Matt Gray

Winterfest 2010 Roundup

Feb 7, 2010

Yesterday evening I attended Winterfest 2010, the annual beer tasting event presented by the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild. Brewers from around the region compete for the Snowshoe award, based on a secret ballot submitted by the crowd. This year’s Winterfest was at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

I went along with several Clockwork friends. This was my first time at Winterfest—I normally stick to the Autumn Brew Review—but the result was the same: too many beers, too little time. I’m just glad I was able to hold on to my glass.

Favorites

Here are a few of the standout beers I tasted:

Grand Design Porter

I have a personal connection to Flat Earth Brewing Co.: a co-worker of my wife is related to the owner. I also had to try a beer that was infused with the flavor of S’mores. Yes, that’s right. The only thing missing was a campfire.

Other fest-goers must have agreed:
Grand Design Porter won the Snowshoe award!

Unoaked Rosie’s Reserve

Barley John’s is a brewpub near my home; they always bring interesting brews to these events and Winterfest 2010 was no exception. Rosie’s Reserve is an Old Ale that was aged for a year outside bourbon casks (they brewed too much). It is a 15.5% ABV beer that tastes like port—and it is delicious.

Rosie’s Reserve was my vote for the Snowshoe award.

El Diablo

El Diablo is a strong Belgian golden ale brewed by Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, MN. I love Fitger’s. I also love Belgians (Delerium Tremens comes to mind). El Diablo is a powerful, bright palate cleanser and 9% ABV. Bravo, Fitger’s!

Tea-Bagged Furious, Darkness & Four

We couldn’t stop ourselves from revisiting the Surly Brewing Co. booth again and again—they had so many beers available! I tried the Jesus Juice but was thoroughly impressed with the Tea-Bagged Furious: hop-tastic. Darkness was a mouth-pleaser; however, my favorite was Four, a double-espresso-infused riot on the tongue.

Kentucky Dessert

Usually I’m a zombie when I visit Town Hall Brewery in Seven Corners. After tasting Kentucky Dessert, I have resolved to go back as a normal human and enjoy their good bar food and superlative brews. Visit and buy some growlers! This imperial stout was a pleasure to drink, rich in chocolate flavor.

Fails

I wish that we had written down the name of the worst beer I’ve tried. I swear that it tasted as if it were brewed in a musty basement and filtered through old grandpa flannel that was laced with mothballs. Perhaps it is best that I forgot it so I don’t get angry comments from the brewer.

Conclusion

Winterfest may well become an annual tradition in addition to Autumn Brew Review. It was a blast! We are so lucky in Minnesota to have such a craft beer selection. In Costa Rica, there were perhaps five beers that all tasted the same. Hooray for microbrews!

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