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W’bago Brew Fest sells out

June 25, 2012
Fairmont Sentinel

WINNEBAGO - The Winnebago Craft Brew Fest was so successful that the next one is already being planned.

"It was awesome, a sellout," declared Austin Bleess, Winnebago city administrator, on Saturday before the event even ended. "Thanks to everyone for coming out, great success."

People and vendors came from all over.

Article Photos

Alex Rank, right, of the Brau Brothers Brewing Company of Lucan kept pouring beer for the samplers at Winnebago Craft Brew Fest until he ran out. He said the brewery attends 30 to 40 festivals a year.

Samplers could taste three brand-new beers that aren't even out yet.

Mike Feldhege said Third Street Brewhouse in Cold Springs was a "brand new brewhouse."

"These are the first three beers coming out of the facility," Feldhege said, as he poured Rise to the Top Cream Ale, Lost Trout Brown Ale and Bitter Neighbor Black IPA.

The new beverages would be bottled today, picked up Tuesday and available after that.

"The beers are only gonna be available in Minnesota," Feldhege said.

One brewery that crossed the border was the Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. of Decorah, Iowa.

"They rolled out the red carpet for us," said Madison McMullen, adding that Minnesota senators passed a bill exempting small breweries from paying a fee for an importers license for the one day.

McMullen was pouring the last of her supply little more than an hour into the Fest.

"We brought five different brands with us," she said.

By the end of the day, other breweries ran dry as well.

Zack Kolars of the Shock Top Brewery of St. Louis, Mo., went through 144 bottles.

"A lot more than we expected," he said. "At a normal sampling, we use six to 12."

Alex Rank of Brau Brothers Brewing Company brought eight cases from Lucan, but he ran out about a half hour before the end.

"We like to make it to as many different brew fests in the state of Minnesota as we can," said Rank.

The company attends 30 to 40 beer fests a year.

"We're [from] a small town and we like to support small towns."

Lucan is about an hour north of Worthington, and Brau Brothers is the fifth largest brewery in the state, according to Rank.

He said the most popular beer is Moo Joos, an oatmeal milk stout that was rolled out just two years ago.

"Now it's our flagship brew," he said.

Vanilla Java Porter from the Atwater Brewery in Detroit, Mich., was Josh Stern's favorite drink at the Brew Fest.

Stern is from Lake Crystal, but came to "meet new Winnebago friends."

"Mankato Original was great," said Laurel Sharp of Mankato, complimenting a beer made by Mankato Brewery.

Kathy Duffy drove five hours from Danbury, Wis., to help out a friend.

"My husband and I have been here to set up," she said. "He's a high school buddy of Steve Malchow (one of the organizers)."

Duffy did take some time off from working to do some tasting.

"I prefer a very light beer," said Duffy, noting her favorite was the Brooklyn Brown Ale from the Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, N.Y. "That is very good."

Winnebago city administrator Bleess said more than 100 breweries were invited. Not all came, but several, like the Brooklyn Brewery, sent their products, which were poured by local volunteers.

Bleess took notes during the event and was already planning changes for 2013, including rearranging the tents to give samplers more room to get around. But having a few kinks the first time out is to be expected.

"Steve and I will be meeting (today) to start planning for next year," Bleess said.

"It'll be in June, but the exact weekend is to be determined."

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