It seems that at any given Minnesota get-together, whether a day out on the lake, a New Year’s Eve party, or a family reunion at your Aunt Bridget’s house, there’s an endless thirst for beer. And with the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ craft-beer scene exploding, it’s hard to keep up with the growing number of options to quench that thirst.
Enter: The Beer Dabbler.
Let me back up a bit. I’m a new face to The Growler’s editorial team. Truth be told, when I came to The Growler, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about beer. Having only been to a couple of smaller-scale beer fests in the past, and with the Summer Beer Dabbler only weeks away, I was a newbie to not only the magazine, but to also the world of craft beer.
— The Growler Magazine (@growlermag) August 21, 2016
Dabbler day arrived and I didn’t know what to expect. The Growler’s sister company, The Beer Dabbler, has hosted craft beer events and festivals since 2008, so I was excited to put on my beer glasses and see what the Dabbler was all about.
The day started dreary, drab, and downright drenched. As 5pm ticked closer though, it was as if the beer gods descended upon the St. Paul Saints’ stadium in Lowertown, and declared “Let there be light!”
“When the gates opened and the clouds parted, it was just incredible,” Kevin Stocks, Beer Dabbler event coordinator said. “The mere fact that the sun came out and broke through, it was as if it was meant to be.” And with that, the show was on the road.
Instead of the crack of a baseball bat ringing throughout the field, I heard vendors tapping kegs and popping tabs. Guests bellying up to brewery tables were met with endless flavors and styles: coconut, raspberry, rich stouts, spruce, Scotch-infused, cranberry, traditional pale ales, Oktoberfest, gluten-free, pumpkin, grapefruit, ciders, coffee, spicy jalapeño, and many more.
— The Beer Dabbler (@BeerDabbler) August 20, 2016
“Craft beer is really science, as well as art,” said Kory Koehnen, part of the sales and marketing team at Third Street Brewhouse. “You have the chemistry behind the beer, but at the same time, there’s art because you can express yourself through beer. There’s so much creativity here.” Third Street’s fellow sales manager, Angelo Ficocello added that “The Beer Dabbler is a great way to sample the brewing world. Craft beer is a unique industry, and the Dabbler allows us to show off our weird, elaborate beer, but within a positive community.”
Between talking to head brewers, festival-goers, and event crew members, I sat down in one of the stadium chairs and took in the panoramic view in front of me. Colorful tents from across Minnesota and the U.S. were displaying the variety the craft beer scene has to offer. It dawned on me right then and there, at 6:43pm, that this isn’t just a beer festival—it’s a community gathering.
“It’s not about race, gender, or if you’re too old,” 612Brew’s Sales Accountant, Kelsi Moffit, explains. “It’s a community. We share communication and collaborations with other breweries within our distribution. But more than that, it’s beyond local. And this event allows breweries from all over the country to come together in a cool setting.”
— The Beer Dabbler (@BeerDabbler) August 21, 2016
From San Diego to Tulsa, to own backyards—beer has no boundaries. It not only brings breweries together, but beer lovers, as well. “The Dabbler allowed me to get out and try new things that I maybe wouldn’t normally try,” Brian Bienias, festival attendee said. “The event shows that everyone is in the same ballpark—for good beer, with good friends, and to have a good time.” First-time Summer Beer Dabbler participant, Claire Nalven, noted that “everyone is friendly, and while we’re getting our glasses filled up, we’re having great conversations with the breweries.”
When the bands were finished and the clock struck 9pm, fireworks lit up the sky and ended the night with a bang. I started my day not knowing what to expect at the event as a beer novice. But I ended my day knowing that it didn’t matter if you were a passionate craft beer fanatic, a first-time Dabbler, or someone who just wanted to enjoy some fresh air—great beer brings good people together.