Excited about the new foods at the State Fair this year? Big news of course, lamb testicles and sushi, perfect before a ride down the big yellow slide. But what is there for the testicle-avoider?
Ho ho, there’s actually very big, very good news. Now, remember the wine pavilion in the Ag Building, right near the beekeeping and honey exhibit? Right near the seed art? Well, the wine people are moving to bigger quarters this year, and their former digs will be taken over by the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild and their educational exhibit you can drink: Land of 10,000 Beers.
Here’s how it’s going to work. There will be exhibits of barley, malt, hops, and such (some touch and feel, so you can feel what pelletized hops are like in your very own hands), as well as educational videos. Once you’re done learning, now comes the tasting. There will be two keg areas, each offering a four-beer tasting flight arranged on various taste themes—light, dark, hoppy, sweet. Each flight will consist of four five-ounce pours, for $8, and what’s particularly cool is that the beers that make up the flights will rotate in and out. So you might find one day stocked with buzzy newcomers Excelsior, Indeed, and Steel Toe, and you might come back the next day to find award-magnets Surly, Lift Bridge, and Flat Earth. All in all 21 local breweries will be showcasing their stuff, which will divide into more than 50 individual beers. If you’re worrying: What about the excellence of the Ballpark Café last year, with its big craft beer showing? Fear not. The Ballpark Café will continue to have craft beers. In fact, I talked to co-owner Dan Theisen who told me they’re going to have 15 tap lines dedicated to local beer this year, including Surly, Lift Bridge, Schell’s, Badger Hill, Lucid Brewing and, if all goes well, beer from Roseville newcomer Pour Decisions. But that’s not all! The Ballpark Café will also be serving the apple bratwursts from local orchard Aamodt’s. Picture yourself tasting a flight of local craft beer, looking at seed art, toddling down the hill for an apple brat and real pint of local craft beer, then toddling up the hill again . . . Man, what a journey we’ve taken from the old 3.2 days of the Fair. But enough about the bad old days. Because still, that’s not all! The Craft Brewer’s Land of 10,000 Beers will also have a root beer area for the kids, a stage for presentations by brewers, and an overall mission to demystify craft beer. “For a lot of people, craft brewing is an esoteric topic,” Clint Roberts, who, as founder of the PR agency One Simple Plan, has coordinated the project. “But for this whole thing I tried to keep one person in mind: My 61-year-old mother-in-law from White Bear Lake. She drinks white wine, generally, but she loves IPAs. I want her to be able to come here and find out other great beers she’d love, but without feeling she has to know the lingo first.” So beer the beer snobs love, for all. Sounds like the spirit of the great Minnesota Get Together, for real.