Boycotting J.J. Taylor's beer portfolio? Here's what to drink instead

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Soft, malty, smooth, clean—and not a bad substitute for Schell's. Facebook: Castle Danger Brewery

If you haven’t heard of the Teamsters Local 792 union strike against J.J. Taylor Distributing or noticed the beers missing from taps at establishments like Grumpy’s NE and HopCat, here’s your update: Drivers have accused J.J. Taylor of putting their safety at risk for the sake of profit.

As drivers picket the company, the union is asking beer drinkers and businesses to stand in solidarity by boycotting J.J. Taylor's delivery portfolio. The Teamsters hope the financial punch will encourage the distributor to rethink its contract offer.

If you’re interested in supporting them, you can protest J.J. Taylor by drinking one of these alternatives instead.

Instead of: Schell's
Try this: Castle Danger Cream Ale

It’s the Cream Ale to end all Cream Ales. The brewery is located in Two Harbors, a little north of Duluth, but you can get their beer just about everywhere. The Castle Cream Ale is known for its soft malty aroma and slightly sweet creamy texture with a balanced bitterness, while finishing smooth and clean.

Instead of: Deschutes
Try this: Barrel Theory

Have you been dreaming of a summer filled with Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA? Trade it out for a local favorite: Barrel Theory Rain Drops IPA. The Citra and Mosaic hops will satiate your juicy IPA cravings.

Instead of: Founding Fathers
Try this: Excelsior Brewing Big Island Blond

This light-bodied ale complements Founding Fathers’ portfolios of lagers, but it features a light citrus aroma and a slightly stronger hop profile. Still a killer of a boat beer, but with a touch more flavor.

Instead of: Miller and Miller Lite
Try this: Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

Today, and any time your light beer loving friends find themselves in a place that's lacking Miller or Bud, the Farm Girl Saison from Stillwater's Lift Bridge Brewing is an easy-drinkin' substitute. 

Instead of: Summit Brewing
Try this: 12welve Eyes

It’s hard to give a thumbs-down to Summit, but we’re doing it in the name of the Teamsters. The least we can do is keep it in St. Paul, so go for a crowler or draft from the new guys at 12welve Eyes. Plus, Summit is distributed across the state by other distributors as well. If you can’t help but order the EPA, ask the beer buyer who still distributes it.

Instead of: Four Loko
Try this: Modist First Call

Sure, the only thing these drinks have in common is caffeine. But say goodbye to your high school skater boy and scene kid days, and upgrade to a more… adult beverage. Modist’s First Call is a light-colored lager with coffee, and it’s entirely acceptable as a shower beer.

Instead of: Redd's Ale
Try this: Urban Forage Cider

This tiny cidery on Lake Street produces funky, tart, and sweet ciders made right here in Minneapolis. Often, the fruit they use is foraged from their own neighborhood.

Instead of: Seagram's 4-packs
Try this: Insight Brewing’s Crazy Aunt or Rowdy Uncle

Self-described as cocktail-ish, Crazy Aunt is a “gin and tonic” summer seasonal. This ale is brewed with juniper, coriander, lime juice, and tonic water—leaving it taste just like your favorite summer mixed drink. The 2018 follow-up is Rowdy Uncle, a moscow mule-inspired brew made with citrus lime and ginger that’s uncannily like the real thing.

Instead of: Cold Spring Brewery
Try this: Lupulin Brewing Company

Stay in Central Minnesota for this trade up. Untappd will tell you to try Hooey, their juicy American IPA, and it wouldn’t be wrong. But while Lupulin is most publicly praised for their IPAs, they do make something for everyone.

Instead of: Guinness
Try this: Montgomery Brewing Peanut Buster Porter

Montgomery Brewing might be small in the scale of Minnesota beer, but their Peanut Buster Porter speaks for itself. Available in crowlers, the beer is thick and creamy with an extra touch of everyone’s favorite condiment.

Instead of: New Belgium/Fat Tire
Try this: Alaskan Amber Alt-Style Ale

Betraying the local Minnesota scene for some beer tourism? We’ve all been guilty of it. It can be comforting to return to an old friend—a classic. Alaskan Amber is slowly fermented, making it richly malty and long on the palate. In a sea of triple-dry-hopped, collaboration, brewed upside down in a spaceship beers, give us something to drink while we fish.

Instead of: Belgian Owl Distilleries
Try this: Copperwing Distillery

Craft whiskey is a unique beast, but if you’re willing to let go of expectations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the flavors produced in this St. Louis Park distillery’s whiskey. Try it in their taproom, or pick up a bottle of their sweet, full-bodied vodskey in your local liquor store.

Instead of: Grain Belt Premium
Try this: Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s Keep The North Cold

Grain Belt is an undeniable staple in Minnesota beer culture. For the next few weeks, trade in your iconic lager to support something even more iconic: Minnesota’s freezing winters. This smooth, light ale is brewed with Kernza, a perennial grain. Profits from this Golden Ale support Askov Finlayson’s Keep the North Cold environmental initiative.

Instead of: Smirnoff Ice
Try this: Literally anything else

Katelyn Regenscheid is marketing manager for Inbound Brewco and writes about Minnesota beer and life at beerandlife.com.

UPDATE: While Finnegans and Indeed are not on the teamsters' boycott list, the union has reached out to let us know that they are distributed by J.J. Taylor. We've removed both from this article. 


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