Winterfest, the annual celebration of home-grown craft beer, returns to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul on February 4. Sponsored by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and open only to breweries that are current guild members, Winterfest showcases the best of the best of Minnesota-brewed beer. With attendance limited to 700, it is an intimate affair, made more elegant by the ornate corridors of the History Center. Tickets are in demand. This year's event sold out in less than a minute. Brewers pull out all the stops at Winterfest, bringing their most unique and enticing creations. There's a lot to love about what is in my view the Twin Cities' best beer festival.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild represents nearly every brewery and brewpub in the state. At Winterfest you will be able to sample beers and chat with brewers from August Schell Brewing Co., Barley John's Brew Pub, Boathouse Brew Pub, Brau Brothers Brewing Co., Cold Spring Brewing Co., Fitger's Brewhouse, Flat Earth Brewing Co., Granite City Food & Brew, Great Waters Brewing Co., Harriet Brewing Co., The Herkimer, Leech Lake Brewing Co., Lift Bridge Brewing Co., Rock Bottom Brewery, Summit Brewing Co., Surly Brewing Co., Town Hall Brewery and Vine Park Brewing Co. A couple of new entries to the Minnesota beer scene may be on hand pouring beers: Big Wood Brewery from Vadnais Heights and Carmody Irish Pub & Brewing from Duluth. Brewers bring a mixed selection of beers that includes their regular offerings, limited and seasonal releases, and even some special beers brewed just for the event. The Great Snowshoe Award will be given to the one beer deemed by the audience to be the best of the fest.
Musical entertainment will be provided by the "gypsy jazz" group Twin Cities Hot Club.
This year's catering is by Bon Appetit. The menu includes white chicken chili with fresh vegetables and spicy beans, homemade cornbread with Minnesota whipped honey butter, local cheese and vegetable boards, and coffee or warm spiced apple cider. The food was tasty and plentiful last year.
Because the festival sold out so quickly, the Brewers Guild is sponsoring the MN Beer Heritage contest, offering a lucky "Mr. and Ms. Minnesota Craft Beer" the opportunity to win tickets, early entry to the fest, and a private meet-and-greet with the brewers. The winners will be chosen based on essays they write about their love of craft beer. Here are the details from the website.
The Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild wants you to share why you are a true Minnesota craft beer lover. Have you toured every brewery in the state? Do you brew a unique beer for every season? Did you introduce your 80-year old grandmother to the state's best IPAs? Or do you just have a love affair with the great beers of Minnesota, unmatched by any of your friends? In 200 words or less, tell us your qualifications and heritage when it comes to Minnesota craft beer. Email [email protected] to submit your entry (no attachments - text only). The Brewer's Guild will select two separate winners Mr. Minnesota Craft Beer and Ms. Minnesota Craft Beer.
You can read more details on the contest at the Winterfest website here.
Winterfest happens Friday, February 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Boulevard West in St. Paul. If you didn't get tickets and aren't lucky enough to win them, you can probably find some by asking around a bit. The original ticket price was $50, so beware of Craig's List gougers. The admission includes a tasting glass, unlimited beer tasting, and access to all the entertainment and food.
A Perfect Pint