclusives is brewed with loose-leaf tea, lemon zest and lemon juice with a hint of sweetness. (Eastlake Craft Brewery; at Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues, outside The Garden)
7. Mini-Sotan IPA: American-style IPA features a new experimental hop and Cascade hops, along with a complex blend of British, American and German malts. The result showcases a golden color with intense aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and apricot. (Summit Brewing Co., proud sponsor of the International Bazaar Stage; at Shanghaied Henri’s and the Summit Booth, located at the International Bazaar)
8. MN Brew Together Orange Dreamsicle IPA: Orange Dreamsicle-style IPA is brewed with Minnesota barley and wheat malt, a bit of milk sugar and vanilla bean, then dry-hopped with Lotus and Citra cryo hops. (Brewed as a collaboration between Modist Brewing Co. and Barrel Theory Beer Company; at Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues, outside The Garden)
9. People Watcher: Medium-bodied dry pilsner features notes of grapefruit and orange. (Finnegans Brew Co.; at Aldo’s, Sabino’s, Swine & Spuds and Snack House, located in the Warner Coliseum)
10. Toasted Pumpkin Seed Ale: A traditional lager with a toasty, roasty pumpkin seed flavor. (Third Street Brewhouse; Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street, at The North Woods)