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Gitchee Gumee 2008

Gitchee Gumee 2008, originally uploaded by MNBeer.

The above photo of Bryon Tonnis epitomizes Gitchee Gumee Brewfest for me… AAAHAHAHGH! Craziness. I had fun. I did. I’ll probably go back. I’ve had more fun at our local events (Autumn Brew Review, Winterfest, etc.), but I think we can still learn from those crazy Wisconsinites. Details below the fold…

The Good: Minnesota breweries & brewpubs. Good, solid beer. Though people have been skeptical, I think the Cold Spring beer was as good, if not better than some of the offerings from some of the Wisconsin brewpubs. Rock Bottom’s Angry Hippie really tasted good to me that night as well, though the entire Minnesota gang came through with tasty beers. Wisconsin threw down with some tasty beer too… Muskie Capital Saison, New Glarus Raspberry Tart, Sand Creek Oatmeal Stout, Thirsty Pagan Ginger IPA and Tyranena’s Black Ale stood out in my mind after four hours of imbibing.

Aside from the beer, some of the organizational elements that I liked were the water stations at every table (along with a dump bucket or two) and volunteers who emptied said buckets. I also thought it was smart for them to head out into the line and start putting wristbands on people 20-30 minutes before the event.

The bad: Lots of very drunk people. There were clearly a number of people in line who had already chosen to tie one (or four) on before the event. This happens at our local events too, but the people seemed to be more drunk at this event.

Macro beer. I guess they have their place, but I’d rather see more small and regional breweries than BMC-owned labels like Land Shark and Blue Dawg and things like Smirnoff Acai Ice.

No shows. It looked like J.T. Whitney’s and Minocqua were the no-shows for this event. I was looking forward to giving them a try. I was also bummed that Fitger’s and some others didn’t go this year.

The ugly: Maybe all glassware needs this sort of warning, but it was odd to receive a pint glass from the event that notes “California Prop. 65 Warning: The materials used as a decoration on this product may contain chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Hmm. Good thing the glass is ugly and will likely find it’s way to Goodwill.

Feel free to share your feelings, good or bad, in the comments. Constructive criticism is cool, too…


  1. Ben says:

    HA! I was a little put back by the glassware warning too. So you’re gonna let some other unsuspecting person at the Goodwill get your cancer? 😉

    Surly’s lineup of Darkness, Two, Coffee Bender, Smoke, and Cask Oak-Aged Bender couldn’t be beat. Jim clanging the last empty Surly keg sent out cheer from the crowd. Muskie Capital Saison was really good. Tyranena’s stout was tasty stuff. I hadn’t had New Glarus’ Organic Revolution before and it was one of the best organic brews I’ve had before.

    Upland had just run outta beer when we got to their booth but they were nice enough to give me a 6-pack after the fest to take home! It did seem there was less in the way of special brews there this year (with the exception of Surly and Tyranena) but I guess that’s the kind of stuff you usually get from Town Hall and Fitger’s who where both not present this time.

    Lots of things at this fest are done right. They get you inside quickly thanks to ID checking before the fest even opens. Bathrooms outside for the past 2 years help cut down on the bathroom lines (I didn’t have to wait more then 30 seconds to goto the bathroom at all this year which was pretty sweet). You get a cheap lil plastic cup to taste with and then your souvenir pint glass when you leave so you don’t have to worry about breaking your nice glass). Lots of water and dumping buckets to clean out your glass (and dump some of the nasty beers you may find like Keweenaw’s Lift Bridge Brown Ale which not only I but at least 4 people that got samples while I was standing there proceeded to do). Lots of police presence which keeps things from getting out of hand.

    This fest sure has become a college drunk fest in just the past couple years. I remember about 4 years ago commenting to a friend at the fest that we were the youngest people there. Now the vast majority are just barely 21 it seems. Once word got out to the local college kids that they could drink all they want for just $35 it was all over. Lots of kids coming up to the booth and simply saying “Gimme a beer.” without any care about that they got. Thinks started to really clear out the last hour and I don’t think that it was largely due to brewers running out of beer (although a number were out). It seemed more of it was due to the college kids being too drunk to keep putting it back. I saw a couple get carried out by friends and plenty staggering out.

    Quite a number of empty booths this year. Maybe they should have put all the macro, malternative, and distributors together and pull those just looking to drink anything that’ll get them drunk away from the other booths. Group toast from the crowd is cool but not when it’s every 5 minutes like these drunken college kids seem to think needs to be done.

    I haven’t given up on this fest yet. I’ll give it a couple more years to see what happens (and depending on if other breweries pull out too). I hope it gets better next year. It’s alway a fun time in Duluth after the fest too.

  2. ryan says:

    Oh wait, Dawn told me I had to recycle the glass after reading the warnings!

  3. ryan says:

    I think we had a bad pour of Organic Revolution… the ones we got tasted like they were cut with half pale ale, half water.

  4. Ben says:

    I wonder how Callaway was doing on the ride home Sunday. Heh heh heh.

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