I was hoping to get a good sized group of us down there again because it was the perfect set up for us. It's not too often that you can pitch a tent (or in our case, camper) right next to a brewery and drink beer until sleepy time and then sleep off all that beer until morning. Alas, a big group was not in the cards but we were not deterred.
I talked my sister Cheryl and her husband Bruce into coming and they met Allison and me at the brewery around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon with their camper in tow. What's better than owning a camper? Knowing someone who does! I was ready to sleep in a tent but glad that I didn't have to.
When we hit the brewery, I found out that rumors of the appearance of Rubus were true. Rubus is the newest Brau beer, a big ass imperial blackberry porter. Ignoring all rules about what order to drink beers in, I immediately requested one as my first beer. It was damn good too. Not too overwhelming with the blackberry, but just enough to give it a nice flavor. The 9.something% ABV was nicely hidden too. All that for only $5 in a Brau Brothers pint glass that you got to keep (and refill for only $3).
Now Cheryl and Bruce are pretty loyal to Michelob Golden Draft Light (no, I haven't disowned them yet) so I knew Rubus and Sheephead (7.7% ABV pale ale) were out. So we started Bruce off with their version of a light(er) beer, Old 56 and Cheryl had a Strawberry Wheat (and eventually switched to Old 56 as well.
Sheephead after a pilsner and soon realized that it was really growing on me. It's a big flavorful pale ale that, if you didn't know better, could easily be mistaken for an IPA. If you like big hops with big flavor, give it a try sometime. They went down way to easily and after a few of those and another Rubus, it was a wobbly walk up to the Brauhaus for me.
When we moved on to the restaurant to eat, we all ordered Brau beers again except Cheryl, who reverted back to Mich Golden form and ordered one. After I gave her crap and Bruce glared at her long enough, she changed her order to an Old 56 and stuck with it for the rest of the night. I'm not sure if they'll ever drink another Brau Beer (or craft beer for that matter) again, but I think I did my part to show them that their perception of craft beer is a little off (like most people's) and that there are some good starter beers for them in the better beer world.
I also bought Bruce an Old 56 t shirt and like I told him that the Brau Brothers might not be able to afford a Super Bowl commercial, but they can put a t shirt on a guy walking around Atwater, MN!
Bruce enjoying one of many Old 56's
After eating way too much good food, my stomach wasn't exactly ready to start drinking a ton of beer again so I decided to switch to the Brau Cream Stout. In spite of me being stuffed, it was still delicious to sip on which is a testament to how smooth that beer is. It was the perfect dessert/after dinner drink.
The street dance was pretty cool, not a lot of dancing going on except for the two little kids having a blast in front of the stage but the band (Hicktown Mafia)was pretty good and played a good mix of stuff from the 70's through the 00's and we had a pretty good time.
I read a comment online from somebody who went last year that said something along the lines of "it was mainly a bunch of locals drinking Bud Lights". For the most part, that's what it was again this year but I don't think you need to have a Mecca like Dark Lord Day with beer geeks crawling out of the wood works to be a good craft beer festival.
I actually appreciated the smaller crowd because you don't often get that kind of face time with the guys who run a brewery and as long as you have good beer to drink, having a good time is all up to you. I got to meet someone I've chatted with on Twitter at the brewery too and had some good conversation with her and her boyfriend. There's always an opportunity to meet someone new and talk about beer with them. Even if they're not big craft beer fans, you can still talk about it with them at an event like this one.
Hanging with Dustin & Trevor Brau
My goal is to get that good sized group to hit this thing next year and we can turn it into our own private beer festival (with a few locals thrown in the mix for fun). Or maybe word will start getting out and it'll get way bigger next year. Either way, I'm going to have fun and who knows, maybe my name will finally get on the plaque at the Brauhaus by then for eating those damn wings last spring!