American Craft Beer week starts on Friday, and to celebrate, I asked one of my favorite local beer experts to put together a list of his five must-drink craft beer choices of the summer.
Bill Princeton is a third-generation owner of Princeton’s Liquors in Maple Grove and Osseo. He’s a total beer geek and, speaking as a Maple Grove resident, it’s awesome to have someone who really cares about great beer close to home. Here are his picks:
Alaskan Summer is new to Minnesota, and Bill says the Kolsch-style summer ale is a treat. From 4 p.m.–6 p.m. this Friday, May 13, he’ll have the cofounder of Alaskan Brewing, Geoff Larson, in his Maple Grove store for a beer tasting and to answer questions.
Bill says: “Generally they have a moderate bitterness, but fairly prominent hop flavor (typically Spalt, Tettnang or Hallertau). They have high effervescence, medium esters, but a rounded, stylish character derived from lagering.”
I don’t know what that means, but it sounds delicious.
More on Alaskan Summer: alaskanbeer.com
Surly Bitter Brewer
Summer brew number two comes from Brooklyn Center’s red-hot Surly Brewing. (Note: Don’t be deceived by the “bitter” name.) This is one my favorite summer drinks, too.
Bill says: “The Bitter style came from brewers who wanted to differentiate these ales from other mild brews: enter pale malts and more hops. Most are gold to copper in color and are light bodied. Most have a fruitiness in the aroma and flavor.”
More on Surly Bitter Brewer: surlybrewing.com
Great Lakes Holy Moses
The name sounds great—Holy Moses! Great Lakes is brewed in Cleveland and is a witbier, another style of beer that goes down great in the summer.
Bill says: “Very pale and cloudy in appearance due to it being unfiltered and the high level of wheat, and sometimes oats, that’s used in the mash. Always spiced, generally with coriander, orange peel, and other oddball spices or herbs in the background. The crispness and slight twang comes from the wheat and the lively level of carbonation. This is one style that many brewers in the United States have taken a liking to and have done a very good job of staying to style. Often referred to as “white beers” (witbieren) due to the cloudiness of the yeast in suspension.”
More on Great Lakes Holy Moses: greatlakesbrewing.com
Brau Brothers Forgotten Flem
Brau Brothers is one of my favorite Minnesota brewers, from Lucan, in the southern part of the state. The Forgotten Flem is a saison.
Bill says: “Saisons are sturdy farmhouse ales that were traditionally brewed in the winter to be consumed throughout the summer months. Not so long ago it was close to being an endangered style, but over recent years there’s been a massive revival, especially in the United States.
This is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having a touch of sweetness.”
More on Brau Brothers Forgotten Flem: braubrothersbrewing.com
Tallgrass Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat
I can’t wait to try this one—I’ve never had a beer from this Manhattan, Kansas, brewery. This is an American pale wheat ale.
Bill says: “Reminiscent of a Hefe Weizen in appearance. Long-lasting head with a light to medium body, higher carbonation is proper. German Weizen flavors and aromas of banana esters and clove-like phenols will not be found. Most use a substantial percentage of wheat malt.”
More on Tallgrass Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat: tallgrassbeer.com
So there you go; five beers you have to drink this summer. Bill’s got them all at Princeton’s Liquors, but also be sure to check out the Ale Jail in St. Paul, Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, or TC Craft Beer in New Hope.
For Friday: Dara dishes on where to get the best growlers in town!