Summer is slipping through our grasp like so many grains of sand at an E. coli-infested beach. I hope you’ve been making the most of the warm, absolutely rainless weather by drinking good beer in the sunshine. I know I have.
It may feel too late to declare a definitive Summer Beer in the final Doin’ Beers of Summer '22, but this month’s roundup contains what I consider to be one of the god-tier vernal sippers in Minnesota’s craft beer history. Hopefully it’ll come back next May, because I can’t imagine going another Memorial Day weekend without a four-pack of this one in my fridge.
Wanna know what it is? Keep reading, and learn about four others that you can break out whatever the weather. We’re doin’ beers.
Modist Mother Cactus Sour Ale, 4.8% ABV, n/a IBU
Mother Co., Plants in Northeast is one of those hidden gems Twin Citians in the know adore. Renowned for an expansive and eclectic cactus collection, the plant shop is a natural collaborator for any brewery given the prevalence of prickly pear as an adjunct. Even so, Modist’s team up with Mother, Mother Cactus, takes that simple idea and adds layers of Southwestern flavor.
Mother Cactus is like an elevated margarita, with blue agave nectar, prickly pear, and lime making up the forefront of the flavor profile. But a pleasant addition of smoked malt adds some intrigue to the mix. Suddenly, this sour little pink drink is a much more complex cocktail—something befitting the upscale horticulture it represents.
Lupulin x Zilker Why Is It So Cold? Cold IPA, 7% ABV, n/a IBU
Hard to believe the Craft Brewers Conference was already three months ago. I'm still catching up on all the great collaboration beers that were released around that time, and when I saw Lupulin's team-up with Austin's Zilker on the shelf at South Lyndale Liquors, I had to grab it. Part of a six-part Yakima Chief Hops collaboration between Minnesota breweries and various beer makers around the country, this Cold IPA is a little more bitterness-forward than the emergent (and controversial) style typically is. Big melon notes come out of the nose, but the sip finishes with a hard, resinous bite. Lupulin is certainly capable of making a less aggressive beer, but when you're messing around with your Texas friends, of course you go bigger.
Lift Bridge Your Car's Extended Warranty Double IPA, 7.2% ABV, n/a IBU
Lift Bridge seems like they’re having fun. Not only are they opening Wisconsin breweries left and right, they’ve been experimenting with more off-the-wall offerings in the Minnesota market. It started with Understanding Computers, a blueberry double dry-hopped NE IPA released back in April. That release came with a fun Y2K-era marketing campaign, and with Your Car’s Extended Warranty, it looks like the Stillwater brewery is keeping with the technophobia and hype IPA combo.
Your Car’s Extended Warranty is souped up with Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy hops, a pretty standard cocktail of hops for any IPA, but Lift Bridge makes it feel lively. A pithy grapefruit aroma leaps out of the beer, but it’s nicely countered with some deep dankness. Is it a scam? Can Lift Bridge truly be behind this impeccable hazy IPA? Believe it.
Fulton NA Lonely Blonde Non-alcoholic Blonde Ale, 0.5% ABV, 29 IBU
Lonely Blonde has come a long way since 2010, when it launched as the only Blonde Ale made in Minnesota. Despite the fairly misogynistic name, the beer established itself as one of the quintessential Minnesota brews, and over the years, Fulton have built it out into a whole line of beers, featuring grapefruit, strawberry, lime and salt, and tropical (passion fruit, orange, and guava) variations. But the most intriguing line extension came this month when the Downtown Minneapolis beermakers put their ABV Technology de-alcoholizer to work on their flagship and made NA Lonely Blonde.
Because of the way the de-alcoholizer works, the beer tastes totally uncompromised, its alcoholic element vacuumed out and repurposed as hard seltzer, leaving that classic, crisp Lonely Blonde with barely a noticeable scar. A perfect knockbacker, this one is at home in any beer fridge that needs balance.
Indeed Haul In Sea Salt Lemon Lager, 5.2% ABV, 10 IBU
I grew up on Massachusetts’s South Shore drinking Narragansett. Whether it was their classic lager, their shandy made with Del’s frozen lemonade, or their Fresh Catch dry-hopped blonde, I was drinking them on the beach, soaking in the ocean. Perhaps that’s why Indeed’s Haul In resonates so deeply with me. The can looks like something the Gansett folks would’ve drawn up, but more than that, the sea-salt-infused lemon lager just tastes like summers out on the waterfront.
This is the Beer of the Summer, folks. Made especially for New England-style seafood restaurant Smack Shack, it's a beer for washing down fried clam bellies and lobster tails. As a native New Englander, I'm a harsh critic of anything coming out of Minnesota claiming Bay State heritage, but this little beauty would be at home on any beach from Rhode Island to Maine.