The summer beer-fest season continues on July 16 with the return of the Beer Dabbler Showcase at the Highland Fest in St. Paul. This is the third year for this event, and it just keeps getting bigger. Organizers are promising more of everything this year--more beer, more bands, more food, and more Porta-Potties. Slow lines have been a perennial complaint at Beer Dabbler events. They are taking steps to eliminate that problem as well.
Here's more about what you'll find at the event.[jump]
In an interesting attempt to deal with those long lines, the gates will open 30 minutes before the beer starts pouring. They will start letting people in at 12:30. Beer will begin to flow at 1:00. The Beer Dabbler website proclaims, "We don't want you to have to wait for your beer." This seems odd as people will have to wait once they get onto the grounds. Waiting in line or waiting inside doesn't seem so different to me, but I suppose this way they will have the bulk of attendees in and ready to drink by 1:00.
If you are looking for something to do during that half-hour wait, sessions in the Education Tent will kick off at 12:40 with a class on tasting beer and basic sensory analysis given by yours truly. I'll try to have a couple of beers to sample if they'll let me. The rest of the ed sessions will happen later in the day. The lineup includes:
About 65 breweries are scheduled to be represented at the fest. That includes most of the local and regional favorites plus a wide assortment of national and international beer makers. That gives you 200-plus beers to taste during the four hours of the fest. The full list of breweries is on the website. Once again festival-goers will be able to vote for their favorite brewery to win the Lord Dabbler's Cup. Fulton Beer took home the gleaming firkin last year.
Entertainment will be provided on two stages this year. While sipping beer you will be serenaded by the sounds of The 4onthefloor, Maudlin, Pictures of Then, and bands from McNally Smith School of Music. Food will be available for purchase at the fest. Vendors include Chef Shack, Fork in the Road, Magic Bus Café, and Stanley's Northeast Bar Room.
The Beer Dabbler Homebrew Contest is returning to this year's fest. It proved quite popular at last year's event, drawing many more entries than expected. This contest is BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) sanctioned, so your beers will be evaluated by experienced judges. Entries are turned in at the festival, so you must attend to enter beers into the competition. You'll need two bottles of each beer entered and only three entries are allowed per person. Full competition rules are posted on the website.
Tickets to the Beer Dabbler Highland Fest are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Gates open at 12:30. Beer will be poured starting at 1:00. The festival runs until 5:00 p.m. at 1978 Ford Parkway in St. Paul.
Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint