Minnesota's best beers right now, ranked by local brew experts

Here's what local beer pros' favorite suds of spring
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Jennifer Simonson | MPR News file

It's patio season, and that means it's a perfect time to check in with Minnesota brewers and beer experts about what their favorite drink is at the moment.

Here's what several of Minnesota's foremost beer authorities are recommending this spring:

Paige Latham Didora: Blogger at Alcohol By Volume

"My favorite beer in Minnesota right now is Simpler Times Berliner Weisse available at the recently re-opened Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale. The beer is a collaboration with Barrel Theory in St. Paul, as Pig doesn't have final permitting to brew in their new digs yet.

Simpler Times is a low-alcohol sour beer conditioned on Meyer lemons and strawberries. The level of fruit to sour is an ideal balance and it works brilliantly with shrimp and pork for barbecue season. The collaboration aspect showcases the relationships in the industry that make brewing special in Minnesota — when a brewpub can't serve for opening week, another busy and successful brewery from across the Twin Cities steps up."

Niko Tonks: Head brewer at Fair State Brewing Cooperative

"My favorite Minnesota beer at the moment is Schell's Deer Brand. It's difficult to find in cans up here, which they should definitely fix, but it's more or less the ideal classic American pale lager: corn, barley malt, a noticeable hop presence. Perfect for crushing in the sunshine.

It's not the most exciting beer out there, which is one of my very favorite things about it. Sometimes triple dry hop lactose pastry sour IPAs are not what a body wants."

Robin Shellman: Founder and certified Cicerone for the Better Beer Society

"I am really digging what Andy Ruhland and team are producing at Bad Weather right now. While the New England IPA style continues to sparkle and dominate our industry, they're choosing to take up their limited (but growing tank space) and produce extremely well-made pale lagers. I believe they have four of them on as we speak (Maibock, Helles, Keller Pilsner, and a Bohemian Pilsner). Yes, the beers are exceptional. But more than that, it's a brave choice for a brewery to make in the current market, and one that I certainly applaud."

Andrew Schmitt: Minnesota BeerCast host

"My favorite beer right now is B.R.D. from Utepils. A crisp, easy drinking traditional pale German lager that is perfect for ushering warmer weather. The beer is a welcome alternative to a million different IPAs and 10% of the proceeds go to programs that support Minnesota veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless."

Michael Agnew: Certified Cicerone at A Perfect Pint

"I've really been enjoying Hop Dish IPA from Lift Bridge Brewing Company. Although it's a wonderful beer by itself, I've been drinking it mostly in my new favorite cocktail, the American Gentleman. The beer's fruity/piney hop profile is a perfect complement to the ginger, lemon and orange bitters in the drink. Hop Dish also doesn't ignore the malt. A light caramel ties in wonderfully to the cocktail's rye whiskey. The recipe for the American Gentleman can be found here."

Al McCarty: Blogger at The Bitter Nib

"My favorite of the moment is my favorite Minneapolis brewery, Town Hall, and was part of their recent celebration of rye malt in beers. Town Hall Hop Ryeval IPA from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is currently hitting me where I live. powerful citrus and pine aromatics. Grapefruit and forest floor. Certified dank.

In the mouth: Hops hit hard up front, but it's smooth on the way back. Spicy malt takes over in the flavor department. Hop bitterness hangs on long on the palate. Best of all worlds for me here. Medium-bodied, easy drinking, richly rewarding. Juicy malt takes over from spicy malt, and it's altogether delicious.

This one was created as part of a month-long celebration of rye in beer, and I love what it's done. Not over-powering, just-right, and delivering all the hoppy goodness. I've gone back to this one again, and again."

Tell MPR News: What is your favorite Minnesota beer right now?

Top reader picks so far:

Some responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style. MPR News has solicited beer recommendations from brewers and critics across the state and will update this list as it receives more responses.

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