With two weeks to go until Christmas, it’s crunch time for getting those awesome local gifts. It’s hard to find the perfect Minnesota food gift—the juicy lucy doesn’t wrap up very well, sadly. Sure there are some nice local candy makers (although I miss Rogue Chocolatier) and some incredible bakers, but this year I’ll be giving the gift of Minnesota beer.
Yes! Our beer scene is alive and well, and there are some incredible local winter beers that would make a great gift, especially if you’re going to a party. Think of a fancy 750ml bottle of microbrewed beer instead of a bottle of wine!
I put together a video guide to all these winter beers for WCCO’s Saturday morning news:
It’s a year to celebrate that we have some great Minnesota beer! Every year, it gets better and better. Here are some of my winter beer favorites:
Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Biscotti
You’ve probably enjoyed the delicious Farm Girl from Lift Bridge Brewing Company, but the Biscotti is a masterful beer. It’s a Belgian ale, limited run just for the winter. The Biscotti is supposed to emulate the traditional Italian cookie, and it has a nice yeasty, honey flavor to it. It’s a winter beer but lighter in flavor, and I loved it. I got a bottle for Thanksgiving (and it vanished quickly), and it will be released to the public Saturday, December 15. You can buy tickets to the event at the brewery in Stillwater, or you can just show up and buy a bottle! liftbridgebrewery.com
Excelsior Brewing Co. Mr. Jimmy’s Baltic Porter
Excelsior is brewing up some really good beers on Lake Minnetonka, and it’s only been up and running for a year. Mr. Jimmy’s Baltic Porter is an intense, complex beer, with dominant notes of plum and raisin. They brew it with licorice root and age the beer on cherry wood, as an homage to Jimmy Hutmaker, Excelsior’s ambassador and historian. (Mr. Jimmy loved cherry soda.) You’ll love his Baltic Porter. It’s limited, and you can only get it in the brewery’s taproom. excelsiorbrew.com
Boom Island Brewing Co. Yule Ale
Another newbie, Boom Island’s been around since 2011, and the Yule Ale is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It’s bottle-conditioned, which always makes a special gift—it’s called yule! It’s perfect! It packs a punch—12% alcohol! And it is rich and dark and delicious. This is a beer you want to let sit in the glass and warm up. You can find it at the brewery and at many local liquor stores. boomislandbrewing.com
Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company Ode to a Russian Shipwright
Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company is a small brewery located on a family farm in Rollingstone, Minnesota. I drank Ode to a Russian Shipwright last night—it’s an unfiltered beer that’s refermented in the bottle. When I opened this beauty up, it made a great, loud, pop as the carbonation was released. The Ode to a Russian Shipwright is a really tasty Imperial Stout Porter, with notes of rye and spruce—because it’s brewed with spruce tips. Another beer best a little warmer. The smell was really interesting, and the taste was fantastic. It’s in many local liquor stores, as well. olvalde.com