A few thoughts following the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest
Last Sunday was the first St. Paul Summer Beer Fest. It hopefully won’t be the last. While there are several beer festivals through the year in the Twin Cities, it is good to have one smack in the middle of summer. The weather was perfect, if a little windy. The beer was great. And it seemed as though all in attendance were having a good time.
I want to give kudos to Mark and Juno, the organizers of the event. This was their first attempt at staging a beer festival and they did a great job. From my experience and observation it was very well run. The parking lot at Midway Stadium was a great location, providing ample yet focused space for people to form beer lines and just mill about. Picnic tables in the middle gave folks a place to sit down, not unwelcome when the whole afternoon is spent drinking beer. Booth access for brewers and vendors was super easy. There was enough food and the lines for food and toilets moved pretty quickly. All-in-all, well done!
Congratulations to Flat Earth Brewing for taking the People’s Choice award for their Sunburst Ale. The honor is well deserved. This apricot infused version of their Belgian Pale Ale has become one of my favorite local brews and was the best of the beers I sampled at the event.
I was working at the event representing A Perfect Pint, so my sampling was limited. I commented to someone that this was the most sober I had ever been at a beer festival. It made for some interesting people watching. I was fascinated as the lines formed and ebbed for both food and toilets. Particularly interesting was the shift in the lines from these two things to the breathalyzer machines as the festival drew to a close. The Perfect Pint table was next to these handy machines so I got to watch as festival attendees, having just finished a beer, blew .35 or more BAC. I also witnesses as one guy who had clearly sampled a good number of beers blew a 0.00 BAC. I don’t think he believed the machine either. Good thing. As the day went on the number of cheers that rose from the crowd as patrons dropped their tasting glasses increased. It totally seemed like everyone was having a good time. The pinnacle for me though was the couple I spotted as the bagpipes played the event to a close, swaying to some unheard music with large brown stains all down the front of their white T-shirts.
There were a few breweries represented that I had never tried and a couple that I had never heard of. One of the latter was Gray’s Brewing Company of Janesville, Wisconsin. I tried their ESB and found it to be quite tasty. I’ll have to give some other of their beers a try. I was also pleased with both of the offerings from Founders Brewery. Their Red’s Rye P.A. was pleasantly hoppy with balancing malt and a nice touch of spicy rye character. While the cherry flavor in the Cerise was a little candied, I still enjoyed this tart, refreshing beer. [EDIT] I forgot that I had wanted to mention Minnesota Tan from Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewery. This was my first opportunity to try this, their newest release. A so-called lingonberry tripel, this is a tart, extra-dry beer with nice berry flavor and a bit of the Belgian fruit and spice yeasty character. I enjoyed it and would recommend trying it if you find it on a menu.
Once again, great job Juno and Mark. Please do it again next year.