Photos by Drew Wood
You did not see this coming. You did not! Because this year at the State Fair we are getting the next level of hilarious beer in the form of crazy Japanese-style frozen-foam beer. This is a thing! It started in Japan in 2012.
But it’s going to be here this year, at the new LuLu’s Public House. I don’t even know where to begin I’m so excited. Here’s the story:
There is now a gargantuan super expensive plaza on the northwestern corner of the fair called West End Market where the old-timey Heritage Square used to be just beyond the western terminus of the Sky Ride, the underrated cream puffs, and the oddly popular pickle booth. Said plaza is bookended by million dollar-plus food stands LuLu's Public House and The Blue Barn.
The Blue Barn is part of the Blue Plate Restaurant Company (Edina Grill, Longfellow Grill, Groveland Tap, etc) and co-owner Stephanie Shimp told me, the company invested a million-three or a million-four (they’re not quite done with the accounting, as they’re still finishing it) and hired 120 people.
They’ll be serving their signature pierogies, and some special-to-the fair options, like a fried chicken in a waffle cone with sausage gravy.
I tried the braised beef sandwich with pimiento cheese sauce. That sauce is nothing short of fantastic—cheesy and gooey and just the right amount of spicy. They’ll also be serving special beers brewed for the occasion straight out of the downtown Minneapolis brewery Freehouse, including a special double IPA.
Across from Blue Barn is a $2.8 million dollar State Fair museum.
The crazy Japanese beer thing happens on the far end of the plaza at Lulu’s Public House. a serious sight to behold.
It’s two stories with an open second floor with unbelievably fantastic views of the fair, especially right over the Midway. You want these tables for prime sunset and nighttime Midway viewing, with everything lit up. And you want these tables for the end of night fireworks! I’m not sure if you want those tables for the fried lobster on a stick LuLu’s is serving, but I will reserve judgment till I actually taste it. (Okay, I’m judging a little. Shellfish at the MN State Fair has traditionally not been a winning bet.) That’s the second floor.
But on the first floor, between LuLu’s itself and the related Schell’s Brewing Booth, the madness. Slushee machines, deluxe, churning, cutting-edge slushee machines, filled with stuff. Some of the stuff will be a fresh blueberry frozen foam, which will be added to a specially brewed Grain Belt called Grain Belt Blu, or to a Schell’s Octoberfest. There will also be other frozen things to add to other beers—it’s gonna be a crazy Japanese-style frozen foam beer wonderland!! That is not enough exclamation marks!! Have some more!!!!!!!!!!!
I mean seriously. How excellent is it that we’re getting crazy Japanese-style frozen foam beers this year? It is very excellent. This is a trend I am totally behind. Even if it falls flat. I hope it won’t because I am a little sick of everything fried and on a stick—as I think everyone is, judging that of the official 28 new foods for 2014, only four are on a stick. (That would be the deep fried breakfast on a stick, deep fried lobster on a stick, gluten-free brat (okay that needed to happen), and the shrimp dog, with cream cheese and shrimp deep fried on a stick.) But I am not sick of stunt beers! You’ll recall that last year Lift Bridge’s mini-donut beer was the hit of the fair, the cinnamon-sugar rimmed beer was causing two-hour long lines, shortages, freak-outs, the works. This year Brad Glynn from Lift Bridge told me they’re making 300—count ‘em, 300—kegs of the stuff.
“That’s hilarious,” I told him. “I know, it is hilarious,” Glynn said. “Some people get so bent out of shape, that beer is supposed to be serious and perfect. It’s the summer, it’s the fair, if you can’t do something fun and have fun at the fair, what’s wrong with you?” Sing it, Brad.
For whatever’s wrong with me, I am pretty sure that my first food at the 2014 State Fair is going to be a crazy Japanese-style frozen foam beer. Or my second. I’ve got a pocket full of cash and a mission to get through all the new foods on Thursday, I will post my findings as soon as possible, so watch this space. In fact, watch for all our #mspmag #mnstatefair coverage, from me and @stephmarch, @drewswood, @mspmag, and @mspmageats. Until then, just keep in mind that the crazy Japanese-style frozen foam starts flowing at 9 a.m.