Category Archives: Beer

Beer Festivals of Minnesota – Twin Cities Beer Fest

Well from Summer to Fall to Winter and Spring there is very rarely a season where you can’t find a beer festival here in Minnesota. With under a week until the Twin Cities Beer Fest I figured this was a great opportunity to start my series on Minnesota Beer Festivals to showcase all of the opportunities the people of Minnesota have to sample exciting new beers.

Twin Cities Beer Fest
As I noted above the Twin Cities Beer Fest is less than a week away as I write this post. The fest now in it’s 2nd year of operation is run by John Wolf of Chicago Lake Liquors in Minneapolis. In 2011 the event was called the Minneapolis Beer Fest but the event was moved from downtown Minneapolis to Bloomington and the Mall of America for 2012 and renamed I’m sure as a result. The event was also at the end of September in 2011 and in 2012 it will take place on August 11th. I’m assuming this is a welcomed change for many since August doesn’t currently have any other large beer festivals in the Twin Cities.

The festival runs from 3 to 7 PM, four hours seem to be the standard length of most beer festivals here in Minnesota. In my experience from pouring at and going to beer festivals I’d say four hours is the perfect amount of time for everyone on both sides of the beer tables. Unlike many of the popular craft beer festivals that you will read about in this series The Twin Cities Beer Fest is not limited to craft beer.

We sample every type of beer – Craft, Domestic and Imported – All of the other other events focus on craft beers and exclude the likes of Budweiser, Miller, Corona, Guiness, Heineken, Grain Belt, Stella, Becks, Sapporo, etc. We also sample ciders.

In the e-mail I received from John Wolf he noted that there were 4,000 attendees in 2011 and he expects to sell at least that many tickets in 2012. With tickets being sold for the event on Groupon ranging from $17 to $36 (35% to 51% off of normal ticket prices) he shouldn’t have a hard time exceeding the 2011 numbers.

While some might swear this festival off as a beer fest for the masses and not a craft beer fest according to their lineup there is a large craft beer presence at the festival including some special firkins. One of my sources also noted that this is a very well organized beer festival and that a lot of money is put into it to make it a quality event. I cannot say from experience how the event was in 2011 and due to a prior engagement won’t be able to share notes from 2012 but if the event is back in 2013 I will be sure to check it out. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

One last thing to mention is that a percentage of money from the event is donated to the Finnegan’s Community Fund which then directs the money to the Emergency Foodshelf Network. John noted that in 2011 over 25,000 pounds of fresh food was donated as a result of this event. I invite to you check it out and again please feel free to let us know how it was.

Next week I will highlight Autumn Brew Review one of my favorite Minnesota Beer Festivals.

Take a moment to leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter. What are you favorite beer festivals in Minnesota or beyond our borders? What make a certain festival unique or special to you? Feel free to offer any other comments on this post.



Beer Block

Well I’m not sure you could call this writer’s block but maybe Beer Block is a good title for it. I made a promise to myself and anyone reading this blog that I would put out a new blog post each week and my thought was Friday since well I have a feeling some of you have free time on Friday afternoon or at least into the weekend to read. Another promise I made to myself was that these blog posts wouldn’t be just me rambling about beer because well anyone can do that. The blog posts needed to have some meat and to get quality content research and/or interviews would need to be done.

So this week instead of putting out a blog posts I spent a bit of time researching and compiling data for a couple of posts I plan to write in the near future. Unfortunately one of those posts is going to require me to learn more about WordPress or find a friend to help me with some coding. So here comes the beer block or excuse for not writing. Last night while enjoying some patio time my neighbor called and asked if we wanted to go to the Muddy Pig. For anyone not from Minnesota or afraid to venture over from Minneapolis to St. Paul The Muddy Pig is probably one of the best Craft Beer bars in the Twin Cities if not the country. The taps are constantly changing and well the food is awesome. I highly suggest the Beef Nacho’s, Hummus or the Wings. So my neighbor, his wife and I headed down to the Pig, grabbed a parking place right out front and proceeded to enjoy some excellent beers from Stone Brewing Company. I must disclose here that my neighbor works for Original Gravity the local distributor of Stone Brewing Company and many other fine craft beers that are available in Minnesota. This doesn’t mean that I won’t speak my mind on beers they sell, because I will, I just might not spend hours blogging about it because nothing good comes from that. Remember this blog is intended to be positive! Also good to note I like to support my neighbor but I do drink craft beers from all of the distributors in town. There are some larger beer companies where if you work for them all you can drink is their beer but in the world of craft beer I think it is essential that you are trying beers from everywhere, even your competitors and not limiting yourself to a small selection.

10th Anniversary Ruination IPA
Photo taken at The Beer Dabbler at Highland Fest

So back to The Muddy Pig and Stone Brewing. We started out with a Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA as you can see from my tweet here. At 10.8 ABV with Citra and Centennial hops this is a fantastic IPA. If you get a chance to grab one in the bottle or on tap I would highly suggest it. Next we moved to the Stone Cali-Belgique which when thinking back probably should have been my first beer of the night. The 10th Anniversary as noted comes in at 10.8% ABV and well Cali-Belgique is 6.9% so in the future for myself and others I would suggest the lower alcohol beer first. By no means is the 10th Anniversary a Palate Wrecker but it probably just took a little away from my experience with the Cali-Belgique. Getting back to the beer, Stone’s website notes that the Cali-Belgique adds a Belgian yeast strain to the already popular Stone IPA. This is another great beer from Stone that although I like it in the bottle having it on draft was better.

Along with the beer we enjoyed the Hummus, Grilled Sausage and the Olive Tapenade from The Muddy Pig’s tasty menu.

Going back to the point of the blog and research the Beer Block as I am calling this blog post allowed me to run into Beer Dabbler Matt Kenevan who I will be interviewing next week for one of my upcoming posts. Also with Matt was Shaun Wolf a great guy who is also the Market Manager for Duvel Moortgat Brewery. Many of you may also be familiar with Brewery Ommegang which is owned by Duvel. Thinking about it now maybe I can hit up Shawn for a future post!

In closing a craft beer outing often presents great opportunities. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and enjoy some craft beer.



Interesting Week in Beer!

Well it’s been an interesting week thus far. Earlier in the week a co-worker brought up the fact that I hadn’t updated my blog in a while. I thought to myself what blog because aside from this post there are only three other active posts. Then there is one I deleted and another I never finished (one day I will share my love of BeWitched Deli with the world). So the bottom line is I haven’t spent a lot of time adding to this blog! In our conversation about beer my co-worker noted that I should write about craft beers, adding a post each time I have an impressive new beer. He said it would give him information to assist with buying new beers. I always think to myself there are too many blogs about beer so if I do one it needs to be different. Plus I already tend to tweet every time I have a good beer, which might be overkill!

Later in the week I got frustrated by the fact that there were two beer festivals in the area on the same day, of which I wanted to attend both of them. I thought to myself why didn’t they plan better and well I started stirring the pot! I expressed this in a few tweets but I wasn’t really thinking about the big picture. At this point I decided I was going to write a blog post, not this one and honestly the post I was going to write will never be written for good reason but it has prompted some great ideas.

In preparation I started contacting people from various breweries as well as the founders of some of our local beer festivals. First I wrote an e-mail to Omar Ansari the founder of Surly Brewing Company and the current President of the MN Craft Brewer’s Guild. I reached out to Matt Kenevan the founder of the Beer Dabbler and the Growler. I followed up with David Berg head brewer at August Schell Brewing Company and last but not least  Mark Opdahl from the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest. My thought was they would each write me back if and when they had time and then I would come up with my post based on some questions I had asked in my e-mails.

Within 30 minutes I got a call from Surly Brewing Company, not realizing at first that it was Omar on the other end of the line. He said he was on his way to Duluth for All Pints North and had 20 to 30 minutes to talk if I had time. Did I have time, of course I had time but I will elaborate on that conversation in a future post. I received an e-mail from David Berg within an hour and a response from Mark Opdahl in under two hours. Later in the evening when I was on a Brews Cruise  I picked up a voice mail from Matt Kenevan. The overall message from each of these people was that Craft Beer should be a positive experience. They all support each other in their various endeavors, which is really refreshing especially since at times they are competing for customers. I also decided from at least one of these correspondences that stirring the pot wasn’t productive (not sure why I didn’t come to that conclusion sooner).

Talking and writing about Craft Beer should be positive because really the point of this movement, if you want to call it a movement, is to get people to try new beers and educate them on what is out there. Too often beer sites, blogs and Twitter are not positive, people constantly stir the pot. So based on these e-mails, calls and a discussion with my wife my plan is to write a positive blog about Craft Beer. Due to my track record of not updating my blog I will set my goal at one post a week and if there are more it’s a bonus. The blog may reside here or I might use one of the various beer related URL’s I own to host it. Again the overall message will be about the positives in the Craft Beer Community. That’s not to say I won’t review a beer and give my feedback but a wise friend once told me that for every beer you might not like there are plenty of people out there that will. Again thanks to Omar, Matt, David and Mark for your feedback.


Japanese Green Tea IPA from Baird / Ishii / Stone

Japanese Green Tea IPA from Baird / Ishii / Stone

I have been wanting to try this beer for quite some time now.  In fact for at least a few months as the label awaited MN approval I hoped a few bottles or a keg would make their way to our “neighborhood” but no such luck. At Autumn Brew Review I was so close (had my hopes up a little) only to have the truck arrive the following week due to issues in transit. A couple of weeks back a very limited supply arrived here in the Twin Cities.  I headed over to Zipps Liquor (my first time
there and I must add very impressed) and grabbed two bottles as well as some other nice treats from Stone and Alaskan. I believe most stores here in MN received a 1/2 a case or less of this beer so I was excited to locate some. At $4.50 or so for a 12oz. bottle your average beer drinker might think this is on the spendy side but for a limited release beer like this it’s worth every penny. Plus there is a bonus, proceeds, according to Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, will go to Earthquake / Tsunami relief in Japan which is awesome.

YouTube: Baird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA Collaboration

I have been sitting on this IPA when really it has been ready to drink since before it even arrived in MN. I had a pre winter MN cold and didn’t want to try the beer until I could enjoy/taste it. Tonight seemed like a great night to crack it open.

Bottle Design Front | Back

Initial thoughts: There is not a big nose to it, the aroma’s are pretty subtle. It’s not as hoppy as many of the IPA’s on the market, but I like that.  It’s has a smooth yet somewhat complex taste. I don’t find it overly bitter at all. As I drank some and then poured the rest of the bottle into the glass the aroma was a little stronger.  I was thinking there would be more sediments with a Green Tea IPA but not really.

Beer Advocate gives it a B+ and I think I would go with an A-, partly because this is late October and this IPA was probably ready to drink in mid July. Overall though I am very impressed and since my friend in TN I was going to send the 2nd bottle to already had the chance to try it I might just enjoy that one this weekend.



Japanese Green Tea IPA from Baird / Ishii / Stone: 9.2% Alc/Vol