On Saturday, May 2, I attended the very first North Dakota Brewers Festival at the ND State Fair Center in Minot. The event was held from 2-6pm and was represented by about 10 breweries and a couple of home-brewing groups as well. Food and music entertainment were included with the $30 per person ticket price, along with unlimited beer samples. These events are right up my alley. I love tasting beers and visiting with breweries and friends alike. The part I like the most is craft beer has a higher alcohol content so you can taste a small sample without committing to a pint of beer. If you don’t like it? You can throw it. You also get to taste all the wonderful beer varieties that are brewed in our wonderful state – what talent exists here! Here is a list of the breweries in attendance to the best of my memory. I really should have taken more photos but I was too busy visiting and having fun.
My friend Nicole came with me – we have so much fun together! We had a bit of time before meeting up with our local Minot buddies so we stopped into Home Sweet Home, a cute Victorian house selling jewelry, clothes, home décor, and Pride of Dakota products like dip mixes, jelly, honey, jams, etc. They have coffee available and it was fun to look through both levels of the home.
After that, we made our way over to The Starving Rooster, a sort of new restaurant in downtown Minot. I really like the vibe, food and beer there. I got the caprese prosciutto panini (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) with kettle chips. Delicious!
Next we met up with friends and headed to the fairgrounds for the highlight of the day: beer!
My friends and I arrived right at about 2pm. We showed our ID at the door and then gave our tickets to a group at the table and received a wristband to show we paid.
Side story: I knew our family friends Wayne and Carol would be pouring beer at the Kilstone Brewing booth as they have family members that own that brewery. I spotted the booth right away because she was in her fun beer mug costume she used during Oktoberfest. But then I saw another beer mug and it was my Mom! She had been grilling me about the festival and I was slightly curious as to why but never really followed up since she grills me about everything. Moms, right? Well, here her and my dad were also pouring. We said hello and snapped a photo. I was also surprised because she had chopped at least 6” off of her hair. I LOVE it and think it suits her much better. It was lovely having my parents pour us beer. I could definitely get used to that. Haha!
Mom and I. Her nametag says Mugs. Her friend Carol was Jugs. LOL!
With my friends, Nicole and Kristin. I am a bit of a giant.
Breweries in attendance:
- Buffalo Commons Brewing Co. – Mandan
- Bird Dog Brewing – Mandan
- Rhombus Guys – Fargo/Grand Forks
- Drekker Brewing Co. Fargo
- Fargo Brewing Company – Fargo
- Souris River Brewing – Minot
- Laughing Sun Brewing Co. – Bismarck
- Kilstone Brewing – Fargo
- Junkyard Brewing Company – Moorhead, MN
2 home breweries – I’m not sure where they were from? I think Minot and maybe Minot Air Force Base?
Above are my friends from Buffalo Common Brewing pouring samples.
Having this at the state fairgrounds was great – free parking, huge room, nicely lit and very clean. They had tables for seating and the breweries spread across the room. It was nice not to be packed into a beer event for once. Lines moved swiftly and I hardly had to wait.
We proceeded to pretty much try at least one beer from every booth. I only had a sip at Buffalo Commons because I am probably most familiar with their beer and drink it somewhat often. I wanted to try new-to-me brews. There was no way to taste all the beers – you’d be too hammered so I choose what I typically like: lighter in alcohol volume and generally I don’t care for IPA’s. I loved all the beer and drank every sample I had.
Top Three for me in no particular order
- Strawberry Blonde – Bird Dog Brewing
- Pilsner – a home brewer and I can’t remember their name
- Irish Red – Kilstone Brewing (this was a great, easy tasting beer, it wasn’t just because my parents were pouring!)
We had a wonderful day of tasting. As usual, I have a few recommendations for changes they could consider in the future. I have been to a few festivals so I have seen some things that work.
- Give a commemorative cup to each attendee for beer sampling. For each beer you were given a small, few ounce plastic cup. It ends up to be a lot of waste. Also, people love anything they think is free. It wouldn’t have to be glass and could be smaller in size. Or just have them printed up with a line that marks where a couple ounce pour would be. This also would give attendees a chance to wash out their beer glass with water if provided. The more water, the better when drinking.
- Water. Provide (free) water for the festival attendees. This seems like such a no brainer. More water = better.
- Food. The food provided looked great. It was a taco bar with typical toppings – hard/soft shells, meat, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, etc. But it was HELP YOURSELF. Hello, people drinking and an open food bar is not a good combo. It was gone fairly quickly. It would be better if they had someone serving normal portion sizes. But the food is a great touch. Other places have had companies giving samples (like Cloverdale) and that might be a future consideration?
Overall, I really enjoyed the afternoon and was jacked to see so much wonderful beer in one room. I hope they do it again – I’ll try my best to attend! The money collected from gate admission went to the North Dakota Brewer Guild and from reading their website, this is a noble cause I surely support!
The North Dakota Craft Brewer’s Guild was founded in 2013 to promote craft brewing and to protect the interests of the craft brewing community in North Dakota.
- The objectives of the North Dakota Brewers Guild are to:
- promote the highest standards of professional brewing in North Dakota
- increase public awareness and appreciation for the variety and quality of North Dakota craft beer
- advocate for state and federal laws that promote Guild Members’ ideals and that foster brewery profitability
- provide a forum for discussion, support and initiatives for the common good of North Dakota’s brewing industry
Giving Back – The Guild and member breweries support charities throughout the state through cash and beer donations, often partnering for special events and action initiatives.