By Jeremy Zoss
A cold, rainy start to the 13th annual Autumn Brew Review couldn’t dampen the mood at the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild’s flagship event. Some in attendance grumbled about the weather and the long lines at the entrance, but once the event got into full swing, there was simply too much great beer to be had for anyone to have a bad time.
As always, local breweries received the central location near the front entrance, and once the rain broke the Minnesota area stayed packed for the rest of the event. The thousands of attendees clamored for tastes of both rare and familiar local beers, and every local brewery seemed to bring their “A” game. From 612Brew to Surly, every local had creative treats in store for the crowd. Schell’s drew huge lines with two different Grain Belt variants (Imperial and blueberry-infused), Badger Hill debuted a stunning Cold Press version of their Foundation Stout, Steel Toe busted out a stash of Lunker Barleywine that had been aging since 2011, and Summit casked its Oatmeal Stout with Madagascar vanilla. Did one local brewery send out a challenge to the others to bring out the big guns? If so, the challenge was certainly met.
While established breweries showed off rarities, a few new faces made their debut. Bent Brewstillery came out strong with their American Emperial Stout and its spicy chili-infused variant. For many, it was the first chance they had to try beer from new-to-market national breweries like Green Flash and Ballast Point. While these two mostly focused on their widely available product, many other national breweries had exceptionally strong showings. With the crowds concentrated on the Minnesota section of the event, there were relatively short lines for world-class beers like Bell’s Black Note and New Belgium’s rare sours Love-Felix and La Folie.
Other than the weather, the only complaints heard around the event were about the entry lines, which kept some people waiting outside for the event for as long as an hour and a half. The Guild will certainly hear some complaints about the entry procedure, but one thing is for sure: no one will complain about the beers that were available.
What did you think about this year’s Autumn Brew Review? Tell us in the comments below.