For me, Beer O’ Clock was literally 3 p.m. After a long morning of pouring 200+ Bloody Marys at the Build-Your-Own Bloody Breakfast Buffet, I was pretty thirsty.
This year’s beer festival boasted nearly double the brewers as last year, so I had some work to do. I wasted no time, jumping right in and filling my commemorative cup with last year’s crowd favorite, Fitger’s Apricot Wheat. Sure, it’s the big dog, but damn if it ain’t one of the tastiest, easy-drinking brews in the land.
After my new tradition was finished, I was like Pavlov’s dog wondering which beer to try first. I took a moment just to take it all in. All the grins, all the rosy cheeks, all the, uh, aviator sunglasses. Pure bliss.
I found my way over to the Bells station and rounded the bend to check out what Duluth-favorite Carmody was packing–Black Pepper IPA?! Get Out!–but I was really excited to try the Loch Leech Monster Scottish Ale from Leech Lake Brewing Company out of Walker, MN.
Sidenote about me: If you put “Monster” in the title of your beer, I will be powerfully drawn to it.
All of Leech Lake’s beers were dynamite, but it was the brewer’s enthusiasm that kept me coming back for pours. As I mentioned last week, talking shop with these guys and seeing their passion shine through is one of the best things about this beer fest.
And sure it was a blast trying all these delicious, unique beers that I’d never heard of, but surprisingly the real joy came from sharing favorites with my pals that came and visited. After all the hype I talked up about Kayak Kolsch, it was nice for my buds to get to sample it and (not surprisingly) love it.
Not to go completely Sesame Street on you, but that’s really what this beer fest is about: sharing with friends. After all, nobody likes drinking alone, right?
Well, enough out of me, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. I’ll post more as I get them, but I’ll leave you with some of the gems. And my top 5 favorite brews from the big show, of course! Cheers!
Mikel’s Top 5
5. Apricot Wheat (Fitger’s Brewhouse)
4. Loch Leech Monster (Leech Lake Brewing Company)
3. Mango Belggggggian Wheat (Carmody)
Honorable Mention: WATER!!!
photos by kell sanders