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Local Suds: 5 Minnesota beers to drink in May

Omni's Tropical Milkshake IPA: the body tastes like leftover milk from a bowl of Froot Loops.

Omni's Tropical Milkshake IPA: the body tastes like leftover milk from a bowl of Froot Loops. Photos by Jerard Fagerberg

There’s a reason they named the month “May” and not “Can.”

In a reversal of that annoying grade school teacher logic, May is the calendar’s least committal month. Just when you think spring is here, the son of a bitch dumps a foot of snow on you. Sun in the forecast? Dress for rain, dummy. Months like these, all you can depend on is beer.

Well, thank the careless Weather Gods that beer is here—and continues to be here—through each and every mercurial day. And this month’s edition of Local Suds has something for every stripe in the meteorological rainbow. Pair accordingly, and rest assured knowing that, whatever the season, the beermakers in this state will keep you steady.

Omni Tropical Milkshake IPA
Milkshake IPA, 7% ABV, 30 IBU

Our Best Beer Trend this year was the milkshake IPA, and for the most part, local iterations of the hyper-trendy style have been fleeting. Dangerous Man manages to keep theirs going on tap, but fellow standard bearers Modist and Junkyard have had a hard time keeping their cans in stock. Enter Maple Grove’s Omni Brewing, who are following their incredibly popular Raspberry Milkshake IPA with the second widely available release in their Malt Shop series: Tropical Milkshake IPA. This hazy fruit brew explodes out of the can with a luscious vanilla scent, and the body tastes like leftover milk from a bowl of Froot Loops. Unlike Raspberry IPA, Tropical Milkshake IPA doesn’t rely on a single fruit flavor, instead putting forward a platter of pineapple, orange, and mango for you to indulge in.

Fair State Keep the North Cold
Golden ale, 5% ABV, 20 IBU

The Daytons have embedded themselves in every aspect of Minneapolis culture, so of course it wasn’t long before the rebrand-happy brothers got their hands on a beer. The Askov Finlayson founders enlisted Northeast’s Fair State Brewing Cooperative to help them spread the message of climate-conscious consumerism, and their co-branded golden ale lives that purpose by being brewed with Kernza—a unique Minnesota grain that helps absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. The easy-drinking, biscuity beer is also brewed with barley from Crookston and hops from Foley, making it one of the most holistically Minnesotan beers on the market right now.

Surly Inside the Upside Down
Imperial sour ale, 9% ABV, n/a IBU

When Surly announced a new small-batch experimental series out of their Brooklyn Center facility, it felt like a return to form. Once again, the forerunners of Minnesota beer are on the vanguard of experimental brewing with the first in the BC Small Batch series: Inside the Upside Down. An obvious callout to Stranger Things, the beer is a wholly unprecedented 9% kettle sour made with strawberry puree and raspberries. Inside the Upside Down is also brewed in collaboration with Miami’s J. Wakefield Brewing, melding that team’s love of Berliner weisses and Surly’s penchant to take it over the goddamn top. Don’t worry though—that big booziness is totally swallowed up in the jam-like strawberry flavor. It’s definitely a more syrupy sour than you’re used to, but this new series isn’t built to keep you comfortable.

Eastlake Arcturan Mega Saison 2018
Imperial saison, 10% ABV, n/a IBU

How do you make a saison mega? You could try exposing it to gamma rays, but the FDA would likely shut your brewery down, so what Midtown Global Market’s Eastlake Craft Brewery did was brew theirs with ginger and grapefruit and barrel age it until it was wine strength. Arcturan returns in 2018 at a sturdy 10% ABV, which should make for a boozy drink, but the combination of clove, pepper, and ginger tame the beer’s fortitude. It’s a bounty of flavors, blossoming like a spring garden of European beer goodness. The grapefruit is mostly absent, but if you want more fruit in your gigantic saison, look out for 2017 Arcturan Mega Saison, which was aged on peaches and is now available in bottles.

Enki Idyll
English special bitter, 5.6% ABV, 50 IBU

On the first Saturday of every month this year, Victoria brewery Enki has released a new beer, slowly leading up to their five-year anniversary party on May 23. The last in the line before the celebration is their new Idyll ESB—a pale English-style ale that oscillates from caramel-sweet to Euro-crisp in the course of a single sip. Brewers Dan Norton and Kent Olson built the beer to play in the niche of a pale ale, but they bolstered the body with Patagonia malt and finished it with the fantastically enigmatic hop hybrid Falconer’s Flight. Three new beers (a blackberry berliner weisse, honey blonde, and Scotch ale) will follow Idyll as Enki’s year of invention rolls on to their anniversary.

Brewers interested in being featured in Local Suds should email jgfagerberg@gmail.com.