Winterfest is nearly here. With a bunch of new breweries and nearly 40 participants in total, the event program could prove to be a little daunting. In no particular order, here are 10 to try as you make your way through the crowd.
BITTER COLD WINTER IPA SERIES #1
The new guys on the block are coming out if the gate with a single malt and single hop India Pale Ale brewed to showcase the individual characters of the ingredients. The ale is brewed with 100% Marris Otter malt and 100% single-hop from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. If you have tried any of the beer from Sam Adams single hop series you know how fun it is to taste a beer that is made with single components. Think of it like a steak done so well you only need a dash salt, or sushi nigiri so good all you need is a bed of rice. Simple and good.
August Schell Brewing Co.
One of a America’s oldest craft brewers will feature their tradition American Lager. Be sure to stop by the third floor and try Schell’s Deer Brand, krausened and dry hopped with Calypso hops. If that isn’t craft beer, I don’t know what is.
Bemidji Brewing Co.
This sour red ale will be a special treat for all the sour beer lovers. This beer will be available only at Winterfest, so consider yourself privileged. The event program describes this bright red ale as a “blend of aged beers containing funky wild yeast and other critters that lend a complex profile of dark stone fruit and clean malt that finishes with a gentle lactic tartness.” A while back I was lucky enough to taste some of brewer Tom Hill’s home brew aged on brett, if this beer is 1/2 as good you’ll be talking about it for days.
Borealis is home to Ken Thiemann, one of the most talented small batch brewers in the state. Ken made this dark Belgian style ale with Minnesota cherries and aged it on oak. The flavors in this beer amazed me when first I sampled it at All Pint North this summer. When people ask me which Minnesota brewery excites me the most, this beer is a big part of the reason why recently my answer is usually Borealis Fermentary.
BARREL AGED NESTOR GRADE AMBER ALE
This amber ale was aged for three months on a bed of raisins in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. If raisins and whiskey don’t get you excited you should check your pulse.
Dangerous Man Brewing Co.
CHOCOLATE MILK STOUT
This chocolate milk stout is among the best I’ve ever tasted, a considerable feat considering that they have only been open a few weeks. Close your eyes and imagine you’re drinking a chocolate shake with with cocoa sprinkled on top.
6.3% ABV | 27 IBU
MR. JIMMY’S BALTIC PORTER
This award winning dark ale aged is aged on cherry wood to give it some depth of flavor. This beer should be fantastic. If you try it, well, you just might find, you’ll get what you want, and what you need.
Indeed Brewing / Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub
HOT BOX, IMPERIAL SMOKED PEPPER PORTER
This collaboration Indeed Brewing Company and Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub was brewed at Indeed with malt and peppers smoked at Northbound in South Minneapolis. I have been been complaining for years that Minnesota brewers rarely collaborate on beers and never with each each other. Hopefully this brew symbolizes a change in the collaboration status quo.
If you enjoy the maltier side of beer like me you’ll want be sure to grab taste of this Old Ale. Despite our cold winters there isn’t a bunch of this style to be enjoyed locally, until now.
Steel Toe Brewing
Jason Schoneman is fantastic brewer with a knack for making big beers. If this Barleywine with coffee is anything like Steel Toe’s Before the Dawn, Size 11, or Lunker, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2013 Great Snowshoe Award outfitted with steel toes.
13.7% ABV | 50 IBU