1. Oktoberfest, Beaver Island Brewing, St. Cloud, Minn.
Notes: This classic Märzen style lager is rich and malty, but not overly sweet. Toasty caramel and bread crust are the dominant flavor notes. The spicy character of German hops gives some low-level balance. It goes out dry and mildly bitter.
2. Windvane, Bad Weather Brewing Co., St. Paul
Notes: Citrus and pine hops lead the way, with a hefty backing of caramel malt enhanced by the spicy flavors of rye malt. Bitterness is moderate, but still high enough to cut through the malt.
3. Maroon and Bold, Bent Brewstillery, Roseville (not available until September)
Notes: This is a malty double IPA, making it an apt choice as the weather gets cooler. But it’s not sweet. There is plenty of hop character to brighten it up creating a mingling of citrus, hay, and sweet toasted marshmallows. And it packs a bitter punch to counter the malt. The hops change from year to year, so it’s a different experience with each batch.
4. Lost Fathom Dark Lager, Lake Monster Brewing, Minneapolis
Notes: A classic Munich-style dark lager with a Minnesota twist. Toasty, bread-crust malt flavor leads the way, joined by the warm, nutty tones of wild rice. Secondary touches of caramel and light chocolate add subtle intrigue. Hop bitterness is low and accompanied by low, spicy flavors of continental hop varieties. Goes out with lager-like crispness.
5. Stargrazer, Bauhaus Brewlabs, Minneapolis
Notes: This Bavarian schwarzbier leans on roasted malts some, giving dark chocolate impressions balanced by moderate to medium-low bitterness. Spicy Saaz hops offer a counterpoint to the gentle sweetness. The finish is just off dry and lingers on malt with subtle bitterness.
6. Bitteschlappe, Excelsior Brewing Company, Excelsior, MN - Randy Howe email@example.com
Notes: Although Excelsior calls this a “Munich-style brown ale,” it drinks like an American brown. Malt leads the way with a touch of caramel, a bit of biscuit and a measure of bittersweet chocolate roast. Bitterness is moderate, as is the spicy hop character.