The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild‘s Autumn Brew Review is this Saturday and I am counting down the seconds with the fervor of Cookie Monster at a Girl Scout Jamboree. This festival features plenty of amazing MN breweries along with some fantastic regional ones. More importantly, there are some great fall beer styles that will be flowing like a mullet in the MN Hockey State Tournament.
I first attended ABR (Autumn Brew Review) back in 2010. I remember being completely overwhelmed and that was back when they had a VIP option to get in an hour early. 7 years later, I can say that I have figured out some things about how to get the most out of this fest.
Now, the ABR is not overwhelming, but something I love a little more each year. The breweries that are pouring all afternoon bring amazing stuff. After looking through all the offerings, I have highlighted some things that those of you who are attending should plan on seeking out.
Get The App
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild has an app that lists the breweries and what they will be pouring. If a brewery doesn’t list what they are pouring in the app, think of it as a beer surprise when you get there. The app lists the breweries that are doing timed special releases, which makes planning a lot easier. Whether you have iPhone or Android, there is a version for you. The app is really slick and makes perusing the lists really user-friendly.
It is rare when you will have a huge amount of Oktoberfest beers all in one place. However, thanks to the likes of Summit Brewing, Schell’s Brewery, Barley John’s, Tin Whiskers Brewing, Beaver Island Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Spilled Grain Brewhouse, et al, there will be plenty to choose from. Beaver Island won the Best Oktoberfest in The Growler magazine last year, I have been wanting to give theirs a try. Summit’s Oktoberfest is a mainstay in my fridge this time of year so that is on my list. I love all the fantastic German beers that Utepils has on tap, so I am guessing that their Festbier will be on-point. When I had Spilled Grain’s Doppelbock at Winterfest, it was amazing and I cannot wait to see how they do with an Oktoberfest. I have never had the Oktoberfest from Barley John’s, but I imagine that it will fit in with all the other good stuff that they make. I also haven’t tried the Tin Whiskers Funkenfest, a glaring blind spot in my beer repertoire, and I plan on remedying that on Saturday.
Big Boozy Beers
There are never a shortage of decadent, dark, and boozy offerings at ABR. Lupulin Brewing Company is pouring Barrel God, a lovely stout that packs enough kick to make a wookie call for an Uber. Disgruntled Brewing is tapping their 2016 Barrel-Aged Lord Bert at 2:30pm. Last year, after I had the Imperial Brunch Stout I had to carry a textbook over my crotch for about an hour because that beer was too damn sexy. I anticipate Disgruntled dazzling our palates once again.
Forager Brewery will have 3 different versions of their Sherpa’s Survival Kit, an excellent stout that will make you think you can climb Mount Everest. I will save you the trouble and tell you that you probably can’t. However, doing several tastings of the beer is absolutely an option. Town Hall Brewery will have their Three Hour Tour and ET Wee, two of my favorites that you should put on your list. Bent Paddle will have a Coconut Cocoa (3 pm special release), Raspberry Chocolate (1 pm special release) and a Blueberry Vanilla (2pm special release) Barrel-Aged DSDB. I love it when they augment that beer with fancy additions. If it is anything like the Cherry DSDB from Winterfest, we are all in for a treat. Insight Brewing will have Bourbon Barrel-Aged Gravity Well, a ridiculously underrated stout. Of course, it wouldn’t be an epic beer fest without Junkyard Brewing bringing their King Size Imperial Peanut Stout.
New Local Beers
It is great when you can discover new things at ABR. Fair State Brewing Cooperative recently released Spirit Foul, a collab IPA they did with their friends at Modern Times in San Diego. This thing is all anyone on the Twitters and the Facebooks is talking about and I am yearning to try it! Yes, I yearn. There is also the recently released Draco from Barrel Theory. Since I don’t believe that we live in a universe where Barrel Theory can do anything wrong, I will bet you dollars to donuts that this beer will rock.
My Favorite Powerhouse Lineups
After looking through the ABR app, one thing is clear; Dangerous Man and Lift Bridge are bringing a metric butt-ton of excellence. Dangerous Man is bringing four beers that have spent time in various barrels. Lift Bridge is doing the same. If that isn’t enough, Dangerous Man has several Milkshake IPAs and Lift Bridge has a plethora of casks and variants of some of their mainstays. Their lines will be long, but it will be totally worth it to enjoy even a fraction of their offerings.
I am beyond excited for Saturday. This beer festival has such a wonderful vibe and the venue is fantastic. The weather looks to be a bit on the warm side, but that just means there will be more heavy beers to go around. This is article is just a primer to get you thinking. It is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are things that I am missing. What are you most jonesing for at the fest after looking at the ABR app? Reply in the comments so I know what else I should try.
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