“May” sounds like a polite month, but in reality, it’s the least friendly on the calendar. One day it’s 75 and sunny, the next there’s hail the size of lacrosse balls pelting your pergola. The dichotomy sucks, and it really makes the idea of a spring seasonal pretty difficult to peg.
All the better for the beer drinker!
If the weather won’t commit, breweries don’t have to either. Spring is the most experimental season for local beermakers, and as we’ll see here, the promise of summer ahead and the fear of winter returning can make for some truly unique beers.
Insight Crazy Aunt
Spiced beer, 6% ABV, 10 IBU
This past summer, Insight owner Ilan Klages-Mundt had his first gin and tonic. Hard to believe for a globetrotting devotee to the world of craft alcohol, but the maestro is now making up for lost time by transforming his newfound love for the classic cocktail into a beer the likes of which have never been seen in the North Star State.
Crazy Aunt tastes exactly like a gin and tonic, but in reality, it’s an ale brewed with juniper, coriander, lime juice, and yes, even tonic water. The tonic’s role in the brew is proprietary, but it adds a softness and dryness to the beer, making the finish unmistakable. The other spices muffle the hops, yeast, and malt, leaving the beer novice delighted and expert totally befuddled. Released on May 3, Crazy Aunt is truly a first-of-its-kind beer. Though it may offend some traditionalists with its maverick inclusion of adjuncts, it also pushes the boundaries of just what a beer can be.
Town Hall Pollen Party
Spiced beer, 7.3% ABV, n/a IBU
Bees are good. They’re industrious pollinators, and the product of their work is delicious. Unfortunately, this animal has had a tough couple years, and Minneapolis brewpub Town Hall Brewing is now joining the fight to help save the world’s honeybees.
Their weapon in this fight is a sweet, nectary spiced beer called Pollen Party that’s made with Bar Bell dandelion honey from Squaw Lake. Released on May 11 at the flagship brewpub, Pollen Party benefits the field-leading University of Minnesota bee lab by donating $1 from every floral, lemony pint to the facility. Pick up a growler and feel a little bit better about that field of dandelions you mowed down this weekend.
Third Street Sanity Break
IPA, 4% ABV, 45 IBU
During the 1920s, beer got a bad rap for driving folks mad, but now Third Street Brewhouse is trying to reclaim a bit of that reputation with their new session IPA. Sanity Break is a beer built on a stolen moment -- the kind of sip you take when office pressures and household chores mount to the point of oppression. This apricot-esque small IPA is the perfect thing to put it all in perspective.
Sanity Break is an easy drink, and at only 4% ABV, it’s a beer even the prohibitionists would let slide. Moments of wild and bright citra hops are interspersed in the sweet, translucent body. It’s simple but still tantalizing, and when enjoyed ice cold, can smack you back to your senses.
F-Town Be Here Now
Golden ale, 4.6% ABV, 26 IBU
Faribault’s F-Town is just breaking into the Twin Cities beer market, and this summer, they’re leading off with a home run. Be Here Now Golden Ale is the type of light, crisp ale that Minneapolitans clamber for once the mercury tops 60. Easy to drink in 16-ounce cans while floating around Lake Harriet on an inflatable pizza slice, Be Here Now is a vacation in a can.
But Be Here Now comes with a bigger message than that. As the name suggests, the philosophy of the beer is to be present. It’s about putting your phone down and indulging in the moment. This beer doesn’t get in the way of your having a good time -- it complements the experience instead of trying to overpower it.
If that’s not your style, F-Town also released a peanut butter porter this month that tastes like candy bars, so regardless there’s something for you in their stock.
Lupulin Not Bad for a Strip Mall Brewery
Double IPA, 10% ABV, 50 IBU
Despite being named one of the best suburban breweries in the Minneapolis metro, Big Lake’s Lupulin Brewing carries a chip on its shoulder. As a strip mall brewery, it’s constantly fighting to prove itself as a legitimate beer powerhouse. If you can put aside your bias against strip malls, you’ll find the brewers there churn out some of the boldest, most finely crafted IPAs in the Land of 10,000. In honor of their second year fighting that fight, Lupulin are releasing a pair of beers to silence the haters.
The first of those is an imperial IPA named Not Bad for a Strip Mall Brewery. Pouring a gorgeous, juicy orange and overflowing with hop aroma. The beer is anchored with a deep, resinous sweetness that follows the hop overload, proving that this small-town hop factory values balance as much as panache. Not Bad for a Strip Mall Brewery will be released alongside Citridiculous during Lupulin’s Hoppy Beerthday celebration on May 20, and metro area drinkers can celebrate at Stanley’s NE while kegs last.
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