The reason I called this blog The Beer Stand is because next to beer, my other passion is deer hunting (i.e. from a tree stand). Wanna know what one of my favorite parts about deer hunting is? The fact that when I am hunting, the nearest person to me is 200 yards away. I don’t like crowds.
So why in the world would I go to the Minnesota State Fair, aka the “Great Minnesota Get Together”, where attendance for the day was 164,192 people? The beer, of course.
To understand why Craft Beer and the Minnesota State Fair are such a good combination, you need to understand what makes craft beer so special. The craft beer craze is about so much more than good beer. It is about building community, sourcing locally grown ingredients and celebrating regional culture. That is exactly what any state fair is about too.
This year, the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild carved a nice little corner out of the Agriculture Horticulture Building to promote craft beer and educate people on what craft beer really is.
They called this celebration The Land of 10,000 Beers. Clever. Not at all predictable. (Come on, I’m from Wisconsin, I have to get my jabs in every now and then.)
There are two things that really stood out to me about how they set up this wing of the building. One, they really set out to educate people about beer and the brewing process. There were posters, displays and other information about beer in Minnesota and how it is brewed.
They didn’t humor fair goers by any means either. There was information on where the flavor of beer comes from, styles, color, and the brewing process. I may or may not have contemplated stealing them some how.
They also had a huge map of the state that showed where all of the breweries in Minnesota are located. This is was actually my favorite one.
The second thing that stood out to me was how they organized the beer sampling. They offered seven different flights of four beers each. Every flight was organized by a specific theme. They included Belgium, Darker, Hoppier, Lighter, two Minnesota Mixture and a Specialty flight. Each flight was $8 and offered 4 oz samples of four beers.
Here is what the Darker and Hoppier flights looked like.
Now for me, the centerpiece of the State Fair beer experience was the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild area, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other areas of the fair that featured craft beer. Several permanent food establishments featured locally made craft beer. Two in particular stood out to me.
The first was the Ball Park Cafe. The reason they stood out? Mini. Donut. Beer. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste exactly like a mini donut. The rim of the glass was sugar coated which helped give you a very sweet initial taste. That taste was quickly followed by a blast of malt and carbonation, but the kicker is that the beer finished cinnamon-y sweet. It was really good.
The next beer I found was S’Mores beer at Giggles Campfire Grill. I saw this beer on their menu and just had to try it. Just to say I’ve had it once. This beer was very chocolately, creamy. The rim of the glass was coated with chocolate and ground graham crackers. It was a pretty good milk stout with a nice creamy texture.
I have to admit, going to the fair was a spur of the moment thing, so I didn’t really plan all of the places I should have hit. If you want to give it a go yourself, Growler Magazine has a really good guide to craft beer at the fair.
I will tell you this, if the organizers of the State Fair and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild put on a display like this again next year, I will be going again and I will plan it a lot better.
Until next time.