You guys are awesome. I met a lot of great people on Friday night, many for the first time. Professional brewers, homebrewers, event organizers, beer fans… Many of you had a lot of positive things to say about MNBeer, and on the same note, I have nothing but good things to say about your ales, lagers, events, restaurants and passion for beer in Minnesota. The compliments flew back and forth to the degree that I felt like I’d just stepped into a Successories outlet for beer enthusiasts. And though it felt a little cheezy, it’s all true – there’s a lot of heart in beer in Minnesota.
Jeff Williamson, Mike Hoops and all others involved with the planning and execution of Winterfest deserve our gratitude. I can only guess that putting on an event of this magnitude involves a lot of work and little thanks.
Oh, and the beer wasn’t too shabby, either. I enjoyed a variety of beers, some of my favorites included August Schell’s Scmaltz’s Alt, Barley John’s Extra Special Lager and Old 8 Porter, Brau Brothers’ dubbel, Fitger’s Misty Mountain IPA and El Diablo, Flat Earth Pale Ale, Great Waters’ Imperial Wit, Herkimer’s Altbier, Town Hall’s Old Jack Frost, O’Hara’s IVP, Rock Bottom’s Belgian Brown, Summit’s Cask-conditioned Oktoberfest and Surly One among many others.
A couple of things really caught my attention that night – first, the unveiling of Flat Earth Brewing Co.’s “Flat Earth Pale Ale” which, as predicted, was a Belgian-style pale ale… and it’s good, too. I’d really like to drink a pint or two and wax poetic, but if memory serves, I enjoyed its complexity – a bit of biscuit, spice and dark fruit. Great beer. I can’t wait to see what else Jeff has up his sleeve.
Secondly, I was really impressed by the fact that Brau Brothers are screen-printing their own bottles on-site. Many of you are all-too-familiar with my design/printing background and know what a nerd I am with respect to that sort of technology. Very cool.
Constructive feedback? Very little. I wouldn’t mind seeing the tables moved back one set of columns next year. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I’m sure it’s hard to envision 400-some people packed into a space and need to guess just how far out to place the tables. The other thing that I’d probably change (If I were king for the day…) would be the tasting glasses. They look cool, but they were slippery and a little hard to hang on to due to their bulbous shape. I was shuffling a program, some business cards, a camera and the glass and just about destroyed my glass very early in the tasting.
Good times! Next up for Minnesota? Bockfest. Arborfest. (Or Gitchee Gummee if you want to stretch to include Duluth’s uglier little sibling, Superior.)
(Oh, and you’ll notice that I mentioned that I brought a camera. Yup, I got my old, mostly-dead camera to work once again. Unfortunately, it’s as good as dead since the photos are filled with digital nonsense 90% of the time. I think I have ONE passable Winterfest photo. I’ll post it later.)