The ongoing craft beer craze has bestowed a new nickname on Minnesota: The Land of 10,000 IPAs. The good news is that Minnesota breweries make a lot more than IPA. The better news is that there are a lot of breweries. Here are some of the state’s best.
Lift Bridge has managed to wiggle its way across the palates and into the hearts of beer lovers across the state. With its stalwart IPA, Hop Dish, and the ever-smooth Farm Girl, a Belgian Saison, Lift Bridge quickly found itself on the taps of taverns and the shelves of liquor stores throughout Minnesota. Every year, its limited-release Russian Imperial Stout, Silhouette, knocks the socks off critics (a perfect 100 from BeerAdvocate) and breaks the hearts of all the folks who can’t lay their hands on a case.
While it’s not the biggest brewery in Minnesota, it’s been the one with the biggest impact. The “Surly Law” allowed for expanded retail beer sales and distribution, opening the door for smaller brewers to enter the market. The reason behind the Surly Law? Demand for its beers, especially Furious and Bender, exceeded supply. Bars and liquor stores were frequently out and beer fans were, well, surly.
Using clean and chilly Lake Superior water to brew its beers, Bent Paddle is by far the most respected small brewery outside of the Twin Cities. Founded in 2013, this young upstart burst onto the Minnesota beer scene with authority. Bent Paddle is best known for its IPAs, but with its small, 30-barrel batches, the brewery is able to produce a wide variety of beers to keep suds drinkers happy throughout the year.
If you’re in Minnesota and someone offers you a Lonely Blonde, they're most likely referring to Fulton’s popular American blonde ale. And nothing else. Fulton is the classic craft beer success story. It began as a home-brewing project in a South Minneapolis garage, and now it’s one of the better-selling breweries in the state. It’s North Loop brewery is just east of Target Field and a popular stop before Twins games.
With its flagship EPA on many national “Best of” lists, longtime Minnesota standout Summit Brewing had an edge on the craft beer movement before it even started moving. Although they’ve been competing with the big boys for years, Summit has not rested on its laurels during the beer boom. Rather, they’ve expanded their roster and added new brews, like Saga IPA, to their lineup to let the young upstarts know they still got game.
One of the flagship Nordeast breweries, Indeed has caught on with beer drinkers and bars, alike. Their Day Tripper pale ale is beloved throughout the state, and their 6.8 percent ABV IPA, Let It Ride, is a favorite with critics and sippers, alike. Indeed is also a crowd pleaser with its numerous annual events.
While it hasn’t taken off in the same way that some of its local rivals have, Saint Paul Brewing has become a beloved St. Paul institution. Although they live in the shadow of the much larger Summit Brewing, Saint Paul Brewing manages to put their beers at the center of many of St. Paul’s biggest events, like the Winter Carnival and the many capitol city road races.
With its experimentation in and refinement of classic German brewing styles, Bauhaus Brew Labs in Northeast Minneapolis has established itself as a must-stop on the Minnesota beer circuit. Their Hot Tropic Czech pilsner and Sky-Ten! Double IPA are crowd-pleasing favorites.
It may be strange to think that the oldest and largest brewery in Minnesota makes some of the state’s best beers, but it does. It’s flagship Grain Belt lager, the go-to cheap brew for generations of Minnesotans, makes the money so brewmasters can concentrate on small masterpieces like Star of the North, a Berlin-style wheat beer.
Dangerous Man Brewing Company is housed in a space that was once a bank, and today is a thriving brewery. This Minneapolis hot spot serves up greats like a peanut butter porter with flavors of peanut butter, chocolate, and hints of coffee and toast. Their citrusy house IPA is a classic, as well!