The summer beer festival season kicks off this Saturday, June 25, with the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest. In its third year, this is the biggest and best organized of all the Twin Cities' summer celebrations of suds. Formerly held in the parking lot of Midway Stadium, the event is moving to new digs this year at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The extended forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s, perfect beer-tasting weather. The combination of food, live entertainment, educational sessions, and of course beer, promises to make this another great year.
Organizers Juno Choi and Mark Opdahl are expecting 90-plus breweries to be represented this year. With each one pouring four to five beers, that adds up to a lot of choices. But the 4,000 or more people expected to attend should be able to make a pretty good dent in the selection.
The growth of the festival along with organizational issues at the old site led to the change in venues this year. The event is being held in the International Bazaar at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, which is in the southeast corner of the fairgrounds near the intersection of Como and Snelling avenues next to the Haunted Mansion and across the street from the Horticulture Building.
$50 VIP tickets offering early admission are sold out. A visit to the website indicated that $40 general admission tickets are still available. Admission includes unlimited tasting and a commemorative glass. Designated driver tickets are available for $10. Gates open at 1:00 for VIP ticket holders and 2:00 for general admission. The fest runs until 6:00.
Attendees will enjoy live music from Jack Brass Band, Como Avenue Jug Band, the Erik Koskinen Band, Arc Flash Hazard, and Chooglin'. Food will be available to buy from on-site vendors. A silent auction benefiting the Midway YMCA will give people the chance to bid on some great stuff in support of a good cause.
New to this year's event are educational sessions led by local beer and brewing experts. The session schedule includes Homebrewing 101, Mythbeersters (exposing common beer myths), Sensory Evaluation of Beer, and Beer Judging.
A growing list of brewery participants on the festival website includes many well-known and some not-so-well-known local, regional, and national favorites. Among the Minnesota breweries who have committed to attend are:
Schell's Brewing Company Barley John's Brew Pub Boathouse Brewing Brau Brothers Brewing Company Fitger's Brewhouse Harriet Brewing Company Herkimer Pub & Brewery Lake Superior Brewing Company Surly Brewing Company Finnegan's Brewing Vine Park Brewing Company Flat Earth Brewing Company Summit Brewing Company Leech Lake Brewing Company Olvalde Brewing Company Rock Bottom Brewery Lift Bridge Brewing Company Granite City Brewing Company Crispin Cider Company
Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint