Fair State on the Prairie

Fair State & the Minnesota Zoo: A Wild Partnership

By Rose Picklo, QA/QC and Production Tech.

Last Friday I had the privilege of hiking through Glacial Lakes State Park with Cale Nordmeyer of the Minnesota Zoo. My goal was to capture wild yeast; Cale’s, to spot a Regal fritillary. This butterfly is designated as Minnesota Special Concern, meaning that a species is extremely uncommon, or that it has highly unique and specific habitat requirements (Minnesota DNR). The Regal fritillary only lives in tallgrass prairie; Glacial Lakes is part of the 0.1% of natural prairie remaining in Minnesota.

Glacial Lakes State Park
Glacial Lakes State Park. Photo Credit: Cale Nordmeyer, MN Zoo

Butterflies and the prairie are intertwined. Prairie flowers rely on them for pollination, which occurs as they feed on the flower’s nectar.  As our natural prairies have dwindled, so have species like the Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling. The Dakota skipper is a prairie specialist, unable to survive in any other environment. Until the early 2000s, Dakota skippers were fairly common. Now, they can only be found in declining numbers at one or two other protected sites in the state. The Poweshiek skipperling hasn’t been seen in Minnesota since 2007 and may already be extinct in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. Less than 500 Poweshieks may exist globally.

Cale works at the Minnesota Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program, the world’s first and only rearing and breeding program for endangered butterflies. Studying the Dakota skipper in a modified shipping container, Cale creates miniature habitats with a few blades of grass, wire, and pantyhose. Dakota Skippers seem to prefer porcupine grass, with which they build small, volcanic-shaped structures. These structures are necessary for the skipper caterpillars to survive the harsh prairie winters. Cale experiments with other prairie grasses such as big bluestem, little bluestem, and Indian grass to mimic how the test subjects may perform in the wild. It is worth noting Dakota skippers have only been successfully bred since 2014.

Painted Lady on Purple Cone Flower. Photo Credit: Cale Nordmeyer, MN Zoo

Thanks to the Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program, about 200 Dakota skippers were reintroduced to the wild for the very first time this past June. However, the battle for survival is not over yet. Natural prairie sites are small, few and far between. The skippers must manage to actually find a mate within their sites. Even if pairs mate successfully, maintaining genetic diversity in small populations is a struggle without outside gene flow. And if a natural disaster were to occur at one of these isolated sites, that population may be entirely wiped out. Imagine flying hundreds of miles between habitats, battling the elements, dodging predators, finally arriving at a tallgrass prairie site, certain you’re going to find more Dakota skippers like yourself…and realizing you are completely alone.

So what can we do? Vast fields of monocultures and pesticides aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future; wild prairie restoration isn’t going to happen overnight. Planting pollinator friendly gardens is a step in the right direction. Some of you may remember Dakota Skipper, our summer saison brewed with prairie grasses and bee balm. Our goal is to raise both awareness and funds for the conservation effort. A beer alone isn’t going to save the butterflies, but it’s a start. 

Where can you find Spirit Foul?

Spirit Foul

Spirit Foul is a hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with San Diego’s Modern Times Beer. Super juicy, tropical, and dank. 6.3 ABV.

Expected beer delivery dates are denoted below for the week of 9.10, but we recommend calling your favorite beer store first to ensure they have product in stock.

Please note, this beer has been moving at rapid speeds. Once the beer gets delivered, it’s been selling out within hours. Thank you for your patience and tremendous feedback! 

Twin Cities – West Side

South Lyndale – Friday

Princeton’s – Tuesday

Central Avenue Liquors – Thursday

Zipp’s – Tuesday

Lake Wine & Spirits – Thursday

Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits – Minneapolis – Friday

Stinson Wine & Spirits – Wednesday

Cork Dork Wine Co. – Friday

Surdyk’s – Friday

France 44 – Friday

Top Ten Liquors – Saint Louis Park – Wednesday

Top Ten Liquors – Andover – Thursday

Top Ten Liquors – Blaine – Thursday

Top Ten Liquors – Ramsey – Thursday

Liquor Boy – Tuesday

Ken & Norm’s Liquor – Thursday

1010 Washington Wine and Spirits – Thursday

Hennepin Lake Liquor Store – Thursday

Total Wine – Bloomington – Tuesday

Total Wine – Maple Grove – Tuesday

Total Wine – Chanhassen – Tuesday

Edina Liquor (all locations) – Wednesday

Saint Anthony Village Wine and Spirits (both locations Thursday

Haskell’s – Maple Grove – Thursday

Top Valu Liquor – Columbia Heights – Thursday

Vinifera Wines and Ales – Thursday

Blue Max Liquors – Thursday

Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits – Thursday

Twin Cities – East Side

Heritage Liquor – Tuesday

The Ale Jail – Thursday

Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits – White Bear Lake – Tuesday

Scott’s Liquor Store – Thursday

Thomas Liquors – Thursday

Total Wine – Roseville – Thursday

Total Wine – Woodbury – Tuesday

Total Wine – Eagan – Tuesday

Total Wine – Burnsville – Tuesday


Northwest Liquors – Tuesday

Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits – Tuesday

People’s Food Co-op – Friday


Mount Royal Bottle Shoppe – Friday

Spirit Foul

Co-Optoberfest 2017



It’s time for the biggest party of the year at Fair State Co-op. Following our annual member-owner meeting, we’ll open to the public at 2 pm to celebrate our third birthday Oktoberfest-style and turn our beer garden into a mini-Munich with brats, pretzels, polka, and beer.

WHEN: 2 pm-midnight, Saturday, September 23.Co-Optoberfest 2016

WHERE: Fair State Taproom (2506 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418)


The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band of Nye’s Polonaise fame


– Gerhard’s Brats
– Pretzels from Aki’s BreadHaus


Ales & Lagers

Spirit Foul, It’s Gold, Jerry!, Festbier, Keller Kazbek, Pils, Vienna Lager, FS Lyte, DENT, Urban Sombrero, Hefeweizen, Pahlay’Ahlay, Roselle, IPA

Sour & Funky

4HOP*, Barrel-Aged Stupid Sexy Flanders, Time Debt, Blueberry Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde, Passionfruit Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde, Pineapple Cromulence, Dorado Gold, Lichtenhainer


We’re giving away a Fair State prize pack every day this week on Facebook. See the pinned post at the top of our page for how you can be a winner.

RSVP on Facebook

Co-Optoberfest 2016

Behind the Beer: IPA

IPA Cans

Head Brewer Niko Tonks on India Pale Ale.

“IPA” has more or less become synonymous with “craft beer.” I’ve seen White IPA, Black IPA, DIPA, IIPA, Triple IPA, Belgian IPA, Session IPA, Hazy IPA, West Coast IPA, Red IPA, Brown IPA, Milkshake IPA, Fruited IPA, IPL, Sour IPA, Barrel-Aged IPA, Coffee IPA, Chili Pepper IPA, Double Dry-Hopped IPA, Continuously-Hopped IPA, and even the rare old school British-style IPA. To be honest, this proliferation of hop juice wears on us sometimes.

So why, at this late date, did we decide to make a beer that’s just plain old “IPA” and put it in big, bright red cans? Well, long story short, we’ve been watching IPA as a category and we thought we had something to add to the conversation. Our goal with this entry into a crowded field is to cherry-pick all the things we like about IPA as a broad category and put them together in one beer.

We like: IPA you can see through, even if you have to squint (even if we make the occasional one you can’t). IPA that is intensely aromatic: fruity, citrusy, floral, and maybe a bit dank. IPA that isn’t heavy, sweet, dark, caramel-laden, or overly bitter. IPA that is soft, easy to drink, and crisp all at once.

With Fair State IPA, we think we’ve hit on most of these things. It is brewed with German Pilsner and Red Wheat malts, fermented with our house English Ale yeast strain, and hopped with Horizon, Chinook, Crystal, Simcoe, Centennial, and Cascade hops to the tune of almost 4 pounds per barrel. Old school, new school, and the kind of school no one much cared about until now, all wrapped up in one neat, inviting package. We hope you enjoy.


Cans: IPA, Spirit Foul

Bottles: Dorado Gold (Brett IPA)

On draft: IPA, Spirit Foul, Dorado Gold


City Pages: “The 10 Best Minnesota IPAs”

The Growler: “The Taste Test: Blind-tasting 53 Minnesota IPAs”


IPA Glass & 4-Pack


Live the #lagerlyfe with us this weekend at Lagerfest. We’re celebrating one of our favorite beer styles with 7 different lagers on tap – all $4/pour, or $14/pitcher.

And nothing goes better with lager beer than Minnesota BBQ Co. They’ll be in the house with their signature ribs on Saturday, 12-9 pm.

Prepare by going Behind the Beer and learn why we love fizzy, yellow beer so much.

Behind the Beer: Festbier & Keller Kazbek

Cheers to Three Years

Hello, local beer drinker, we’ve got some beer news for you!

We just dropped a 3rd Anniversary release of mixed four pack of 16 oz. cans that contain two of our very favorite limited edition lagers: Festbier and Keller Kazbek. With any luck, you’ll be seeing it in stores by the end of this sentence.Mixed Lager Pack

Normally, anniversary beers are an opportunity for a brewery to stretch its legs and do something intense. We decided to ignore precedent and go a different route. These beers aren’t the loudest, the wackiest, the most alcoholic or hoppy or sour or barrel-aged or cream-filled. They are, however, good examples of the types of beers we get really excited to brew and to drink. Uncomplicated, well-made, painstaking homages to classic European beer styles. It is our hope that you agree, and that these beers become staples of your early Autumn.

The limited edition Mixed Lager Pack can be found at the locations tagged in this Instagram post.


Our Festbier is modeled after the modern German interpretation of the Oktoberfest classic – paler, less heavy, but still delightfully malty and not super bitter. We employed a single-decoction mash, meaning we boiled part of the grain/water mixture for the first time at the new brewery to enhance those toasty, malty notes without getting a ton of caramel sweetness or too much color out of it. Built for celebrations, this beer is perfectly calibrated for consumption by the liter.

Pour this one into a dimpled mug or stein. 5.7% ABV, 20 IBU

*Pro Tip: 16 oz. cans are pretty close a half liter each, thus this 4-Pack yields one proper pour of Festbier. Stock up accordingly.

Festbier Cabin


Keller Kazbek

Keller Kazbek is an unfiltered German-style pilsner brewed with Kazbek hops from the Czech Republic. The designation “keller” refers to beer served from the conditioning tank without the intermediary step of filtration, so you may notice some haze in this beer (it’s supposed to be there). Kellerbiers can be modeled after any lager style – in our case the inspiration is northern German Pilsner. Kazbek is an interesting hop that has a pretty unique aroma that is much more “grassy” or almost hay-like, combined with the classic noble hop spicy/floral aroma.

Pour this one into a dimpled mug or stein. 4.9% ABV, 38 IBU

Keller Kazbek


Fair State Lagers

Cans: Pils (year-round flagship), Festbier + Keller Kazbek (limited edition Mixed Lager pack)

On draft:

  • Pils
  • Festbier
  • Keller Kazbek
  • DENT, an organic corn lager brewed in collaboration with Bang Brewing.
  • Urban Sombrero, a smoked helles lager
  • FS Lyte, an American light lager
  • Vienna Lager
Festbier Cabin

Behind the Beer: Pilsner

Cabin Pils

Head Brewer Niko Tonks in defense of Fizzy Yellow Beer

Pilsner is my first true beer love, and maybe my only real one. It’s never made sense to me that “craft beer,” as a segment, has positioned itself against “fizzy, yellow beer.” I love fizzy yellow beer! Fizzy yellow beer doesn’t have to mean insipid, old, adjunct syrup beer. Fizzy yellow beer is the most popular kind of beer in the world not because some evil cabal of industrial brewers has forced it upon us, but because it’s a kind of beer that very many people enjoy very greatly, myself included.

Pilsner is the undisputed king of fizzy yellow beer. It contains multitudes, and it might just change your entire mindset about beer if you give it a chance. Pilsner began in the 1840s in Pilsen, in what is now the Czech Republic. It proved so popular that it was adopted, in turn, by the Germans, the rest of Northern Europe, and the world, all by the third quarter of the 19th century. Some perhaps less-than-ideal things have happened to Pilsner between then and now, sure, but we all make mistakes.

At its core, in the form that we do our best to emulate, lager bier is all about restraint, intention, detail, and mindset. Lager is not, as so many people would have you believe, the absence of things. It is, in fact, a deeply idiosyncratic palette upon which only certain things may be accurately projected. It requires selection of only the finest ingredients; a willingness to work them in the ways that they demand; and the patience, forbearance, and skill to ensure that those ingredients and our yeast friends play nice.


Pils CanOur flagship Pils is brewed exclusively with premium barley grown in Bohemia, hops grown in the Hallertau region of Germany, a yeast transplanted from Munich, and local water. We employ a brewhouse regimen perfected in Germany to ensure proper wort composition, and we condition the beer in horizontal vessels well-suited to the task of promoting natural sedimentation and aging of lager. The result is an assertively bitter and hoppy beer that is crisp, well-rounded, and nuanced in the sort of ways that invite you to drink more than one – just to fully contemplate your newfound appreciation for lager, of course.

Pour this one into a flute or footed pilsner glass. 4.9% ABV, 40 IBU

Fair State Pilsners

Cans: Pils (year-round flagship)

On draft: Pils (ongoing)


Star Tribune: “Pilsner makes a comeback in the Twin Cities craft beer scene”

The Growler: “What We’re Drinking: May 2017”


Produce Distribution with SACA

This month the Fair State Cooperators are helping out with SACA Food Shelf & Thrift Store. During these late Summer months, SACA receives shipments of fresh produce from local farms on six separate occasions. The produce is then given out in SACA‘s parking lot. Last year, over the course of six Saturdays, they gave out over 42,000 pounds of food and averaged 225 families and households per Saturday.

This is where the Cooperators come in. On the morning of Saturday, August 12th, we will be bagging, handing out, and carrying the produce out to the cars. If it’s hot, we’ll put up canopies. If it rains, we will work inside the warehouse. Our volunteers are ready for everything!


We had a lovely morning for handing out food with SACA. Our volunteers spread out and covered the different tasks that helped send the fresh produce on its way to various homes.

We had an incredible amount of food to hand out. Bags full of cans, boxes of asparagus, pallets of cucumbers. Okay, just one pallet of cucumbers, but that is a lot, and hand it out we did.

Some folks with limited mobility needed a hand with their bags. That was always my favorite part. I walked with them, down the line of bountiful tables, and they could pick out which fruit and vegetables they wanted. In doing so we would exchange names and have a friendly little conversation. The people were always so grateful for the food, and the extra hand. I couldn’t help but smiling a big silly grin the whole time.

In a relatively quick time, the Cooperators, and some other organizations, managed to distribute healthy and fresh produce to over 250 families. I’d say that’s a pretty nice little Saturday.

Fair State FTW x 2 at All Pints North

All Pints North

Duluth, MN – Fair State returns from the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s All Pints North summer beer festival with a second consecutive sweep of awards, including Best Brewery and Best Beer (for Curation, a barrel-fermented pale sour refermented on Plums).

Curation is available on draft at the Fair State Taproom in Northeast Minneapolis at 4 pm, Thursday, 8.3.  The beer will be available in 750 ml. bottles beginning at noon on Sunday, 8.6.  Only 300 bottles will be available and sold exclusively at the Taproom.

All Pints North

The bottle art was created by local artist & co-op member Melissa Cooke. Signed 11×14 prints of the label will be available for $10.

Cooke creates monumental sized drawings by dusting thin layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. See her work at melissacookeart.com.

The August 3-6 weekend is jam-packed with more celebrations of craft beer amidst a beautiful Minnesota summer, including:


Evenings at The Bakken: Science of Brewing

-Aug-toberfest at Parkway Pizza – Longfellow


Crayfest at Smack Shack North Loop (win tickets on our Facebook page)

All Pints North


Bottle Drop: August

Open Streets: Northeast

-11th Annual Red Stag Block Party: In Cahoots!

-Standup Sundays at Fair State

Behind the Beer: Saison

Du Pounde

Head Brewer Niko Tonks on Saisons.

Saison is a beer style that we love very much, yet is very much misunderstood. It’s been put forth as the “next big thing” in craft beer many times, and never quite gotten over the hump. In our opinion, this is due, at least in part, to the fact that it is tough to nail down.

As beer drinkers, we’re used to beers we can easily classify. Sure, everybody and their brother (including us) likes to mess with “IPA,” but those style descriptions tend towards the self-explanatory: Black IPA (it’s an IPA, but it’s dark), Session IPA (it’s an IPA, but you can drink a few), Hazy IPA (let’s not go there), etc, etc. The word “Saison” is often more problematic – because it has been appended to so many different things over the years, it has been rendered nearly meaningless.

We make no claims to historical accuracy in Saison brewing, fraught as any modern “farmhouse” claims may be. We do, however, recognize that, as Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de le Senne has said (as quoted in Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski):

“A saison must, therefore, be low in alcohol … around 4.5 to 6.5%. It must be highly attenuated … and dry. It must also be either sour or very bitter (with a bitterness obtained by the use of a massive amount of hops low in alpha acid). It shouldn’t, in any case, be smooth. If spices are used, it must be with the utmost moderation. A saison is not by any means a spice soup.”

He goes on to state that Saisons should, properly, be fermented by a mix of organisms, not simply saccharomyces of a single variety. While that isn’t always possible for us, his dichotomy of “bitter” or “sour” is a meaningful one that we have taken to heart.

So. Let’s do our best, if not to clarify than at least to stake a claim: Saison is not a “kitchen sink” beer. It shouldn’t have 35 ingredients. It is a beer for drinking, and as such shouldn’t be 9% ABV. Simplicity should be at its core. We view our Saison grain bills much the same way we view our lager beers – if an ingredient isn’t serving a vital purpose, it’s probably best to leave it out altogether.

How, then, to put this into practice? We have chosen two routes. First, Du Pounde, our year-round “clean” Saison. Fermented without temperature control, brewed with wheat, Vienna, and Pilsner malts, and heavily hopped with Centennial. This beer brings elements of classic Saison expression, American hop character, and continental sensibilities into one simple, easy to parse package. It’s hoppy enough for hopheads, but light and estery enough for those who enjoy fruity wheat beers. Best consumed fresh, with yeast still in suspension, Du Pounde is an everyday beer that we treasure.

Second, we have been working on a mixed culture Saison that embraces, as de Baets says, the “small ‘wild’ side (of saison), rustic, indefinable, far from the clean aspect of certain engineered beers of today.” Beginning July 15 at our Mixed Culture festival in St. Paul, we are proud to present, in collaboration with Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery, “Barrel Fermented Du Pounde” (or BFD# as we have been calling it), a blend of our favorite mature pale sour barrels from the cellar. This beer is the culmination of many brew days, lots of barrel samples, and copious amounts of microbes. It utilizes a similar base recipe to Du Pounde, and spends anywhere from 4-8 months in oak. Funky, sour, oaky, and complex, BFD# is our attempt to capture that second trajectory of what Saison can be.

We are excited to continue down these two paths, and to better understand what Saison means, in the here and now of craft brewing. Hopefully, you’ll join us.

Fair State Saisons

Cans: Du Pounde

Bottles: Saison Drei, Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde (July 22)

On draft: Du Pounde, Points North, Dakota Skipper (July 13)

On draft at Mixed Culture 2017 (July 15):

  • Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde
  • Passionfruit Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde
  • Blueberry Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde


City Pages: “Local Suds: 5 Minnesota beers to try in August”

Du Pounde