photo by tj turner
Jason’s Top 10
Steel Toe Size 7
Ask any beer nerd what the best IPA in Minnesota is, and many will tell you Steel Toe Size 7. For good reason: It’s hoppy, citrusy, balanced perfection.
To experience Minnesota’s foundational craft beer, you need to have Summit’s EPA. Born in 1986, your dad’s pale ale is still one of the best.
Vikre Boreal Cedar Gin
Talk about “only in Minnesota”: The infusion of smoked cedar from the Duluth area makes this an incredibly unique, sweet, long-finishing gin.
Drinking more like a pilsner than an IPA, this is a fruity, Mosaic-hop bomb (74 IBU!) with a shocking orange-and-stone-fruit flavor. Originally brewed to celebrate Fulton’s 300th batch of beer, it’s the brewery’s best.
Bent Paddle 14 Degree ESB
Duluth’s Bent Paddle is quickly becoming one of the best craft brewers in the state, and this Extra Special British Ale is exactly that: extra special. It’s toasty, like a brown ale, with a sweet finish.
A gin for gin-lovers: 22 botanicals, with just enough juniper to lend the right amount of bite. It’s an earthy, spicy, beautiful gin.
We’ve been drinking Surly Furious for so long, it’s easy to overlook the importance of this game-changing beer. The first Minnesota craft brew with a truly hardcore citrus nose and front-flavor, followed by sweetness and finishing bitter.
Indeed Mexican Honey
You would never guess this is a big, boozy (8-percent alcohol) lager, because it tastes so smooth. The touch of sweetness comes from Mexican orange-blossom honey.
Bauhaus Wunderstuff Pilsner
Clean, crisp, refreshing, Wonderstuff is a craft beer that isn’t trying to impress anyone, yet somehow impresses us all. It tastes like Minnesota summer, all year round.
Lupulin Blissful Ignorance
A double IPA that’s unapologetically hoppy, from a truly excellent Big Lake brewery just two years into brewing.
Joy’s Top 10
Far North Solveig Gin
This elegant gin is infused with botanicals meant to smell like a far-north summer field after rainfall.
This local version of Scandinavia’s signature spirit has spicy undertones of caraway and fennel.
Vikre Sugarbush Whiskey
This experimental “young” whiskey picks up rich and smoky flavors from being aged in barrels that were previously used to age maple syrup.
Milk & Honey Ciders Fauna
With its slight funk on the nose, subtle tannic twang, and finely tuned balance of sweet and tart, this elegant cider could stand in for a bottle of grape-based bubbly. Heirloom apple varieties that change every annual harvest make each vintage of Fauna just a little different.
Bent Paddle Black Cold Press
Dark as the depths of Lake Superior and smooth as the slate rocks along its shore, Bent Paddle Black is infused with Duluth Coffee Co.’s cold press.
Fitger’s Witchtree ESB
Light in body, this wheat-based Extra Special Bitter is blended with a bit of barley and apricot juice.
St. Croix Vineyard Marquette
This rich, ruby-colored wine is full of plum and berry flavors that pair beautifully with a grilled steak.
Dark caramel notes balanced with crispness make this dark lager an ideal companion for a roaring fire.
Sweetland Orchard Scrumpy
This dry, tart cider takes cues from tannic British ferments, making it a perfect foil for a cheese plate.
Loon Liquor Loonshine
A truly unique spirit—a lightly aged whiskey with none of the rawness that its white lightning–evoking name might suggest—that makes a great cocktail when treated like Scotch.