The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Minnesota State Fair Craft Beer Scene

The Minnesota State Fair may be ending on September 7, but there is still plenty of time to make your way there and enjoy some of the craft beer on tap.

However, not all of the beer on tap is worth your money. Below we list the good, bad, and ugly of the craft beer scene at the fair.

Lift Bridge Mini Donut Beer

The Good: 

Lift Bridge’s Mini Donut beer sounds like it could be one of those fair exclusives that’s just a throwaway idea looking to capitalize on where it’s being served. It’s not. In fact, take away the delicious cinnamon sugar rim and you’d be left with a malty beer that tastes like a freshly-baked mini donut before it’s dipped in sugar. This is one that even my partner at the fair enjoyed, and she doesn’t like craft beer all that much. She thought this was so good that she skipped out on getting the real mini donuts. Available at the Ball Park Cafe.

LTD Sweet Dreams Pineapple Wheat

Flat Earth’s S’mores stout is another winner. The cup is topped with graham cracker and chocolate, which is a perfect companion to the chocolate flavor of the stout. Plus, when you’re done you get to eat a marshmallow that’s been soaking up the stout. Definitely worth a try, even on a hot day at the fair. Available at Giggle’s Campfire Grill (Bonus: right next to Giggle’s you can watch dogs jump into a pool of water, because state fair).

LTD Brewing’s Sweet Dreams Pineapple Wheat was perfect for the hot day. Wheat and pineapple combined for a flavor that was anything but subtle, and the pineapple flavor actually improved as the beer warmed up, taking away just a bit of the sweetness and bringing out the wheat flavor. This was also one my girlfriend gave two thumbs up.

Bent Brewstillery Fest Hop

Bent Brewstillery’s Fest Hop was the winner of the state fair’s homebrew competition last year. The fine brewers at Bent decided to make it for the fair, and thus a slightly hoppy, grapefruit and apricot flavored New Zealand Pale Ale was created for everyone to enjoy.

Freehouse Caramel Apple π is a cider with caramel malts, meaning that it tastes like a caramel apple pie. If you’re even remotely into either of those things, this is the cider for you.

The Bad: 

Excelsior Brewing created the Maple Bacon Brown Ale just for the fair–but it’s not one that should make a repeat appearance. With only a hint of maple and a piece of bacon that even my cat would find too small, the beer was too watery, lacking flavor. Additionally, unlike the S’mores stout marshmallow that just chills out on top of your beer, the bacon’s grease invades your drink. It feels like you’re sipping down leftover pan grease, making this the only beer we poured out. Perhaps something could be tweaked for next year?

Stout and Maple Brown

The Ugly: 

The Land of 10,000 Beers exhibit is full of great information about beer. However, Facebook and Twitter weren’t full of just praise for the exhibit this year. Instead, some were disappointed not in the beer that was served, but in how it was served. Flights of four beers can be purchased via categories like Belgian, but sometimes only one beer in the flight would actually represent the Belgian style. For such a cool venue and highly-touted part of the craft beer scene at the fair, this is a terrible oversight. While those seeking out good beer to drink probably didn’t mind, it’s too bad for those who wanted to learn more about each style, or those looking for four Belgian style beers.

What have been your favorite beers at the Minnesota State Fair? Let us know in the comments!

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