It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild held a blind tasting of more than 450 beers from nearly 100 breweries and brewpubs in the state to name this year's winners of the Minnesota Brewers Cup. The awards were announced last week in St. Paul at the group's annual conference, which had been on a pandemic-induced hiatus since 2019.
Tomm's American lager from Falling Knife Brewing Co. was named best in show. The Minneapolis brewery with a 149-seat taproom (783 NE. Harding St., fallingknife.beer) opened in 2019.
"This is the beer we brewed for ourselves while we were building the brewery," said Tom Berg, Falling Knife's co-founder and chief brewing officer. "We're so proud."
The other best in show winners showcased both the old and the new.
Fulton Brewing's 300 IPA took second place; it's a beer co-founder Ryan Petz said the Minneapolis brewery (414 6th Av. N., fultonbeer.com) has been making for almost 10 years. "It's really exciting that people still love this beer the way they did 10 years ago," he said.
Rounding out the best in show was No. 68 Red Lager by The Freehouse (701 Washington Av. N., freehousempls.com). Head brewer Alex Doering said the beer was designed especially for competition, so it was the first time the Minneapolis brewery made it. "I'm super pumped about our team who designed it from the ground up," he said.
In addition to the best in show awards, Minnesota beers were recognized in 23 categories. The top three in each style were given awards; here are the first-place winners in each. For a full list, go to mncraftbrew.org.
American lagers: Falling Knife Brewing Co., Mpls., Tomm's
American wheat and cream ales: Canal Park Brewing Co., Duluth, Clear Waters Cream Ale
American amber, blonde and pale ales: Invictus Brewing Co., Blaine, Blaine It On The Rain Amber Ale
Pale lagers: Giesenbräu Bier Co,, New Prague, Hildy's Helles
Amber lagers: Wooden Ship Brewing Co., Mpls., Vienna Lager
Dark lagers: Fitger's Brewhouse, Duluth, Brewhouse Bock
Czech lagers: Arbeiter Brewing Co., Mpls., Czch Plz
German pilsners and export lagers: Utepils Brewing Co., Mpls., Anniversary Pils
American IPAs: Fulton Brewing, Mpls., 300 IPA
Hazy IPAs: Birch's on the Lake, Long Lake, Hazy IPA
Double and specialty IPAs: Venn Brewing Co., Mpls., Chronicopia
German ales: Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth, Little Düssel Do Ya
Strong ales: Fitger's Brewhouse, Duluth, Starfire Reserve
Belgian and monastic ales: Klockow Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Billy Bumbler
English, Scottish and Irish ales: Ursa Minor Brewing, Duluth, Equanimity
Brown ales and porters: St. Paul Brewing, St. Paul, Crooks' Haven
Stouts: Torg Brewery, Spring Lake Park, Wander Well
Hard seltzers: Indeed Brewing Co., Mpls., Real Magic: Yerba Mate Ginger
Wood-aged beers: Chanhassen Brewing Co., Chanhassen, Carver County Reserve
Fruit and spice beers: Venn Brewing Co., Mpls., Cosmosis Pinã Colada
Spice, herb and vegetable beers: Warrior Brewing Co., Duluth, Valkyrie Pumpkin Ale
Wild, sour and funky ales: Falling Knife Brewing Co., Mpls., Cumulonimbus
Specialty beers: The Freehouse, Mpls., No. 68 Red Lager
The nonprofit Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild was founded in 2000 and now has more than 180 brewery members. The Guild promotes Minnesota's brewing industry by sponsoring festivals and special events, including the Minnesota Brewer Cup, All Pints North and the Brewed in Minnesota exhibit at the State Fair.