2021 All Pints North Preview
On Saturday, July 31st, All Pints North will be held at Bayfront Park in Duluth, MN, from 3-7pm. The tickets are sold out and the forecast looks heavenly. This incredible festival put on by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild did not happen last summer due to the pandemic. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket, buckle up, we have some beer sampling to do.
Pro Tips to Ensure You Enjoy All Pints
As a seasoned veteran of this festival, I think that it is important to embrace the mantra of “This is a marathon and not a sprint.” A lot of people make a weekend of All Pints and that is probably the best way to experience All Pints. Lets be honest, you ain’t driving back to the cities right after the fest, so why not come up on Friday, too?
Friday Ideas to Prime the Pump without Blowing the Keg
As many of us know, it is easy to get caught up in the moment. My advice is to make sure you eat a formidable meal on the way up on Friday to get a base going. I usually stop at Gordy’s Hi Hat in Cloquet because it is a throwback. If you are expecting an umami-charged smash burger with 72 year-old aged cheddar, Gordy’s isn’t for you. If you like the essence of a Minnesota summer, you are going to love it.
I usually get a double cheeseburger with fries and a malt. This will sustain you because after that, you have a couple choices of what to do. Obviously, there is a lot of great beer at the festival, and I will get to what looks exciting in a minute. However, as you turn the keys in your car to get out of the Gordy’s parking lot, you are probably setting your coordinates for one of two places: Castle Danger or Earth Rider.
Drink Smarter, Not Harder
I think it makes the most sense to eventually get to the point where you don’t need to drive on Friday night. So, that means you can go to Castle Danger in Two Harbors or Earth Rider/The Cedar Lounge in Superior, WI. Both have a lot of wonderful things on tap, and plenty of space to spread out.
Castle Danger Brewery
Castle Danger is in Two Harbors, MN, and has a wonderful tap list with things that will appeal to everyone. Their outdoors patio is spacious and they also have plenty of room indoors. I am partial to their North Shore Lager, Castle Danger Cream Ale, and the Ode IPA. If you are in the mood for a great stout, the George Hunter Stout fits the bill perfectly.
I have many happy memories of making Castle Danger the first stop of my All Pints North weekend. Once, there was even a dude eating a raw steak right off of the butcher paper. So, whether you are on the keto diet or the velociraptor diet, you will find your people here.
Earth Rider Brewery/The Cedar Lounge
If kitschy decor and a dive-bar vibe is what you are more in the mood for, then you have to make your first stop Superior Wisconsin. Earth Rider Brewery is there and their beers pour majestically out of the taps at The Cedar Lounge. The bar anchors the space and their bartenders are some of the best. Lot of seating at table is available if bellying up the bar isn’t your thing.
Here, it is really a drink whatever you want because it is all great situation. I am partial to Royal Bohemian (pilsner), Superior Pale Ale and Precious Material (helles lager). You will undoubtedly run into someone you know here because everyone loves this beer.
Duluth on Friday Night
Once you have ditched your car, you can rely on Uber and Lyft to get you to where you want to go on Friday. There are three areas I would point you towards depending on what you want. Whatever you do, remember that there is a 4-hour fiesta del cha-cha tomorrow that starts at 3pm and you do not want to be so hungover that you can’t enjoy that. In other words, remember: Marathon, not a sprint!
Lincoln Park Neighborhood
If you like to bar/brewery/cidery hop, then the Lincoln Park area is for you. They are home to Bent Paddle Brewing Company, a must-stop because it is a beautiful space with wonderful beer on tap. From there, you can meander to find mouth-watering barbecue at OMC if you are hungry. If you want to keep chasing the liquid assets, Wild State Cider, Duluth Cider, and Ursa Minor Brewing are just a short jaunt down the road. I wholeheartedly recommend all of these places and often find myself in this area when I am in Duluth.
Canal Park Area
The hustle and bustle of Canal Park is fun, albeit touristy. Canal Park has chain restaurants and lots of families doing vacation stuff. However, Hoops Brewing and Vikre Distillery are at the heart of everything here and they are tremendous. Canal Park Brewing is close, as well, and they have good food and decent enough beer. Remember, there are going to be huge wait times and so plan accordingly. After the festival, this area will be really crazy, so this might make more sense for Friday night.
Sir Benedicts/Fitger’s Brewhouse
Located at the opposite end of Duluth on Superior Street is a nice little beer and food pocket. Fitger’s Brewhouse is a Minnesota craft beer institution. Their beers are fantastic and they have classic things on tap that are all solid. A little further down is Sir Benedict’s, a fantastic place to gather on Friday night of All Pints weekend. They typically have a big party, but I am not sure if this being on the tail-end of the pandemic will put a damper on things. Whether they have their annual parking lot party of not, their tap list is stellar and they also have really satisfying food. Trust me, you will want to eat a bigger meal at some point because This is a marathon and not a sprint.
All Pints North Beers To Try
You will wake up on Saturday and your quest will be to find some coffee and get some breakfast. You have a big day of beer drinking ahead of you. Hopefully, you left enough tread on the tire from the night before so not everything hurts. There are so many wonderful things to try at the festival, but it is a fool’s errand to try to do everything.
I have been studying the online app (All Pints North Fest Buddy) like I am taking the SAT on Tuesday. I am going to give you a little bit of guidance as to the beers that are worth your time. What you should know about me is that I am not a huge fan of anything overly sweet. Milkshake IPAs and obnoxiously cloying pastry stouts aren’t my jam. However, I know there is a fervent following for those things, so I have included a few of those things in my list. I am sure that this little primer will at least give you an outline of things to try.
All Pints North Crushers
These are beers that are on the lighter end of the spectrum. They are low on ABV and big on flavor and crispness. You will want to mix in a lot of these between your DIPAs and barrel-aged stouts.
Dual Citizen Essential Industry
This beer is everything I want in a pilsner. At Dual Citizen’s taproom, Essential Industry comes in a sexy mug and the head is fluffy, cloudy, and beautiful. You will really be thankful you tried this one because it has a lot of character and balance.
Bad Weather Brewing Heritage Lager, Schmidt’s West 7th Lager
Bad Weather Brewing has established themselves as the place for lagers in St. Paul. This beer will not only be well-made, but it will tell a story of Minnesota beer history. I am giddy to try this and you should be, too.
Pantown Brewing Company The Classic Cream Ale
If you think that a cream ale cannot be memorable, you haven’t tried this gem from Pantown Brewing out of St. Cloud. This is a wonderful beer and although I would prefer to drink it by the 55 gallon drum, a sample glass will have to do. Crisp and clean with a wonderful malt and corn balance, The Classic Cream Ale is a marvel. Try it, you’ll like it!
Hoops Brewing #65 Mexican Lager
This is one of the best offerings that you will find from Hoops Brewing. Crisp with a nice little bit of corn sweetness, this one is so good, you don’t even need the lime!
Modist Brewing Supra Deluxe w/ Sea Salt & Lime
If you like perfection with lime and sea salt, Modist has your back. This beer is a revelation and I want to find more beers like it. The base of this beer is Modist’s impeccable and pristine Japanese Rice Lager. They added the perfect amount of sea salt and lime to it and it is a supra-amazeballs. This beer drinks clean with such complexity thanks to the rice in it. The mouthfeel is wonderful and it finishes quite dry.
All Pints North Hoppy Beers
These beers will scratch your alpha acid itch and ensure you get your daily allowance of vitamin C with all those juicy and tropical fruit notes. Don’t get it twisted, hops rule the roost and there are some wonderfully hoppy beers to keep a smile on your face at the festival.
Omni Brewing FAD
Omni’s FAD is a fantastic DIPA that I love. It is hazy, balanced, and juicy. Don’t worry, it has a decent amount of bitterness on the back-end to put it in the elite Hazy IPA category. This is the only FAD I chase.
Lupulin Brewing Hooey
Hooey is the quintessential Hazy IPA in Minnesota. I mean no offense to all the other breweries out there, but Lupulin’s Hooey hits it out of the park for me. Juicy, pillowy, and a modicum of bitterness in the finish. Hooey checks all the boxes.
Bad Habit Brewing Crush-A-Lot IPA
Bad Habit has a rabid local following and I always wonder why more people don’t talk about them. This beer is a nice representation of a style that many breweries get wrong. It is juicy and smooth with a nice bit of bitterness. I would say that you can start here and then try whatever else they are pouring because Bad Habit brews some excellent beer.
Wabasha Brewing Mango Implosion IPA
Fruit in beer is a tricky gambit. Wabasha Brewing gets this one right. Nice base of a well-made IPA that is accentuated by a perfect hit of mango. This drinks really easy and refreshing. Normally I say leave the fruit out of the beer, but this is a rare exception.
Falling Knife Verbal Tip
One of a handful of breweries I trust implicitly when it comes to New England-style IPAs is Falling Knife. Verbal Tip is a bright and juicy hop-bomb that you will love. The combination of Citra and Mosaic hops really shines in this hazy beauty.
All Pints North Malty and Crisp Beers
I am happy to see that the Session IPA trend seems to be dissipating. Breweries are coming around to the idea that showcasing malt in a lower ABV and crisp form is something that is timeless. So, these beers feature malt in an amazing way without being too heavy.
Spilled Grain Brewhouse Lord Dark Helmet
The beer is dark. The aroma is roasty, nutty, and alluring. The taste is complex. The mouthfeel is crisp. Lord Dark Helmet is a wonderful Schwarzbier and you need to try it. Spilled Grain does classic styles so well and this is very much on-brand for them.
This is the only instance of seasonal creep I wholeheartedly support. Receptional is one of the better examples of Oktoberfest we have in MN. I know that anything that Utepils puts out is going to be a quality beer that is stylistically on-point.
Giesenbräu Bier Co. Deggenauer Dunkel
Another Minnesota craft beer gem, Giesenbräu Bier Co. does amazingly consistent beers. This beer, along with the other things they are bringing, will compel you to put them on your list of breweries you are willing to travel for in greater Minnesota.
Comforting and familiar, Summit’s Oktoberfest is iconic and just as you remember it: fantastic. In a world of turmoil and change, this beer reminds us that there are bedrocks to life that can anchor us to something wonderful. To me, this is the best in show when it comes to local Oktoberfest options.
All Pints North Dark, Strong, and Seductive Beers
It isn’t a beer festival without a selectively curated array of decadent, velvety, and malty high gravity beers. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, these are always high on the priority list for the avid craft beer fan. This year’s offerings at All Pints North do not disappoint. Tread lightly, and if you want to try them all, I recommend asking for shorter pours or you might be fishing your pants out of the lake on Sunday morning. . .
Town Hall Brewery Double Barrel Czar Jack
You can make a strong argument that Czar Jack helped create the category of barrel-aged beers that we all lust after. It won gold at the 2001 Great American Beer Festival before barrel-aged beers were even a category. Well, this beer is roasty, full-bodied, and the bourbon barrel comes through with notes of vanilla and a hint of char. This beer is a wonderful testament to the craft and care that Town Hall Brewery takes with their beers. You are going to want to make sure you get this beer!
Headflyer Brewing VSOP BAMF’D
This special barrel-aged stout from Headflyer was aged for 21 months in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrel. This beer checks all the boxes and I have tried multiple variants of it over the last few years. This flies under the radar in the local world of barrel-aged stouts. I think it merits being on everyone’s shortlist of beers to try at All Pints this year.
Uncommon Loon Raven’s Cry-5pm tapping
This beer is simply exquisite from Uncommon Loon in Chisago City. Barrel presence comes through well. The base beer itself is perfectly malty with notes of roast, coffee, dark chocolate, and molasses. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. What more do you want from a barrel-aged stout?
Revelation Ale Works Frigid Dimension
I have loved everything I have ever tasted from this Revelation Ale Works in Hallock, MN. They are truly wonderful people and I cannot wait til I can say that I have darkened their doorstep with my beer notebook. I think that this sounds really good because this big 11.6% stout has been aged in a Far North Spirits Roknar whiskey barrel. In full disclosure, this is the only beer in this list that I have not tried yet. However, I invite you to take a roll of the dice with me and give it a whirl. I bet our palates will thank us later.
We Deserve This
The return of All Pints North has been a long time coming. Hopefully this helps you make the most of one of the most enjoyable craft beer weekends in Minnesota. I want to also thank the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild for putting on such a wonderful event. My hope is that this will allow us all enjoy the wonderful craft beer we have available in Minnesota in an atmosphere that has a ton of natural beauty. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .