Yeah, Twincy livin’ means a lot of shovelin’ and snow emergency car movin’, but it also means drinking beer in the picturesque snow. We sent our beer festival trend correspondent Isabelle
The Dabbler’s start time coincided precisely with Saturday’s snowfall, but with 30-ish temps, fire pits a-plenty, and the brilliant if slightly disconcerting cluster of hot air balloon baskets shooting streams of fire into the air, attendees were all fired up themselves. We spent some time stout-hopping—head nods in particular to Fair State’s FSB and the dry stout from Pryes. The Warner Coliseum provided both an effective toe-warming reprieve and a very satisfying cheese sampling operation with quick-moving lines thanks to the volunteers expertly tooth picking the goudas and bleus. Visual attraction highlights included the Saint Paul Bouncing Team (totally a thing), and the return of American Brewer Warrior Competition, where pairs of brewers raced the clock to perform tasks such as keg transport, quality control sampling and, why not, a sack race. Modist won for two years in a row, they should add a display of their skills to the brewery tour. We still had plenty of time to wander without aim, a hallmark of beer fests, and note that pretzel necklaces are getting slightly out of control: They’re basically portable charcuterie boards at this point. The afternoon’s only snag was a higher than average rate of sample glass breakage we’re attributing to mittened hand clumsiness.
Carhartt boots and bobble-topped beanies dominated (North and brewery brands were competing for popularity), although fur-lined hoods seem to be on the rise too. Disappointingly few full body snowsuits. This winter’s Dabbler showcased a young crowd as a whole, even for your typical brewery patron. Beer-wise, Lift Bridge and Surly drew the longest lines. It’s also in vogue to make tropical flavor infusions; brewers must be dreaming of alternate climates, despite the outdoor drinking fun.