As the craft beer boom continues to widen the availability of premium suds, the festivals continue to grown and change. Beer geeks can find plenty to get excited about at this weekend's second annual Spring Ale Fest, held at Uppercut Gym in northeast Minneapolis. We spoke with event organizer Connor O'Meara to find out what we can expect and why they decided to hold a beer event in a boxing ring.
The Hot Dish: Which breweries are participating? Do you know yet which brews they will be pouring?
Connor O'Meara: We have 14 breweries this year. Here are all of the brewers and some of the beers they will be bringing:
- Badger Hill Brewing Company: MSB - Minnesota Special Bitter, Foundation Stout, Cask beer, or not yet released flagship beer
- Barley John's Brew Pub
- Dangerous Man Brewing Co.
- Grand Teton Brewing
- Harriet Brewing
- Saison Nourrice: Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale, Westsdie Belgian-Style IPA, Dark Abbey
- Herkimer Brewery
- Indeed Brewing Company
- Leech Lake Brewing Company
- Lucette Brewing Company
- Northgate Brewing: Walls End Northern English Brown
- Maggie's Leap: English Sweet Stout
- Guinevere: Wheat beer brewed with Orange Peel and Ginger
- Double Wall: Imperial Brown Ale
- Rush River Brewing Company
- Unforgiven Amber
- Uber ALt
- Bubblejack IPA
- Double Bubble Imperial IPA
- Small Axe Golden Ale
- Summit Brewing Company
- Saga IPA
- Horizon Red Ale
- Great Northern Porter
- Third Street Brewhouse
HD: Are any of these beers exclusive to the event or hard to attain outside of the brew rooms?
O'Meara: Much of the beer available at the fest will come from local breweries that are new to the scene. The Minnesota taproom law has been great for the community, giving people the opportunity to visit their neighborhood brewery, meet the brewers behind the brand, and taste some local suds. Our goal is to create a similar platform at the festival -- to create a fun atmosphere (not overly crowded), invite new and local breweries to participate, and allow attendees the opportunity to learn more about their local breweries. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample all this "new brew" in one day, in one location, with a thousand of their closest friends from the community.
HD: For those who attended last year's event, what will be different this year? How has the event grown?
O'Meara: What will remain consistent is our emphasis on local pride -- we're just "turning it up to 11" this year. We're most excited about partnering with the local nonprofit Nice Ride Minnesota. Bryan [Dallman, co-organizer] has volunteered for Nice Ride quite a bit in the past, so it feels good to be supporting a nonprofit that is so important to us. And who doesn't love an organization that makes it possible for us to have our own personal fleet of 1,500 bikes around the city? We encourage everyone from the community to come out and help kick off the 2013 public bike share season, while supporting the other local businesses that make Minnesota great. Also, a lot of our breweries this year weren't even around last year. We're showcasing some of the newest local brews from Indeed, 612Brew, Northgate, and Dangerous Man right up next to some of the area's most respected brewers, like Rush River and Summit.
HD: Why a boxing gym for the venue?
O'Meara: Anticipating a lot of fights, so may as well have a ring set up for it already.
Also, Uppercut Gym is located in the heart of northeast Minneapolis's art district. It's a 13,000-square-foot warehouse with a private courtyard. It's a big open space, and we think that will be perfect for a beer festival. Everyone will be in the same area, drinking great beer, eating great food, and enjoying each other's company. But seriously, use your words, not your fists.
HD: Which food trucks will be participating?
O'Meara: Rusty Taco and Stanley's Bar Room Food Truck will both be in attendance. Between chorizo tacos and pulled pork sandwiches, we're confident that both options will go great with a cold beer.
HD: What sort of extras will the VIP ticket holders be treated to?
O'Meara: VIP guests are our beloved beer geeks. They get an extra hour of tasting, quality chat time with all of our brewers, and a sweet commemorative mug. Additional extras will be a surprise for our VIP guests!
HD: Will there be any live entertainment?
Popular rock outfit White Dads will be performing at the fest.
Tickets for Spring Ale Fest can be purchased here. Prices are $40 in advance or $50 at the door, with a VIP option for $60 that includes early entry to the event.