From Gimmicks to Gold: Here Are the Beers We Tried at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair

Attending the Minnesota State Fair has become an annual tradition for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way don’t cha know. We love trying new foods and sharing in the strong sense of Minnesotan pride.

Since starting our beer blog last November, our visit to the Great Get Together this year had a new purpose: to try as many new beers as we could!

Here’s our subjective review of what we tried:

Bad Weather’s Spumoni Tsunami

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We aren’t going to lie, we had high hopes for this one. Bad Weather brews great beer and has recently become one of our favorite Minnesota breweries, so the idea of trying a beer with the sweet/salty flavors of spumoni gelato was really appealing. The pistachio garnish around the rim of the glass was fun and tasty, but we thought that’s where the distinct flavors seemed to end. We couldn’t detect the vanilla or strawberry notes ourselves, and we thought it otherwise tasted like a juicy lager — not bad but not outstanding, either.

Our review: 3 out of 5

The Freehouse’s LimeLight

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Freehouse’s LimeLight was our favorite beer of the State Fair this year! A light and refreshing beer, this one was a perfect balance of lime and sea salt; we would gladly drink this one outside of the State Fair! This was also the first beer we’ve ever had from The Freehouse, and it made a great first impression; we are excited to try more!

Our review: 5 out of 5

Excelsior Brewing’s S’mores Beer

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Ale Adventures

A beer that’s hung around from previous State Fairs, Excelsior Brewing’s S’mores beer is obviously a gimmicky one brewed just for the Fair. But we’re suckers for that kind of stuff, and it sounded too delicious to pass up. Naturally, we anticipated strong notes of the s’mores flavors — chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow. To be fair, they were all there; we even tasted some hints of campfire smoke. But we were still underwhelmed. Personally, we would have loved the flavors to have been a bit more rich and robust. Like the Tsunami Spumoni, we enjoyed the garnish most – chocolate and graham cracker around the rim and a marshmallow plunked on top.

Our review: 3 out of 5

Beaver Island’s Uffda Ale

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City pages pegged this brew as the most “Minnesotan” beer at the State Fair this year, and no wonder — lefse and lingonberries scream Minnesota tradition. Already fans of Beaver Island beers, and we were especially excited to try this one! We could definitely taste the lefse and the lingonberries, which was fun. But it wasn’t the transcendent experience we may have built it up to be in our minds; the lefse left a very bisquit-y — almost deep fried — flavor that’s fitting for the State Fair but proved a little too much for our taste buds.

Our review: 3 out of 5

Surly’s Gaelic Dark and Stormy

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This deep golden ale from Surly was rich with strong notes of lime and ginger. We would recommend getting this one in the 12 oz. instead of 16, especially if you’re trying to pace yourself; the robust flavors were a bit much for us, and by this time into the night our stomachs had had about as much as they could handle. Still, kuddos to Surly for brewing a beer with distinct flavors that lived up to it’s name!

Our review: 4 out of 5

Lakes and Legends’ St. Apple Malted Cider

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After so many beers, a Lakes & Legends’ cider was the perfect way to wrap up our 2018 State Fair craft experience. It tasted just like a slice of apple pie — cinnamon, nutmeg and tangy apple. For those who prefer a less sweet cider, this one was definitely more tangy than sweet. It was a good brew to enjoy at the end of our night.

Our review: 4 out of 5

Overall, we enjoyed our State Fair 2018 experience. Gimmicky beers — like the S’mores and Uffda Ale — will always be hit or miss; in our case, we didn’t love them, but we applaud the brewers for their creativity. But that’s part of the fun of the State Fair and why we’d gladly go back for more (the Funnel Cake Cream Ale, Dill Pickle Ale, Frozen Grain Belt Blu and Chocolate Chip Cookie Beer are all calling our names). Either way, we had a great time and enjoyed doing something we both love — supporting the MN craft beer scene and trying tasty beer! Let us know what you try at the State Fair this year!

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