The 22nd annual City Pages Beer Festival was a wet affair, but the steady rain wasn't enough to deter us and our fellow beer-lovers -- especially after the first dozen samples.
The festival featured a variety of brewers, local and national, along with live music from Viva Knievel, Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, accordionist Bill Koncar, and games such as hammerschlagen and a mechanical bull.
The growth of the local scene was evident in this year's participating breweries, with around half of them calling Minnesota home. Fulton had the largest presence, owning the VIP area, and others such as Day Block, Tin Whiskers, Summit, and Stagecoach were all serving multiple beers. Standouts overall were the offerings from Clown Shoes, Big Wood, and Sierra Nevada.
The beer offerings from most brewers were their staples, with few one-offs or specialties available. There were far more IPAs and lagers than imperial stouts or double IPAs and the majority of booths served direct pours from the bottle or can rather than draft or cask. The choice of brewers and the focus on flagships makes this is a festival to celebrate national and regional classics and sample some beers that you can get at your local liquor store in a fun, outdoor setting.
As the evening progressed, the audience participation in the beer sampling decreased and the dancing to Evil Knievel increased. Crowds also flocked to the mechanical bull, which also had the advantage of being under a tent so participants could dry off for at least a few seconds.
Overall, the live music, games, and food trucks added a nice diversion from the drinking and staved off the crush of intoxication that comes with sampling several beers.They say beer brings people together, and this year's City Pages Beer Festival was further proof.