Here’s some great news for craft beer lovers: the sampling starts Saturday at 2 p.m. and doesn’t stop until 10 p.m.
The fourth annual Rochester Craft Beer Expo opens to VIPs at 2 p.m. and to general admission ticket holders at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mayo Civic Center.
While the expo ends at 6 p.m., the craft brew pouring does not. For the third year, the Beer Street Social at the Tap House runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Both events advertise dozens of quality craft beers.
Mark Opdahl, of Minneapolis, is one of the organizers of the Craft Beer Expo. He puts on several beer expos throughout the Upper Midwest each year, and says Rochester is becoming a must-stop for craft-beer lovers. In addition to places like the Tap House, several new craft breweries are opening.
“When it comes to craft brews, you get this feeling that Rochester wants to be as strong as the Twin Cities. Several new breweries are opening up, and they all bring something new to the market,” Opdahl said.
A few weeks ago, Opdahl said he had a chance to sip a couple beers on the drink list at the new Grand Rounds Brew Pub. Opdahl said he has worked with Grand Rounds brewmaster Steve Finnie before, so he had no problem being honest with him about his first batches.
“I tried his beers and planned on giving him some feedback. A lot of times, those first batches don’t work out. You need to work out the kinks when you go for brewing small batches to big ones,” Opdahl said. “But his beer was great right out of the gate.”
Grand Rounds will be one of a few brewers at the Beer Expo. Another new local brewer LTS (Life’s Too Short) Brewing Company. LTS has not opened yet, but its staff will be at Saturday’s expo providing attendees a sneak peek at some of their beers.
“Breweries are just taking off in southern Minnesota and that’s really cool to see,” Opdahl said. “Along with Rochester, there are breweries taking off in Winona and Red Wing. I know there are soon going to be four breweries in Rochester, and I have a feeling there may be 10 the next time I look.”
VIP tickets are $45 for the Craft Beer Expo. A VIP ticket gets someone earlier (one hour) access to the event. Both VIP and $35 general admission ticket holders receive a commemorative tasting glass, beer samples and beer educational classes. Designated Drivers can attend for $10.
Beer Street Social
Three years ago, the Tap House owner Christine Stahl started an event not just for beer drinkers, but also for the people who craft it.
The Beer Street Social takes place after the Craft Beer Expo, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday and running until 10 p.m.
“We started something afterward for the brewers, give them a chance to just sit and relax. They have been working all day. This is fun for them,” Stahl said. “If they want to talk to people about their beers they can, but if they want to just quietly enjoy the event, they can do that, too. We get a huge turnout.”
The Tap House will have a wide selection of craft beer available as well as music from Incognito and Hair of the Dog.
In addition to beer and music, the Tap House is also providing food this year. The menu includes burgers and brats.
The Tap House will also have a yellow cab station set up for those who enjoy themselves a little too much to drive.
There is no charge to attend.
If you go
What: Craft Beer Expo
When: 2 p.m. (VIP), 3 p.m. (general admission) to 6 p.m., Saturday.
Where: Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Dr. S.E., Rochester.
Tickets: $45 (VIP), $35 (general admission). www.mayociviccenter.com.
The Beer Street Social takes place afterward from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Tap House, 10 3rd St. S.W., Rochester. No charge.