Summer 2017 Duluth-area Beer Festival Primer

There’s nothing quite like kicking back to quaff a cold beer in the summertime. The warmest season ushers in plenty of chances for those craving craft brews to get outside, sit back and sample suds. We’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of some of the top tasting events and beer festivals in the Twin Ports area.

Taste of Duluth
Saturday, July 1 | 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth
Free admission

Taste of Duluth is new event is designed to “showcase what makes Duluth great, not only for those of us who live here but for those who visit Duluth,” says organizer Walt Aplin.

The event includes a Craft Beer Village. Local breweries will be on hand with 2-ounce samples for sale as well as pints. Many local breweries will be represented at the event, including Bent Paddle Brewing, Blacklist Artisan Ales, Castle Danger Brewing, South Shore Brewery, Dubh Linn Irish Pub, Lake Superior Brewing and Voyageur Brewing.

Food vendors like Valentini’s, Bridgeman’s, Stokke’s Meat Market and Lake Avenue Restaurant will have small bites available for $2-4. Aplin describes the event as a “giant outdoor expo.” It will have a retail component, with local businesses such as Frost River, as well as industry representatives from energy, mining and timber industries.

Twin Ports Entertainment and Lundeen Productions are organizing the event. Admission is free and there will be live music throughout the day from artists such as Greg Tiburzi and Lake City Smokin’ Section.

Hopped up Caribou Beer Festival
Friday to Sunday, July 14 to 16
Caribou Highlands Lodge, Lutsen

Now in it’s seventh year, the Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival is known for beer, food and scenery. Attendees indulge in treats like chocolate-dipped bacon while tasting beer from a range of primarily Minnesota breweries.

The weekend-long extravaganza beings Friday, with a four-course beer dinner featuring brews by Beaver Island Brewing Company. Saturday includes a daytime beer fest, followed by a pig roast and fish boil in the evening. There will be music Friday and Saturday from bands like Cook County’s Most Wanted and Billy Johnson’s Roadshow.

Adventurous attendees can opt for activities like riding the aerial gondola, biking or canoeing while in Lutsen.

New this year: a la carte offerings. Those who don’t want to throw down upwards of $300 for weekend packages with lodging can buy tickets for portions of the event. With a newly-built stage, the festival is also emphasizing music this year.

“We hope for beer and music lovers to come for the whole weekend but the new a la carte system will allow for more people to drop in for specific events if that’s all they can make it to,” said director of food and beverage, Emily Haussner in a press release. “We’re trying to put more music into the event to make it not only a beer event, but a concert event too.”

Sour Fest
Thursday–Sunday, July 27–30; Thursday: 2 p.m.–close; Friday, Saturday, Sunday: noon–close.
Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior

Thirsty Pagan’s Sour Fest has typically taken place later in the summer but it’s scheduled earlier in 2017 to take advantage of July weather in the beer garden and coincide with the influx of beer fanatics descending on the Twin Ports for the All Pints North beer festival.

Brewer Allyson Rolph expects at least six sours to be available outside in the beer garden, with an additional 4-5 pouring inside the pub and 750 ml bottles available for purchase. Throw in slices of the Pagan’s popular pizza and you’ve got yourself a party.

Rolph has built an impressive sour program at the Thirsty Pagan. She’ll be sharing her expertise on a panel about sours at All Pints North. Her last day at the Pagan will be July 21. Though her replacement has yet to be hired, Rolph says with some basic maintenance there “should be quality sour beer coming out for good while” at the Pagan. “You’d have to work hard to mess it up,” she says. Rolph starts a new gig as lead brewer at Superior’s forthcoming Earth Rider Brewery in early August.

All Pints North
Saturday, July 29 | 3 to 7 p.m.
Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth
$45 in advance/$55 at the door (if available)

All Pints North is the ultimate craft beer sampling event in the region. Organized by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, it includes a whopping 120+ breweries from Minnesota and well beyond and is expected to draw over 4,000 attendees.

The sixth annual fest includes unlimited beer sampling, which is both thrilling and overwhelming. This year a number of new breweries will be featured, including Duluth’s Hoops Brewing (to open by the end of June) and others farther afield, such as Cosmos Brewing in Hugo and Disgrunteled Brewing in Perham. Festival goers can also partake in food from local vendors, craft beer education and games as well as live music by Private Oates and Viva Knievel.

Castle Danger Brewery Anniversary Weekend
Friday–Saturday, August 18–19
Free admission

Castle Danger Brewery is turning six. To celebrate, it’s hosting a six-year birthday bash complete with live music, food trucks, lawn games, raffle prizes and more.

There will be a full slate of the brewery’s Dangerously Good Ales as well as a music lineup that includes Kyle Ollah and Mel & the Side Effects on Friday night and the Boomchucks, Feeding Leroy, A Band Called Truman and Black River Revue on Saturday.

Big Tap ChautauquaFest
Saturday, Sept. 16 | 1 to 5 p.m.
Bayfield, WI
Tickets not yet available

This annual event includes beer tasting, music and a “Fatty 5k” race where participants run or hike to the top of Mt. Ashwabay but stop at tasting stations to sample gourmet goods from local eateries along the way.

Hosted by Big Top Chautauqua and Mt. Ashwabay Ski and Recreation Area, Big Tap Chautauquafest features unlimited samples of local, regional and craft brews from more than 30 breweries, wineries and distilleries. Along with love music, food and beer, festivities include wagon rides and hammerschlagen.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua and the Mt. Ashwabay Ski and Recreation Area Outdoor Educational Foundation.

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