“Is it time?” asked my wife. I checked my phone. It was 1:57 p.m.
It was time.
We got up from our seats at Stanley’s Bar Room Northeast and back out into the lyin’ sun, the kind that impresses with brightness but doesn’t back it up with any discernible warmth. We stepped into a human lava flow out in the parking lot, pushing as one through the entrance and out into rows and rows of beer tents.
It was paradise, as long as you didn’t stand in the shade for too long. Here are some observations from the Fest: standout beers I hadn’t yet had, a bright future for Minnesota’s most giving beer company, food rescue, and an activity book?
THE GRAND PRIZE: The Bauhaus Brew Labs Activity Book
I’m not going to encourage you, as an adult, to start coloring. Instead, the activity book is a window to the soul of the Bauhaus Brew Labs familia. Some ride rainbows, others ride dinosaurs, and personalities from past Bauhaus promotions make appearances. This wacky lil’ book is everything you need to know about Bauhaus before you step into the taproom and start enjoying the beer.
Of course, if you want to color in Matt Schwandt playing a guitar on a tricycle, I won’t hold that against you.
FINE! Big Wood Brewery
It’s an IPA with mango and passion fruit. It moved through the taproom so quickly, the guys at Big Wood had to put it on shelves. They brought some to the beerfest, and they wisely left their tent in the car. I swear, there was a 30-degree difference between the sunlight and the shade that day.
I noticed groovy, but not overpowering, fruit flavors. This beer dances from start to finish, just as the Big Wood representative advertised, and who better than Big Wood to give us a beer that dances all night?
It should be noted, the taproom in White Bear Lake is a trip well worth making. Start with a sandwich at nearby Washington Square, pad the stomach, lace up those dancing shoes, and walk on over to Big Wood.
THE REAL MVP: Angie Lee, Boss, Finnegans
Angie Lee is the volunteer coordinator at Finnegans. I’ve never seen her without a walkie-talkie. I’ve never run into her when she didn’t have somewhere she needed to be. She’s in charge here, everywhere.
The Finnegans Reverse Food Truck was at Stanley’s, taking donations and kicking beers. Their newest offering, Freckled Rooster, was not to be missed. A bière blanc, they call it: a crisp, fruity sun smasher you can feel good about drinking (100 percent of Finnegans’ profits goes to charity, after all).
After years of brewing alongside Summit in St. Paul, it was announced that Finnegans will be part of a ‘Brewtel‘ being planned in Minneapolis. It’s an exciting development: it means more beer for Finnegans fans, a unifying location, more profits, more donations, and more minions for Boss Angie Lee.
Barely a cloud in the sky, yet 40 degrees. Minnesota!
MY FOOD RESCUE PET, from Stanley’s on Wheels
Stanley’s wisely parked the food truck on drinking grounds for those who didn’t get their fill on free bacon.
Stanley’s did a great job adding pig to everything on the menu that day. They doubled up for me on a plate of bacon nachos that went unclaimed as I pondered my order.
“Is nobody claiming that?” I said, pointing to it. “Throw some pork on it and I’ll buy it.” So, they did.
This superpig tortillagasm caught eyes from all around. Dudes and ladies alike were made agape at this thing. I’d venture a dozen people asked how they could get one. My mouth was always full.
“Mmph,” I’d say, and point at Stanley’s on Wheels.
THAI CHILI WAHOO, Ballast Point
Even before they became a Constellation Brand, I have to admit: I wasn’t a big Ballast Point fan. Even Keel, which has been recommended to me by everyone else with a taste bud, didn’t stick. Nor did Sculpin. It wasn’t until drinking Peanut Butter Victory at Sea on my birthday did I re-open my eyes to Ballast Point. That beer is, as Fabolous would say, “A duhduh-duhduh, duhduhduhduh DAMN!”
At Stanley’s, I was rewarded again for my openness. Ballast Point’s Thai Chili Wahoo packed just the right heat. It’s an adventurous drink you can do without having a death wish. Lime flavor is advertised, but I couldn’t identify it. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to, though.
I wouldn’t have more than a couple at once, but your street cred will get a nice boost if you share this with the #squad.