I love beer! I do. And I love tasting different kinds of beer. In fact – have you ever heard of Old Chicago’s World Beer Tour? When I lived in Fargo, my sister and I had a mission to complete the World Beer Tour and we did. This really started our love for craft/specialty beer. I love going to that restaurant and trying beers and they also have a great happy hour. To complete the World Beer Tour, you must drink 110 different beers (not all at once, obviously!) from around the world. Old Chicago does a great job of providing Mini Tours and free goodies along your way to help you complete your tour. We have tons of Old Chicago gear – especially t-shirts! My sister and I are both in the Hall of Foam! Sadly, I moved away to Hazen and she has continued her World Beer tour and completed a few more tours. I really miss the fun we had going to happy hours and trying different fun (and some not so fun) beers.
I am by no means a beer connoisseur, but I love tasting! At home, I typically almost always drink typical light American beer. The beer tour is a great way to try different types. At Old Chicago, we really learned what we did or didn’t like. I am not a fan of IPA’s or very hoppy beers and I like the wheat and citrus beers. I also enjoy some dark lagers. I encourage everyone to at least try samples of tap beer at JL Beers or Laughing Sun Brewery and such. I haven’t gone to Laughing Sun yet, but it is on my TO DO list! Sampling is a great way to start beer tasting, and often locally brewed or specialty beer has much higher alcohol content, so you won’t overdo it that way. We always stuck to 4 beers a night at Old Chicago and then if we wanted more, went back to our light American beer so we could make it to work the next day!
Anyway – that is my introduction to beer. I was super stoked when my sister wrote me and told me about Bismarck’s Beerfest. I have no idea how this flew under my radar last year, but we quickly decided to attend this year with our friend Jen. Anything for beer! Here is some more info on Bismarck’ Beerfest:
From the Bismarck Civic Center’s website: Beerfest 2013: A Bismarck-Mandan Festival celebrating the diversity of products available, while supporting a great cause. This year’s event will feature more than 30 different specialty beer products samples provided by McQuade’s Distributing and Jerome’s Distributing, brewmasters, live entertainment, and food provided by Cloverdale Foods. Everyone who attends will receive the official, commemorative BEERFEST 2013 pilsner glass. Following the event, the sponsors will present checks to the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House & the Bismarck Cancer Center with proceeds from the event. All patrons must be age 21 or older and must bring valid photo ID to enter the event. No exceptions will be made! Attendees will be able to sample food and 30 varieties of specialty beers. Brewmasters also will be there to answer questions. Tickets are $30 or four for $100. The four for $100 special is not valid the day of the event. Tickets are limited and can be purchased at the Bismarck Civic Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com.
We really had no idea what to expect and went in with an open mind we might have fun, or we might not?! We went into the Civic Center, had our tickets scanned, some of us (not me) got carded, we got a band showing we were 21 and entered into the exhibit hall to collect our small pilsner glass and drinking guide showing us where the beer and food was located through the venue. We decided to start out with some of the IPAs and hoppier beers that we don’t necessarily love. Our first stop was to Goose Island IPA by McQuade’s Distributing. The event went from 5-9pm and we arrived shortly after 5pm intending to try all the beer we could while taking our time and tasting as we went. We did stay until just about 9pm and were never bored.
Myself and my friend Jen (our before photo) trying the Alaskan Stout from McQuade’s. As I mentioned, we got a card saying where all the beers were located and what their names were. On the back, the pourer would mark you off when you collected a beer so you didn’t drink more than 30 pours. I suppose you could drink all the same beers if you wanted to, but we made the rounds.
I know the above photo is fuzzy and a bit hard to read – imagine that. I took notes on all the beers and which ones we liked best. I support both McQuade’s and Jerome Distributing – remember, I love beer! But I found McQuade’s to be more socially available between Twitter, their website, etc. and I really liked that. So was Cloverdale Foods. I think my generation does so much online and I couldn’t even find a website for Jerome’s. Kind of odd?
We saw when we arrived that the event was sold out so we were happy to have purchased tickets in advance. I don’t know what they cap the event on for numbers, but I never felt it was TOO crowded or rowdy. The crowd size was perfect and we rarely had to wait. The longest lines were for the food!
Each booth had the beer name, where it was from, the style, where it was distributed from and the ABV. Each booth also had a fresh pitcher of water you could use to wash out your glass and dump so you had a fresh taste of each beer. The band, The Rift, was playing throughout the whole event and I really appreciated the background music and variety of tunes. I have heard them before and they are a great band for this event.
Some of the booths had bean bags set up where you could throw for a prize. I can’t believe we never tried this – but it was a great idea!
One of our favorite stops was the Fargo Brewing Company. After living in Fargo for so many years, I am rooting for this company. The beer was a pale ale but we enjoyed it. The guys working the booth were a hoot and we got some cute pins to put on our jacket to advertise for them. Great idea guys! When I am in Fargo at the end of October I hope to make a stop at their tap room!
I can’t forget the food! Cloverdale was there right when you came in and they had a variety of food. I really don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like Cloverdale and they are such a great ND brand as well as a perfect fit for this event. Great beer drinking food. You see them at so many ND events and I love that. They had their famous (and my favorite) Tangy Summer Sausage with crackers and fresh veggies, ribs, ham quesadillas, cheddar brats with sauerkraut and thick bacon served with apples! As I mentioned, this was usually the busiest area but I can see why. I really loved the jalapeno summer sausage with crackers. I did see several people wearing a string of pretzels around their neck. I asked one guy about it and he said he made it and brought it in for a palate cleanser. Ha! Great idea!!
My friend and I with the Paulaner cardboard girl! While there were some beers we didn’t personally care for – I was happy to see they were all cold and everyone was so friendly – workers and attendees. My favorite beers were the Beaver Creek Rough Rider (based out of Wibaux, MT), Red Lodge Jack’s 90 Scottish Ale (it might have just been the man in the kilt serving that one), Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy and New Castle Brown Ale. I know my sister liked the August Schell Chimney Sweep and our friend preferred the citrus beers. Such a variety. I definitely have a reason now to drive over to Beaver Creek one weekend for a tasting. Yum!
I still had two blank spaces on my card but I did try 30 beers! So much fun and at this point, we were ready to get back to our light beer!
Cheers to Beerfest and our friends!
A final list of the Pros and Cons
- FUN, fun event at a great facility
- Great for a date night or girls night
- Great music, food, beer and a good cause
- Super great variety of beer
- Not too crowded
- Proceeds from the event go to great causes
- Ticketmaster ticket fees. I wish a local company would offer a service or you could purchase without adding another $10 to the event
- Replacement cards/glass. It does clearly state on your card that you will not receive another card or glass if you lose or misplace them. I understand this but a girl we knew, accidently had her glass broken in the women’s restroom and she wasn’t able to get another one. I think she ended up using a plastic glass, but that was a bummer for her. Accidents do happen – especially with beer, concrete floors and women’s restrooms!
- I would like to see them team up with a taxi company and offer vouchers or coupons. We had a sober driver (our men) to come get us, but this would be a super opportunity for a cab company
- It would be nice to have had a bottle of water to carry and refill to cleanse your palate/keep hydrated. Again, use it as a marketing tool and have a company provide it with their own label
- A few more high top tables for resting/socializing
- I love the pins, stickers, chap sticks, etc. that were given out – a great marketing tool for any beer company – continue with that trend
Hopefully us girls will make this an annual tradition. Now excuse, me – I have to go get a beer!