The year 2022 did not disappoint when it came to a bevvy of really great beers. My wife, kids, and I trekked all over Minnesota to find the best the Land of 10,000 Lakes have to offer. On top of that we had a great road trip to Ft. Collins, CO one of the Beer Capitals of the United States. So, which were my favorites? Well, sit back and crack open a cold one and relive the best of 2022 with me.
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In order to qualify for this list the beer had to be a new one I haven’t had before 2022, and I had to have it in the tap room. Some of these beers have existed prior to 2022, but this was the year I got to sample them. Please note, these are just my opinions. I don’t mean to rankle any feathers, and I am sure there are a lot of great beers we missed. If we did miss something let us know in the comments below and we will try and get around to it in 2023!
Over the last couple of years we saw a surge in Craft Light lagers. I tried out quite a few of them, and they really do give you that light “beer flavored beer” that tastes so good after a long day of doing yard work on a hot summer weekend. Astralite stands above all of them though. It is light, refreshing, well balanced. Unlike most light lagers which taste like hop flavored water, Astralite is super well balanced and actually carries some malt notes to give it a great finish!
Going to Fort Collins was an opportunity to hit up some of the great nationwide breweries that helped form the Craft Beer Movement decades ago. Odell was by far and away my favorite of the large breweries I visited this year. My favorite of their beers was Friek. Friek is a raspberry cherry barrel aged sour. A wild fermented beer has a subtle sweetness, tart fruity notes and finishes with a smooth oaky flavor.
An IPA these days is a dime a dozen. I can’t name many breweries that don’t have at least three of this family on tap. With that, they do start to run together and its hard to make a memorable beer in this category. That along comes Space Ghost from Equinox Brewing. A hazy, hop forward beer starts and finishes with well balanced citrus hop notes. There is a shiny and bright sweetness in the middle creating a perfectly balanced IPA experience. So if you ever make it to Ft. Collins, be sure to stop in and try this one.
On one of our many weekend day trips we hit up Lift Bridge’s new taproom out in New Richmond, WI. This cozy and inviting space brings a little bit of Minnesota love to our Wisconsin neighbors. Here we come to our second IPA on the list. Please, Try My Product is a hazy IPA and part of Lit Bridges “Brewers Series”. The straw gold, and hazy IPA was crisp, well balanced, and almost tropical hop notes to it thanks in part to the Galaxy hops in it. Lift Bridge, one of Minnesota’s oldest craft breweries, I am happy to report is still putting out some great quality product!
This was one of the first beers I had in 2022, clocking in at January 2022. Luckily this booze bomb, weighing in at 9.5% ABV, is in line with Boom Islands signature styles of beer. Funky Reggae Party is a wild fermented sour with limes added in. The tartness of the limes, and the wild fermented process creates a unique, and surprisingly delicate one-two punch. This is definitely a sipping beer, and one of the few sours I have had that could be paired with a good cigar. The uniqueness of this beer is amazing, and once again shows that some of Minnesota’s old guard of breweries are still bringing their A game.
Like I stated earlier, IPAs don’t ping my radar very often like they did ten years ago, but this one “drifted” into this well deserved spot on this list. Billed as a West Coast IPA, this cloudy, golden, hops aroma packed beer pours heavy into the glass. What really drives this home for me is that you get a sturdy malt flavor out of this one. Too many IPAs are hop bombs, but this one IS the bomb, you end up enjoying the copious fruity hops even more. Don’t pass this beer up when you visit Insight!
It just wouldn’t be a Top Beer list without a beer from Spilled Grain Brewhouse. Their offering to my Top Beer list of 2022 happens to be a gose. My evolution as a beer drinker has gone through many phases. There was the sour beer phase, the IPA phase, and pastry stout phase, the “beer flavored beer” phase. Currently I am in an Oktoberfest/English Mild phase, but if I majored in red beers this year, I minored in goses. The salty coriander taste of Shipwrecked was then further enhanced with lime puree and then aged with tequila-soaked wood. The final product is a smooth, tart and refreshing beer that hits your senses in layers that will make you wish you were shipwrecked on an island with a keg of this one!
Beets in beer? YES IT WORKS! This was a year of some really crazy sours, dill pickle sours, garlic goses, but this one took the cake for oddities. I guess this beer just marches to a different beet. Med City Beet looks a little off at first with its vibrant red color, but don’t judge this beet by its tempo! With a light mouthfeel, a sour hit mellowed by the creamy earthiness of the beets. I originally added this one to my flight because I just had to know what it tasted like, but I would order this one again, and again, and so on. I highly recommend this one if you are looking to something a little off the beet-en path!
Arbeiter Brewing is fast becoming one of my go-to Minneapolis breweries. They always have a great pilsner on tap. For me the winner was Bramble On, a Blackberry Wheat beer. This very hazy, muddy beer, looks like it is going to be thick and chewy, but it defies appearances. It was smooth, clean tasting with just the right amount of blackberry fruitiness. This beer was just a great example of how a brewery can make beer flavor beer, but with just the right amount of style!
Billed as a barrel aged “Golden Sour” and made with locally picked produce this sour intrigued my senses on our final leg of the trip coming home from Ft. Collins. This sleepy little brewery should not be missed if you are in the Brooking, SD area. This smooth and poised sour is not like the punchy sours you find at a lot of other breweries. The barrel aging helps smooth and round out the flavors to create a mellow sipping beer that is excellent for pairing with cheese. Check out our episode of Wandering the Weekend where we paired this beer, and a few others in the series, with cheeses from Redhead Creamery. So don’t miss out on this oaky finished sour.
Okay, now I know a lot of readers are probably going to argue about dill pickle beers, and I get that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, or better yet pint of beer. But when they are done right, they are out of this world. Originally designed to make bloody beers, which deserve a list in their own right, this sour beer was light, effervescent, bright and packed full of dill flavor. I enjoyed this one so much I might have had a couple of pints with out the bloody mary mix.
It should be no surprise that on of Minnesota’s best breweries would have a beer on this list. Now I love Oktoberfest/Marzen/Festbier season. I look forward to these roasty lagers all year long. There is now better time to really enjoy the beer in my book. This Festbier combines the best of the Oktoberfest and Pilsner world. This beer is the right mix of malty and hoppy. I could lose myself sitting in front of a campfire with just a couple of crowlers of this one!
We frequent this place a lot, mostly due to proximity to where I live. It’s one of the Twin Cities newer breweries and they make a LOT of solid beers. Their Pub Ale just might be the closest thing to a perfect beer that I have EVER had. It is roasty, malty, and just a tinge of toffee like sweetness. I actually did a line up of three other, very solid, English Milds in comparison and the depth and flavor just can’t be beat on this one. There are few beers in this world that I repeatedly drink over and over again, this is one of them!
So that’s a wrap on 2022! So from all of us at Beerploma we hope you have a Happy Holiday Season! Don’t forget to leave a comment on your favorite beers of 2022. Be safe out there, and as always Drink Local and support your favorite Minnesota Breweries in 2023!
Special thank to Quinn G. from The Drinking Must Stache podcast show for helping to edit this article.
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