Grocery stores and REI aren’t the only co-ops that thrive in the North. Minneapolis’ Fair State Brewing Cooperative built its business on a bank loan and the support of 250 early believers (beerlievers?) willing to pay $200 for a lifetime membership and the ability to “drink like they own the place.”
And what a place it is! In the five years since Fair State’s debut, head brewer Niko Tonks (formerly of Live Oak Brewing Company in Austin, Texas) and co-founder/CEO Evan Sallee have attracted a cult following for their fine-tuned flavor profiles and fruity sours — gimmicky ingredients and misguided trends need not apply.
Using a limited palette of malts, hops, water, and yeast, Tonks nails Euro-style beers: a delightfully dry pilsner, a lawnmower-ready Vienna lager, and a biergarten-worthy witbier. Its newly canned Crank!n Foamers collaboration with San Diego’s Modern Times Beer, pictured here, brings that minimalist bent to America, epitomizing its #corniscool ethos with a clean, crisp taste perfect for summer barbecues and ballgames.
Fair State’s appeal doesn’t end with its recipes, either. Its Northeast taproom offers a crowd-pleasing mix of familiar and left-field styles, from a complex kettle sour combo of passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and dragonfruit to a waistline-friendly Hard Water series that courts White Claw fanatics.
If you’re willing to drop $55 on rare beer, Fair State’s annual Mixed Culture festival is as good as it gets, too, with unlimited pours from such like-minded mad scientists as Grimm Artisanal Ales, Funk Factory Geuzeria, Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery, and Minnesota’s own Forager, Sociable Cider, and Surly. Some of our favorites from this year’s evening session included Forager‘s spicy rye saison (Dollar Menu Cherry Pie); Fair State and Marvel Bar‘s barrel-aged sour with honey, lemon, and gin botanicals (Bee’s Knees); and Half Acre‘s simple, palate-cleansing pilsner (Pony).
For up-to-date information on Fair State’s weekly events and beer releases — they happen nearly every Thursday night — check out the company’s Facebook page and Instagram feed.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative
2506 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN; 612-444-3209.