So in case you aren’t from Minnesota–the Minnesota State Fair is kind of a big deal to us. Often called “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” this epic event is one of biggest, most crazy state fairs around. This is the time when we passive-aggressive, stoic, Nordic/German/Whatever types can shed our restrained skins and take part in something huge, chaotic, hot, and unique. Where else can you see a poor butter princess sitting in a tiny glass cold-room while someone sculpts their face from a huge hunk of butter? Where else can you walk through a building full of butterflies? Where else can you eat every thing on the Earth deep fried and put on a stick? Yup, The MN State Fair!
Where am I going with this post? Keep reading!
Every year the State Fair has a homebrew competition as part of the festivities. When I first got into judging beer and taking part in competitions this was THE contest to try to place in. Not only is it one of the most respected in the state, but also one of the largest–second only to the Upper Mississippi Mashout that takes place in January. This competition is where people get a name for themselves in the local homebrew scene, a way to get blooded–like shooting your first deer or catching your first walleye. There is also the local non-homebrew cred that one gets for winning a ribbon in the State Fair. When I talk about other homebrew competitions to people I can see their eyes glaze over and there is a severe lack of comprehension and interest. Tell them you won a ribbon at State Fair and their eyes light up with a communal understanding of what a big deal that must be! Weird right?
It took me three years of entering this competition to get my first ribbon, a third place for Imperial Stout I believe. I had arrived! I had finally won a respectable prize from this holiest of holies. Then I lost completely for another year. Eventually I won two ribbons the following year and totally forgot to enter any last year. Our own co-founder Mike Lebben won a blue ribbon there two years ago as well. Which brings us to this year’s festivities. With around 750 entries, this was a large competition. One of the biggest categories was (of course) IPA, with a whopping 67 entries! And our very own co-founder Keith Brady took the Blue Ribbon with his Chester Hopperpot IPA using our IPA BeerDust formula! If that isn’t a glowing recommendation for BeerDust, I don’t know what is!
As an additional item of note about the fair, this year Craft beer is ran rampant through the fair grounds! This is a significant change over the past 3 years with a special Land Of 10,000 Beers area in the Agriculture building as well as craft beer available around the fair grounds. Four to five years ago it was big news that one drink stand in the whole fair carried Surly Furious. Times they are a’changin!