It’s that time of year again! The Minnesota State Fair has begun, and it’s becoming an increasingly great destination for beer lovers. In the past handful of years we’ve seen the addition of the Land of 10,000 Beers exhibit and the expanded availability of craft beers throughout the entire fair. It’s a chance for brewers to get creative and make some crazy beers that fit at the fair but wouldn’t fly year round. The Growler has a great guide to the beers available at the fair, and I got the chance to try some of them this Thursday.
The first stop was the Blue Barn for the brand new Freehouse Caramel Apple π. The name describes the beer accurately, a heavy apple and caramel taste even without the sugared rim. I’d make sure you have someone to share this with, it’s extremely sweet! If they tweak the recipe I’d recommend they try and add a little more of a sour apple taste to cut the caramel sweetness. Next I got the Lift Bridge Mini Donut beer at the Ball Park Cafe. Again, a very sweet beer aided by the cinnamon and sugar rimmed glass. The beer itself is an easy drinker with a bit of breadiness to it.
Later on, my sister informed me that Leinenkugel was having a tasting at their Leine Lodge for a portion of the afternoon. We sampled a couple of sips of the IPL and, while it was hoppy, Samantha enjoyed the taste. She usually doesn’t like IPAs and similar styles so this was interesting to hear. She then grabbed a pint of their new Harvest Patch Shandy which had a very distinct pumpkin spice flavor. It was what we expected, but it was almost too much! I’d like a little more citrus flavor to cut that sweet spiciness.
We grabbed the Brewpub flight at the Land of 10,000 beers later on that evening. This is the first year that brewpubs were allowed at the fair so I figured we’d give them our patronage. All four beers had a very unique style and flavor. They were Rock Bottom Skol Vinr! Amber, Day Block Berlinerweisse, Fitger’s Apricot Wheat, and Herkimer Eva Cöttbusser. For the last beer of the night we headed back to the Ball Park Cafe to try the LTD Sweet Dreams Pineapple Wheat. It was a great beer to end the night. It wasn’t gimmicky and the pineapple played off the wheat to make a well balanced wheat beer. It even paired well with my Hawaiian shaved ice and corn fritters.
I’m pleased that the great Minnesota get together is becoming a home for the beer lovers in the state. I see this becoming an increasing part of the state fair experience as the years progress. It’s only fitting as the craft beer culture is becoming a large part of the identity of the state, and I’m glad it’s being reflected at one of the most iconic events of the year. I would suggest tempering your usual beer expectations and jumping all into the crazy flavors that you’ll only find once a year!