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Food & Drink

Doin’ Beers: 5 Minnesota Beers to Drink in August

This month, we're at wit's end.

All photos by Nissa Mitchell|

Shiny!

When was the last time you had a wheat beer? Think about it. Yesterday? Last week? Within the last month? Maybe… maybe it’s been more than a month? How does that make you feel?

Wheat beers in the U.S. had their *cough* hay-day *cough* nearly 15 years ago. In those days, you’d meet someone at a party, they’d hear you were into beer, and then they’d profess their love for Blue Moon and you’d have to figure out how to leave the party as quickly as possible. Almost every brewery had at least one wheat beer back then, and a lot of them were pretty good, actually. Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon is still a favorite. However, while many “big-name” craft breweries kept making their wheat beers, a lot of smaller breweries just… moved on. Wheat beers became passé. Sure, we had the gose trend, and occasional hot-flashes of Berliner weisse and wit, but wheat beers lost their privileged position on many breweries’ lineups. And friends, I have to admit, I was cool with it.

But the other day, sitting in the shame that I hadn’t had a wheat beer in far too long, I decided I was not cool with it. I decided I’d try every single wheat beer I could find on the shelves of my local liquor stores. The result is my five favorite Minnesota-made wheat beers, which I’m reporting back to you fine readers of Racket so that you may join me in celebrating barley’s “special friend” wheat. Yes, I’m implying that barley and wheat are gay lovers.

Shiny!All photos by Nissa Mitchell

Utepils Brewing: Ewald the Golden

Bavarian Style Hefeweizen / 5.2% ABV / 14 IBU

Hazy, crisp, and lightly tart, with notes of banana and clove. Yep, this buddy is a Hefeweizen, and a pretty dang good example of one. The beer would be perfect after taking an afternoon walk around Lake Nokomis, counting all the men on roller blades and trying to decide whether each one is either very cool, or very cringe, or somehow both. Also, you know that friend of yours who only seems to drink white wine? Like, to a weird extent? Give them this beer the next time you have them over. If they don’t say they love it, well, that’s one less friend to worry about.

Invictus Brewing Co.: Wit You Say

Belgian-Style Wit / 5.4% ABV / 10 IBU

Is it a Belgian wit? No, it’s a “Belgian-Style” wit. The distinction is important, because the Belgians will sue you without that “-style” on the end there. Just ask our friends over at Molson Coors, who got sued over Blue Moon marketing itself as a “Belgian White.” It really couldn’t have happened to a better company.

Legalities aside, this beer is smooth, with a very mild herbal and spice undertone from the Saaz hops, and coriander used during brewing. There’s also some orange peel in there, however I don’t really perceive it. But that’s cool because this beer is very easy to drink, and I like that. Things that are easy to drink are good sometimes. If you’ve been on a lager kick lately and want to give ale a chance again, this would be a pretty great reminder that lagers don’t have a monopoly on drinkability, and that wheat doesn’t just belong in bread.

Boom Island: Tonka Weiss

Hefeweizen / 5.6% ABV / ? IBU

So listen, I’m personally skeptical of the extent to which anything that’s as crystal clear as this pal right here can be called a “Hefeweizen.” Hefeweizen should not be clear. It should be hazy, cloudy—murky even. But, that’s my pedantry talking. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the heck you call your beer as long as it's delicious. And on that point, Tonka Weiss manages pretty well. 

Do you like banana? This beer’s got banana—a lot of banana, actually. Do you like cloves? This beer’s got cloves. Do you like sunsets on lakes? This beer’s got a picture of a sunset on a lake right there on the can. What more can you ask for? Socialized medicine and dense walkable cities with fantastic public transit? OK, this beer doesn’t have that, but that’s not its fault. That’s on us. Maybe you could reflect on that while drinking this beer. Or not, I’m not your mom. I’m just some lady on the internet writing about beer.

BlackStack Brewing: Working Title

Wheat Beer / 5.1% ABV / ? IBU

BlackStack is not known for their wheat beers. Honestly, I didn’t even really know they had any until I saw this little duder on the shelves at Zipps. You expect me to walk into the brewery with some of the best hazy IPAs ever and order a wheat beer? Psssh. But here’s the thing: Their wheat beer is very good. Their Untapped classes it as a “Witbier / Blanche” but I appreciate them not bothering to say as much on the can. No one needs to know that. When it comes to taste, orange peel, a bit of banana, and coriander come across in pretty equal measure. It’s so well balanced that I’d drink this at brunch, lunch, and dinner, and be very happy with my choice.

Wooden Ship Brewing Co.: Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen / 4.8% ABV / ? IBU

No. Stop reading. Scroll back up a bit and look at that packaging. I’m in love. I want to run away with it. I want to make bad choices with it. I want to have its children. And good news, everyone! The inside matches the outside. Wooden Ship’s take on Hefeweizen is more tart than Boom Island’s, and also hazier, about on par with Utepils’ Ewald.

And yes, it’s “another Hefeweizen,” so it’s got your usual banana vibes. However, this one pulls in a lot of bubblegum along with it. At 4.8%, the end result is very refreshing. I wouldn’t call it a session beer—because it’s got more to it than that—but I’d gladly sit down for a nice lazy afternoon with it. Maybe take it to Reverie for some vegan food, or to an art gallery to show I’m cultured and cool. Maybe a second-date bike ride to an arcade…

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