This Friday, The Growler’s blind tasting festival series will return to Upper Landing park for an Oktoberfest celebration featuring 48 local Märzen and festbiers, live music, food trucks, and more! If you’ve never been to an Unlabeled event before, we do things a little bit differently than the average bierfest, so check out our event guide below, and we’ll see you on Friday. Prost!
Download our Unlabeled App and try it out
Our Unlabeled app is an essential part of our blind-tasting festival experience, allowing you to rate the beers you’ll be sampling on-the-fly and submit your scores to us so that we can crown our “Best of Show” Oktoberfest beer at the end of the night. We strongly recommend you download the Unlabeled app right now from the iOS App Store or Google Play so you can familiarize yourself with the scoring process and our Oktoberfest style guide.
The Unlabeled app also contains loads of helpful information about festival logistics, including a map of the festival’s layout, FAQs, a full list of participating breweries and food options, and even a quiz to test your beer IQ.
Make a plan to get there (and get home)
Upper Landing Park is located near the intersection of Shepard Road and Eagle Parkway on the banks of the Mississippi in downtown St. Paul. There are several parking garages located nearby, including the Science Museum of Minnesota’s parking garage, which is offering a discounted rate and overnight parking to Unlabeled participants (vehicles must be removed by 7am on 8/21; show your Unlabeled ticket on your way in and out of the lot).
As always, we strongly recommend taking alternative modes of transportation to Unlabeled No. 2, and that’s why we’re partnering with Metro Transit to offer you a free ride to and from our festival. Click here to obtain your free bus pass!
Don’t go hungry
While we don’t allow outside food at Unlabeled No. 2, we’re encouraging all of our festival attendees to stop by one of our food truck partners to fuel up and give their palates a break from all those hops. We’ll be joined by Habanero Tacos, Aki’s Breadhaus, Gerhard’s Brats, and Bark and the Bite.
Pro Tip: Snack-laces will also be permitted and are an excellent way to prevent palate-fatigue. Neutral, salty snacks like pretzels are your best bet, but we wouldn’t begrudge you a Cheez-It or two.
Plan for the weather
Unlabeled No. 2 is a rain-or-shine outdoor event. We recommend dressing appropriately for the temperature and conditions, and hydrating as much as possible. Sealed water bottles and empty water bottles will be allowed into Unlabeled No. 2, and we’ll also have multiple water stations for you to fill your bottles from.
Be ready at our front gate for a smooth entry
- When you get to our front gate at Unlabeled No. 2, our first step will be to have one of our ambassadors check your ID.
- Once you’ve been carded, we’ll provide you with your wristband (General Admission or Designated Driver), sponsored by Talecris Plasma Resources.
- After you’ve obtained your wristband, make sure your ticket is unfolded and ready to be scanned by our ambassadors. To speed up the process, we strongly recommend you purchase your tickets in advance and print them at home. If you’re using a digital ticket, please have it ready and set your screen’s brightness to maximum.
- Tickets for Unlabeled No. 2: Oktoberfest will be available for purchase at the gate.
- If you’ve brought a bag, our security staff will search it.
- Once you’ve been cleared by our ticket scanners, our ambassadors will hand you a flight paddle and you’ll be ready to sample!
Study how to sample
While you’re certainly welcome to create your own sampling strategy for Unlabeled No. 2, our friends at the BJCP have shared a few tips on how to blind-taste like a pro:
- Appearance: Take a look at the beer in the glass. It should be dark gold to copper in color (depending on sub-style: Märzen or Festbier)
- Aroma: Don’t be afraid to get your nose deep into your sampling glass and take a sniff or three.
- Flavor: Sniff, then sip, with your nose still near the glass. Repeat. Swish the beer around in your mouth, paying attention to how the flavor changes as it moves toward the back of your tongue.
- Mouthfeel: Let the beer linger in your mouth for a moment, noting carbonation and if there is an alcohol “burn.”
We’ve also created this handy infographic as an easy reference for the difference between the two different types of Oktoberfest beers: Märzen and festbier.
As you’re sampling, make sure to note all of the above qualities, plus any subjective notes that you’d like to remember later, in our Unlabeled app.
Visit our partner tents for education and activities
Proper tasting procedure involves taking regular breaks to avoid palate fatigue, so head on over to our brewery partner and sponsor tents for a bit of a breather from the beer. A few of our 48 brewery partners will be hanging out to answer questions you might have about their process or their beer.
Our presenting sponsors at the Science Museum of Minnesota will be setting up a pop-up gift shop complete with fun games. Stop by!
In addition to our education tent, you can also meet Growler staff and talk shop over at the Growler tent.
Compete in an Oktoberfest game
We could hardly call this an Oktoberfest party without a few traditional games, including the classic Stein-holding Competition.
In addition to the German games, we’ll be bringing back a few activities you might recognize from The Beer Dabbler, including Giant Bag Toss and Giant Beer Pong. These games will be hosted by the fine folks from North Star Roller Derby, who will also be giving away tickets to an upcoming bout during the festival!
You can also use our Unlabeled App’s Photo Booth feature to snap a selfie or a Mississippi river scene and share it with your friends to let them know how much they messed up by not coming to Unlabeled.
If that wasn’t enough, we’ll have live polka music courtesy of our roving accordion virtuoso Nathan Neuman.
End of the night
Sampling for Unlabeled No. 2 ends promptly at 9pm, and that’s also when we’ll be closing our ratings and tabulating our scores so we can determine which beer will win Best of Show. We’ll be announcing our Best of Show honors at roughly 9:15pm at the Growler Tent.
After that, it’s up to you to get home safe via Metro Transit, or a planned ride home with DDI or another rideshare service.
We hope you have a blast at Unlabeled No. 2, and we can’t wait to see you on Friday night!