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89 Days

The Winter Beer Dabbler pours old favorites, new curiosities

Highlights from the Winter Beer Dabbler in 2022.
Highlights from the Winter Beer Dabbler in 2022.Courtesy Beer Dabbler

by Natalia Mendez

February 22, 2023

The good folks at Beer Dabbler sure know how to host a hop-fueled party throughout the seasons. This weekend, the crew returns once again to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for their coldest event yet, the Winter Beer Dabbler.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. — or grab that pass that lets you in an hour early — join other thirsty patrons along the Midway and within the Coliseum to sample beer, cider, and more from across the country. Download their mobile app for a preview, and enjoy food trucks, local music, and a few frozen feats for entertainment, too.

Brews, cider, and more

Two people hold glasses of beer
Highlights from the Winter Beer Dabbler in 2022.
Courtesy Beer Dabbler

Sure, beer is in the name, but there’s that and much more at this year’s Winter Beer Dabbler. Try ciders, wines, seltzers, and non-alcoholic brews, too. Always popular pale ales in various styles will never die, though you’ll see more than just super-bitter, turbo-hopped IPAs, like New England style pale ales that are hazy, juicy, and often possess a more tropical, fruit-forward scent and a fuller body — and why not let a sample feel like a bit of vacation in the middle of a winter beer event?

Expect to see many warming winter beers at the event, like dark, chewy stouts and even more easy drinkers. Beer Dabbler’s Jordan Wipf says, “[people] are coming back and rediscovering the crispy pilsners [and] lagers, the fun European styled beers like saisons and bocks, as well as hefeweizens and dunkels. These are brewers' beers, meaning they are fun and challenging to make, which definitely triggers the dopamine in the brewers' brain.”

Thinking beyond the brews? Look no further than refreshing seltzers ranging in flavors from the fruity to herbal, and honeyed to tropical. Ten wineries and cideries will also be on-site for sampling and information for those who want a break from the beer. When asked if the recent legalization of consumable cannabis would bring delta-9 drinks to the dabbler, Wipf offered some clarity. Although there will be some THC and CBD vendors at this year’s event, due to the State Fairgrounds’ limitations on the buying and selling of cannabis-derived products, the tents selling them will be strictly limited to informational resources. But don’t fret! Wipf hopes that once the dust settles on the legalization, future Beer Dabbler events will also have THC and CBD sampling as well.

Food and feats

Crowds gather next to tents with beer logos
Highlights from the Winter Beer Dabbler in 2022.
Courtesy Beer Dabbler

Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Check out the food trucks for unique and classic beer pairings. MN Bratwerks will be there serving up brats, cheese spaetzle, potato salad, and chips for a classic German beer hall experience. Northeast Pretzels will have the timeless twisted pub snacks. For perfect handhelds with flavors inspired from across the globe, try Habanero Tacos, Pharaoh’s Gyros, Potter’s Pasties, or Sambusa Express. They’re an ideal choice to leave a hand free for your beverage of choice.

For a breather from sampling, check out two new sculptures from world-champion snow sculptor House of Thune. Watch them work their magic as they live-sculpt piles of snow into detailed frozen works of art.

More into getting rad? Soaring Sleds and 3rd Lair Skate Park will have experts performing tricks, flips, and more to keep your head spinning. Also, giant beer pong is back, so pick a pal and face off with an opposing team. For those who feel confident playing with sharp objects after beering, The Bearded Axe will be present to let attendees test their skills and aim with axe throwing.

For tunes, local DJs Shannon Blowtorch, DJ Chime, DJ JD, and DJ Sci-Fri will be keeping the energy levels up, and The Current will also be onsite live streaming from the event.

Keep on Dabbling at the Depot

All good things must come to an end, but the dabbling need not cease when the Winter Beer Dabbler wraps. Mosey over to West Seventh in St. Paul to peruse Dabbler Depot, where you can pick up your favorite select beer samples from Winter Beer Dabbler. Just place your 2023 Winter Beer Dabbler Take-Home Order by Sunday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m. from their to-be-determined featured list. Keep the festivities rolling by grabbing your selections at their Pick Up Party on March 1 — or just pick it up when you can by March 22.

The Depot was opened in the summer of 2022 to be an antidote to the average liquor store. You won’t find cardboard cutouts of Captain Morgan greeting you at the door, but you will find a wide variety of well-organized and brightly lit unique beers, wines, spirits, and more alongside your classic lawn mowing beers. There’s an area to taste rotating taps and a coffee shop to grab a tasty shot (of espresso, you lushes!) or a delightful donut.

Also within the cafe, you’ll see the Dabbler Depot’s cannabis regulation loophole and one of the state’s largest THC and CBD product selections, with almost 140 different cannabis-derived products on their shelves. Their goal is to provide options for those who want to party without the booze, so they’re working on expanding their already nicely stocked non-alcoholic selection, too.

The Dabbler Depot is also just a great place to kick back and find your place within the beer scene before or after Winter Beer Dabbler. With in-house samplings (micro-Dabblers, perhaps?), educational classes, and a rotating cast of food trucks, it’s unlike any other bottle shop in the Twin Cities. Either way, whether you’re dabbling at the Depot or slurping samples at their winter event, neither is to be missed.

13th Annual Winter Beer Dabbler. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Tickets & Info

This feature is part of The Current’s 89 Days series, helping you enjoy the best of the season with weekly guides to events, entertainment, and recreation in the Twin Cities.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.