(In the crowd at Winterfest) 

My wife and I were lucky enough to score a couple last minute tickets to The MN Brewers Guild’s Winterfest 2014 (thanks, Lynn!), what we didn’t know was that the tickets were actually to Beer Nirvana!
Winterfest 2014 was held at the newly renovated Union Depot in Down Town Saint Paul. The venue was beautiful and really added some class to a beer event. The price point of 75 bucks may seem a bit steep at first, but with the historic venue, catered food with carving stations, and phenomenal beer the cost seems fairly on point.  And although the crowd sometimes felt like it had outpaced capacity, it was still surprisingly easy to get around and get a beer.
(Winterfest 2014 at the Union Depot)

The beer was ridiculous! It really felt like the brewers, 41 in total, brought their A-games to this one. The specialty beers they brought were inventive and threw around some awesome flavors. There were way too many good beers to be able to list here, but I’ll touch on a few that stood out to us.
Bent Brewstillery’s Winterfest Sour was one that we really enjoyed. Lots of beer drinkers don’t enjoy sours, Vicky and I love em! I have been wanting to try this one for a while. It tasted great and lived up to what I hoped it would be.

(Getting some Winterfest Sour from Bent Brewstillery)

Brau Brothers had a cask conditioned Spiced Sheephead. This version of their Sheephead had just the right spiced taste to add some interesting, but not overpowering, flavors. They nailed what a lot of spice beers miss with this one. They also have a great sour you gotta try in the Bancreagie Sour 26!

(Having fun pouring myself a Bancreagie Sour 26 at the Brau Brother’s Booth)

A one-off beer we wished would be around all the time was the peaches and cream version of Farm Girl Saison by Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Farm Girl is a beer Vicky and I have liked for a long time. For this version they added organic peaches and sweet milk sugar. It was sweet, fruity, smooth, and refreshing. I would love some of this in the summertime.
(Mmmmm… Beer….)

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery (the Raspberry Coconut Jack Frost was delicious!) won Best Brewery of the fest, while Barley John’s Brew Pub won Best Beer for Rosie’s Old Ale, made with champagne yeast and coming in at a whooping alcohol content of 18%. Congrats to them! That is a big accomplishment with the stiff competition at this fest. Unfortunately with tons of beers to try, we never got around to try Rosie’s Old Ale.
For both of us though, the beer of the night was Snownami by Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub. This beer, a double chocolate raspberry stout, was finished with Belgium dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, and raspberries. It was chocolaty from the scent all the way to the finish with raspberry flavor that waved in and out on your palate. Liquid greatness!

(Vicky enjoying some Snownami)

Some beer fests might seem like a bit more of a party. Some beer fests might be a lot bigger with more breweries. But with all the quality Minnesota breweries bringing so many top notch beers, Winterfest is definitely the top notch BEER fest.