I was pouring for Inbound BrewCo, so much of my experience is from the other side of the pouring table. It was a chilly day (at least on our side of the festival, where the wind was blowing in full force), but it really got better once the frigid pavement seeped through your boots and made your extremities go numb.
The Minnesota Beer crowd did not hold back for carnival – I spotted the Beer Cougars, plenty of beef jerky strung onto pretzel necklaces, and a variety of coozie-adorned gloves. While lines for each beer tent looked long, the pouring teams from every brewery went to WERK (“e” intentional)–moving through the crowds without making drinkers feel rushed.
The Dabbler also introduced the American Brewer Warrior, a test of beer folks’ skill and stamina. In this three part relay course, brewers first navigated a forklift through a zig-zag of cones, then ran to the malt run (a full-on sprint while carrying two sacks of malt, where I witnessed one brewer fall flat on his face and jump back to his feet to finish), and finally finished at the keg toss (insert tennis grunts and their respective faces here).
When I wasn’t frantically pouring beer (and saying fuck it to giving the perfect foamy head to half-drunk patrons who could not possibly care less), I was standing in line for the bathroom. I did, however, get the chance to try a few brews that my beer-crazed boo talked up.
1. The Intensified Coffee Porter by Brooklyn Brewing. Ok, I cheated. My boyfriend works for Brooklyn, and this is 100% the reason I heard about it. But who can say no to his adorable, bearded, eager face? Hella coffee & chocolate, hella ABV (11.8%).
2. New Belgium’s Tartastic, a lemon ginger sour ale. This refreshing sour tended toward the tart side, which made it taste wonderfully balanced and seriously unthreatening for a sour. It kind of tasted like I was drinking fancy lemonade on a beach in Maui and not getting day drunk outside in a Minnesota winter.
3. Castle Danger’s Orange Cream Ale. It’s kind of like an old-fashioned Fanta that, once again, made it seem like I wasn’t getting day drunk and making my poor mother face-palm at my choice in profession. Their regular cream ale is the only brew in that style that hasn’t made me rub my tongue against the roof of my mouth the peel the taste off. The orange only made it better.
4. Fair State Co-op’s Raspberry Roselle. I fell in love with Hibiscus Saisons by drinking Inbound’s own, and this sour version hit my tastebuds in all the right places. My pouring partner snuck this one to me after he did a quick round of the grounds–solid choice, Rob.
5. Obviously all of Inbound BrewCo’s beer! We were officially pouring four brews: two IPAs – the Session (does it get any more classic than a Session IPA?) and Local (fresh hopped with local hops from Pine City); the Apricot Pale Ale – this was our biggest hit for even the burliest of bearded beer nerds; and the Oaked Brown Ale – of which I drank copious samples and thoroughly enjoyed. We also unofficially poured the Cranberry Orange Tart, one half of our first bottle release. This one disappeared wildly quickly, and I have to say thanks to the fella at Lakeville Brewing who opened the bottles for me using his knife.