Category: August Schell Brewing Co.

Ten Iconic Minnesota Beers

Minnesota has a rich brewing history dating back to the mid 1800s. Breweries such as Wolf Brewing in Stillwater, Minneapolis Brewing Company, Schell’s Brewing, and Hamm’s in St. Paul paved the way for the many breweries we enjoy here today.


It’s really pretty incredible to think how large the brewing scene has become once again, especially amid a society so hell bent on counting every calorie they put in their bodies. But here we are in the middle of a pandemic—with nothing but time to reflect on what got us here.


Here are ten beers that have helped define what local brewers are capable of. Some have been around for over 50 years, and some were formulated and brewed within the last ten years.


Schell’s Pils – A classic version of what a German Pilsner should be. One could argue that this recipe was one of the better American-made versions in production the past 30 years. Clean, crisp, and refreshing—this beer could be found in most brewer’s refrigerators across Minnesota. The brewery has since dropped this from their lineup, but here’s to hoping it makes a comeback.


Summit EPA – This is the first craft beer that many Minnesotans were introduced to. Anything outside of a standard American Lager was hard to come by around here, even in the 90s when many across the country were drinking beer from Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Deschutes and many others. Mark Stutrud brought this recipe to life back in 1986 and it’s still every bit as good today.


Surly Furious – Many were skeptical when they saw this beer in 16 oz. cans (thanks Linda Haug) on the shelves of liquor stores. A hoppy red ale in cans? This revolutionized the way people thought about packaging beer here in Minnesota. Oskar Blues had been doing this since 2002, but Surly had the foresight to put their boldest beer in larger cans for sale in four packs.


Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter – Often imitated, but never duplicated, this beer has converted plenty of “non-beer drinkers” to craft beer fanatics. This is literally Minnesota’s “dessert beer” and rightfully so. It tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in liquid form, a gem amongst many imposters. Their recipe for success in Northeast is simple. Brew unique beers that people will love, and they will come and spend their money.


Minneapolis Town Hall Masala Mama – Ask any homebrewer, brewer, or beer nerd around town what their favorite IPA was 15 years ago, and they’d say it was Masala Mama. This was the best IPA recipe in the Midwest and was the brainchild of Mike Hoops who still runs the show over at their Seven Corners location. This is easily the most influential IPA ever to be born here in Minnesota.


Fulton Lonely Blonde – The craft beer for your dad, uncle, or cheap beer crushing friend. This beer is full of flavor but is approachable to all who try it. Minnesota patios sell a ton of this from April through October and year-round for that matter. This is your perfect boating beer, and one that I keep in my fridge on the regular.


Fair State Roselle – This is a perfectly executed Kettle Sour that is an ideal choice for any wine drinker or sour beer fan. Roselle is tart, fruity, and floral and it set the standard for what local brewers are doing within the sour beer category.


Steel Toe Size 7 – Before the “haze craze” people actually used to appreciate a good West Coast IPA. There is no better example of the style than the one made in St. Louis Park. This beer is far from balanced with big citrus notes and a clean finish. There’s a reason why this is their number one seller.


Grain Belt Premium – This was once brewed by the Minneapolis Brewing Company right after Prohibition ended. Now this clean, Minnesota classic adjunct lager is made by Schell’s Brewing Company who bought the recipe back in 2002. Corn and blueberry notes come through in this legendary beer which can be found at any dive bar across the Twin Cities.


Barley John’s Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale – A classic Brown Ale from one of the original brewpubs in town. Roasty malts and subtle chocolate and vanilla satisfy the palate in this classic Minnesota beer. Homebrewers in the Twin Cities have long admired this underappreciated offering, and it’s still being made some 20 years after being introduced. Find this one on tap at the brewpub located in New Brighton.



Best of the Wurst Sunday!

We’d be remiss (or just lazy as per usual) if we didn’t mention that Sunday The Best of the Wurst takes place at Sociable Cider Werks. We’ll hold off on sharing our wurst jokes and get right down to the details. If you’re into sausage parties, then this is the shindig for you! Tickets range from $25 to $75 and feature a plethora of sausage samples as well as craft beer and cider from Sociable and August Schell Brewing Company. Schell’s will be serving their seasonal favorite, Oktoberfest as well as their 1905 VT and Witbier. They may also be sharing some of the collaboration beer they created with Sociable this past summer.

Church of Cash and Alex Rossi round out the event with some fine pluckin’ and a’strumin’ and the event wraps up with the crowning of the Sausage King/Queen of Minnesota (I just made that up, feel free to use it) – the “Best of the Wurst” determined through ranked choice voting.

Sunday, Sept. 23rd, 2-6pm.

Get tickets right here. 

Autumn Brew Review Recap 2017

An oldie but a goodie. Abr 2006.

By now, everyone who attended the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild Autumn Brew Review should be feeling (more or less) completely recovered. But if not, we can’t blame you. As with every year at ABR, a nearly endless treasure trove of must-have beers were on display, and you could be forgiven for trying to sample just a few too many of the best brews the state has to offer.

There’s something a little strange about writing up the ABR experience, as I’ve done many years in a row for various outlets. I’ve never had anything short of a great time at the Guild’s flagship event, and this year was no different. However, veterans of ABR may have noticed a few differences this year. The layout was different, with Minnesota breweries claiming the outer ring of the event space at the historic Grain Belt brewery, and the national brands more tightly clustered together in the center rows. This was the reverse of the historical layout, and illustrated how large the local brewing scene has grown. The ratio of local to national brands has definitely tipped in favor of the hometown breweries, with many previous national exhibitors nowhere to be seen this year. And finally, perhaps because of a slightly expanded space, or perhaps because there are more beer festivals than ever, the event didn’t seem as completely packed as year’s past. Once an event that reliably sold out in minutes, there were tickets for ABR still available the day before the event.

Of course, the turnout was still very strong, and many of the most popular booths still had impressively long lines for their timed releases. I chose to wait in few of those lines, and still had no trouble sampling impressive beers from all around the event grounds. A few of my standouts:

  • August Schell Lunar Interference: I’m a sucker for the Schell’s Berliner Weiss series, and this was one of the richest, most layered releases yet. Rich, chocolatey, fruity, and complex. The best beer I tried at the event, and I can’t wait to grab a bottle.
  • Badger Hill Tripel Abbey Ale: Belgians are typically not my jam, but this one really worked for me. Smooth, rich, and drinkable. Badger Hill always zigs when you expect them to zag.
  • Barrel Theory DDH Rain Drops: I haven’t tried the standard version of Rain Drops yet, but this double dry hopped version was the best NE IPA I had at ABR, easily.
  • Foxhole Old Snaggletooth: A lovely, drinkable old ale. This was the first beer I’ve tried from Foxhole, and it suggested that a road trip to Willmar may be in order.

I did not have a chance to check out 10K Brewing, who took home the audience choices for both Best Brewery and Best Beer with Loonar Uprising. I guess I’ll have to make a point to check them out next year, when they return as reigning champions. I’m already looking forward to it.

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest Saturday

As I write this, tickets are still available for Saturday’s Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. In its short history, the event has quickly become Minnesota’s premiere Winter (…er Spring?) festival with a finely-curated list of rare, one-off and specialty beers from 30 select breweries from Minnesota and across the country. Suffice to say that this event includes plenty of excellent food, entertainment and more.

I am, of course, a dumbass and won’t be there so here are Five beers I’ll really f&#@ing miss from this year’s Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival:

  • Indeed Wooden Soul: Ephemeral
  • August Schell Electric Empress
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse Tequila Barrel 1100 Wheatwine
  • Bemidji Brewing Flanders Sour Red
  • Steel Toe Brewing Before the Dawn with Tart Cherries

That being said, there are a lot of interesting beers. Learn more by checking out the program or visiting their website.

Download the program here.

Buy your tickets here.

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest, Saturday, March 11th, 7-10pm.
Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul

Starkeller Now Open in New Ulm

It’s finally here. The all sour taproom headed up by Jace Marti (of Schell’s) was given the go ahead from the TTB recently and they’ve opened the doors and are ready to serve (check their social media for hours) their popular Berliner Weiss beers. “This story began in 1919. Prohibition happened, so for 13 years we were making soda” according to Jace. He is of course referring to those beautiful cypress tanks they purchased (and repurposed for the Starkeller) back in 1936 which were much cheaper than their steel counterparts. “We couldn’t afford new equipment after prohibition so we installed wooden tanks instead of steel ones.” The vessels were used at Schell’s from 1936 until 1991, mostly for Deer Brand Lager.

One might ask why they decided to use these cypress tanks from 1936 at the new space. Well there are a couple of reasons. For one, they’re gorgeous, rare, and they add a ton of character to the space. “These are the last 10 tanks like this in the world” says Marti.  Another reason is that the bacteria and brettanomyces being used at the brewery like a tiny bit of oxygen which steel tanks can’t provide on their own. The cypress tanks breathe a little which allows a very small amount of oxygen in without ruining the beer.

Why Berliner Weiss? Schell’s has always made traditional German style lagers but Jace wanted to do something a little bit different. So he went to Berlin to learn about a style of beer they were brewing over there that had roots in other parts of Europe. “The French brought the sour technique that they learned in Belgium over to Berlin” he says.

The second oldest family run brewery in the country is once again changing the way we think about beer. From Belgium to Berlin, and now to New Ulm. Welcome to Sour Country.