by Kate Iverson
This week we chat with Thriftyhipster.com guru and Top Brewer partner Matt Dowgillo who fills us in on all the details for the latest craft beer event to hit the Twin Cities. Top Brewer is not only a fun beer tasting soiree, but also an ongoing competition which pits local home brewmasters against each other in a series of events happening this month. Four qualifiers will take place – two of them at St. Paul’s own Groveland Tap in the Mac-Grove neighborhood this Thursday, October 11 and October 25 – with additional events in Edina and Maple Grove on October 18 and November 1. For more details and tickets visit www.topbrewer.org.
Iverson: Where did the idea for Top Brewer come from?
Dowgillo: I have a lot of friends that brew, and they all love it as a hobby. Many of them dream about starting a brewery and how awesome it would be to have one. Well, we aren’t exactly giving people their own brewery, but we are letting the winner of each event brew their beer full-production level! I’m really excited for the winner’s release party next year so I can buy him a pint of HIS beer. I think it will be really rewarding.
Iverson: What can people expect at the events happening this month?
Dowgillo: The events are 100% Minnesotan. It’s Fall, it’s going to be cold, but the leaves will be changing. We took some inspiration from the Winter Beer Dabbler; how much fun beer and chilliness go together! Anyway, we wanted to make the events an intimate gathering of beer lovers. Brewers, Brewery reps, craft beer bars, and fans…We’re trying to bring everyone together. So, it will be an intimate event, 200 people max all mingling in a private patio area. We’ll kick it off with happy hour and a free pint of Lucid. We’ll have live acoustic performers, networking, and if guests want, they can sign up to be beer judges and access a separate area for beer tasting. Blue Plate chefs are making a food pairing for each event as well. To pick the night’s winner (and who moves on to the finals) there will be a blind tasting, where guests pick their favorite beer and can measure their taste skills against the official descriptions for the beer style each brewer makes.
Iverson: Does Minnesota have a strong home-brewing community?
Dowgillo: Come on, you know it! It’s only getting more and more popular. I think the beer scene is similar to the health and local food scene. People are starting to demand a more exciting culinary experience, and that is all related to what they’re drinking too. It’s only natural that just as you have at-home-chefs, you have at-home-brewers. To be honest, I don’t even know how we got the brewers we did. 24 people are competing to hold the first title of Top Brewer MN…with a combined 300+ years of experience. Most of the guys (check out the website for the list) have multiple medals from national tournaments and tastings. They are all part of national, local, and statewide clubs, write blogs, etc. It’s a strong community.
Iverson: Where is your favorite place to have a beer in St. Paul?
Dowgillo: Ha! I think I have to now say Groveland Tap! They change it up all the time and are famous for having every flavor of Summit on tap! I know most people will point to the classic beer bars like Happy Gnome (which is excellent) and Muddy Pig, but I am still heavily involved with ThriftyHipster.com, so I also need a great happy hour. On that end, I’ll go with…The Nook. Their burgers are AWESOME and they have a ton of local beers.
Events happen on Oct 11th, 18th, 25th, and Nov 1st. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit www.topbrewer.org