Tag: Beer

Best Pilsner in the Midwest

Apologies to the Dayton brothers, but I’m calling us the Midwest for this one. I started with an idea, made difficult decisions and, admittedly, stood on the shoulders of others to choose seven beers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri to taste-test and crown one winner.

Why, though? Glad you asked.

In 2016, Paste magazine did a taste test of 62 of the best Pilsners from around the country and my interest was piqued because I could feasibly get my hands on the top two: Summit Keller Pils and Urban Chestnut Stammtisch. 1,2 I wanted to put them to the test myself, and so it began.


Beer Selections:

4 Hands Brewing City Wide Pils 
Urban Chestnut Stammtisch

A friend was headed to St. Louis at the right time, so I arranged to get some cans of Stammtisch and, since they were down there, some City Wide Pils from 4 Hands Brewing — a favorite brewery not distributed here.3

Ale Asylum 12oz Curl
Door County Clawhammer

I had sampled Ale Asylum’s 12oz Curl this spring and I was impressed. I asked Wisconsin beer authority, Chris Drosner (@WIbeerbaron) for a second opinion and to recommend another for the “competition”. He concurred with my opinion on 12oz Curl and offered-up Clawhammer as another.4

“Both are on the German side of the line,” Drosner told me, “but Claw is a little more robust, Curl a bit more delicate…”

Fair State Pils
Summit Dakota Soul
Summit Keller Pils

The Growler did the yeoman’s work of sifting through local Pilsners for me.5 Twenty-five local ones were taste-tested and judged by BJCP judges — probably wise to trust them. Their winner was Fair State Pils, also a choice of MNBeer staff who also chose to include Summit Dakota Soul.6,7

Other states were not ignored. Iowa and the Dakotas, it was concluded, don’t offer much in this style and Illinois? Well…that was a pool I simply didn’t want to wade into.


Who and How:

All beers we sampled were purchased retail; no freebies in this round.8 Sampling was blind and included four individuals: one BJCP judge, myself, and two beer enthusiast friends.9 The methodology was loosely based on the BJCP scoring guidelines. Loosely, in that we awarded points in their five categories — Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel and Overall Impression — adding up to 50 possible points. These were not judged to style alone; I’d hoped to get actual impressions of the beer versus focusing technical merit.


The Results:

7th: Door County Clawhammer


Flavor was there with this one, but our sample lacked carbonation and that ended up being it’s downfall. Unfortunate, because I like Door County. I’d try it again

“Too little carbonation. Decent balance…could be much better if the carb was there.”





6th: 4 Hands City Wide Pils


Another low-carbonation beer. Oxidation possibly present here too.

“Light Body, low carbonation”
“Probably would prefer shotgunning over drinking”






5th: Ale Asylum 12oz Curl


This one had the most interesting aroma. Overall, consensus said it was good, but could be better. Perhaps it’s not trying to take over the world, though.

“Flowers, honey and spice. Very complex aroma.”
“Nothing really stands out, but very drinkable.”
“Could easily drink 8-10 of these, possibly at a show at the Triple Rock”




4th: Fair State Pils


Probably the most widely-varied responses here. Aroma notes ranged from “faint” to “pond water”. Balance seemed to be there, but it seemed to be built for volume consumption.

“I want more Pils malt, it’s just too dry and bitter.”
“Less bready and more drinkable”
“Could easily drink 6 on a hot day and probably still ride a motorcycle.”




3rd: Urban Chestnut Stammtisch


This one seemed to be the best German Pils of the bunch — Spicy and clean. If you’re a fan of Schell’s Pils, this is likely your next-level beer.

“Not enough Pils malt for me. Bitterness & dryness.”
“Bolder than the others and dry. I like it.”
“Baseball game — i.e. the “nice” beer at a 1990s Twins Game”




2nd: Summit Keller Pils


All around solid. This one performed about as well as expected; pleased everyone without ruffling any feathers.

“Well-built and pleasant to drink.”
“Light, crisp, bready”
“Every feature is calculated and spot-on”





1st: Summit Dakota Soul


Acknowledging the risk of looking like we’re glad-handing Summit, first by including both their Pilsners and then placing them 1-2…this was indeed the clear winner. Drinkability became the deciding factor here.

“Very pleasant and good-drinking. Sign me up for a case.”
“Highly drinkable and flavorful.”




There you have it! Official opinions from people just like you. There are great Pilsners we did not review, so I encourage you to get out and try them. Pilsners (and lagers in general) have less room to hide imperfections and if someone can brew you a good one, that’s a good sign.  




1Summit’s other Pilsner at the time — aptly named ‘Pilsner’ — is no longer brewed but placed 13th. Surly’s ‘Merica came in at 16.
2The Paste tasting was repeated and more than doubled in size to 134 beers. Staggering. This was published on May 29th, 2018. As I type, that was two days ago, and of course the rankings changed. Both Keller Pils and Stammtisch made the top-tier but not as high as before. It just goes to show, never be surprised or dismayed by the myriad ways the universe will find to laugh at you.
3Considered: 4 Hands City Museum Pilsner – it’s good, but has tangerine in it. Refreshing, yes, but it was so different that we didn’t feel bad leaving it out of the rankings. And Schlafly – ? I really expected them to have made one. Alas…
4Considered: Lakefront Pils, Potosi Czech Style Pilsner
Honorable Mention Because I didn’t try it until after the taste test: 3 Sheeps Pils. This one should really have been included. Furthermore, Fresh Coast from 3 Sheeps — a session IPA — deserves all the attention it can get, but we aren’t discussing IPAs here.
5I still sampled some to be sure, but I’d like to thank all the judges and contributors to the article for saving me the time, money and effort of doing that all myself. Cheers! 
6I had polled the office staff here at MNBeer and considered my own experience of taste testing up to that point. Our recommendations weren’t limited to two, though…we had three. Fair State and Keller Pils, for sure, but the new entrant was Summit’s Dakota Soul — new this year and worthy of a shot. And this is MNBeer, right? Why not have three entrants from the home team? 
7Considered: Bent Paddle Venture Pils, Bauhaus Wonderstuff, Fulton Pils, Indeed B-Side Pils, Lake Monster Calhoun Claw, Schell’s Pils
Not considered because I have to draw the line somewhere, and I can’t both finish a taste-testing and continue to make tweaks every time a new release comes out or an award is earned: Steel Toe Pilsner, Beaver Island Check Pils, any of the other myriad Pilsners that have been released since I started this.
8Which meant there were LOTS of leftovers. I was the Johnny Appleseed of Pilsner beers this Memorial Day weekend.
9One was the friend who’d gotten all the St. Louis beers for me but really doesn’t care for Pilsners, and the other, a friend who will happily sample just about anything and can tell you a great story about Nate Anderson who drove a teal Ranger in high school and once got busted in the parking lot for throwing away his empties from Tommy Swanson’s party in the garbage can outside the school office. 

Review – Tin Whiskers Waveform

Hazy, juicy, funky, fruity, milkshake glitter.

These features don’t often interest me when it comes to beer, but they would make for an interesting My Little Pony. IT seems new releases lately are either riding the trend (who can blame them) or are shifting to lighter, summer-themed styles, so when I saw last week that Tin Whiskers had released Waveform, a West Coast IPA, my interest was piqued.

“Why now?” I thought.

“Why not?” my inner monologue continued. “You like this style, so stop asking questions.”

It seemed a break from the norm. Hazy IPAs are de rigueur [Tin Whiskers actually released their own – Distortion – not too long ago] and while I like Pilsners, Kölschs and hefeweizens, they aren’t my go-to styles. This release seemed to be speaking to me.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I bought a four-pack of Waveform. Here’s my impression:

Tin Whiskers Waveform

West Coast IPA

ABV – 6.3%

IBU – 80

Aroma: Bright and citrusy hops up front. Not heavy, no indication they’ve used spicy or piney hops.

Appearance: Pours clear and light gold – a good sign based solely on my preferences.  

Flavor: Light, citrusy hops for a moment and then you’re hit with a hammer of piney, bitter hops. The Mosaic hops are noticeable but don’t dominate the way they can in other beers. This flavor lingers and you all but forget there was a citrus note at the beginning.

Mouthfeel: Clean and dry. No sweetness hanging around. This is surprisingly drinkable for being as hoppy as it is.

Overall Impression: Really a bold take on the West Coast IPA – which I would expect to be clear, dry and featuring hops with pine notes. This fits the bill and takes the hoppy part to the limit.

This is definitely my favorite IPA from Tin Whiskers, a spot formerly held by the previously mentioned Distortion. They’ve quietly been making some pretty solid new beers, in my opinion. Waveform is in stores and in the taproom right now, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Dangerous Man and Electric Fetus Collaborate on Single Hop IPA Record Store Day Beer

A few years ago, Electric Fetus owner Aaron Meyerring was trying to bring in some more stuff to sell for Record Store Day—a day that kicks off the spring/summer festivities here and around the country. He decided that he wanted to work with a local brewery and Dangerous Man stepped right up. “They’re great people over there and it’s been a great partnership” he says. The record store sells some Dangerous man merchandise and the brewery makes an exclusive beer for this day. Unfortunately, they can’t serve it at the south Minneapolis retailer, but if you bring your Electric Fetus receipt in to the brewery you’ll get a dollar off a pint of the beer.

Meyerring wishes they could serve the beer but notes that they don’t want to take away from what Record Store Day is about. “We didn’t want to make Record Store Day a beer fest or anything like that” he says. The beer itself is Single Hop IPA brewed with Eureka hops. Vinyl collector and Dangerous Man Operations Manager Hilari Bandow describes the flavor of the beer. “Black Currants, pine, dark fruits, slight citrus and herbal notes from the hops blanket the aroma and flavors of this ale. Crisp, clean simple malts round out the backbone to keep the balance all in check.”

New merch at the store will include some official Prince (a known supporter of Electric Fetus) merchandise not available anywhere else in the world. A year ago Aaron had the opportunity to attend Prince’s last show in Atlanta. “We got call saying Prince would like you to come to his show in Atlanta. It was an opportunity you can’t pass up.”

An opportunity he’s sure to remember for the rest of his days.

Here’s the schedule for Saturday:

Music schedule:
10:00 a.m. – DJ Jake Rudh of Transmission
Noon – Marah in the Mainsail
1:30 p.m. – Sims
3:00 p.m. – Flipp
4:30 p.m. – Monica LaPlante

Peace Coffee will be on hand outside the store before we open.
Heggies Pizza will have breakfast pizza for those in line, starting at 7 a.m.
Glam Doll Donuts will have tasty treats inside at 9 a.m.
Natedogs and Chef Shack Ranch Minneapolis food trucks will be on site behind the store starting at 10 a.m.

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Relax in the Red Bull Sound Select lounge behind the store and check out the rockin’ kids’ craft area in the lounge…
DJ FunSize spins tunes
Cool activities for kids including projects recycling old vinyl, design your own album cover and more!
Warner Music Group will be here with posters and other free goodies behind the store.

Pick up your coupon for the special Electric Fetus Record Store Day beer at Dangerous Man Brewing Co all day Saturday.

Thanks to these additional sponsors:
Twin Town Guitars, Audioengine

Check out the list of Record Store Day exclusives here in PDF or web form:
We can’t guarantee what we’ll have, but we’ve tried to get in as many as possible.


Beers to seek out at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is the place for gimmicky food, and beer of course is no different. This year there will be a couple of new beers that fit this category including a cider and another beer based on a deep fried sugar bomb staple of the fair. We’re not gonna waste any time, so here are some beers that you may want to seek out at The Great Minnesota Get Together.

Mini Donut Beer from Lift Bridge – Yep, this is a huge hit every year at the fair and it’s not going away anytime soon. This malt monster is a real treat, one that I only want once a year. The cinnamon sugar rimmed glass gives a much needed touch to base of this beer. You can find this at Ball Park Café.

Hopmosa from Bent Paddle Brewing – No, this doesn’t taste exactly like a mimosa—but the folks at Bent Paddle know a thing or two about infusing beers. The beer being infused is Bent Hop IPA and the addition of orange zest will only make this more appealing on a hot summer day. Find this over at Ball Park Café.

Sociable Caramel Apple Cider from Sociable Cider Werks – Jim Watkins over at Sociable Cider Werks is known for carefully sourcing the apples that he uses in his products over at the taproom in Northeast Minneapolis. This one is a blend of a few different varieties along with a simple syrup he concocted with a little help from a childhood friend. Expect this to be topped off with an apple slice drizzled with caramel. You’ll only find this at Giggles Campfire Grille.

Red Sangria Lager from Schell’s – Radlers are known for being a tad sweet, yet make for a refreshing summer treat. This one promises to be less sweet but should deliver in terms of drinkability on an 85-degree day in Minnesota. The beer is said to feature flavors of elderberries, pear, citrus, and apples. It’s only 4.8% ABV and will be topped with a Red Citrus Sangria Beer Foam. The Schell’s Stage Stand might be my first stop. It’s also available at LuLu’s Public House.

Funnel Cloud from Bad Weather Brewing – This would seem at first glance to be a sugar bomb. Joe at Bad Weather tells me otherwise stating that this won’t be overly sweet like some of the others. I’m skeptical, but head brewer Andy Ruhland knows what he’s doing over there, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Expect this to have undertones of vanilla and cinnamon/sugar. This beer is exclusive to Mancini’s Alfresco so it will only be available there.

Your best bet though is to visit the Land of 10,000 Beers Exhibit near the food building where you can purchase a flight of beer to wash down those cheese curds. This is where you will get a real taste of the beer being made here in Minnesota.


MN Beer Notebook: Early January 2016


Fulton will be brewing their 300 IPA year-round now. Brewed with Mosaic hops, this has quickly become a local favorite for hop heads. Expect to find this around town starting on January 18th.

Our friends over at France 44 Cheese Shop (MPLS) just tapped Hawaiian Speedway Stout from AleSmith Brewing. This highly coveted Imperial Stout is a version of their popular “Speedway Stout” but is made with vanilla beans and toasted coconut.
Summit Brewing is celebrating 30 years in 2016 and they plan to celebrate by releasing four special beers throughout the year. The first one will be a Double IPA (8.5% ABV) made with Pale, Concerto Pale, and wheat—and aggressively hopped with Mosaic, Citra, Equinox, Bravo, Orbit and Experimental 06300. Four packs of tallboys should begin to hit shelves in a few weeks.

Dangerous Man, The Minneapolis Beard and Moustache Club, and Chowgirls Killer Catering will be hosting the 3rd annual Beard and Mustache Contest at the Solar Arts space on Sunday, January 17th at 1 pm. This also kicks off Dangerous Man’s 3rd Anniversary Week. You can register on the day of the event and if you’d like to attend it will only run you $5. Dangerous Man beer will be available for purchase on site as well as those fantastic pasties from Potters.
Lift Bridge is hosting their Silhouette Release Party on January 23rd from noon until 10 pm. They conducted a pre-sale for bottles of Silhouette but will sell any remaining bottles they might have at the event. Tickets are only $5 and include a free beer token.