The Minnesota State Fair. The Great Minnesota Get Together. One of the best beer parties in the state.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild brought their Land of 10,000 Beers to the agriculture/horticulture building six years ago, putting craft beer on even footing with barnyard animals and buckets of cookies. It may seem silly or insignificant, but giving craft beer such a big footprint at Minnesota’s biggest family event has helped destigmatize beer in the minds of Gopher Staters.
This year, they’re hosting 300 beers from 70 local breweries, serving in responsible 5-ounce pours. If you stop by this weekend, you’ll see dads with sleeping toddlers strapped to their backs splitting a flight with a grandma in a Bingo visor. And you won’t bat a lash.
Boom Island Oude Funk
Sour ale, 4.8% ABV, pH: 3.2
Boom Island owner/brewer Kevin Welch doesn’t want to call the 2017 release of Oude Funk a Lambic. It’s a Lambic-style sour ale, but since it was made in Northeast Minneapolis and not the Pajottenland region of Belgium, he can’t responsibly use the word “Lambic.” It’s not even on the label of Oude Funk. That’s how deep his appreciation for classic Belgian styles is.
Oude Funk -- which was first released in 2015 -- is a blend of three different spontaneously fermented ales aged in Bordeaux barrels for one, three, or five years before bottling. There are over 100 living microbes in the beer, creating an incredible, complex sour beer. With fruit and funk that’s layers deeper than most Lacto-centric kettle sours on the market. Welch calls Oude Funk “the pride of Boom Island,” and only 1,000 bottles were made available. If you miss out, don’t fret -- they have a raspberry framboise out in September and peach and cranberry variations of sour ales coming out in the months following.
Bent Brewstillery Campo
Sour ale, 6% ABV, 35 IBU
Roseville’s Bent Brewstillery has long led the way with their Funked Up spontaneously fermented series. It’s been a spotless run (highlighted by Salinity, the 12th in the series) that’s now reached its 30th iteration -- a fruity sour ale that bears the markings of Minnesota in every element of the brew.
Campo is made with St. Croix Marquette grapes that are hand-crushed and added to the wort. The malt bill is all Minnesotan, as are the hops, and even the fermenting microflora have a foolio accent. Upon opening, the bottle explodes with a champagne scent that quickly erupts into a bouquet of fruit -- first berry then grape then bitter orange. It’s a brilliant way to bring the Funked Up series back home. Campo was a limited batch though, so it might be gone from liquor stores already. Your best bet is to head to the Roseville taproom and try your luck.
Modist False Pattern
Pale ale, 5.5% ABV, XX IBU
Remember TOATS, the 65% oat pale ale that Modist opened their doors with back in 2016? Well, because of a copyright dispute, that beer took a hiatus from the market in February, only to return on August 16 in tallboy cans, rechristened False Pattern. The name is a nod to Modist’s impossible logo, marking a celebratory return for the prodigal flagship pale ale.
The beer is as smooth as ever, and big ups go to Modist’s revolutionary mash filter for that. Soft on the palette and overrunning with floral hops, it’s nothing like what you’d expect out of a wheat beer. The beer also sports the Brewer’s Association’s Independent Craft Brewer certification, one of the first in a wave for Minnesota breweries.
Fair State Barrel-Aged Du Pounde
Saison, 5.3% ABV, 25 IBU
We talked about Du Pounde, Fair State’s tailgater saison, this time last year. Back then, I called the beer “exceptionally clean,” and I still stand by that, but in celebration of the beer’s first birthday, they river-spanning co-op brewery has released a barrel-aged version of Du Pounde that challenges everything we’ve ever know about the year-round tallboy.
The beer pours amulet gold that undersells its Sour Patch Kid pucker. There’s plenty of funk and oakiness from the barrel, but it’s really the sourness that sells the beer. It’s potent enough to turn your salival to boat caulk (in the best possible way). Get it in the taproom or in 750 mL bottle while supplies last.
Lakes & Legends Cool for the Summer
Saison, 5.8% ABV, 27 IBU
You know how at hip office buildings they have coolers full of water accented with mint and cucumber? Well, now Loring Park brewers Lakes & Legends have upscaled that refreshing experience into a beer. Tagged with the Lana-rific name Cool for the Summer, this newcomer-friendly beer embodies the saison spirit in the sheer number of flavors it includes. In alternating sips, you get bursts of aloe, honeydew, and cantaloupe.
You’d bathe in the beer if you could, and it’d probably be good for your pores. Cool for the Summer is a continuation of Lakes & Legends’ ongoing Farm Series, with cukes coming from Costa Farm and locally picked mint. Also look out for the return of their Sweet Corn Summer Ale at O’Gara’s at the State Fair.
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