Photography by Caitlin Abrams
Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites
Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites
The Minnesota State Fair is about many things: animals giving birth in front of people drinking unlimited milk, children on leashes (both human and pet), daring to ride rides assembled overnight, and FREE YARDSTICKS. But, at its primordial core it’s about sodium-filled gluttony. Indeed, the true essence of the Fair is eating and drinking until you’re full and then eating and drinking some more (and maybe taking a nap on a grassy knoll in between).
Of course, a deep-fried bounty that grows every year must be vigilantly policed. Which is why, like years past, we have sacrificed our bodies to the sodium gods and ATE ALL THE NEW FOODS (and drank all the new beers), so that you wouldn't have to. Then we assigned GET IT, SKIP IT, or YOUR CALL to every last food on-a-stick or new beer invention, so you know exactly what bites to try on your #MNStateFair adventure. Go forth, friends, armed with our food-coma-inducing knowledge.
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders
Sliced glazed donut holes with thick candied bacon and a chocolate red wine ganache. At Minnesota Wine Country, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson Avenues.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. I might have issues with candied bacon, but that bite was all sugar bomb overlord and no fatty happy pork bit.
Drew Wood: SKIP IT. The bacon's not so candied; the donut not so glazed or soft/ slidey.
Grilled SPAM, sushi rice, fried egg, and wasabi rolled in nori (dried seaweed). At ROLLS at the Coliseum, located in the Warner Coliseum, north side.
SM: YOUR CALL. I love SPAM, and I love SPAM sushi that is musubi at United Noodles, but this is a shadow of that. Not bad but just OK. I thought their smoked walleye sushi was better (and shrimp chips!!)
DW: YOUR CALL. This IS NOT THE WORLD'S BEST SUSHI, but it's a serviceable novelty that does SPAM better than the actual SPAM stand.
Minnesota Corn Dog
Custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup, and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried. At Gass Station Grill, located on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson Avenues on the outside southeast corner of the Food Building.
SM: YOUR CALL. The batter was good, but the inside dog was smallish. This is what you should get if you keep denying yourself a morning corn dog. It was a breakfast dog you can justify (if you have needs to do so).
DW: YOUR CALL. I see what they were trying to do here, but why mess with the simple perfection of the corn dog? Also, ours was a little over-cooked and dogleg-left.
A Taiyaki (fish-shaped) buttermilk miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble, and a fresh strawberry. At The Rabbit Hole, located at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall. (Available Aug. 25-30 only.)
SM: GET IT. But DON'T BITE THE FISH, chill the F down girl, use a spoon for crying in the barn. Scoop the ice cream, get to the berries, avoid wearing them, and eat the fish after. Sucked that compote off my bag, just sayin'.
DW: GET IT. Thomas and Kat have a pretty clever, pretty tasty item on their hands here. But the best part was when March took a bite and the miso waffle cone gave way and left most of the strawberry compote on her bag/arm.
Rustic Beef Pastry
Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef, and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese and nestled in a flakey butter crust. At French Meadow Bakery & Café, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood Streets.
SM: GET IT. But get it early, I think. Ours was kinda ugly because it had been sitting around, but the flavors were still there.
DW: GET IT. This looks and sounds dry, but it's moist, easy to eat, and almost like a bizarro hand-held breakfast pizza. Definitely worth a shot early in the day when you're priming your engine.
Macaroni & Cheese Curds
Rich macaroni & cheese blended with fresh cheese curds. At Oodles of Noodles, located in the Food Building, east wall.
SM: SKIP IT. Drew, no. Sorry but that didn't even have enough Cheeze-Flavr to satisfy my inner mac demons. The curds were a nice touch but thin/watery, not cheezy cheeze sauce is a bridge too far.
DW: GET IT. It's so bad, it's good. (Seriously, it's not for everyone but if you love Velveeta Shells and Cheese get up on it.)
Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread
Savory, pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese, and beef broth, then baked in a wood-fired oven. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street.
SM: SKIP IT. With a sad heart. I had SO MUCH HOPE for this one. We waited almost 20 minutes for it to be ready, but it was still rather underdone and soggy, and I might try it again later in the Fair to see if they figured it out.
DW: SKIP IT. It was so promising in theory, but in practice it was just kind've a greasy, hard-to-eat mess.
A bed of crispy french fries topped with Ragin’s traditional New Orleans gumbo made with andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, onions, celery, and a rich roux-based sauce, then finished off with cheese and green onions. At Ragin Cajun, located in The Garden, west wall.
SM: GET IT. Especially if you are sitting with a beer. Those softy fries are right on for those of us who like softy fries, and that gravy is thin, but somewhat addicting. There are little chunks of chicken and sausage, but it's a messy sporkful that made me happy.
DW: YOUR CALL. This looked like it was going to be a soggy mess (the fries were anything but crisp), but it turned out to be a soggy mess covered in well-spiced, rich gumbo.
Iron Range Meat & Potatoes
A hearty portion of seasoned beef with a layer of cheddar cheese, topped with mashed potatoes, baked, and drizzled with a wild rice gravy. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street at The North Woods.
SM: YOUR CALL. I could see you sitting in the back of Giggles at night, watching your brother-in-law on guitar stage, drinking a beer, and eating this. Flavors were good, but make no mistake this is a brick of meat 'n' taters. Advance with care.
DW: YOUR CALL. Calling a spade a spade, this was meatloaf casserole with mashed taters on top. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing super right either.
A flour tortilla baked with butter and shredded parmesan, filled with Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce, and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze. At Green Mill, located on the east side of Cooper Street, between Randall and Wright Avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park.
SM: YOUR CALL. Mainly because I don't know what to do with this one. I like the shell, and I actually liked the fresh crunch of the lettuce with the dressing, but then I'd hit glaze and pizza sauce pocket and lose my way. Auntie Em?
DW: YOUR CALL. There was A LOT going on here. Some of it good (the parmesan/ butter tortilla shell) and some of it a little heavy-handed (the load of balsamic glaze).
Strawberry Donut Delight
A fresh glazed donut sliced in half and filled with strawberries and whipped cream – like a shortcake sandwich! At The Strawberry Patch, located on the west side of Liggett Street between Carnes and Judson Avenues.
SM: YOUR CALL. Dara and I had the same thought, what if those strawberries had just been fresh cut and not so syrupy? Too sweet overall for me, but solid donut.
DW: GET IT. That is, if you like the idea of strawberry shortcake but with donuts instead of shortcake.
Lamb dog served hot in a bun with garlic sautéed kale, raw fermented sauerkraut, quinoa, and honey mustard drizzle. (Gluten-free option without the bun.) At Lamb Shoppe, located in the Food Building, east wall.
SM: GET IT. This was a freshy flavor bomb, what with the quinoa, sauerkraut, and kale, very foodtrucky, very ethical eatery. But make sure you like lamb, cuz that's lamb.
DW: GET IT. This lamb hot dog with quinoa wins the food building... It was baaaaaaaadass.
Deep Fried Nachos Supreme
Pepper jack cheese cubes coated with a mixture of crushed seasoned tortilla chips and nacho cheese, then deep-fried, covered with taco meat, guacamole, more nacho cheese, and sour cream, and served with jalapeños on the side. Also available traditional-style without the supreme toppings. At Texas Steak Out, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall Avenues.
SM: GET IT. Such a sleeper hit for us. They literally handed us three hefty giant fried balls and I said: why? But crack into those suckers and it was cheese and what I thought was masa, but instead was crushed nacho chips with nacho cheese. Even better. Wish the guac was for real, but still.
DW: GET IT. There is no possible way to explain what you're getting yourself into here, but when they hand you the carton and it weighs nearly three pounds you'll understand. Three massive, deep-fried tortilla chip/nacho cheese/pepper jack balls covered in ground beef. They are so weird. But so good.
Paneer On A Spear
Paneer On A Spear
Deep-fried Indian-seasoned paneer cheese coated with a local craft beer batter and served with tomato garlic chutney. (Gluten-free) At Hot Indian, located at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall. (Available Aug. 31-Sept. 5 only.)
SM: GET IT. Easily the most elegant food at the Fair, we got to preview it because it's not there until next week. Soft and fresh paneer cheese is lightly wrapped in a gluten-free beer batter with bits of Indian spice dancing all over it. And ask for the green chutney FTW.
DW: GET IT. Cheese on a stick ... ALL GROWN UP.
Barbecued Shrimp Taco
Sweet, smoky, slightly spicy barbecued shrimp and cool, fresh jicama slaw in a warm flour tortilla. At Tejas Express, located in The Garden, north wall.
SM: YOUR CALL. We tried these shrimpy tacos, which were simple and fresh, but not a great value and not a lot of flavor. BUT ONLY LATER did we find out that there was a ghost pepper cheeseburger quesadilla that was new, too, and I am HOT to try that one. (Will update this when I do.)
DW: SKIP IT. For $10 I'm craving more than four total cocktail-sized shrimp in the two tacos. (And some vague hint of BBQ.)
Candied Bacon BLT
Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw, and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center.
SM: GET IT. Damn. And I hate candied bacon.
DW: GET IT. The candied bacon wasn't over the top and the guac-like rancher's slaw/ green tomato spread cut its sweet with the perfect amount of savory.
Spicy Pork Bowl
A mix of adobo pulled pork, rice, black beans, spinach, charred salsa, and fried onion strings. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center.
SM: GET IT. Especially when you're on your 10th hour of the Fair and can't think of what else to eat, because you're still wanting something but are sick of all the fried things, get this and remember that there is a world with real food. And that food is good.
DW: GET IT. Think Chipotle burrito bowl, but better and without the norovirus.
Saucy Shrimp & Slaw
Breaded shrimp tossed in your choice of parmesan garlic, sweet chili, or buffalo sauce on a bed of fresh coleslaw. At Fish & Chips Seafood Shoppe, at two locations: In the Food Building, northwest section, and on the west side of Liggett Street just south of Mighty Midway.
SM: YOUR CALL. So, what we're talking about is little fried shrimp poppers in Buffalo sauce. The slaw is neither here nor there, but I would get it from the stand by the Midway, not the food building, so you can just walk and pop shrimp, cuz that's what they're for.
DW: GET IT. We had the parm-crusted and the Buffalo and they were uber easy to eat on the go.
Cajun Peel-N-Eat Shrimp
A half-pound of shrimp seasoned in a blend of Caribbean spices and served cold with a side of cocktail sauce. At Café Caribe, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Nelson Streets.
SM: SKIP IT. No real spices on ours, just messy fingers.
DW: SKIP IT. It's enough of a pain to peel shrimp in a restaurant; why would I want to attempt it walking around the Fair?
Reuben Pickle Dog
A dill pickle spear with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in a slice of corned beef. At Pickle Dog, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers Streets.
SM: GET IT. It's a nice upgrade to the already beautiful Pickle Dog, and both are GF dreams. The kraut is not overpowering if that scares you off, really nicely balanced.
DW: GET IT. So good that I went back and got another one at the end of the day after we'd eaten all the rest of the food on this list (thereby making it the only thing I ate all of).
Burnt Butt Ends
Premium cuts of pork, seasoned with a BBQ rub, then smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers Streets (former site of Famous Dave’s).
SM: GET IT. You must alternate bites of the burnt ends with the black-cherry Kool Aid pickles, because THAT is a gateway to enlightenment. Also, don't sleep on the smoked chicken sandwich which is all juicy and smoky and right. And the spicy sausage which is a snappy and bitey bit of snackmeat. GO THERE.
DW: GET IT. Moist, moderately-sauced, and super easy to eat on the go. (Get a side of the dark cherry Kool-Aid pickles and thank me later.)
Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites
White cheddar cheese blended with beer batter, cubed, and deep-fried for a taste reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich. Served with a bloody mary mix marinara. At O’Gara’s at the Fair, located on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street.
SM: GET IT. I can't believe I love these so hard. O'Gara's has disappointed me in the past but these are crispy and perfectly cheesy with salty righteous edges. And they are made to order so you will have to wait, but do it, wait.
DW: GET IT. These are the Mac 'n' Cheese Curds of sandwiches. Shamelessly and greasily good, man.
Beer Brat Buddies
Oktoberfest beer brat in a German pretzel bun with sauerkraut, chopped onions, and a choice of mustards – a serving for two! At Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall.
SM: GET IT. If you're in the food building and want sausages, the Sisters are a great bet. I liked these buddies for their quick hit nature and full porky flavoring, plus I'm a sucker for a pretzel bun and some kraut.
DW: YOUR CALL. Mini brats on pretzel buns. Totally alright. Nothing more, nothing less.
Cheese-flavored SPAM that has been cubed, battered, and deep-fried, served with a side of ranch dressing At the SPAM booth.
SM: SKIP IT. Not curds. Avert your gaze.
DW: SKIP IT. There's no cheese in them thar curds.
Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders
Lightly breaded, fresh, never-frozen fried chicken tenderloins served with Bang Bang sweet and tangy chili sauce. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater.
SM: SKIP IT. Those chicky bits were quite dry and there was no bang in that bang. Sauce does not a meal make.
DW: SKIP IT. The bang bang sweet and tangy chili sauce was alright but the chicken was anything but tender.
La La Palooza Sundae
Eight scoops of ice cream (two each of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and butter brittle) covered with caramel, pineapple, and strawberry toppings, plus nuts, cherries, sliced banana, and whipped cream, all served in Bridgeman’s signature souvenir goblet. At Bridgeman’s Ice Cream, located on the northeast corner of Judson Avenue and Liggett Street.
SM: GET IT. Do you love your family? You will all literally giggle some calories off before you, as a group, set forth with long handled spoons to demolish this beautiful monstrosity. The 40+ set will be having nostalgia while doing so.
DW: GET IT...If you're with like six other people.
CRACKER JACK Caramel Sundae
Soft vanilla ice cream topped with caramel, coated chocolate candies, whipped cream, and a drizzle of hot fudge, served atop CRACKER JACK popcorn in an original CRACKER JACK box. At Goertze’s Dairy Kone, located on the east side of Cooper Street next to the Merchandise Mart.
SM: GET IT. Suuuuuuuuuuuuper cuuuuuuuuuuute.
DW: GET IT. A solid sundae with a creamy vanilla softserve backbone... SERVED IN A CRACKER JACK BOX COMPLETE WITH PRIZE!
Call It Breakfast
A vanilla malt or sundae topped with chunks of bakery-fresh donuts, drizzled with chocolate and latte-flavored syrups, and finished with sprinkles. At Dairy Goodness Bar – Midwest Dairy Association, located in the Dairy Building, east wall.
SM: SKIP IT. There are other donuts for you to have, you don't HAVE to have the ones that taste like they came from the clerk's pocket at SuperAmerica. Get straight vanilla and stay golden Pony Boy.
DW: SKIP IT. I think the best soft serve at the Fair is in the Dairy Building, so it takes some doing for me to not recommend a malt made from it. The donut on top was hard and dry, and the syrup was barely there. Just get a vanilla malt and call it a day.
Chocolate Agate Crunch
Izzy’s smooth chocolate Caramelia ice cream with chocolate cookie crumbles and edible chocolate rocks inspired by our state gemstone – the Lake Superior Agate, all folded with a salted caramel swirl. At Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood and Cooper Streets.
SM: GET IT. Nevermind the agate schtick, that doesn't really play. But this is a solid chocolate ice cream with some salted caramel swirl and that's good enough for me.
DW: YOUR CALL. Really good chocolate ice cream with some assorted other stuff in it that you barely even notice.
Homemade banana ice cream infused with creamy peanut butter served in a cup or waffle cone. At R&R Ice Cream, located on the southeast corner of Randall Avenue and Underwood Street.
SM: GET IT. Jake hoovered this cup before we had more than one bite, and that kid makes his custom peanut butter and banana shakes every night at home, so his word is bond.
DW: GET IT. Ice cream that tastes like a banana and peanut butter sandwich made by a steam-powered turbine? Yup. Yup.
Minnesnowii Shave Ice
100% sweetened condensed milk drizzled over your choice of flavored shave ice for a creamy, sweet twist. Exclusive flavor also available at the State Fair: Maple bacon shave ice topped with bacon bits and a maple syrup drizzle. At Minnesnowii Shave Ice, located at West End Market, south section.
SM: YOUR CALL. Ditch the bacon bits. But if we hit the thigh temps, the mapley shaved ice would be a nice refresher, not too sweet, just right.
DW: YOUR CALL. The bacon on top was neither here nor there for me (candied woulda been more there), but the maple shaved ice was surprisingly easy on the taste buds.
Banana Cinnamon & Cream Dipped in Dark Chocolate
Frozen banana, cinnamon, and cream dipped in dark chocolate and served on-a-stick. At JonnyPops, located at West End Market, center section.
SM: GET IT. I know you can get them at the grocery store, but not with the hand-dipped chocolate, which makes this just a lovely treat.
DW: YOUR CALL. On the one hand, it's a pre-packaged popsicle. On the other, it's served to you be one of the owners who also probably hand-dipped it into the chocolate himself.
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Fry Bread Tacos
A special fry bread dough shell is served with ground beef, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onion, olives, and sour cream. Bucket of nachos, taco in a bag. At OOF-Da Tacos, on Dan Patch, across from O'Garas.
SM: YOUR CALL. I didn't love the fry bread taco because the bread portion was too hard to eat. BUT GET the walking taco in a Doritos bag!!! How has it taken so long for those to show up??
DW: GET IT. The fry bread tacos themselves were so-so, and pretty difficult to eat standing up, but the walking taco in the Doritos bag was basically exactly the sort of thing I'd get when I go the Fair as a civilian. Nothing fancy, but pretty comfortable.
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Tot Boss is serving them in a variety of indulgent configurations – bacon-wrapped tots, loaded tots, chili tots, tots ‘n’tenders, tots ‘n’dogs, poutine tots, tater tot nachos, tots with a variety of dipping sauces, and more. At Underwood, south of Kidway.
SM: GET IT. No one does tots like the Boss. Crisp and sharp on the outside, soft and hot on the inside, get the loaded with bacon and sour cream: just essential totism. The poutine version was a bit glumpy for me, be warned, but the little bacon wrapped tots on a stick were like gifts.
DW: GET IT. Dude knows how to cook tots perfectly. The result is an arsenal of solid grub.
Hand Dipped Corn Dogs
Bacon-wrapped jalapeño hot dog dipped in jalapeño batter. At Cosgrove, north of Creative Activities.
SM: SKIP IT. The one we had was sitting there in a tray for lord knows how long as there were a bunch pre-made. Maybe if it was temp hotter it would be better, but even then, there wasn't any noticeable jalapeño heat. So. I guess no.
DW: SKIP IT. Bacon-wrapped jalapeño hot dog dipped in jalapeño batter sounds gnarly, right? Yeah, not so much. Over-fried and devoid of the flavor it implies.
Sweetland Orchard Minnesota Mule Cider
A play on the nostalgic yet trendy Moscow Mule cocktail, this gluten-free cider starts with fresh, Minnesota-grown apples and is transformed by adding loads of hand-squeezed lime and ginger. The result is a little spicy, a little citrusy, and a whole lot refreshing. 7.0% ABV. At Ball Park Cafe.
SM: GET IT. Love love love. Refreshing and a brilliant cut through all the fryer grease in your mouth. Gingah goes with those garlic fries at Ballpark, don't cha know.
DW: GET IT. At 7.0% ABV Sweetland's Minnesota Mule is pretty gnarly for a cider and that translates into a nicely complex flavor.
Bent Brewstillery Sweat Together
Brewed in collaboration with 2015 Minnesota State Fair gold-medal-winning brewer Jeff Taylor, this refreshing West CoastStyle IPA hits all the right notes of dank pine and citrus. 7.3% ABV. 80 IBUs. At Ball Park Cafe.
SM: GET IT. Big and hoppy with authoriTAY.
DW: GET IT. My hands down favorite beer, old or new, at the State Fair this year. The hops rip and the hints of citrus tear.
Bent Paddle Hopmosa
This summer sipper puts a new spin on an old brunch favorite. Combining the Bent Hop Golden IPA with a huge burst of orange aroma and flavor, the citrus infusion highlights a number of hops in the IPA with effervescence akin to champagne. Not just for brunch anymore, this “Hopmosa” can be enjoyed all day long. 6.2% ABV. 68 IBUs. At Ball Park Cafe.
SM: GET IT. I don't like Blue Moon, nor do I really want fruit in my beer usually, but this little charmer got me. The zesty orange flavors rather hooked me. (Great with a walking taco, just saying.)
DW: GET IT. Whereas most citrusy IPAs taste like the inside of an orange, Hopmosa tastes like orange peel zest, which makes for a surprisingly fresh delivery.
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Schell's Red Citrus Sangria Beer & Frozen Red Citrus Sangria Beer
Light and refreshing, this citrus lager epitomizes a carefree summer day and can be served as a standalone or as a frozen foam floated atop any of the beers served at the Schell’s Pavilion. At Schell's Pavillion, West End.
SM: GET IT. Man, this is a home run. It's got a sweet backbone, but it doesn't cloy or leave you thirsty. There's just a pleasing roundness to this drink. Get the frozen float on top or not, you'll still find it fresh while you walk.
DW: GET IT. Welcome to the most refreshing beer you've ever tasted.
Big Wood Brewery Chocolate Chip Cookie Beer
Honoring two State Fair traditions — chocolate chip cookies and craft beer — this sweet sipper with a malty backbone is golden tan in color and features hints of chocolate and vanilla. Each glass is served rimmed with semi-sweet chocolate. 5.2% ABV. 25 IBUs. At Andy's Grille, Carnes between Liggett and Nelson.
SM: YOUR CALL. For sure ask for nothing on the rim, those fake chocolate chips aren't doing this beer any favors. But without them, there are some interesting cocoa and vanilla notes that subtly waft on their own.
DW: SKIP IT. It's malty, sure, but it mainly feels aimless and only vaguely chocolate-y.
Fulton Frontier Amarillo IPA
A perfect choice for a summer day at the fair, this full-bodied crisp and hoppy IPA is not overly bitter, but light and approachable. 5.5% ABV. Brewed in Minneapolis by Fulton Brewing. At Frontier Bar, Carnes between Liggett and Nelson.
SM: GET IT. I need a walking beer that won't get boring or old with the vast amounts of food I put in my face, while also remaining sippable and refreshing. This is that beer.
DW: GET IT. A tremendously easy-drinking, sessionable IPA that's like Sweet Child of Vine but with less of an edge.
Bad Weather Brewing Funnel Cloud
Bad Weather Brewing Funnel Cloud
With notes of lightly toasted bread, caramel and vanilla, this not-too-sweet copper-colored ale is inspired by classic State Fair funnel cakes. 5.2% ABV. 15 IBUs. At Mancini's Al Fresco, Carnes between Liggett and Nelson.
SM: YOUR CALL. I don't remember this beer.
DW: YOUR CALL. Not dissimilar to Lift Bridge's mini donut beer that stole the show a few years ago, but dissimilar enough to not make it a must-get.
Summit Hop Merger White IPA
This hazy, light golden IPA features a heavy dose of hoppiness with floral aromas of apricot, melon, and peach merged with dank pine, grapefruit, and citrus tones. Hop Merger White IPA’s flavor backbone consists of light cracker, bread crust, and wheat flavors. Its dense foam preserves the unique and spectacular aroma throughout the duration of the pint. This White IPA is sure to go down easy, finishing dry and refreshing with a balanced bitterness. 6.5% ABV. 65 IBU At Shanghaied Henri's, in International Bazaar.
SM: GET IT. Especially if you're planning a food tour though the International Bazaar, this is an eater's beer.
DW: GET IT. For how big the ABV is, the flavor is super duper subtle; as is the bitterness...Just don't go trying to drink it like a session ale.
Sociable Candy Apple Cider
Starting as freshly pressed Midwestern Honeycrisp, Haralson, and Sweetango apples, this cider offers the first sip of fall. To add body and character, the apples are blended with brewed cane sorghum and Willamette hops, and then fermented using a fruit-forward wine yeast. Finally, the finished product is sweetened using cauldron-cooked wet caramel and carbonated to a bubbly effervescence. The result is a caramely crisp apple flavor with a not-too-sweet drinkability. Each pint is garnished with a caramel-drizzled apple slice. 6.0% ABV. At Giggles Campfire Grill, Cooper between Lee and Randall.
SM: GET IT. This cider was vibrant, and a bit sweeter than others, but in a nice way, Thank you for not drizzling caramel in there.
DW: GET IT. Finally, a caramel apple cider that's not all hokey and full of tchotchkes. This was just a super bright and sweet cider; and the single caramel-drizzled apple slice was an appropriately non-garish garnish.
Lakes & Legends Sweet Corn Summer Ale
Freshly picked sweet corn directly from Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm in Monticello is the highlight of this light summer beer. A hint of sweetness and noticeable corn flavor bring to mind fair food favorites, farm freshness, and family fun. 5.1% ABV. 31 IBUs. At O'Gara's, Dan Patch & Cosgrove.
SM: GET IT. Not super corn forward for me, but a very creamy good cream ale as it is. And it's a super match to those grilled cheese bites.
DW: YOUR CALL. It was a little too laid back for me, but you could really taste the corn and that definitely sparked my curiosity.
Plan your trip: