Craft Beer at the MN State Fair 2013

By Joseph Alton, @JoeAlton
 

The Minnesota State Fair is upon us. And Minnesota beer enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to.

What a difference six years make. It wasn’t until 2007 that The State Fair “ditch[ed] the long tradition of wimpy 3.2-percent-alcohol beer [to] allow vendors to sell stronger beer.” That development opened the door for more craft beer and Minnesotans continue to demonstrate that it was a popular change. Every year since strong beer has been allowed it seems our options for “good beer” at the Fair seem to multiply. According to State Fair officials, there were at least 75 different types of beer sold at the Fair in 2012, compared to just 28 in 2002, and 13 in 1992 – with even more offerings available to thirsty fair-goers in 2013.

Here we’ll cover a few of the craft beer destinations at this year’s MN State Fair.

[Our friends at The Heavy Table and 89.3 The Current talk food options at the 2013 MN State Fair]

Food & Beer

Ball Park Cafe

The Ball Park Cafe at the Minnesota State Fair // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

The Ball Park Cafe at the Minnesota State Fair // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

lift-bridge-mini-donut-beer-sm

One of the pioneers of expanded craft beer at the fair, Dan Theisen, who runs the Ball Park Café, said last year, “It’s an entirely different culture and it’s great to be able to support people you know. It makes it very easy to support these guys and promote their product.” Putting his money where his mouth is, Theisen continues to add more craft beer to The Ball Park Cafe every year.

In addition to these great craft beer offerings, Dan and David Theisen, co-owners of Ball Park Café, are teaming up with Lift Bridge Brewmaster Matt Hall to create a special, state fair beer that will pay tribute to a State Fair favorite — the Mini donut. As far as we can tell, this is the first ever Mini-Donut-inspired beer. According to Lift Bridge Brewing Co., the Mini-Donut Beer “has a warm tan color, like the exterior of a mini donut. A malty base and natural flavors that will give this sweet sipper enough rich flavor without overwhelming the palate.” Mini-Donut will be served in a glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar.

More than 15 lines of craft beer including Surly Furious, Surly Bitter, Surly Hell, Lift Bridge Farm Girl, Lift Bridge Hop Dish, Lift Bridge Mini Donut, Lucid Dyno, Mankato Original, Indeed Daytripper, Indeed Midnight Ryder, Excelsior Bitteschlappe, Badger Hill White IPA, Third Street Jack’ed Up, Steel Toe Size Seven, Bent Paddle Black, Stone Arrogant Bastard.

The Ball Park Cafe at the Fair is "Craft Brew Territory" // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

The Ball Park Cafe at the Fair is “Craft Brew Territory” // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Food: Hamburgers, cheeseburgers with barbecue, salsa or bleu cheese sauces, ball park franks, chicken strips, jalapeño poppers, apple bratwurst, chef salad, garden salad, grilled chicken sandwich, craft beer battered onion rings, french fries, and garlic fries.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (S-25)

Directions: Located on Underwood St. outside The Garden

Giggles’ Campfire Grill

Giggles' Campfire Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Giggles’ Campfire Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Giggles' Campfire Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Giggles’ Campfire Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Presenting an expanded log cabin, local food favorites, and more craft beer this year is Giggles’ Campfire Grill.

On Tap: Clown Shoes Clementine, Hoppy Feet, and Galactica; Keweenaw Widow Maker Black Ale; Millstream German Pils and Oktoberfest; Flat Earth Angry Planet, Cygnus X-1, and Element 115; Fulton Sweet Child O’ Vine; Brooklyn Lager; Finnegans Blonde Ale; Summit EPA and Saga IPA; Brau Brother’s Moo Joos Oatmeal Stout; Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss; Big Wood Morning Wood; Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison; and Lucid Air.

Food: Elk burgers, salmon wrap, salmon on-a-stick, walleye fries, hickory pork, sunfish, walleye cakes, foot-long walleye sandwich, porcupine meatballs on-a-stick (wild rice and ground pork), steak fries, chicken-fried bacon (thick cut bacon battered and breaded fried and served with apple-maple-cinnamon sauce), Northwoods salad on-a-stick (mozzarella cheese, grape tomatoes, dressing served over chilled wild rice), Canoe brand wild rice, kid’s chicken strip meal, walleye roll (cold walleye salad served in a wrap) all accompanying an expanded craft beer selection.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (V-12)

Directions: Located at Cooper St. & Lee Ave. in The North Woods

O’Gara’s at the Fair

O'Gara's Bar & Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

O’Gara’s Bar & Grill // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

ogarsafairLooking for an Irish flair? Be sure to stop by O’Gara’s for live music and Irish brews throughout the fair. From rock to acoustic to classic Irish music, they’ve got something for everyone (provided you like Irish music).

On draft at O’Gara’s you’ll find FINNEGANS Irish Amber, Guinness Stout, Harp, Smithwick’s Extra Pale Ale, Leinie’s Honey Weiss, Grain Belt Premium, Grain Belt Nordeast, Miller Lite, and Michelob Golden Light plus a separate list of bottled beer.

Food: Burgers, sandwiches, breakfast, Irish entrees, and Grab & Go favorites that include the Reuben Bites and Blarney Beans. New this year are the “Stuck Pig,” also known as pork belly sliders and Deep Fried Bread Pudding.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (W-24)

Directions: Located on the southeast corner of Dan Patch Ave. and Cosgrove

Shanghaied Henri’s

"Shanghaied" Henri's // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

“Shanghaied” Henri’s // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

 

 

"Shanghaied" Henri's // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

“Shanghaied” Henri’s // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Shanghaied Henri’s, featuring ”Food & Beer from around the world”, is also the brain child behind “Summit on a Stick.”

Food: Tacos, taco salad, nachos, nachos supreme, jalapeño cream cheese poppers with chipotle raspberry sauce, buffalo chicken wings with bleu cheese dressing and celery, bacon-wrapped turkey tenderloin on-a-stick, pizza (pepperoni, sausage, cheese), crispy crowns with chipotle mayo sauce, sushi (California roll or shrimp tempura sushi made of crab meat or fried shrimp, spicy sauce, seaweed and sushi rice).

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (U-30)

Directions: Located in International Bazaar, north side

Beer & More

grandstandGrandstand Concert Series 2013

With an impressive series of regional and national acts and regional and national brews from Liftbridge, Summit , Fulton,  Odell, Stone, 21st Amendment, Brooklyn, Rogue and many more, you are sure to find something you love in both of the Grandstands’ lineups.

What’s more Minnesotan than sipping on a Summit (Saga or EPA), Lift Bridge (Hopdish or Farmgirl), or a Fulton Sweet Child of Vine while taking in “MN Music On A Stick” (featuring Trampled by Turtles, The Suburbs, Mason Jennings, P.O.S, and The Chalice)? Or perhaps you’re up for a ‘black celebration’ with a 21st Amendment Back in Black and the ‘dark wave’ sounds of Depeche Mode. More of a hip-hop fan? We recommenced pairing a pint of Blooklyn’s Sorachi Ace with Talib Kweli when he takes the stage with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on Saturday, August 31st – that is, if you got this hot ticket already. Tickets for the Saturday show are SOLD OUT.

Grandstand Ticket Info
For info on the Grandstand line-up and how to purchase tickets, click here.

To purchase Grandstand tickets day of show, go to the box office in Grandstand Plaza, just east of the Grandstand, P23 on the State Fair map. The Grandstand Plaza box office opens at 10 a.m.

lb_heritageHeritage Square sponsored by August Schell Brewing Company

Visit the Heritage Square Variety Showcase this year and sip on several offerings from Minnesota’s oldest brewery while taking in Vaudeville family fun on the Heritage Square Stage each night at 5:30 p.m. Enjoy the unique talents of a ventriloquist, juggler, comedians, musicians and magicians performing on different nights throughout the fair. For a complete schedule of this free entertainment lineup, click here.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (G-23)

Directions: Located in Heritage Square

Leinie Lodge Bandshell

leinesIn addition to the Leinenkugel family of beers, the Leinie Lodge will also feature tons of great live music. The evening entertainment for the Leinie Lodge Bandshell will include Sunny Sweeney, Blue Oyster Cult, Hanson, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, and Sheila E.

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell’s daytime entertainment includes Mountain Heart, Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band, Dale Watson, The Stellas featuring Lennon and Maisy, Alex Meixner Polka Band, Jason D. Williams, The 34th Infantry Division “Red Bull” Band, Tonic Sol-fa, Bill Kirchen’s Texicalli, Neal Zunker and The Music Connection, Maggie Rose, Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, Home Free, Rosie Flores and The Rivetors, Kenny Neal, The Quebe Sisters Band, Eric Paslay, Michael Salgado and SongBlast – Dueling Guitars

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (V-26)

Directions: Located on Cooper St. near the Space Tower.

Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s Land of 10,000 Beers

Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild Land of 10,000 Beers // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild Land of 10,000 Beers // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild is back for its second year with The Land of 10,000 Beers exhibit. The Guild has expanded this year and will be offering many of the same favorites from last year, including different style flights of Minnesota craft beer from more than 30 Minnesota craft brewers, educational stations showcasing the history, agriculture, and industry that supports Minnesota craft beer, a map outlining the various Guild members around the state, and interactive stage programs. Daily 9am-9pm (8pm Labor Day)

Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild Land of 10,000 Beers // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild Land of 10,000 Beers // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

What’s bigger and better in 2013:

  • More craft beer flights on offer, with 24 total taps (plus firkins) and rotating selections from nearly 30 Minnesota breweries
  • Additional speaker program guests and topics
  • An expanded exhibit space to cater to the growing craft beer buzz at the Fair
  • A “Craft Beer Art” wall
  • Legislative/craft beer laws FAQs
  • Guild merchandise available for purchase
  • Bigger focus on farming and the ingredients that make craft beer

Stay tuned to their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/minnesotacraftbrewersguild) or follow the Guild on Twitter (@mncraftbrew) for updates leading up to the Minnesota State Fair.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (T-28)

Directions: In the Agriculture Horticulture Building West Hall

Primary Fermenters Logo 2010

Minnesota State Fair Home Brew Competition

This popular home brew contest organized by Primary Fermenters Brewers And Vintners closed registration on Saturday, August 3, 2013 with more than 700 entries. Though it appears it is too late to enter a beer in the competition, judging opportunities are still available. If you are willing to be a judge or steward, please register here.

Judging Dates

Ag-Hort Building
1265 North Snelling Ave. N. Saint Paul, Mn 55108
Friday, August 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM, CDT

Ag-Hort Building
1265 North Snelling Ave. N. Saint Paul, Mn 55108
Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9:00 AM, CDT

Ag-Hort Building
1265 North Snelling Ave. N. Saint Paul, Mn 55108
Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM, CDT

Ag-Hort Building
1265 North Snelling Ave. N. Saint Paul, Mn 55108
Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM, CDT

Summit Brewing Company and “State Fair IPA”

A fixture at the fair for years and years, this year Summit Brewing Company is even brewing a special beer just for the occasion. State Fair IPA is a recipe created by Summit brewer Jeff Williamson. This highly-hopped red-colored IPA features Magnum, Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial hops. It also highlights Minnesota ingredients including corn, wild rice from Minnestalgia Foods, raw wildflower honey from Bare Honey, and Cascade hops from Hippity Hops Farms. The beer is approximately 5.5% ABV with about 95 IBU.

Summit will tap ONE ½ barrel keg each day of the fair. The beer will be tapped at 1pm each day and served until that keg is empty.

On the map: View on the State Fair Map (U-30)

Directions: Located in International Bazaar

*** By no means is this a complete list of beer at the Minnesota State Fair.

We intend this to be an evolving guide to your craft beer experience at the Fair. If you own or operate a beer-related business at the fair or are familiar with one we missed here, please email editor@growlermag.com with information to be included here and in our handy State Fair Beer Finder to be released next week. Or tweet your favorite State Fair beer places, activities, or rituals to @growlermag.

ESPN1500The Beer Show

ESPN 1500 will be broadcasting The Beer Show live from the fair on Thursday, August 22nd at 7:00 pm from the 1500 ESPN broadcast booth.  The Growler will join The Beer Show at the Fair to talk everything beer at The Great Minnesota Get-Together.

 

Fulton Beer Finder

Summit Beer Finder

August Schell Beer Finder

About Joseph Alton

Comments

  1. Best lead in to a state fair article that I’ve read in a long time, I’d say ever, but as old as I am I can’t remember all of them. I am impressed!

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  1. [...] Hey, didja know that the State Fair is on right now? Here are some food picks from Dara and some for the epic Heavy Table eating crawl. Also, here’s the Growler’s guide to beer at the fair. [...]

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