Autumn Brew ReviewAutumn Brew Review The Autumn Brew Review signals not only a change in season, but also in craft beer drinking preferences.  Many of us transition from crisp and refreshing summer beers to dark and malty fall beers.  To a seasonal drinker like myself, the ABR is the onset of my favorite season for drinking.

On Saturday, craft beer enthusiasts were treated to an incredible array of seasonal beers.  However, the best part about the festival to me is that the focus is definitely on MN breweries.  Unlike previous years, all the MN breweries populated a spacious horseshoe to the right of the entrance.  The space was such that even in the long lines of Lift Bridge and Surly, patrons did not feel cramped.

Here are my top five craft beers from the fest in no particular order:

Top Five:

Disgruntled Brewing

Previously the only reason I knew about Perham, MN is because I go through bags of Barrel O Fun chips like Justin Bieber goes through bad decisions.  However, Disgruntled Brewing’s Imperial Brunch Stout definitely has me thinking that I need to visit the brewery.  This hefty Imperial Stout had all the elements that I love about breakfast.  Vanilla, maple syrup, and coffee flavors are all present at the fAutumn Brew Reviewlavor caucus.  At 10%, I would love to sip on this bad boy all morning long. . . on a weekend of course.

Northgate Brewing

Speaking of stouts I would gladly sell my soul for, Northgate Brewing Co. also poured a bourbon barrel-aged stout.  Not yet released in bottles, this beer has me percolating for that magic moment when I get to bring one home with me.  This beer is luscious, complex, and deceptively smooth.   This is a bit of a departure from their sessionable pub-style offerings at 12%, but it does not stray from the great flavors we have come to expect from the Northgate crew.

Lupulin Brewing CompanyAutumn Brew Review

With a name like Lupulin, I expect a deft use of hops in their craft beers.  Lupulin Brewing Co. does not disappoint with their take on an East Coast IPA, Blissful Ignorance.  While a little bit darker than some of the East Coast IPAs, Blissful Ignorance has the juicy and smooth hop character that doesn’t ruin your palate.  This beer bursts with aromas and flavors that scratch any hop lover right where they itch.

Dangerous Man Brewing Co.

Sure, this might seem like low-hanging fruit.  Dangerous Man sets the bar so high when it comes to innovation and flavor.  While I am sure most people were soaking their lederhosen for the Peanut Butter Porter, I actually thought that the Belgian Dark Strong Ale really epitomizes what a great fall beer should be.  This gets a bit of dark fruit from the barrel, but then all the nice caramel maltiness that I love in a darker beer.

Lupine Brewing CompanyAutumn Brew Review

When I think of Scotland, the condiment I think of is haggus puree and not maple syrup.  However, the Kilted Maple from Lupine Brewing Co. is a delectable combination of sweet and smoky.  The caramel from the malt and the burnt sugary notes from the maple syrup really balanced out the smokiness of the beer.  If you haven’t ever thought that breakfast with Sean Connery would be something to write home about, this beer might make you reconsider.

Favorite Display Concept: Lift Bridge Brewing Co.Autumn Brew Review

One of the coolest brewery displays belonged to Lift Bridge Brewing Company.  They had four taps, and one of them rotated constantly throughout the fest.  However, they did not list release times like many of the other places.  Instead, when a specialty beer ran out, a fest-goer would spin the wheel and whatever was selected would go on next.  This created a fun element of suspense and definitely had people lining up at Lift Bridge all day long.

Favorite Newcomer to MN: FunkwerksAutumn Brew Review

Funkwerks, a craft beer darling from Fort Collins, CO made its debut at ABR.  Funkwerks is best known for GABF award-winning Saisons.  They are on tap at select locations and should be in liquor stores on Oct. 3rd.  We are lucky to have them here.  For more info on the brewery, check out my visit there here.

Best Out of State Beer: Alesmith Vietnamese Coffee Speedway StoutAutumn Brew Review

If you don’t like coffee or beer, I will probably not trust you.  If you send me a bottle of this stuff, I will gladly give you the shirt off my back and the spare key to the house.  The Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout from Alesmith is easily one of the best coffee stouts in the world.  There is a wonderful bouquet of spices in this beer that propel it into the category of greatness.  This deep and darkly complex beer combines coffee and malt in a manner unparalleled.  They released it at 1:30 and I was in line several times.  I have never seen this beer on the shelves, but according to their rep, that might not always be the case for MN.

These are my thoughts on the Autumn Brew Review of 2016.  Lots of wonderful flavors and brewing techniques were on display and I there were definitely other wonderful craft beers on display.  This is just my wrap-up and if you had others that you liked, be sure to leave them in the comments section.  One thing I am sure we can all agree on is that it will be a long wait until the next ABR.  Prost!

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