Urban Growler’s Beers At The Minnesota State Fair

Amidst a vast array of fried culinary concoctions, newborn animals, and double-wide strollers causing sidewalk rage, craft beer has emerged as a big reason to visit the Minnesota State Fair. If the first couple days are any indication, this year might break the attendance record. As craft beer selections at the fair have evolved, breweries strive to push the boundaries of which flavors and accouterments can go in a beer.

This year, Urban Growler has 2 beers on tap. The Cowbell Cream Ale, available at the Frontier Saloon and the Vanilla Latte Blonde Ale, available at The Hangar Beer Hall, are each magnificent examples of what a craft beer at the MN State Fair should be.

I have a love/hate relationship with the MN State Fair. Of course, I love to eat, drink, and be merry. However, when I was five years old, something happened to me in the cattle barn that altered the trajectory of how I viewed both cloven-hoofed mammals and The Great Minnesota Get-Together. In the time it would take Kobayashi to down a bag of mini donuts, I lost my child-like innocence and became deathly afraid of cows.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was excited to go to the Minnesota State Fair with my Uncle Joe, Cousin Ross, and my Dad. After careful deliberation, I selected my hunter green Lacoste shirt with the alligator on it. As a little half pint, I loved animals. I thought that farm animals were especially fascinating. I loved going into the barns and feeding alfalfa to the goats, watching the chickens, and visiting the cows was always something I looked forward to. When I wasn’t perched on my Dad’s shoulders, I was hoofing along holding his hand thinking to myself, “What a great day, there is absolutely nothing that could make me not love this place.”

If only I could go back in time and prepare 5 year-old me of what horrific atrocity was about to unfold.

Photo by Liz Foster, Urban Growler

Upon entering the cow barn, the bouquet of hay, manure, and giddy excitement filled me up with wily enthusiasm and the boldness of a matador. It was time to see the cows! I immediately asked to get off of my Dad’s shoulders so I could experience this amazing place on my own two feet.

As I look back, I am analyzing what I could have done differently that day. Should I have stayed on my Dad’s shoulders? Should I not have been so bold? Perhaps. However, that is not how Daniel Santiago Beaubien lives life. As a five year-old, I was an excitable young man who often didn’t think before he acted. As we walked between the stalls of the animals, I watched them lazily chewing hay and the occasional moo put me into a calm state. Despite their imposing size, these cows are such docile and friendly animals. Yes, I was so naive and unaware of animal instinct.

I saw a cow coming towards us, being led by a farmer through the thoroughfare. I thought to myself, “Ooh! Now’s my chance to pet this nice and friendly cow.” So, before anybody could warn me or I could think twice about my actions, I gave this cow a not-so-gentle pat on its hindquarters.

Photo by Liz Foster, Urban Growler

Then, time began to slow down. Faster than it took my brain to categorize the fur on the cow’s ass as coarse, the cow had taken offense to my untoward gesture. It proceeded to kick me right the the right hip. Shocked, hurt, and questioning, I flew through the air, as weightless as a feather. When I landed on the hay, and my hands touched the cold and damp concrete, the waterworks started. My Dad, looked back to where I was standing two seconds ago with a quizzical look on his face. “Where is Dan?” My Uncle Joe, laughing as he said it, pointed an imaginary line between me and the cow that was smugly walking away and said, “He just got kicked by that cow!”

My understanding of the world-and my hip-were bruised and battered. I no longer wanted anything to do with cows, hay, or manure smell. Maybe in preschool, instead of teaching us Red Rover and spending countless hours creating arts & crafts, there should have been an OSHA-approved video on the hazards of livestock. After that, I was terrified of cows, I hated the State Fair, and I wanted my innocence back.

Perhaps a psychiatrist might make a connection to my love of burgers with an illogical hatred of cattle-all stemming from the kick in the cow barn. I also get a little jittery at a sporting event when someone busts out a cowbell during a late-inning rally. I wouldn’t be lying if I said my right hip hurts sometimes when I walk through the meat department at the grocery store.

So, you are probably asking, I thought you were a beer writer? Isn’t this supposed to be about Urban Growler’s beers on tap at the Minnesota State Fair? Relax, we’ll get there.

Like many things in life, facing your fears requires a little bit of liquid courage and energy. That is where Urban Growler’s State Fair beers come in. I turned 40 this year and this might be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a much bigger midlife crisis. Some people buy a Harley, some people will book a skydiving excursion. Both of those activities sound like they would scare the crap out of me and chaff my thighs. So, I am going to face my fears and return to the scene of the crime.

Vanilla Latte at The Hangar

Photo by Liz Foster, Urban Growler

If I am going to do this, I will need coffee. However, who wants to drink a scalding cup of coffee at the fair? However, a coffee blonde ale is perfect. Thank goodness The Hangar has the Urban Growler Vanilla Latte Blonde Ale on tap.

This beer’s aroma smells of rich and robust coffee with a hint of vanilla. There is a comforting richness from the coffee without any hint of acidity. The Vanilla Latte Blond Ale is refreshing and smooth. The energy that you will get from this beer will be enough to jumpstart your day at the fair. In my case, it stirs the bloodlust of a soldier going into battle as I make my way to the other corner of the fairgrounds to face my bovine fears.

However, as I begin my walk of redemption, I feel that with each passing child on a leash, my courage begins to wane. I am not sure what is happening. I have been mentally preparing for this moment in my head for years. Maybe I need just one more shot in the arm?

Cowbell Cream Ale at Frontier Saloon

Luckily for me, the Frontier Saloon is on my way to the cattle barn. Christopher Walken probably had no idea how prophetic he was being when he exclaimed, “I need more cowbell!” And bingo. It hits me like the hoof of an angry cow: I need more cowbell! No, not the percussion instrument, I need a Cowbell Cream Ale!!

Photo by Liz Foster, Urban Growler

Urban Growler’s Cowbell Cream Ale speaks to everyone. It is a beer drinker’s beer. No extra sugar around the rim or a pimento cheese shooter to go along with it. This is beer for the sake of beer. It drinks crisp and clean. A hint of corn sweetness to balance the wonderful malt character that comes across as a little bready.

For what I want to do, I am going to need the full 20 ounce pour. I mean, I am going into the belly of the beast. If I am going to metaphorically grab the bull by the horns, I might actually need like five cowbells. . . Sweet Jesus, I hope I don’t see a bull. At least the last 35 years have armed me with the knowledge to not give a cow a hearty spanking.

However, a funny thing happened this year at the fair. In my quest to face my fears and hydrate with liquid courage, I became distracted by friends and laughter. I ran into other people who love the fair and listened to them tell me about their yearly traditions and food favorites. I quickly came to realize that Urban Growler’s beers helped me achieve a goal that I didn’t even know I had-to be together with people I enjoy.

Truth be told, I never made it back to the cow barn to face my fears. However, I did make new memories with people who are all-in one form or another-part of the Urban Growler community. I believe it was J. R. R. Tolkien who penned, “It’s dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I started the day with a date with destiny, I ended the day with my sides hurting, but this time it wasn’t a cow’s vengeance, but laughter with beer friends as the culprit.

So, if you are out at the Minnesota State Fair, remember, Urban Growler is “Beer For You” at the Frontier Saloon (Cowbell Cream Ale) and The Hangar (Vanilla Latte Blonde Ale).

Last but not least, I would like to thank Urban Growler for sending me out to the Minnesota State Fair to experience their beers on tap. I certainly had a great time taking in the fair through an Urban Growler lens. I enjoyed both venues where their respective beers are on tap and the beers themselves are perfect for the fair. Prost!

Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer.  Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged.  If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at dan.beaubien@beerploma.com .