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Food & Drink

Doin’ Beers: 5 Minnesota Beers to Drink in July

From a peanut butter porter to a hazy collab, these are some distinctly American beers.

Photos by Nissa Mitchell

July: a haze of heat, cookouts, and fireworks—and a great time to drink beer. But what’s the motivation? Why bother to imbibe? To have a good time with friends? To celebrate the yearly cycle from “God, I wish it was summer” to “Jesus, I could go for winter right about now?” To… engage in a bit of casual nationalism?

Now there’s something. Except most American beers are rip-offs of beers brewed elsewhere. Do we even have any distinctly American beers? If so, do they come with truck nuts?

I dared to ask these questions, friends, and in so doing, I found my way to some delicious beers perfect for engaging in a bit of metaphorical flag-waving. All you have to do is activate your cognitive dissonance—set aside all the horrible things we’ve done—and enjoy a tour of five distinctly American beers you can find right here in Minnesota. Sadly, you’ll have to bring your own truck nuts (BYOTN).

Giesenbräu Bier Company: Bavarian Gangsta

“German” IPA / 7.0% ABV / 72 IBU

OK, OK, OK. Shhh. Shh. Stop laughing. OK. So, what if—what if a German brewery made an American IPA? But instead of a German brewery, it was really an American brewery and they, just like, pretended to be a German brewery making an American IPA? Wouldn’t that be cool?

Yes, it would, and it’s also one of the most American things I’ve ever heard. This IPA is brewed with all German hops (Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria), making it a relatively unique approach to the style. Other breweries in Minnesota have “German” IPAs (Arbeiter, for one), but this one manages to navigate its competing influences to create one of the most enjoyable and balanced non-hazy IPAs I’ve had in a long while. I legitimately said, “Holy shit, this is delicious” to my wife when I tried this.

Bald Man Brewing: Heart of Glass

Blonde Ale / 5% ABV / ? IBU

Bald Man calls this one a “Blondie Ale” because you get to do that sort of thing when you’re referencing Blondie’s famous “disco song.” The question for me here is whether Bald Man is just having fun playing on “Blonde Ale” or referencing the fact that this is their own so-called “disco song.” Given their rock theme, I’m going to assume the latter. Like disco, Blonde Ales originated in the U.S., and are unfairly maligned for being vacuous when they’re actually just incredibly enjoyable and fun.

This beer is impressive in how strong the light malt aroma comes across. It smells like a brewery just after mashing-in, which is a wonderful thing to smell like. The hops used give it a very mild herbal note, but not enough to distract you from how easy it goes down. What is disco may never die.

Headflyer Brewing: Dream Shake

Milkshake IPA / 7.2% ABV / ? IBU

“Milkshake IPAs,” and their close cousin “Fruited Hazy IPAs” are a bit of a thing at the moment. Of course they are—the citrusy vibes of “hazy” and “juicy” IPAs demand their eventual hybridization with actual fruit and the sweetness that typically comes with them. And what better entry into this delicious, and sometimes odd, world than one that recalls a legendary American summer treat: the dreamsicle/creamsicle. I’m always a little wary of beers that add sweetness with lactose; beers can get sickly sweet very fast if you’re not careful. But, this one is very well-balanced, with just enough vanilla and lactose to give you a “melted sherbet and ice cream confection” vibe while remaining drinkable.

Montgomery Brewing: Peanut Buster Porter

“Porter - Other” / 6.3% ABV / 45 IBU

I know what you’re thinking. “A porter? In this weather?” And to that I say: Remember last month? When I gave you five easy-drinking beers perfect to beat the heat? Time to pay up—take your delicious, dark, roasty medicine, bub.

Peanut butter is a uniquely “American” invention, having been originated with the Aztec and Inca civilizations, and eventually popularized (and industrialized) in the U.S. during the early 1900s. Given our unique obsession with it (no one loves peanut butter like Americans do), it’s not surprising we decided to put it in beer. And thank god we did. While peanut butter porters are not unique—at one point, it seemed like every American brewery worth anything had one—this is one of my favorite examples. It’s roasty, bitter, nutty, and sweet in equal measures. Drink it on its own, or get creative and pair it with s’mores, or some vanilla ice cream. Then, thank me in the comments.

Falling Knife Brewing Company and BlackStack Brewing: Hypebeast

DDH Hazy Double IPA / 8.5% ABV / ? IBU

Listen, I don’t want to start a fight or anything, but when it comes to “American Beer Styles,” one stands out to me as the most American: hazy IPA—or as it was originally called, “New England IPA.” I like to imagine that the first hazy IPA was created when a citrus blight caused orange juice to be unavailable, and an intrepid brewer took it upon themself to recreate it with ingredients they had on hand, thereby starting a revolution. The “Stowe Hop Party,”* if you will. (Heady Topper, the “first” Hazy IPA, is brewed in Stowe, Vermont, by Alchemist Brewing.) Of course, that’s not how it happened. Not at all. But, I like to imagine it.

Hypebeast is a collaboration between Falling Knife and BlackStack, two breweries that individually produce some of the best hazy IPAs in Minnesota. This one lives up to both breweries’ reputations. Hopped with Strata (notes of passion fruit, strawberry, and mango) and Galaxy (peach, guava, and orange), you’d be forgiven for thinking drinking this beer will prevent scurvy. However, at 8.5% ABV, a couple of these in a short period of time and you might get a bit seasick. So take it easy, sailor.

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