Winter Beer Dabbler 2023 Preview
The largest outdoor winter beer festival, The Winter Beer Dabbler is taking over the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday, February 25th. The Winter Beer Dabbler will go from 3-6:30pm with early entry beginning at 2pm. Now, the weather for Saturday is looking like 24 degrees. For some, that might signal a Netflix and chill situation. However, our sturdy Minnesotan constitutions are going to be more in the mode of clink beers and spill on Saturday.
I looked over the Beer Dabbler app, available in IOS and Android formats, and perused the bevy of offerings being poured. Honestly, the app is really slick, and I would say an essential thing if you want to make the most of your time. I have picked out a few beers that will make the effort to bundle up and head to an outdoor beer festival totally worth it.
The weather on Saturday is probably more suited for crisp lagers since it is going to be a hair below freezing. However, the higher gravity beers will probably go a long way in taking the nip out of the air and putting more vim and vigor into your step as you traverse the snow. So, I have a mix of styles that I think will make your day better as you taste your way around the Winter Beer Dabbler.
Beers To Try At The Winter Beer Dabbler
Arbeiter Brewing Company-Eight
Arbeiter Brewing Company is known for being a bastion of well-made beers in Minneapolis. From lagers to barrel-aged stouts, Arbeiter has the magic formula for what works. Their Cold IPAs are some of my favorites in the state to drink. Aaron Herman has figured out the process, and it shows in the liquid. This will be a nice thing to enjoy when you are looking to change from the heavier malty beers of the day.
Bent Paddle Brewing-Barrel Aged Extra Baked
This is one of two barrel-aged beers that Bent Paddle is releasing this year. Extra-Baked is a great beer in its own right as it brings together, in harmony, balanced flavors of toasted coconut and chocolate. Now, when you take a beer that is already wonderful and put it into freshly dumped Henry Hill Bourbon barrels, it catapults to another stratosphere.
When most people think about BlackStack Brewing, they think of NEIPAs. However, of late, they have been getting more and more into the lager game. Fugazi is an Italian Pilsner that really hits the mark for me. It is going to drink crisp and clean and probably be a nice pacer for you as you stay warm out there in the elements.
Earth Rider Brewery-Precious Materials
Earth Rider Brewery produces incredibly delicious beer. They are a craft beer gem in Superior, Wisconsin. They hearken back to the good old days of craft beer when you could walk into a brewery and find a myriad of styles on tap. Well, Precious Materials is a Helles lager that is brewed for the gods. Such wonderful grainy/cracker notes with a bit of hop crispness for finish. This is a beer for everyone. Come as you are and drink. This is on the more sessionable end of the ABV-spectrum and you are going to love it!
Fair State Brewing Cooperative-Köld
Selfishly, I saw this on social media the other day and got really excited. Fair State has always done a great job with the lagers they brew. This will be the debut of their year-round Kölsch-style beer. Again, not a barrel-aged beer, but a necessary beer if you want to really enjoy the festival to the fullest because it will help you maintain your wits.
Falling Knife Brewing-Shaky Hands
A Cafe Con Miel-style Imperial Stout is one of many beers that Falling Knife is bringing to the Winter Beer Dabbler. However, when Falling Knife does a big stout inspired by food or another drink, it always hits the right notes for me. I love most of the beers that they put coffee into so I will be happy to drink this one.
Fargo Brewing Company-None More Black 2022
None More Black, in addition to being a roasty and chewy imperial stout, is also an homage to This Is Spinal Tap, a rock mockumentary for the ages. I have been to the brewery for this release and None More Black is a special beer. For many people, Drekker Brewing is the first brewery that comes to mind when people think about Fargo. Yet, Fargo Brewing Company have been well-established as a quality place to enjoy a craft beer-this beer is a stellar example of that.
Fulton Brewing-Coffin Dodger
Would you believe me that there was a time when people used to lose their shit for black ales? Well, as all things do, the style is having another moment. Fulton Brewing is bringing this nostalgic beer to the Winter Beer Dabbler in the form of Coffin Dodger. I am sure that the first sip will bring us all back to 2012 when you didn’t need a mortgage officer to buy a carton of eggs.
Jack Pine Brewery-Big Buck Barleywine
This big American-style Barleywine has aged for around a year. This is one instance where age absolutely benefits a beer. Some of the rough edges will be smoothed out, opening the door to a really polished sip of beer. Jack Pine Brewery is a place where every style is an option. I tend to like English-style Barleywines better, but I will definitely give this Yankee version a try. It will definitely warm you up at 10% ABV.
Lupulin Brewing Company-Wobbly Walrus
Lupulin Brewing Company is known for their world class use of hops in beer. Wobbly Walrus, a triple-IPA is an homage to the hop. I tend to steer clear of triple-IPAs because seldom are they balanced and enjoyable for my palate. However, Lupulin has a way of knowing exactly how to nuance their hops and keep things balanced-even at a double-digit ABV. So, I am excited to try this one.
Lakeville Brewing-Peko Porter
Lakeville Brewing always brews a variety of different styles. I appreciate that they always have a little something for everybody. The Peko Porter is a Baltic Porter. What is a Baltic Porter, you say? Well, it is a porter brewed with lager yeast and fermented at lager temperatures. They are few and far between in the wild. If you happen upon one, don’t make any sudden movements. Approach slowly and cautiously, and please, in the name of all that is holy, don’t touch your swimsuit area. If you do all that, you will be rewarded with a rich and malty treat that oftentimes has hints of black licorice.
Nouvelle Brewing-We’ve Got Your Bock
What is better than a chocolaty, caramel, dark-fruited, and malty delight to enjoy at an outdoor beer festival in Minnesota? If you said a tropical vacation instead of a Doppolbock, get off my lawn. Nouvelle Brewing is one of the breweries in Minnesota that I have only had the pleasure of drinking at festivals. No, I don’t have unpaid parking tickets in Robbinsdale, I just never go there. However, I am always impressed by the beers I try from Nouvelle. I love Doppelbocks and this will be one of the first things that I drink at the Winter Beer Dabbler.
Another oldie but goodie. Steel Toe Brewing is synonymous with consistency. Their tradition of brewing everything well dates back to their inception. Dissent is a Foreign Export Stout. Think Guinness, but bigger. Big notes of roasted malt, dark chocolate and coffee dominate the flavor and aroma of this fantastic beer. I dare you not to like it.
Uncommom Loon Brewing-Raven’s Cry
One of the better imperial stouts that nobody really talks about is Raven’s Cry from Uncommon Loon Brewing. It has big flavors, a smooth texture, and a warming aftertaste of a good high-gravity beer. This is the beer that put Uncommon Loon on my radar. Maybe it can do that for you, too?
Ursa Minor Brewing-Buffalo Check
Ursa Minor makes some wonderful beer up there in Duluth. I put this one on here because I love a good bock, and I suspect that they probably know how to brew one. Many of the other styles of theirs the many would consider classics or old-world styles are good. So, I used my logic and predicted that this will be a tasty beer to try at the Winter Beer Dabbler.
Well, I gave you a start with 15 great craft beers from Minnesota and beyond to try. Now, you just need to winter-proof your pretzel necklaces and read the warnings on what happens to your hand-warmers if they are left in any hard to reach places for more than two hours. I love that the folks at the Beer Dabbler are nice enough to set me up with a press pass so I can do some “boots-on-the-ground” reporting at the event. If you see me doing a live video, jump in and say hi! I love getting outside in the winter and the Winter Beer Dabbler is the elixir for that! Cheers!