FSB 2018: Behind the Beer

FSB 2018 | Behind the Beer
Head Brewer Niko Tonks, weighs in on our heaviest beer to date…

“FSB is different every year – 2014 was a smoked RIS, fermented clean in stainless. 2015 was a barrel-aged gigantic stout fermented with Saison yeast, 2016 was a very similar approach but slightly scaled back – that beer was probably the driest imperial stout ever produced – and 2017 was a blend of barrel-aged clean stout and 3 year old Brett. old ale. For 2018, we’re putting FSB in cans for the first time, and we decided to take a pretty serious left turn from our previous approach of cultivating dryness and unorthodox fermentations. This year’s beer is squarely in the ‘pastry stout’ category – it is massively viscous, much sweeter than previous years, with tons of chocolate and roast notes. We also added a trace amount of orange zest, and a pretty big slug of vanilla.

FSB employs a pretty extreme brewing process, involving easily double the amount of malt we use in our regular beers, and some super extended-length boils, to produce the signature viscosity and complex finish. Joe, our resident pastry wizard, spent two overnights at the brewery shepherding the longest and most intense brew days we’ve ever attempted.

FSB was the first beer we ever named, approximately 10 months before we even opened. FSB are our initials, but they’re also the initials of the Russian state security agency that followed the KGB, and so the Russian Imperial Stout connection was too much to ignore. We make a bunch of different stouts throughout the year, but FSB is always the wackiest, biggest, and lowest volume one.”

FSB 2018 is packaged in 16oz cans which are marching out to craft beer stores this week. The taproom will have bottles and draft of an exclusive variant featuring cold press from Duluth Coffee Co, and a double dose of vanilla. On tap Thursday the 13th, and limited bottles Saturday 12/15 at noon.


Raspberry Roselle: Behind the Beer

It’s December! Which means Raspberry Roselle is here to brighten your long winter nights with a lovely combination of tart and jammy berry flavors.



Head Brewer Niko Tonks goes behind the beer with Raspberry Roselle…

“RASPBERRY ROSELLE WAS A NATURAL FOR US – Hibiscus, the overriding flavor in Roselle, and Raspberry (which we clearly add to this beer) are mutually reinforcing, and play very well together.

We’ve been making Raspberry Roselle for at least six months longer than we’ve been selling it. The idea to make a fruited version of Roselle is as old as the beer itself, and the first batch of the Rasberry Roselle is a pretty funny piece of Fair State history. Back in the day, we didn’t have a whole lot of equipment or flexibility, especially with regards to packaging beer in bottles, so the first time we made Rasberry Roselle, we just ran some finished beer into a blending tank, added raspberries, waited a while, tried it, loved it, and went to package it. What we didn’t anticipate, however, was the sheer amount of fruit puree that would make it into the bottles. Needless to say, we didn’t sell any of it, and we all enjoyed super thick fruity pours of Rasberry Roselle at home for many months thereafter. The stuff tasted too good to not do it again, and the second time we nailed our process a little better. We’ve produced it in December every year since, as a bright and fruity antidote to seasonal affective disorder.

Raspberry Roselle’s process mirrors that of “regular” Roselle very closely, in that it is a kettle or hot side sour, fermented clean with a relatively neutral ale yeast. We add a very large amount of raspberries to the tail end of fermentation, which ensures proper fermentation but limits the amount of delicate fruit aroma and flavor we lose to carbon dioxide scrubbing during active fermentation.


Raspberry Roselle is a fun yearly counterpart to U-Pick, the mixed fermentation whole local fruit beer we make once a year. With Rasberry Roselle, you get a very “jammy” raspberry flavor that seems sweeter than it is, even. With U-Pick, you get a slightly more nuanced whole fruit presentation that skews towards being, for lack of a better word, “seedy,” and indicative of wholly unprocessed fruit. I wouldn’t say one is necessarily better than the other; they are different and interesting presentations of fruit character both. Fruit flavors and aromas are very delicate and will degrade with excessive age. As with all fruited sour beer, Raspberry Roselle is best consumed fresh.”



Rasberry Roselle is now available at our Northeast Mpls taproom and at a craft beer retailer near you. Use the locator below to find the Raspberry Roselle retailer nearest you. We strongly suggest calling the retailer ahead of time to check their current availability.



Behind the Beer: Keller Kazbek

The brewers here at Fair State are certified lager fanatics. We brew two lagers as flagships, and frequently make short runs of other traditional and experimental lagers we love such as Festbier or Helles and now we are reintroducing our fall seasonal lager, 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 intentional haze in this beer . 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 unique “grassy” or almost hay-like aroma, combined with the classic spicy and floral notes you’d expect from a noble hop. Keller Kazbek hits shelves this week in 6 packs of 12 ounce cans.

Our co-founder and head brewer, Niko Tonks, occasionally waxes poetic about Pilsners and lagers in general. He says: “Pilsner is my first true beer love, and maybe my only real one. 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

The WitchHunt

Witches are everywhere. You may not believe it, but it’s true whether you like it or not. Once you start looking, you’ll see us everywhere- including your favorite local brewery.

Us witches here at Fair State wanted to make a special brew just in time for Halloween. And to make it extra powerful, we wanted our coven with us. So we put out a call, through the witchiest of all communication channels: a private email server. 

We found witches everywhere: witches from Northeast, North Loop, and St. Paul. Some witches even flew down from Duluth! 


On October 9th, 2017, we all gathered around our cauldron and made a bitter, bitter brew. The malt was blackened over fires fed by the bodies of the damned. We didn’t just use hops, oh no! There’s no alpha acid percent high enough to express the feeling you get when your employer has to reassure you that you can still get birth control because the current administration no longer requires employer-sponsored health insurance plans to cover it. In addition to Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Tahoma, this beer was bittered with the rage of every witch who has been persecuted by the flame of injustice. (We also dry hopped with X331). Fermented with a dry English ale yeast, cursed in the kettle, this Cascadian Dark Ale is a reckoning. ABV: 6.66%, IBU: 70

Try it…if you dare.

The WitchHunt will commence in the Taproom at 4 pm, Thursday, 10.26.

Photo credit: Davin Haukebo-Bol