Minnesota's beers of summer

MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 7/2/2013

Twin Cities brewers offer special beers for our favorite season.

Indeed’s Shenanigans Summer Ale has a zesty, citrus-filled aroma, dry body, and notes of honey.
Photo by Courtney Perry

Being Minnesotan is all about adapting to the seasons. The beers we throw in our fishing boats aren’t the same ones we sip at the ski lodge. Those domineering Russian imperial stouts can’t quench a summertime thirst, nor does an easy-drinking lager have the heat to bite back at February’s frost.

Perhaps no one better understands our seasonally shifting needs than the Minnesota brewer. So, when selecting liquid accompaniment for your cookouts, cabin trips or patio-affixed afternoons, look no further than these local summer seasonals.

Indeed Brewing Company: Shenanigans Summer Ale

This pale wheat ale is best enjoyed under blue skies, and since Indeed’s taproom patio can’t be open all the time, it’s a good thing the Nordeasters started canning the honey-hinted brew this year. Less bitter than many American pale ales, Shenanigans is neither overly hopped nor terribly wheat-forward. While the wheat is prevalent on the nose and creeps back in on the aftertaste, floral notes and a mild tongue-teasing tang bridges the gap. It’s a crowd-pleasing show, but there is no leading role — just a cast of ingredients finding harmony in glass.

Steel Toe Brewing: Sommer Vice

While the name Sommer Vice suits this habit-forming sunshine sipper, it could easily have been called the Ambassador. If only this tactfully smooth hefeweizen handled official diplomatic duties for its style, there might not be as many hefe haters out there. This strikingly soft beer doesn’t wallop the tongue with wheat, and glides to the finish line leaving traces of clove and banana. Its airy body and outright slug-ability could appeal to the craft-beer newcomer, but this thinly hazy Bavarian is remarkably nuanced considering its light load.

Harriet Brewing: Saison Nourrice

Not all summer beers (or beer drinkers) are concerned with keeping skimpy-swimsuit bodies. Thankfully, Harriet’s full-figured farmhouse ale isn’t. Saison Nourrice is the Queen Latifah of local summer beers — beautifully big-bodied for its style —but there’s no need to be shy about showing off a growler at a pool party. Don’t let the Belgian-style ale’s sturdy 6.7 percent ABV deter you from enjoying an occasional afternoon delight, as its yeasty and fruity flavors are a hit at any hour. But this orange-hued brew is even sexier at sunset.

Summit Brewing: Summer Ale

Last year Papa Summit fathered a pair of new beers that had Twin Citians drooling: the year-round hop-head’s dream Saga IPA and the seasonal Summer Ale. While IPAs are all the rage, the sessionable Summer Ale was a sleeper hit. This killer Kolsch has a hefty floral aroma for such a light beer and finishes clean and dry, begetting another gulp. At a mere 4.9 percent ABV, it’s a steady go-to brew from daytime on the dock to twilight campfires. This year Summit upped Summer Ale production by 42 percent. Good thing, because this beer belongs in every cooler in Minnesota.