Norsland Lefse and Uffda Ale set to make a big splash at State Fair

Photo courtesy of Giggles’ Campfire Grill Pictured is a glass of Uffda Ale with an Uffda Chip rested atop. Uffda Ale, made by Beaver Island Brewing with lefse from Norsland Lefse, will be available at the Minnesota State Fair from Giggles’ Campfire Grill.
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

Norsland Lefse is well known for broadening the appeal of lefse, adapting the Norwegian delicacy into wraps, chips and even a hot dog bun. 

So when Chris Laumb, a St. Cloud brewmaster, approached Norsland owner Mark Johnson about making a craft beer from lefse, Johnson was eager to take the plunge. 

 The result is Uffda Ale, a specialty brew produced by Beaver Island Brewery in St. Cloud and using Norsland’s Lefse as a key ingredient. Uffda Ale will be introduced at the Minnesota State Fair and will be available at Giggles’ Campfire Grill. 

A veteran brewmaster, Laumb said the idea for lefse beer originated as he searched for something that had never been done before in the craft beer industry. Laumb launched an internet search and couldn’t find a homebrew recipe that had ever used lefse.

“My grandfather was from Rushford, so [lefse] was kind of a staple every time we’d get together with my grandparents,” Laumb recalled. “Lefse is a starch and that’s basically what we look for in brewing. We get starches and turn them into sugars. When you combine that with the fact that no one had ever done it before, it seemed like a good challenge to take on.

“Of course, being in Rushford a lot, I knew all about Norsland Lefse. In fact, a distant relative is one of the owners. So, I thought to myself ‘wouldn’t that be a crazy idea for the state fair?’”

Laumb wasn’t sure just how well lefse would work into a brew mix, so they did a couple of pilot batches first. Converting lefse into beer was actually quite a bit easier than Laumb anticipated. “I didn’t know if the lefse would dissolve or just float at the top of the mix,” he said. “It dissolved and incorporated with the barley malt and all of that. There really wasn’t any issue at all.”

Even better, Laumb says, is the fact that Uffda Ale “tastes great, it’s basically a light golden ale.” There are lingonberries in the ale, giving it just a hint of fruitiness in the background. It’s very good, very approachable for anyone, and very refreshing. It actually finishes out fairly dry, so there’s no residual sugars or anything like that. It’s a crisp, refreshing beer that’ll be perfect for the fair.”

Norsland Lefse has been busy preparing for the State Fair as well. In addition to supplying the lefse for Uffda Ale, they’re also preparing 30,000 Uffda Chips to be served with the beer. “Uffda Chips are fried strips of lefse that will be served right on top of each glass of beer. We supply the lefse, but the idea started with Chris Laumb,” said Norsland Lefse owner Mark Johnson.  

“People who make these specialty beers are always looking for a niche market, something unique and fun, and what would be more fun than lefse beer in Minnesota? He’s partnered with Giggles’ Campfire Grill at the State Fair to actually sell the product,” Johnson added. “They’re the second-biggest concessionaire up there, so they do a nice job. After they got together in a partnership, they came to me as the source for the lefse.”

Johnson said it’s important to garnish the product, so the concessionaire isn’t just handing a glass of beer to each customer. It should be “an experience for the customer when they buy a specialty brew,” he said.

“[Uffda Ale] has lingonberries in it,” Johnson said. “The lingonberries are actually in the brew mix, but they’ll also be some floating in the beer as well. Then, we’ll add some Uffda Chips, on top of the glass of beer while the lingonberries float in it.”

Fairgoers who’d like to give Uffda Ale a try can find it at Giggles’ Campfire Grill, right on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street, at the North Woods.