We love it when our hometown heroes put on a great showing on a big stage, and when it comes to craft beer, there’s perhaps no stage bigger than the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Colorado. This year, several local breweries took home medals at GABF, and we couldn’t be more proud of our fellow Minnesotans!
While they’re certainly not the only important metric to describe a brewery’s quality, a GABF award can be a great legitimizer for an up-and-coming brewery or a mark of well-deserved validation for a brewery whose recipe has stood the test of time. Plus, they’re a great excuse to celebrate how awesome Minnesota-made beer is! Without further ado, here are our state’s 2022 GABF Gold and Silver medalists, plus some tasting notes about each beer.
Minnesota Gold Medals
Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth: Bent Paddle Dunkel Lager
Category: German Dark Lager
Supper quaffable and balanced despite its dark appearance and malty body, Bent Paddle’s Dunkel is a great example of the charms that this Old World beer style has to offer. Notes of caramel, raisins, and dark bread are present, and the beer finishes crisply, inviting more sips.
Insight Brewing, Minneapolis: Avant
Category: Other Hoppy Lager
Our personal favorite release from Insight Brewery’s rebrand/refresh last fall, Avant is a dry-hopped pilsner that makes a great gateway into lagers for IPA fans. Featuring a “goldilocks” amount of hop character mated to a crisp, clean, and light-on-its-feet lager profile, this is a beer we could keep in our fridge all year long.
Forgotten Star Brewing Co., Fridley: Dark Skies
Category: Other Strong Beer
We liked Dark Skies so much when we tried it in the Spring of 2021 that we decided to film a video review of the beer on Dabbler TV. A great entry in an underrated style—the Baltic Porter—Dark Skies was aged in 8-year Heaven Hill distillery bourbon barrels, resulting in an oaky and complex dark lager with a welcoming aroma and a warming, boozy finish. Notes of dark dried fruit complement the relatively light mouthfeel, giving you plenty to contemplate without weighing you down.
Ursa Minor Brewing, Duluth: Equanimity
Category: Irish-Style Red Ale
Shout out to the North Shore for an especially strong representation at the top of the podium this year! Ursa Minor’s Equanimity took home a local award last year from the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s guild before snagging national GABF recognition this year, proving that this malty, drinkable, and thoughtfully balanced brew has some staying power.
Minnesota Silver Medals:
Forgotten Star Brewing Co., Fridley: Bonspiel Bock
This is Forgotten Star’s second medal of GABF 2022, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s another dark lager! The Fridley-based brewery makes this beer to coincide with their annual Bonspiel, or curling tournament, and we can see why. With a rich, nuanced malt profile that never gets flabby, this bock is capable of quenching thirsts and warming bellies in equal measure.
Pantown Brewing Co., St. Cloud: Drop Forge Milk Stout
Category: Sweet Stout or Cream
Pantown’s been absolutely cleaning up on the awards circuit with this beer in 2022—Drop Forge has already taken home a gold medal at the World Beer Cup and now they’ve got another piece of hardware for their trophy case. It’s easy to see why—this semisweet stout has awesome dark chocolate and coffee notes and features a creamy mouthfeel that’s balanced by just a bit of hop bitterness on the finish.
Wooden Hill Brewing Co., Edina: Kold Shoulder
Category: German-Style Koelsch
Nope, that’s not a typo in the category, the Brewers Association likes to spell this style with an “e” for some reason. No matter how you spell it, Wooden Hill’s Kold Shoulder is a great representation of the classic Kölsch beer style pioneered in Cologne. It’s über clean, über crisp, and—even better—glüten redüced for our gluten-sensitive pals.