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Mn beer and wine

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what are the best beers and wine made in Minnesota?

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  1. Wine - Just don't. Anything that is done here can be replicated easily at home. This region is at least a decade away from producing worthy stuff.

    Beer - Everything from Surly and Lift Bridge is good to great. I like Brau Brothers Scotch Ale for the price point, though they are often (understandably) criticized for producing cloying brews. Barley John's is my favorite brew pub, and they have solid food to match.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kevin47

      while i agree this area is going to be hard pressed to produce any great reds any time soon, i believe that the potential for some very good cold weather wines(reisling in particular) is there - i have tasted some dry and off dry reislings and blends that wer produced by a maker in western Stearns country that wer beautiful.

    2. As far as beer goes most would say that Surly is the best and I think that's pretty hard to argue with, heck, it's one of the best breweries in the country. I can't stand the packaging aesthetics but it's great that someone here is making such high quality adventurous beer- even if it does look like malt liquor.
      I think that Lake Superior Brewing is almost criminally underrated, love their Special Ale.
      Schell's Bock is great this season, and Summit has really been stepping it up with their limited editions.
      All that said I have to admit that I just returned to MN after spending years in the pacific northwest and the only MN beer I truly pined for was Grain Belt.

      1. I'll stick to beer. Not sure if your question is specific, i.e., which specific beers made by which breweries are the best in MN, or more general, i.e., which Minnesota breweries make good beer.

        But: all of the MN breweries and pubs make some good beer. Highlights for me include:

        Surly (Furious, Bender, and Coffee Bender are available everywhere and are all world class beers. Furious is one of the best IPAs in the world, period).

        Summit (their regular lineup is just fine. But their new "Unchained" series, where each of their brewers gets to make a special beer, has been outstanding. The current one is a Rye IPA and is delicious).

        Flat Earth (all of their beers are unique and delicious. I especially enjoy the Belgian Pale Ale).

        Lift Bridge (I'm not a huge fan, but many people love it)

        Fulton (the newest brewery in town-- Sweet Child of Vine is not as hoppy as the name implies, but is tasty; new Imperial Stout is ok too).

        And for brewpubs, Minneapolis Town Hall is superb. Their Masala Mama IPA is also one of the very best in the country, especially on cask.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mtullius

          I strongly recommend that, if you have the chance, you should try Surly Four while it's still around. It's a limited edition and only available on tap at the moment. (Bottles are - or were- supposed to be released in limited edition, but I haven't seen any mention of them being out there.) It's a double espresso milk stout and is one of the finest brews I've had in a long time. It's currently available at Cafe 28.

        2. I don't know why we need to ignore Minnesota wine. It's like a number of regions without much of a vinicultural tradition. It's young. Most of it is cloyingly sweet and pretty much non-drinkable. But there are exceptions.

          Just assume anything done in a place with a serious wine industry is probably better than the equivalent done here. Skip the Chardonnays, the Rieslings, the Zinfandels, etc. Look for different grapes that don't have much of a mass market appeal. That's where the Minnesota winemakers are experimenting and trying to find something unique and different.

          Vignoles and Seyval among the whites can be interesting. Marechal Foch and Frontenac among the reds. You'll find them all from Saint Croix vineyards.

          Alexis Baily is still doing Seyval (they add Blanc to the name, but it's the same thing) and Frontenac. They used to make a decent Marechal Foch, but seem to have stopped to focus on making red and white blended table wines and experimenting with ice wine. I haven't tried any of those, but they're probably worth a try.

          5 Replies
          1. re: dougrw

            Have to go with Surly and Lift Bridge but also cannot forget to mention Schell's.

            1. re: dougrw

              We've had the Alexis Baily "port" and thought it was pretty good...

              1. re: dougrw

                I'll second Saint Croix vineyards. The wine tasting is fun and we left with a couple wines we really enjoyed.

                I also really love Minnesota for Mead and Fruit wines. There are many great places for these such as Minnestalgia.

                1. re: churchka

                  There is good mead here.

                  We'll have to agree to disagree on St. Croix. All things being equal, I would never spend money on the wine from this region. If I'm looking for inexpensive wines, nothing here seems to match up with the Pacific Northwest.

                  1. re: kevin47

                    I suppose it depends on what you're looking for. If you just want the best wine to drink period, then mid-western states probably aren't worth exploring when you could choose something from an established wine region like California or Washington. But if you like to explore variety and try different things, there are some interesting wines to sample here which you'll not find in those places.

              2. I've been very happy with our beer choices here in Minnesota. It is a lot better than most of the country. Colorado and the Northwest Coast are other good locations.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Davydd

                  I'll second or third Surly and Summit. Really loving Surly Bender and Furious. CynicAle is pretty darn good too! As for wine, I have to admit - the wines here aren't my favorite--but the Alexis Bailey (Sp) is pretty ok. I met some friends for a glass of wine in the backyard and had a bridal shower under the wooden arch area --- reasonably priced glasses and a small shop with snacks (Eichten cheese, baguettes, etc) makes for a pleasant afternoon getaway

                2. I don't drink enough wine to speak on it, so beer it is. Anything made by Surly should be immediately put in your face. Fitger's Brewhouse in Duluth makes some great stuff that's worth checking out on your next trip up north. Schell's can be hit or miss for me, but I really enjoy their Dark, and Schell's Snowstorm has consistently been a great seasonal brew, even though it's a new recipe every year. This last one is not a MN brew, but it's regional, so it kinda counts. New Glarus also does some excellent work. Their Spotted Cow is hands down one of my all-time faves.