Photos by Aaron Davidson
On a crisp Saturday afternoon in early spring, with burgers in the fridge and the grill awakening from its winter hibernation, all was nearly right with the world—I just needed something to drink.
Heading out into the afternoon sun with empty growler in-hand, I set a course for Eastlake Craft Brewery, which opened in Midtown Global Market last December.
Taking a seat at the bar to peruse the day’s offerings, my interest was first piqued by The Raccoon & The Bear, a red ale brewed with fir tips and cedar shavings. A short pour later and I felt as though I was raising a glass with the titular forest dwellers, drinking what I’d crudely describe as a hopped-up pine bough. Though it was a fun trip into the woods for a quick pint, it didn’t quite fit the bill for the evening’s plans of sitting in the backyard and firing up the grill for the first time this season.
No, another beer on the tap list was calling my name for this all-important growler fill: Southside Pilsner, a Czech-style “kellerpils” and Eastlake’s first lager.
This unfiltered 4.3% ABV pilsner pours bright yellow with just enough cloudiness to remind you that it’s in a different class than its macro-brewed brethren. The pilsner malt and noble hallertau and saaz hops combine to provide a crisp, dry flavor with a finish that’s refreshingly clean and slightly spicy.
Eastlake Owner/Brewer Ryan Pitman said with spring in the air he felt it was time to release the seasonal Southside, which fits with Eastlake’s modus operandi of offering a combination of more traditional, approachable beers like their brown ale and American pale ale alongside unique offerings like the aforementioned red ale and their recently released sour, Kirby Pucker.
Pitman also said he likes to keep their more traditional offerings on the sessionable side of the spectrum. “It’s more fun to drink more beer, ya know?” Pitman joked.
Eastlake recently added a fifth fermenter, which allows Pitman to brew beers like Southside that require longer aging times—the beer fermented for two weeks and lagered for an additional three weeks before it was ready.
Southside Pilsner will pair particularly well with Eastlake’s new permanent patio, set to open in late May or early June along Lake Street in front of the brewery on the northeast corner of the Midtown Global Market building (corner of East Lake Street and 10th Avenue South in Minneapolis).
Since adding it to the menu, Pitman said customer reaction to the beer has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s been an immediate hit,” he said. “People are really digging it.”
With full growler in-hand, I headed back out onto Lake Street, hardly noticing the pair of women in flowing hijabs and the girl with colorful, plastic barrettes in her braided hair I passed on the way to my car. All I could think about was the sizzling scent of burgers on that red-hot grill with a cold pint in hand—I couldn’t get home fast enough.
With the grill heating up, I opened the swing top on my reusable growler to a satisfying “POP!” and poured two glasses of Southside for my wife and myself while seated on our backyard patio.
Finally—all was right with the world.