By The Growler Editorial Staff
This article was produced in partnership with KARE 11 by our friends at The Growler Magazine. For more information on The Growler, head to their website. And check out our other collaboration with them, Bold North Beer: Explore Downtown Minneapolis.
The Bold North, home of well over 10,000 lakes, Paul Bunyan, all the hotdish, and Super Bowl LII.
While the Twin Cities are gearing up for the Big Game itself with over one million hardy fans and visitors expected in the metro area, here at The Growler, we’re celebrating with the best in beer. Minnesotans are accustomed to drinking to the season, and for the bone-chilling months of winter that means warming ourselves up from the inside out with the rich, dark, and appropriately bold beers of the North.
We wouldn’t be doing our due diligence as proper hosts if we didn’t guide you on how to best partake in the festivities, so here are 52 of our very favorite Minnesota-made beers that will give you and your team a true taste of winter in the Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes.
Note: Some of these beers are rare, limited, or may not be currently available. But, hey, it gives out-of-towners one more reason to book a return trip to the Bold North.
56 Brewing Dark Territory
Aromas of chocolate and dark malts, followed by flavors of unsweetened coconut and cocoa nibs, give this complex stout a rich, velvety finish without being too overpowering. With an ABV of just 5.6 percent, this full-bodied stout delivers an opulent finish without weighing you down.
Able DBL BLK WLF
Scoring a bronze medal in the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championships, this beer is named after the ever-elusive black wolf. It’s equal parts dry, hoppy, creamy, and nutty, making it a stout that’s truly impossible to pin down, like its namesake.
Badger Hill Foundation Stout
Layers upon layers of rich English and German malts come together in this dark and roasty stout, juxtaposed with hints of coffee, chocolate, and caramel, and subtle touches of American hops. It’s a perfect balance of malt and bitterness to toast to winter with.
Bad Weather Calamity
With punches of chocolate, roastiness, dark fruits, and malt sweetness, accompanied by assertive bitterness, this velvety, boldly balanced beer is truly meant for cold weather and campfires.
Bad Weather Coffee Ominous
Sometimes, winter in Minnesota just isn’t fun. But Bad Weather’s double brown ale, Ominous, infused with Peace Coffee is the perfect antidote to combat the situation. With roasted flavors from the American, English, and Belgian malts, dark candied sugar nuances, plus the jolt of coffee, this beer is hearty enough to stand up to the most frigid of nights.
Bang Nice (and Nice Coffee)
Bang Brewing’s super-smooth dark beer, Nice, only gets better when a little cold-brewed coffee from St. Paul’s Kopplin’s is added. If you’re looking to drink while it’s still light out, a coffee-infused dark beer like Nice Coffee is your answer.
Barrel Theory Java Oats
This breakfast-in-a-glass is made using almost all English malts and a heaping dose of oats. It’s then cold-brewed right there in the taproom using roasted, ground coffee beans from St. Paul’s Bootstrap Coffee.
Barley John’s Dark Knight
Bolstering big flavors by double fermenting their Old 8 Porter and aged in 45th Parallel barrels for six months to a year, the Dark Knight comes to light as a standout Minnesota winter beer. Take note of the chocolate, coffee, charcoal, and bourbon flavors.
An 8 percent ABV blanket of malty caramel and dried fruit nuances entwined with a smooth, rich and roasty finish, this Baltic porter is as dark as a Minnesota winter’s night.
Bemidji Double Porter
Bemidji Brewing has brewed their winter warmer, Double Porter, since 2013 to celebrate the darkest season with decadence. A rich, malty, and roasty background sets the scene, as tastes of chocolate and dark fruit layer in even more flavor.
Bent Brewstillery Dark Fatha
Revel in the darker side of life with Dark Fatha. Aged in bourbon barrels, the flavor (or should we say, force) is strong in this 12.3 percenter, for this velvety stout drinks like whiskey-meets-chocolate cake.
Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black
Double Shot Double Black is the amped up version of Bent Paddle’s Cold Press Black Ale, with twice the cold press and two doses of whole Madagascar vanilla beans. But wait, there’s more to this highly sought-after beer. The Duluth brewery also ages it for 15 months in bourbon barrels. Double your pleasure, double your fun with Double Shot Double Black.
Bent Paddle Harness IPA
This balancing act supports a tremendous amount of hops, combined with a weighted malt trio of oats, rye, and malted barley. Named after the “tethered teamwork” required to deploy a harness, this brew does not in fact require a harness in order to enjoy.
A tart wintertime treat, cranberries are infused into Blacklist’s Or de Belgique base for a blended, slightly sour touch of cranberry, cherry, and biscuit. And with its Champagne-like effervescence, this is a pretty-in-pink standout.
BlackStack Spare Parts Dark Lager
This dark beer is deceiving in its deep color. A refreshingly light body, earthy roast notes, and a clean-finishing lager character makes for a smooth and easy-drinking beer.
Burning Brothers Roasted
Attention all beer-loving gluten-intolerants: Burning Brothers has a dark, 100 percent gluten-free coffee ale. With finishes of chocolate and slight bitterness, this intriguing ale took third place at the Minnesota State Fair homebrew competition in 2011.
Castle Danger George Hunter Stout
This delicious stout is brewed in honor of the brewer and founder’s great-great grandfather, George Hunter, an Irish immigrant who owned and operated the Iron Range Brewing Co. in Tower, Minnesota. It’s a hearty beer that will plow through these brisk days with bold notes of molasses, licorice, maple, coffee, and cream.
Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter
We’ve heard of comfort food—well, this is a comfort beer. Maintaining a porter backbone with twisting layers of nutty peanut butter, light chocolate, and hints of toast, this beer always has beer fans raving.
Dangerous Man Coconut Milk Stout
Take Dangerous Man’s Milk Stout, add 30 pounds of coconut copra, and what do you get? A mid-winter tropical daydream. The brewery’s newest Coconut Milk Stout, made with toasted coconut, brings an entirely new experience to the flagship favorite.
Excelsior Mr. Jimmy Baltic Porter
Inspired by “Mr. Jimmy” Hutmaker, the unofficial king of Excelsior, this is a traditional Baltic porter aged in cherry wood and brewed with licorice root to give it a pleasantly sweet yet woodsy flavor profile.
Fair State Giantsbane
“Black, roasty, and hefty,” this double American stout is brewed with deeply dark malts, as flavors of coffee, bitter cocoa, and a slight smoky aroma treat your taste buds. And adorned in a sleek black can, it’s definitely dressed for these dark days.
FINNEGANS Dead Irish Poet
Co-created by FINNEGANS founder Jacquie Berglund and Summit head brewer Damian McConn, this stout is inspired by the history of McConn’s homeland, and bold enough for Irish writers like James Joyce and William Butler Yeats. With a smooth, roasted quality, plus dark chocolate and stone fruit notes, this beer will bring thirsty patrons back to life from the freeze.
Saint Paul’s Flat Earth Cygnus X-1
Cygnus X-1 is a galactic X-ray source in the constellation Cygnus, and the first to be widely accepted as a black hole. With a name like that, you know you’re in for something dark. Flat Earth’s English-style porter is boosted by a bonus of rye malt, as the palate floods with hints of chocolate, biscuit, and a touch of smoke.
Forager Pudding Goggles
Coating your mouth with flavor is this coconut and cinnamon imperial porter, aka Pudding Goggles, from Forager in Rochester. Start off with a sweet beginning from the coconut and chocolate flavors, soon to be boosted by a spicy cinnamon aftertaste, leaving a pleasant, slightly bitter mouthfeel.
The Freehouse Barleywine
Rich toffee, notes of raisin, and a touch of molasses, this ruby-colored ale packs a boozy 12.2 percent ABV punch after aging in 286 days in third-use wooden barrels. But with its gentle carbonation and full body, this barleywine is well-balanced.
Fulton War & Peace
If you need an extra nudge to get through the season of snow and ice, Fulton’s War & Peace can help you battle those wintertime blues. Deeply dark Guatemalan beans from Peace Coffee are imparted at the end of fermentation for a harmony of chocolate malt and roasted barley.
Fulton Worthy Adversary
Beneath a shadowy black exterior, powerful dark chocolate and coffee characters lurk atop a mountain of malt. Whether you drink it in bottles at home or venture into the cold to Fulton’s taproom, Worthy Adversary is a welcome winter companion.
Fulton MPLS Mild
Now nearly a somewhat forgotten style, mild ale is a traditional British session beer characterized by its darker color, sweetish malt flavors, subtle hopping levels, and lower alcohol frame. But one sip of Fulton’s MPLS Mild, and you won’t forget it. With six grains, including flaked oats and Britain’s Maris Otter, this beer greets your palate with hints of nuttiness and toffee.
Great Waters The Black Watch Oat Stout (cask)
Did you know that the Black Watch is a regiment of Scottish infantry in the British army? Well, that, and it’s a delicious cask beer at cask at Great Waters’ brewpub. Made with malted oats, enjoy a pint of this frothy, sweet-roasted brew with a heady chocolate and coffee aroma.
HammerHeart _________ (Anything and Everything)
Steeped in Norse and Celtic history, Old World tradition, smoke, and heavy metal, anything you get from HammerHeart will sate your deepest, darkest needs, from the oak-aged rye beer, Olaf the Stout, to a peat-smoked Irish red ale called Dublin Raid.
Hoops Brewing No. 88 Stout
A rich and velvety body on the tongue, dark chocolate and coffee are prevalent, but beautifully balanced by Pacific Northwestern hops in Hoops’ No. 88 Stout. And since this brewery is in Duluth, they know a thing or two about thriving in a Minnesota winter, and that includes making sure to have a good stout on hand.
Inbound BrewCo Wild Rice Porter
It’s Minnesota, so we gotta mention wild rice. Full of roasty, toasty, malty, nutty goodness, Inbound’s Wild Rice Porter will warm you from the inside out.
Indeed Rum King
Coming in strong at 10.5 percent, Rum King greets you right up-front with an array of personalities—a rich kick of rum, toffee, molasses, vanilla, dark fruit, and wood. They all come together in perfect harmony with this delightful winter warmer.
Indeed Stir Crazy
Winter in Minnesota is full of traffic jams, sub-zero temps, and mounds upon mounds of snow that can make us go a bit, well, stir crazy. But Indeed’s Stir Crazy can calm us down with its cocoa nibs, raisins, vanilla, and brown sugar sweetness.
Insight Gravity Well
Good things come to those who wait, and this imperial stout takes its time aging for one year to give the beer a complex and mature profile. Gravity Well brings to light deep flavors of chocolate, toffee, sherry, coffee, and dark fruit for thirsty patrons.
Junkyard The Coal Miner’s Daughter
As black as coal, this beer from Junkyard is a true gem. Aromas of unsweetened chocolate, coffee, and vanilla lead into roasted malts and hop bitterness, soon to be spotlighted by dark, dried fruit flavors.
Lift Bridge Silhouette
“Black as a moonless night,” this Russian imperial stout is filled with coffee, roasted malt, toffee, and black licorice impressions, followed by an even deeper, richer, and darker roasted flavor to finish. And with an ABV of 10 percent, this highly sought-after stout is sure to warm your senses.
Lift Bridge Commander
Named after the historic Commander elevator in downtown Stillwater, this English-style barleywine reaches heights of complexity that can only be matched by its namesake. At 12.5 percent, this potent barleywine is brewed with hefty amounts of malts and subtle traces of warming cardamom.
Modist Lord Humungus
This extremely limited release is named after the Modist-borne fictional Lord Humungus, a post-apocalyptic warlord who, each year, is “honored” with a supply of this ultra-dark rye imperial stout dominated by flavors of caramelized rye and dark chocolate.
Northbound Smokehouse Porter
Don’t let the deep black hue fool you, for this light-bodied beer is easy to drink. While five percent of the malt is smoked in-house, it doesn’t taste smoky. Instead, it’s richly balanced and smooth with tons of caramel nuances, making this porter a great snowy afternoon sipper.
Olvalde Ode to a Russian Shipwright
In tribute of brewing legend Peter the Great, this porter is brewed with rye and spruce, two ingredients historically essential to the Baltic region. With notes of aromatic spruce and rye followed by flavors of fruit and spice, this makes for an ideal wintertime porter.
Schell’s Snowstorm Rye
This is one snowstorm you’ll gladly greet. Schell’s has been running the Snowstorm series each year since 1992, and this year’s coppery iteration goes for warmth with spicy rye and toasty bread crust flavors. Bring on the Snowstorms.
Steel Toe Douglas
Named after the Pacific Northwest’s native Douglas fir, this Cascadian-style dark ale is brewed with loads of piney hops to balance out the chocolate and toasted marshmallow malt characters, making this dark ale both tantalizing and satisfying.
Steel Toe Dissent
Dissent: to differ in sentiment or opinion. Well, here at The Growler, we can all agree that Steel Toe’s Dissent is a darn good dark beer. Bittersweet dark chocolate, hints of coffee, and malted cream dance on your palate in this rich and velvety stout.
Summit Winter Ale
With a name like “Winter Ale,” you know it’s befit for the season. Bready, toasty malt flavors play alongside whispers of espresso, caramel, black cherry, cocoa, and hop spice, making you feel snug with this sipper.
Summit Great Northern Porter
Named after the iconic railway that stretches from St. Paul to Seattle, we’re all aboard with this porter. Roasted malts present robust coffee notes, soon leading our taste buds to slightly sweet, chocolatey finish.
Summit Oatmeal Stout
Draft only, this is a beer you may need to make a special trip for, and it’ll be well worth it. Coming in pitch black, this beer is crafted from Northern Brewer, Pilgrim, and Fuggle hops, for a smooth and slightly sweet palate of coffee, caramel, and chocolate.
This massive, deeply dark Russian imperial stout contains intense flavors of chocolate, coffee, cherry, raisin, and toffee, as well as an unexpected twist of aromatic hops. Darkness awaits.
Town Hall Hope & King Scotch Ale
This profoundly smooth beer, which has won the gold, silver, and bronze at the Great American Beer Festival, showcases the rich flavors of a Scottish-style ale paired with a surprisingly clean body.
Town Hall Buffalo Bock
A part of Town Hall’s “Barrel-Aged Week” series of draught beers, this medium-bodied German-style weizenbock is aged in bourbon barrels, giving off sweet aromas of vanilla and banana.
Town Hall Three Hour Tour
A treat for your taste buds, this coconut milk stout lends a dose of toasted coconut, leading the way to a semi-sweet chocolate middle and slight roastiness and bittersweet chocolate on the back end. Delish.
Urban Growler De-Lovely Porter
Even though you can always find this porter on tap at Urban Growler, it’s also a perfect sipper for when the snow is falling, with its delightful, delicious, and positively de-lovely flavors of cocoa nibs, coffee, and toasted malts.