Three MN State Fair Drinks Worth Your Money This Year [PHOTOS]
If you're headed to the Minnesota State Fair this year and down to try something gimmicky, these unique beverages are worth your money.
Some people love visiting the Minnesota State Fair for the sights and sounds. Some love the feeling of nostalgia the state fair brings. Some visit for the exhibits, live performances, contests or activities, and some go for the freebies. Some look forward to trying new or favorite fair foods while others -- like my wife Katie and me -- look forward to the new specialty drinks. For nearly four years, Katie and I have been blogging our way through Minnesota's craft beer industry, exploring and documenting our finds and experiences. The State Fair has been an annual highlight and tradition, then, as we seek to sample as many gimmicky, specialty brews as possible.
This year was no exception, and we passed through the gates Monday afternoon with a list of nine drinks we wanted to try. They were:
1. Triple Berry Cheesecake Lager
This lager is a tasty combination of cheesecake goodness and triple berry. It’s a fruity, sweet berry blast in a glass that’s a perfect fair-time treat. 5% ABV, 10 IBUs. Brewed in Mankato, Minn., by Mankato Brewery. At The Hangar, on the northeast corner of Underwood Street and Murphy Avenue
2. Waffle Dog Breakfast Ale
Brewed with maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla, this beer hits all of the right notes. Without being too sweet, this breakfast in-a-glass is delicious any time of day. 7% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis, Minn., by Insight Brewing. At The Hangar, on the northeast corner of Underwood Street and Murphy Avenue
3. Beach Cruiser Hard Cider
All-natural pineapple, passion fruit and guava lend a tropical vibe to this refreshing hard cider. 6.4% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis, Minn., by Sociable Cider Werks. At Shanghaied Henri’s, located at the International Bazaar
4. Blue Razzmatazz
This colorful fusion of beer and blue raspberry results in perfectly balanced sweetness. 5% ABV, 10 IBUs. Brewed in Big Lake, Minn., by Lupulin Brewing Company. At Coasters, located on the southeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Liggett Street
5. Caramel Apple Craft Seltzer
A light, bubbly and refreshing seltzer crafted with bright, crisp green apple. Served in a glass rimmed with buttery rich caramel, which blends perfectly with each tantalizing sip. 5% ABV. Brewed in White Bear Lake, Minn., by Big Wood Brewery. At Andy’s Grille, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett & Nelson streets
6. Golden Cookies N Cream Ale
A classic combination of cookies and cream plus a hint of vanilla are highlighted in this dessert-like ale. 5.6% ABV, 20 IBUs. Brewed in Waconia, Minn., by Waconia Brewing Company. At Coasters, located on the southeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Liggett Street
7. Minnesota Maple Mead
Soft, smooth and effervescent mead is made from upper Midwestern honey and spiked with a splash of Minnesota maple syrup. Gluten-free. 6% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis, Minn., by Sociable Cider Werks. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of the Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater
8. MN Brew Together Peaches and Cream Milkshake IPA
This milkshake IPA is packed with a creamy hop snap and conditioned on peaches and vanilla beans, then dry-hopped with El Dorado hops. 6.5% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis, Minn., by a partnership between Modist Brewing and Dangerous Man Brewing Company. At Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues, outside The Garden
9. The Shandlot Golden Tea Edition
With the flavor profile of an Arnie Palmer, this refresher pairs lemon shandy beer with an infusion of fresh-brewed black tea. 4.5% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis, Minn., by Bauhaus Brew Labs. At Ball Park Cafe, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues, outside The Garden
With nearly a dozen specialty beverages and brews sipped and sampled, here are the top three I would recommend to anyone visiting the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together this year:
1. Minnesota Maple Mead
Mead, in my opinion, is an underappreciated alcoholic beverage. The result of fermenting honey and water, it's not quite beer and not quite cider. It's naturally sweetened and definitely tasty. As the name implies, the Minnesota Maple Mead had an extra touch of sweetness thanks to local Minnesota maple syrup. Light, effervescent and perfectly balanced sweetness, this drink from Sociable Cider Werks was the best thing I drank all day, and my number one recommendation for anyone looking for a sip worth the bucks!
2. Triple Berry Cheesecake Lager
This was the first drink my wife and I tried at the State Fair this year, and it set a high bar for everything that followed. Boasting the fruitiness of berries with the creaminess of cheesecake and graham cracker flavors of crust ,this refreshing lager perfectly blended the dessert flavors of a berry cheesecake in an easy summer sipper.
3. Caramel Apple Craft Seltzer
Not to be confused with the Candy Apple Hard Cider also available at the Minnesota State Fair this year, the Caramel Apple Craft Seltzer was perhaps the most eccentric-looking drink we tried. A bright neon green, the seltzer's color matched the conspicuous green apple flavor. Prior to pouring, the drink's rim was dipped in caramel for the full caramel apple taste and experience. Personally, I thought it was sickly sweet (as in, drink too much and you'll get a stomach ache); my wife, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed it and called it her favorite drink of the state fair.
While these are the three specialty drinks and brews I'd personally recommend trying this year, honorable mentions are the Waffle Dog Breakfast Ale, MN Brew Together Peaches and Cream Milkshake IPA and The Shandlot Golden Tea Edition.