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Winterfest Celebrates the Best of Minnesota Brews


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photo courtesy of Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild

I like beer. A lot. I like a cold beer on a hot day and I like a cold beer on a cold day. I realized I wasn't alone about the cold day part when I attended the Beer Dabbler on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds February 6, where thousands of beer fans roamed the Mighty Midway and Coliseum for unlimited samples of beer, beer, and more beer—120+ local, regional, and craft breweries represented, their pourers all bundled up to give attendees a taste of new and tried-and-true brews.

And while I will happily wait in line for some of my favorites (Alaskan Amber Ale), and may have had two samples from some of my NEW favorites (I'm talking to you, Shake Chocolate Porter), I was most inclined to try beers from local breweries, because, you know, Minnesota pride. (I'm still thinking about the Castle Cream Ale from Castle Danger Brewing.)

And that is precisely why Winterfest is such a great idea. Well, two reasons, really: the fact that it's a celebration of Minnesota craft beer AND the fact that the 15th annual Winterfest February 26-27 is INDOORS at St. Paul's Union Depot, because let's face it—being outside in February is only really fun until you lose feeling in one or more of your extremities. (And in my own defense, it's not like I didn't dress for the elements ... I was wearing extra layers, ugly boots, and my warmest gear, and I was STILL chilled.)

But I digress. Let me get back to the more important topic here ... BEER! There are 90+ members of the Guild, meaning a lot of delicious Winterfest options, like Barley John's Brewpub, Bent Paddle, Indeed, August Schell, Castle Danger, Dangerous Man, Fair State Cooperative, Steel Toe, Surly, and Town Hall Brewery. And that's just those who are pouring both nights. The total weekend lineup is much, much longer than that. To see which breweries are pouring when, click here.

I love that Winterfest is a celebration of Minnesota craft beer, an event filled to the brim with beer-lovers, breweries and brewpubs, allied trade members and partners (the weekend festival is presented by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild) and hardworking volunteers. If you've been curious about a new (or established) brewery or brewpub, this is the perfect time to sample their beer without committing to a six-pack. When else do you have so many great Minnesota beers under one roof? And in addition to beer, beer, everywhere, beer, there will also be hearty food available.

After you sip your way through Union Depot, you can vote for your favorite beer. The brewery or brewpub with the most votes will win the "Best of Fest" honor and the coveted "Great Snowshoe" traveling trophy and entry for two beers to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. (I don't know much about the Great American Beer Festival, but it sure does look like a good time.) Will Barley John's have what it takes to defend their title? They've won the past four years in a row!

Tickets are $75 in advance; $85 at the door. For more information, visit mncraftbrew.org.

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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