What's a Midwest IPA, Anyway?
Photo by Peter Anderson/Flickr
Think of it this way: The Midwest IPA is “the cool kid on the block—the inclusive, confident cool kid,” or so goes the description at Urban Growler, a St. Paul brewery that serves a Midwest IPA as its flagship beer.
If you’ve walked into a brewery sometime in the last five years, you’ve probably tried a West Coast IPA, or even a New England IPA. In both cases, the style of beer is bold, in-your-face and often boozy. Good for some, but not for all.
Enter the Midwest IPA.
The Midwest IPA is more, well, middle of the road, but that hasn't stopped it from taking over the Twin Cities beer scene. Compared to the citrus- and hop-packed beers from the West Coast, the Midwest-style of IPA is an anomaly that is often less boozy and more drinkable. While it’s tough to describe the Midwest IPA as having a common set of traits, Beer and Brewing magazine calls it “balanced” and “hopped at a similar rate to West Coast IPAs.”
We’ve rounded up some of the must-try Midwest-style IPAs brewed locally to sample when you’re in the Twin Cities.
SkyFive Midwest Coast IPA, Bauhaus Brew Labs
When this northeast Minneapolis brewery took over an abandoned steel foundry in 2013, it was hard to imagine that Bauhaus would become a summer party spot for locals. Now, creative types young and old share tables and conversation in this quirky place, so grab their Midwest Coast IPA SkyFive, grab a seat and enjoy bright flavors, balanced hops and a relaxing sip.
Midwest IPA, Urban Growler Brewing
Urban Growler’s easy-going, sunlit brewery is located at the former home of an old horse stable in St. Paul. It doesn’t hurt that the place is known for its welcoming charm and tendency to play Prince tracks. The beer’s light and complex profile won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair a few years back, so you know it’s worth a shot. Bonus points: Urban Growler is female owned and operated (the state’s first).
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Crosscut IPA, Liftbridge Brewing
The Stillwater Lift Bridge area is often a stroller and bike oasis during afternoons, and on weekend evenings, it becomes one of the most fun exburb scenes among the outdoorsy types. On a Saturday night, you can often overhear hikers and boaters re-telling their weekend highlights over a pint.
Lift Bridge Brewing Co.‘s Crosscut IPA may not be labeled as a Midwest IPA, but it’s definitely Midwest in spirit. Billed as an ode to Stillwater’s lumberjack past, Crosscut is exceptionally refreshing and lightweight, so you’ll feel game to knock out your 25-minute return to the cities after drinking.
Saga IPA, Summit Brewing
Perhaps no IPA is wrapped up in Minnesota’s beer legacy quite like Summit’s Saga IPA. Sure, Saga is poured from hundreds of bar taps across the city, but the Summit Beer Hall in Minneapolis is definitely worth a trip, especially in the warm weather when food trucks line up near the bluff-facing, dog-friendly patio.
Hidden Beach IPA, 612 Brew
612 Brew’s vibe could be described as industrial-chic. The northeast brewery fits Minneapolis’ urban lumberjack vibe like a pair of well-worn Levis. 612’s Hidden Beach IPA (which is available through September) is light, refreshing but injected with a serious dose of hops. Hidden Beach is a coy reference to the (in)famous beach-slash-party spot on the white sands of the Mississippi River near downtown. Spend a few hours talking with the locals on 612’s patio, and you’ll no doubt find someone to take you there.