It’s been seven years since Juno Choi and Mark Opdahl hosted the first St. Paul Summer Beer Fest at Midway Stadium. This was before there were so many summer beer fest options in the Twin Cities. “There were other beer festivals, but we don't like ‘alco-pops' and didn't think they belonged at the type of beer festival we wanted to go to,” says Juno. “Also we feel beer tastes just a little better outside. So kicking off summer seemed like the right choice.”
Now an institution among beer fests in the Twin Cities, the annual event draws thousands of beer fanatics together to celebrate great beer while soaking up some vitamin D. The event starts at 1 PM for VIP (sold out) ticket holders and 2 PM for General Admission ($45) guests and will go till 6 PM.
The beer list looks great again this year, and features breweries from all over the country as well as some hometown favorites. “We are big proponents of drinking local and enjoying the fruits [or beers] of our community,” Juno explains. “That desire for exploring different beers and styles also goes with wanting to enjoy what other talented breweries are doing across the nation.” National breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Grand Teton, Deschutes, Brooklyn, Clown Shoes, Evil Twin, and many more will be pouring their brews inside the International Bazaar alongside some of the best breweries in Minnesota. Festgoers should expect to sample many of their flagship brews as well as some fun, summer styles such as Radlers, Session IPAs, and Gose.
Representing the local breweries will be Lyn-Lake, Steel Toe, Surly, Summit, Third Street, Waconia, Urban Growler, NorthGate, Lift Bridge, Indeed, Northbound Smokehouse, and more. Food trucks will also be present and will include Natedogs, Tot Boss, and more.
Here are some beers to seek out on Saturday:
Cognac Barrel Aged Unchained #16 Herkulean Woods from Summit Brewing - The original version of this came out last fall and was very unique in that it utilized local maple syrup and spruce tips from Iowa. This has been one of the best selections so far from the Unchained series and barrel aging can only add to the experience.
Idaho 7 from Sierra Nevada Brewing - The brewery from Chico has been experimenting with hops for years and this beer promises to reflect that tradition. An experimental hop, Idaho 7, is grown in western Idaho and is a part of their Harvest series.
Sideburns from Lyn-Lake Brewing - An Oatmeal Raisin Stout served on nitro. Not much else needs to be said. Expect a rich, creamy head and a chewy texture. Gimmicky? Maybe. Delicious? Likely!
Double Dawn from Lucette Brewing - This looks to be a double version of Shining Dawn; their Belgian Golden Ale. Expect some fruit and spice flavor from the yeast and a dry finish, which is always welcome on a warm day.
Dampf Loc from Local Option Bierwerker - A Dampf Beer-inspired concoction, which should be mild in terms of bitterness, yet sporting a beautiful amber hue. This style of beer came about like most others—by accident—originating in the bavarian forest. Those familiar with the California Common style will see the similarities between the two. The main differences are color and the fact that Dampf Beer is brewed with an ale yeast while California Common uses a lager yeast.
As always, remember to grab that sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and pack an umbrella just in case. After 7 years of experience, Choi says one thing is certain: “With over 100 breweries pouring, we know if you love to explore beer, you'll be smiling a lot.”