Minneapolis Beers to Try This Fall
Today, the options for fall beers are more varied than ever. Don't worry - "traditional" fall beers, like those flavored with pumpkin spice, porter and brown ales haven't gone away. Whether you seek lower alcohol, light-body lagers, imperial stouts, or more experimental and local ingredients, we’ve picked a range of beer styles to capture fall's many different qualities, listed in order from subtle to bold.
Article by Loren Green
Building a Flight of Minneapolis Fall Beers
The beer scene is rapidly changing. Just a few years ago, the term “fall seasonal” meant dark-hued beers, complemented by whimsical takes on pumpkin spice and smoke. Even the term “seasonal” is less common nowadays, with taprooms favoring a rotation of limited beers that fit the season but aren’t always available for months at a time. Minneapolis has developed a vibrant brewing scene that allows beer fans to enjoy their favorite beers and discover new flavors in many ways. There are small, neighborhood joints and large beer halls, each with its own atmosphere and ambiance. This list captures that diversity with some local highlights.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative – Stranger in the Alps (5.1% ABV)
“The idea was to brew a beer that tasted like the way the air at the top of a mountain smells,” Fair State says of this award-winning so-called “Alpine Lager.” Gold, bright and bubbly, it’s made with lemon balm and spruce tips (foraged in Duluth, MN). The additives don’t overpower, though. They shine in perfect balance with the biscuit, cracker, black pepper, and pine flavors derived from the Pilsner malt and noble hop blend. It’s a smooth, crisp lager with a delicate and jammy lemon note that seamlessly transitions into a light, bitter spruce flavor. The beer finishes with a classic lager bitterness with just a hint of sweet lemon at the end. It’s clean and easy drinking, but with enough spruce/lemon to make it unique, subtle, and satisfying.
Located in Northeast Minneapolis, Fair State is one of few cooperatively owned breweries in the country. They pour a wide variety of beer styles ranging from traditional to experimental and contemporary. There are many dine-in and takeout options surrounding their Central Ave NE location.
Bauhaus Brew Labs – Dampf Punk Bavarian-Style Dampfbier (4.8% ABV)
A new beer for 2022, this is a traditional but often overlooked style of beer in the American craft scene. It’s also a perfect example of what Bauhaus is about: a modern twist on traditional German beer. Dampfbier is similar to a hefeweizen, but with no wheat, which gives a drier, toastier flavor along with the banana and clove notes that come from its yeast. Dampf Punk pours a deep copper in color with hints of amber. The aroma gives banana notes, but the flavor is more barley-driven, with toasted pumpernickel bread and baking spice notes, finishing with a light toffee sweetness. It’s light in body and alcohol, but as a sipping beer, the spice notes bring new layers that make it a good choice for any occasion.
Also located in Northeast, Bauhaus brews German-inspired beers with modern ingredients, including non-alcoholic and hard seltzer options. There is typically a food truck on site, including frequent partnership with Animales Barbecue.
La Doña Cervecería – Oktubrefest (5.9% ABV)
With so many breweries, it’s difficult to make a traditional beer style like the German Märzen lager stand out. La Doña delivers a malt-forward, copper-in-color lager that’s crisp and refreshing, but with a drier profile as compared to the caramel-heavy flavors at many other breweries. Oktubrefest shares similarities: it offers a sweet aroma of toast and subtle candy corn, but the beer itself is roasty, with a honey-like undertone that sticks on the tongue but doesn’t dominate the experience. This beer pairs with the changing leaves: it has a sweet vibrancy, but it’s earthy, with subtle nuttiness, and surprisingly dry for the style. Due to the lager fermentation, it finishes with a clean, smooth finish.
La Doña is in the Harrison neighborhood, next door to Royal Foundry distillery. The brewery features a bright, Latino-inspired color scheme and decor, as well as a limited taco menu.
Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub – Wild Rice Amber Bock (7.1% ABV)
Amber bocks are a fall classic, but Northbound adds a Minnesota twist with the inclusion of wild rice. The aroma gives caramel and honey-forward impressions, leading to a bold beer that’s suited to the cooler fall evenings. The caramel and honey flavors are the first to hit the tongue, then they grow into a rich nuttiness that would pair well with truffles, juicy red meats, and berries. While it is rich in flavor, the wild rice adds an earthy element for balance. It’s bold, but it’s not a decadent dessert beer. The lager base is clean and smooth, making it easy drinking but big on flavor. It’s somewhere in between the extremes – just like the fall.
A brewpub by design, Northbound offers a full barbecue menu and cocktails in addition to their house made beers. They offer a bustling patio as the weather allows, tucked tightly into the mostly residential Standish neighborhood near the Blue Line.
Surly Brewing Co. – Darkness (12% ABV)
Released each year as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, Darkness is a cornerstone beer for Surly. This annual limited release is an imperial stout that pours jet black with dominant roasty flavors of coffee and chocolate. Like any beer this big, a warmer temperature will bring out layered flavors, with Darkness presenting notes of cherry, raisin, dates, and figs. It’s a big beer in every way, yet it has a deceptively silky body that separates it from other imperial stouts. 2022 also marks the return of the Darkness Day celebration, which takes place at the brewery October 8 with live music, special variants, bottle sales and more.
Surly, in Prospect Park, is a large destination beer hall with two restaurants, ample outdoor seating, and an amphitheater for concerts. They pour more than 20 taps, including many hard to find recipes.
There are more fall brews to be found...
Keep in mind that taps are frequently changing and there are many more high quality fall flavors worth seeking out on a visit. Additional fall beers are available at Fulton, Indeed, FINNEGANS Brew Co., Lakes & Legends, Utepils, Inbound BrewCo, and many many more.
About the Author
Loren Green is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in All About Beer, The New Brewer, Star Tribune, Paste, City Pages, Scene Point Blank, and more. Besides beer, he also writes about music, culture, and related topics. Follow him on Twitter at @lorenmgreen or www.lorengreenwrites.com.