News & Updates

Winterfest 2008

Winterfest 2008

Another Winterfest has come and gone and another 400+ Minnesotans left Landmark center with a cool buzz (or perhaps happily drunk?) after being exposed to some of Minnesota’s best beers. Needless to say, I tried a lot of beers, spoke to a lot of people and came to the realization that I should read the camera’s instruction manual before shooting a bunch of throw-away shots. Regardless, there are photos for your enjoyment over at Flickr.

Town Hall’s Chocolate Raspberry Bourbon Stout took the Great Snowshoe award, though there were many, many standout beers. I have a few more ideas for homebrew projects thanks to a number of breweries.

Kudos to everyone who once again worked so hard to put on such a solid event. These events aren’t easy to put on and the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild and Flings Event Design do a great job.


  1. Not Impressed says:

    This was my first MN Beer event of any kind, had I known I would pay $45 to stand in line outside for 1/3 of the event, it may have colored my excitement.

    Once inside, it was splendid, but 45 minutes to get in the door (and we were nowhere near the last people to get in) is absurd.

    The beer was wonderful, I wish I’d had the opportunity to sample more of the rare offerings, however I found myself savoring the fine brews rather than gulping and running to the next line. Maybe another 45 minutes would have helped…

  2. Surly Nation says:

    I agree. When you look at the tremendous amount of organization INSIDE, you have to wonder why the line took so long to get through. We were approx. in the middle of the line and it took us 35 minutes to get in the door!

    Once inside, the beers were fantastic, the crowd was manageable, the music classy and the food decent.

    They’ve got to do something about that line, though…

  3. Bock Boy says:

    I know one of the members that put the event on, and he said the line moved slowly because of the wristbands, only having one person putting them on. Last year they used hand stamps and those were much fater to put on people’s hands. The mistake they made was only having one person do wristbands. They all know that was a mistake and I think they’ll have that corrected next year.

  4. WallytheWalrus says:

    The long, long wait really did checker my spirit for the rest of the night. When the event’s only three hours to begin with, losing nearly a third of it to standing in the cold really sucks. The generally cramped atmosphere inside really got to me too — wasn’t this supposed to be an “intimate” affair?

    Fantastic beers all around, no doubt, but for $45 I guess I didn’t get what I would have expected.

  5. Scott says:

    I had fun. I think they should move Surly to the back (where Gluek was) and maybe flip-flop Fitger’s with Finnegan’s to help with the bottlenecks. Town Hall Granny Triple was awsome and I hate Belgians. I want coffee bender in cans. ;} Despite all of the big huge beers, I liked the McCann’s ipa and Herkimer alt quite a bit too.

    I am glad they gave us some extra time at the end to have more beers because of the lines.

  6. Trav says:

    Everyone wants Coffee bender in cans. The line did suck, even though i was towards the front of the line. Did the video footage make it to the news? I saw the glaring of the camera lights a few times….

  7. Jay says:

    I didn’t make it to Winterfest but 3 hours does seem a little short if you get in late. Especially since $45 isn’t exactly a bargain for a beer festival. One thing that helps for wristbands is having event workers move down the line and check ids and put the wristband on people as they stand there. This is how they’ve been doing it at Gitchee Gumee and it seems to work really well. It also helps if you have 5 or 6 people doing this, not one. The line at Bockfest was ridiculous too and they had quite a few people working the gates. Of course, there was also well over 6000 people there.

  8. TruthBrew says:

    Great event, many enjoyable beers and some simply fantastic ones.

    They did extended the event thirty minutes longer than scheduled (10:30 instead of 10:00) to help make up for the line problems. I didn’t hear anyone mention it, so it needs to be said. I thought that was a nice gesture by both the guild and the building/city (for allowing).

    I’ll be posting my pics on soon and will give them to Ryan to post here as well.

  9. Ben says:

    Yes they did extend it but they didn’t make it clear to people so it cleared out quite a bit at 10pm when most thought the fest was over.

  10. mag says:

    Ouch! Sorry to hear about the lines. That’s a buzzkill. I’ve always been impressed with and happy to see a focus on getting ticket holders into events as quickly as possible. The Great Taste of the Midwest is a great example. They are able to process 5,000 people with pretty good efficiency.

  11. Lisa says:

    This was my second year at the Winterfest event. Last year there was a line outside too but it went much faster. I agree, paying $45 and only getting 3 hours (I mean, 2 hours since the first 45 minutes were spent in line!) was not nearly enough time to sip and taste beers. The autumn brew review is much longer, but I’m sure it costs a fortune to rent the space at the Landmark, that is the reason for the high cost and ony 3 hours of tasting. I was also a little disappointed by the food this year. Last year they had better appetizers and the caterers walked around with trays of food, chicken on skewers, stuffed mushrooms of some sort, it was really good last year. This year chips, crackers veggies and dips – very disappointing! Another thing I think they should have done is had the brewers lined up back to back in the middle of the hall and let the people spread out to the sides. It was like a fish bowl and all that wasted space behind the brewers and the walls, maybe it’s a fire code requirement or something. Anyway, I still love the event and will probably attend again next year, hoping they will make improvements.

  12. Not Impressed says:

    Yes the layout was clumsy, lots of unused space in the back, with lines and drinkers colliding in the middle. It felt cramped, not intimate.

  13. Cynic says:

    What’s with all the negativity?

    Where’s Al to call you all haters? 😉

  14. Not Impressed says:

    No one has bashed Surly yet, so Al remains in Lurker mode with photon torpedos charged.

  15. bthek says:

    Well, I had fun. And I thought I got my money’s worth. I waited outside for maybe 30 minutes, but I did not care because I was in anticipation of the good things inside. Some folks are glass half empty people. As to the food though, I am glad I had a big burger at greatwaters beforehand.

  16. ryan says:

    I was bummed out a bit because of the 20 minute wait. Once inside, though, I had a great time. I met some new people and some readers that I hadn’t yet met as well. I was surprised to meet Nick from Surly (Surly bikes, that is) pouring with McCann’s.

    As far as your feedback, know that Guild members read this site and will take suggestions into consideration. Maybe pushing the breweries back even more would work (if possible). And the idea of moving a few breweries around to eliminate bottlenecks is certainly not a bad idea.

  17. David Berg says:

    “I was surprised to meet Nick from Surly (Surly bikes, that is) pouring with McCann’s.”

    You need to pay attention more grasshopper! Nick has been pouring for Chris for as long as I can remember…both ABR and Winterfest. Plus, he always rides his bike to the events!

  18. Jason says:

    Can I be the first to throw out the idea of no more jazz band?

  19. mag says:

    Hear hear!!! I want blues.

  20. Pitmonkey says:

    There was a band? 🙂

    Instrumental bluegrass makes for nice background music. But I like the blues too, probably too vocal for background music though.

    Or just dominate the event with some… Dethklok.

  21. Bock Boy says:

    I guess I’d prefer they save the money for the band and use it either on food or expanding the event. Don’t get me wrong, I like live music, but at an event like this, I’m not there for the music, and I tend to not even pay attention to it. Like a previous poster said, “there was a band there?”

  22. Ben says:

    Can’t say I heard the band other then when I was right over next to them for a couple minutes.

  23. ryan says:

    I’m not totally sure on this one, but the band may well be playing for free.

  24. surlybrewer says:

    Dethklok Rules!

    A Duncan Hills Coffee table would be brutal!

  25. docsvenaor says:

    I think they mean the band from Adult Swim.

  26. Trav says:

    The Duncan Hills coffee song if one of the best ever. Powermad should certainly cover that one….

  27. al says:

    Cynic, your obsession with me is more than a little disturbing.

    “haters” always have issue with others’ enthusiasms. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and railing against other peoples opinions, and telling them that they are wrong, and don’t know enough about brettanomyccessiecesiciezies…ism.

    I didn’t have a problem with Winterfest. Except the wait to get in. I talked to Omar Ansari when I got in, and he wondered where everyone was. With the space they had, they did well.
    And I like jazz bands.
    And beer.
    Delicious beer.

  28. Cynic says:


    You’re clueless.

    I stand by everything I said in both threads in which you attacked me, flipped out, and twisted my words.

    Try some anger management or Prozac.

  29. surlybrewer says:

    “What’s with all the negativity?

    Where’s Al to call you all haters?”

    You brought it on Steve.(?)
    I think everyone here knows you stand by your holier than thou words.The irony of you, a home brewer with a educated palate, calling newbie homebrewers/educated palates,
    hacks, is quite funny!Keep up the excellent work!

  30. Cynic says:


    I expressed an opinion. That’s all. I did not set myself up as a paragon of excellence or pretend to be one.

    You and Al read that in to what I wrote.

    Please re-read what I wrote and show me exactly where I said I was the best. It simply didn’t happen.

    Please re-read what you and Al have written. I’m a hater?

    As a pro-brewer, I’m betting you have some training and that the education makes you better able to brew and eval beers.

    Holier than thou? Please.

    Not afraid to express myself and not run with the crowd: yes.

  31. Cynic says:

    Surleybrewer & al-

    Do you find it effective business to insult paying customers in a public forum?

    I do buy Surly, but you guys kinda make me want to go out and buy anything but.

  32. bthek says:

    Troll, get back under your bridge the goats are coming soon, I swear.

  33. Cynic says:



    I still can’t find the rules saying you have to kiss ass and toe the party line.

  34. Cynic says:


    Hey, is trolling a fishing metaphor? Nothing to do with monsters under bridges.

    The goats metaphor works, however, because they are herd animals. If you find comfort in running with a herd more power to you.

    It’s little scarier to think for yourself.

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