There were a lot of Minnesota brewers present who were not at least year's fest, since most weren't even open yet. It was cloudy for the first part of the fest, and it seemed like maybe the rain would hold off. But midway through the afternoon, the clouds opened up, and I mean opened up like faucets. The rain fell in a deluge. Most everyone ran for cover under the tents and covered areas, crowding in and sampling the beers from behind with the brewers instead of out front in the rain. It seemed like a bummer at first, but it was actually kind of neat. It slowed down the pace, and everyone stayed cheery and lots of conversations were started due to the close proximity of those huddling together for shelter. Once the rain finally stopped, the sun came out to finish out the day with a brilliant shine.
Tallgrass Brewing and the Third Street Brewhouse collaborated on a special beer made only for the fest. It was called Boyz N The Hood and was to be a Double India Brown Ale. Waiting to enter, I heard several people comment on wanting to try it. However, the brewing went bad and the beer had to be chucked.
There was a lot of good beer served, some of my highlights were as follows. The brand spanking new Bent Brewstillery served three variations on their delicious Dark Fatha, a stout-like beer. The one with ghost chili peppers was an excellent spicy beer. The Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, as always, brought a strong lineup. Dangerous Man Brewing Company brought some dangerously drinkable beers, with good taste all around and it seems an unusual attention to good mouthfeel across styles. Their Chocolate Milk Stout was a delicious shining example of how to do the style. 612Brew had the star black IPA of the fest, showing just how to do that style with their Zero Hour. The Bent Paddle Brewing Company showed everyone how to do a black ale with coffee, with their delicious and eponymous Cold Press Black Ale. As the rain began to recede, I went over the aptly named Bad Weather Brewing Company. Their Windvane is a great example of an American (hoppy) red ale. I think the two best IPA's of the day were Let It Ride from Indeed Brewing and the new release from Deschutes, their Fresh Squeezed IPA. The Mankato Brewing Company brought a nice set of beers, and I really enjoyed their special beer for the fest, their Saffron Kilt IPBA (that's Irish Pipe Band Ale). As usual, the fest goers were piped in by the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, and the head brewer at Mankato is one of their members.
As you can see, the Minnesota brewers made a fine showing. Sorry JK Scrumpys, I have to give your cider the "worst in show" mention. It tasted like apple cider vinegar, which is nice in the kitchen, but not what I want to drink. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Cherry Bomb cider, made with Montmorency cherries and tasting like a Kriek, from Julian Cider.
The People's Choice Award this year went to Surly Brewing Company's Hell.
The crowd grows...
Soaked, but meeting lots of folks trying to stay out of the rain.