Winter beer fest season kicks off this month

This abnormally warm winter is about to get even warmer, as January marks the start of the winter beer fest season. Area beer lovers will have three sampling opportunities beginning January 21 with the St. Cloud Craft Beer Expo. The following Saturday, January 28, brings the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival event in St. Paul. The season finishes on February 3 with Winterfest, arguably the best fest of the beer year.

St. Cloud Craft Beer Expo When: Saturday, January 21. 2-6 p.m. Where: St. Cloud Rivers Edge Convention Center, 10 Fourth Ave. S. in St. Cloud Cost: General admission tickets are $30. Designated driver tickets are $10. Tickets are available for purchase online. What: The price of admission gets you a commemorative tasting glass and access to unlimited beer samples from a lineup of local, national, and international breweries. Last year's fest brought over 40 breweries. The overwhelming success of that event will surely attract more this year. The list for 2012 has not yet been posted. Free education sessions will allow attendees to bone up on their beer knowledge. Food will be available for purchase from the Convention Center catering service.

Winter beer fest season kicks off this month

Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival When: Saturday, January 28. 4-8 p.m. Doors open at 3:30. Where: St Paul Farmers Market, 290 Fifth St. E. in St. Paul Cost: $30 in advance. $40 at the door. Tickets are available at the Four Firkins, the Ale Jail, and Thomas Liquor. They are also available online. What: Minnesota's only dead-of-winter outdoor beer festival. Sample more than 200 brews from over 60 brewers. Musical entertainment will be provided by Pink Mink, Romantica, and Jonny James and the Hall of Fames. If you'd rather dance to the tunes that only you can hear, you can indulge in the Leinenkugel Silent Disco. If you want to eat (always a good idea at a beer fest), you can treat yourself to the wares of Fork in the Road, Simply Steve's, Gastro Truck, and Potter's Pasties. Those who make their own beer can enter the BJCP sanctioned home brew contest.

Winterfest When: Friday, February 3. 7-10 p.m. Where: Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul Cost: General admission tickets are $55. The event is sold out, but the Guild usually has ticket give-away contests as the date approaches. What: Winterfest is the showcase event for the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. Only guild members are included at the event and everyone brings their best. There isn't much information available yet, but rest assured there will be beer, music, and food. Educational programs will take place throughout the event. If you can score tickets to this event, you should do it.

Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint

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