What’s heaven made of? Probably unlimited 4 oz. pours of beer.
I made the trip to #DuluthBeerCity this past weekend for All Pints North, the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild summer beer festival on Lake Superior. More than 90 craft breweries from Minnesota, all across the U.S. and even Canada took over the city’s Bayfront Festival Park this Saturday.
The beer list was packed with variety, but I noticed a lot of breweries brought session ales, sours and peaches. Were peaches a bumper crop this year?
Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s Cromulence, a sour German-style wheat beer, was the best in show and I DIDN’T EVEN TRY IT. I was heartbroken, but you can only do so much… Thankfully, the beers are making their public debut exclusively at Republic on Thursday and Friday this week. I’ll be there.
Though I missed out on THE winner, here’s my list of favorites from All Pints North 2015:
- Coconut Chai Black Ale by Bent Paddle Brewing Co. For Cold Press Black Ale loyalists, this might be a departure, but I love chai. The coconut helped prevent it from feeling out of place at a summer fest. Bent Paddle also won the award this year for Best Brewery and Best Display, for their AWESOME barrel taproom.
- Speaking of coconut – another favorite was the Hawaii 507 Coconut Stout from Rochester’s Grand Rounds Brewpub. Festival admission is worth it to try beers in other towns that I rarely visit, but I’m planning to have this beer next time I’m in the 507.
- Schells Brewing brought the latest installment of its Noble Star series – the Apparent Horizon Rye Berliner Weiss. It’s a twist on the traditional berliner with a rye malt. Definitely a standout from Schells that I will be picking up ASAP.
- I had another great Berliner Weiss from Borealis Fermentary — the Sonne — with apple and I believe (?) raspberry or strawberry.
- And the gluten-free surprise hit – Burning Brothers “Scorcher” Lime Shandy. To be honest, I almost didn’t try this beer. I had circled it in our festival booklet at the beginning and if my boyfriend had his way, we might have skipped it. But we didn’t and I am SO GLAD. It’s basically like lime Kool-Aid and beer and you didn’t know you wanted it – but you do. It was the perfect end to a 90-degree day in Duluth.
The other reason I was super excited for All Pints North was my awesome festival crown from Jess at HopHeart, a shop for girls who love to drink beer.
I’m hoping to share an interview with Jess about HopHeart soon – so more on that later! (She is restocking her Etsy shop full of goodies very soon, BTW, if you want to get prepped for your next summer beer fest.. *cough* Summer Beer Dabbler *cough*)
It seems there’s not that much to beer fest fashion beyond sporting a favorite brewery’s gear. I usually opt for something comfortable that can effectively hide the eventual beer bloat. But feeling Coachella-inspired by my new hop crown, I opted for a minimally boho gray dress from Primp!
While the people at the 16 Oz. Society described it as a “craft beer frat party weekend,” I thought festival goers were super informed and fun craft enthusiasts. With giant bag toss, croquet and great lake views, it was more like a day at the cabin than my frat party days in college.
It was the first festival I attended from the Craft Brewers Guild and I think the environment was better because breweries brought more seasonal and experimental beers. Other fests rely too much on flagship beers that I’ve already tried. Definitely getting tickets for the Autumn Beer Review.
That’s all on All Pints North for now. I’ll be back later this week with my tips on how to get the most out of a beer fest.