MN Craft Brewer’s Guild Winterfest 2012

MN Craft Brewer’s Guild Winterfest 2012

Well, Winterfest was an amazing time, there’s just no other way to put it.

We arrived at the Minnesota History Center just before six, which was early enough to put us in the first 50 people at the event. The crowd staged just inside the entrance, and it was quite a crowd. The initial 750 or so tickets that were open to the general public sold out in mere minutes, and between the extra tickets given to volunteers, brewers, etc, all told there were close to 1000 people in attendence.

Winterfest Crowd

Shortly before 7, Guild President and Surly Brewing founder Omar Ansari came into the hallway to give a quick thanks and welcome to everyone. As we walked thru the entrance, we were greeted by traditional bagpipes, grabbed our official tasting glass, and went off in search of the best beer the Minnesota Guild Brewers had to offer.

Each floor had stations set up with ice water to rinse one’s glass (or just to balance out the beer), trail mix to cleanse one’s palate, and h’orderves to snack on. This included a platter of bleu cheese with chunks bigger than my fist, and some really excellent potato soup.

Minnesota History Center

As you’d expect for one of the fastest growing breweries in the country, the Surly table was never without a line. They had a nice offering, including their excellent fifth anniversary beer-aptly named Five-, a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale aged in red wine barrels. I actually didn’t know I was such a sour beer fan until this event. I probably tried at least 5 different sour beers and liked them all. The wife, who just a couple years ago could hardly stand the smell of hops and wouldn’t think of buying a pint of an American pale ale couldn’t get enough oak-aged Abrasive (served via beer engine from a cask).

Surly toasted-oak aged Abrasive

Mirroring the national trend, there were a lot of barrel-aged Russian Imperial stouts. I saw a few Randals, too, but this year didn’t seem to be big on hops, though there were some very good IPAs. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a beer festival without some broken glasses. A sad sight to behold.

Spilled Beer :*(

I believe I managed to drunkenly scribe a mark next to all the beers I tried:

  • Barley John’s – Imperial Pilsner
  • Carmody Irish Pub – Scanlan IPA
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse
    • Superior Trail IPA
    • Duluth Pale Ale
    • Berliner Weisse
    • Framboise (really excellent)
  • Flat Earth Brewing Co
    • Dreamline (cheesecake infused, insanely good)
    • Winter Warlock barleywine
  • Fulton Beer
    • Lonely Blonde
    • Sweet Child of Vine
  • Great Waters Brewing Co. Auld Bruin
  • Harriet Brewing Co East Side Belgian IPA
  • Herkimer Pub & Brewery Kaiserlichen Alt (very good)
  • Leech Lake Brewing Co 3 Sheets IIPA
  • Lift Bridge Beer Co Maple Bacon Russian Imperial Stout
  • Mankato Brewery Mankato Original
  • Rock Bottom Brewery Wild (brett b) IPA
  • Steel Toe Brewing
    • Size 7 IPA
    • Rainmaker Double Red Ale
  • Summit Brewing Cask Horizon Red Ale
  • Surly Brewing Co
    • Darkness 2011
    • Five
    • Furious
    • Abrasive


Hospitality Room

One Comment

  • Mark on Nov 26, 2012

    This is a great blog! I’m leaping into all grain and found your Coleman xtreme conversion very helpful, hope mine turns out like yours. I like your style and dig your art. Its great to see beer from my state on your blog. I’m currently drinking a Chatoe Rogue Pumkin Patch Ale. Thanks for the great info.