My Wife and I Tried Six New State Fair Beers — Here’s What We Thought
If ever there was a time to splurge, it's at the Minnesota State Fair.
From pepperoni chips and smoked ice cream to honey cream soda floats and funnel cake cream ale beer -- and everything (un)imaginable in-between -- there's no shortage of new foods and drinks to try at the Great Get Together.
My wife and I made our annual trip to the State Fair this past Friday evening, and while there were certainly some foods we were looking forward to trying -- the Nordic Waffles didn't disappoint, and the fried cookie-dough was to die for -- what we were really excited for were some of the new beers available.
With 27 new beers brewed specifically for the State Fair -- and some 13 from previous Fairs brought back -- trying them all ourselves was impossible. So we chose some that sounded most interesting to us and -- over the course of the night -- sampled six. Here's what we thought:
1. Bad Weather’s Spumoni Tsunami
My wife was especially excited about this one. Brewed by one of our favorite St. Paul breweries (Bad Weather) and inspired by Italian gelato, this lager was described as being infused with strawberries and vanilla with a pistachio garnish. Sounds delicious, right?! Personally, we didn't detect the the strawberry or vanilla; it was more like a juicy, fruit punch that didn't do much for us. We did enjoy garnish around the rim, though!
We gave this one a 3 out of 5.
2. The Freehouse’s LimeLight
To be honest, we hadn't necessarily been looking forward to this one from The Freehouse in Minneapolis and sort of tried it on a whim. But LimeLight proved to be one of our favorite new beers at the whole State Fair! This one's described as "crisp and refreshing...with a citrusy punch of lime and a hint of sea salt." It was definitely all those things and absolutely delicious -- light, refreshing, and the perfect balance of lime and sea salt.
We loved this one and gave it a 5 out of 5.
3. Excelsior Brewing’s S’mores Beer
Part of the fun of the State Fair is the gimmicky foods and drinks -- the really bizarre combinations that for some reason just work (or don't) because it's the State Fair. I'm a sucker for gimmicky stuff, and so when I saw a s'mores beer by Excelsior Brewing, I knew I needed to try it. Turns out, maybe I didn't. While the notes of chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow and even smoke were there, I thought they could have been more pronounced. As it was, the beer wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped it would be. Like the Spumoni Tsunami, though, the garnish -- chocolate and graham crackers -- around the rim was fun!
We gave this one a 3 out of 5
4. Beaver Island’s Uffda Ale
If there was a beer at the Minnesota State Fair we were most looking forward to, it was Beaver Island's Uffda Ale. And can you blame us -- named the "Most Minnesotan Beer" at the state fair by City Pages, this one had definitely been built up as a must-try beer. Sure enough, it was pretty darn Minnesotan with it's lefse chip and lingonberries floating around. While we appreciated the beer's Minnesota references, the taste didn't quite sit well for us -- whether because of the lefse chip or grains used to brew it, there was a very biscuit-y taste we found too much to finish. While we thought Beaver Island 's Uffda Ale matched the hype, it definitely left us saying "Uffda," for different reasons.
We gave this one a 3 out of 5
5. Surly’s Gaelic Dark and Stormy
By this time into the evening, we were starting to feel like we'd had enough of the crowds and tried most of what we'd come for. With enough room -- and sobriety -- for one more beer each, my wife settled on a new beer from the grandfather of Minnesota beer Surly called Gaelic Dark and Stormy. This deep golden ale is described as being "brewed with bright, citrusy lime and spicy ginger," and it definitely was! the lime and ginger were definitely noticeable, if not a little too overpowering. Maybe it's just because our stomachs were quite full by now, but the full pint of this one was just too much, and Katie regretted not getting it in a smaller size. Still, the Gaelic Dark and Stormy was true to taste and otherwise enjoyable; Katie said it was something she'd drink again outside of the State Fair.
We gave this one a 4 out of 5
6. Lakes and Legends’ St. Apple Malted Cider
For my last drink of the night, I settled on a cider by Lakes and Legends in Minneapolis. We'd previously had their Minneapple Ale in the taproom, and it's still one of the best apple cider-like beers I've ever had. So when I saw they had an apple malted cider at the fair, I knew I wanted to try it. Sure enough, it didn't disappoint! Brewed with "apple and pie spices from Minneapple Pie," this one was a perfect way to end a night at the Minnesota State Fair -- not too sweet, not too tangy but definitely apple-y, crisp and refreshing.
We gave this one a 4 out of 5.
With six different beers under our belt by the end of the night, we were pretty content with what we'd accomplished. If we'd had more time -- or if we make it back again this year -- we'd love to try some more specialty State Fair beers like the Funnel Cake Cream Ale, Dill Pickle Ale, Frozen Grain Belt Blu and Chocolate Chip Cookie Beer. You may have gathered that we found most of the gimmicky beers to be just ok; they're always going to be hit or miss, and for us they were mostly miss. Still, that's part of the fun of the State Fair -- saying you tried it.
So if you make it out to the Great Get Together this year, let me know what you try!