Twin Cities Beer Fest this Saturday at the MOA

Get your beer fest on at the MOA this Saturday.
Get your beer fest on at the MOA this Saturday.

In the mood for a beer fest this weekend? Of course you are. If you missed out on tickets to the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin, there is a fest you can hit right here at home. Last summer's Minneapolis Beer Fest is making a comeback with a new name and a new location. Now sporting the more inclusive moniker Twin Cities Beer Fest, it's moved its digs from downtown Minneapolis to the big empty lots across Lindau Lane from the Mall of America.

Last year marked the inaugural run of this annual festival, described by organizers as "a grand sampling event." The website lists 105 participating breweries -- excluding Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade, which aren't really beer after all. That means a lot of beers to sample. But don't go expecting the typical craft beer fest. The breweries attending represent everything from local and regional craft brewers and well-known imports to ABInbev and MillerCoors. Conspicuously absent from the list are most of the favorite local beer makers, although organizers tell me the local presence will be bigger than last year.

Last year the fest got some blow-back from local beer aficionados for the small local representation. To that point the fest's main organizer, Matt Hoiland of Chicago Lake Liquors, says, "Some people have poo-pooed the event as being a 'macrofest,' but we prefer to think of it as an 'Everyman's fest' with something for everyone, particularly by giving the more staid beer drinker a chance to try new beers that he or she wouldn't otherwise order at a bar or pick up at a liquor store. It's beer outreach, if you will." You can be your own judge.

As with all beer festivals, there will be food and entertainment. Food trucks on site offering tasty treats for purchase will include Chef Shack, Smack Shack, Natedogs, Turkey to Go, Barrio, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Buffalo Wild Wings will be holding a Blazing Wing Challenge. Sign-up for that is first come, first served. For your listening pleasure, tunes will be provided by Sellout Stereo.

The Twin Cities Beer Fest happens this Saturday, August 11. Doors open at 3 and close at 7. This year's festival has moved from its cramped downtown quarters to the more spacious north parking lot at the Mall of America. That would be the big vacant lots at 24th Avenue South and Lindau Lane, right next to Ikea. That means you can take the light rail to the fest and spare yourself the danger, embarrassment, and legal hassle of a DUI.

General admission tickets will set you back $35 in advance or $45 at the door. They include a souvenir sample glass and all the beer you can drink. Designated driver tickets are $10. Just like last year the organizers are offering VIP tickets, which include parking adjacent to the festival grounds and 12-ounce pours of select and specialty beers in each of the four VIP suites, including firkins exclusive to the Twin Cities Beer Fest. I have to say that the firkin lineup is impressive, with selections from 20-plus breweries. VIP tickets are sold out. Tickets are available online or at Chicago Lake Liquors at Chicago Avenue & Lake Street in Minneapolis. Proceeds will benefit the Finnegans Community Fund.

Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint

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