It’s almost time – Rochester Craft Beer Expo!



Rochester Craft Beer Expo – 2016

We are only a few weeks away from the local 2016 beer fest! Do you have your tickets?

I have mine. I am so excited.

The event is being held April 30th!


  • April 30, 2016. 3-6 pm (2-6 pm if you buy VIP tickets)
  • Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Drive SE, Rochester, MN 55904-3701
  • Tickets:
    • General Admission – $35 in advance / $45 day of event – commemorative tasting glass, beer samples, and beer education opportunities.
    • VIP Admission – $45 in advance / $55 day of event – gets you in an hour in advance of general admission. (FYI. I’ve never done the VIP ticket, the normal three hours of the event have been enough.)
    • Designated Driver Admission – $10 in advance / $20 day of event – you get a glass, soda samples, water, and beer education opportunities, but you cannot sample any beer.
    • You can get your tickets online, at the box office the day of the event, or you can save yourself a few dollars in online fees and get your tickets in advance at Forager Brewing Company (1005 6th Street NW, 507-258-7490 – talk to a bartender) or at one of Andy’s Liquor’s four locations.
Rochester Craft Beer Expo.

Why Attend?

I’ve attended the Rochester Craft Beer Expo for several years in a row now. It has always been a lot of fun. An amazing amount of fun!

I’ve found that the people are super friendly. Though I’m female and above the average age of the crowd, I’ve found everyone to be very sociable and welcoming. There don’t seem to be any beer snobs, just a lot of people having a really good time. Not a rowdy, raunchy time, but a nice, friendly, “You like beer? So do I.” kind of crowd.

And you get to taste beer – a lot of beer! This is a great opportunity to sample beer from many different breweries. You can also taste a wide variety of types of beer. If you are a rookie craft beer drinker, this is a great way to find out what you like. Are you an IPA guy or a smoked porter kinda gal? This is your chance to find out. If you are a more seasoned craft beer drinker you can use the event to find out what the latest trends might be or to sample some of the newer brews that the breweries are experimenting with.


After attending a few times, I have a some recommendations.

  • Buy your tickets in advance. (see how above)
  • Bring your driver’s license / photo ID. Even with a ticket you’ll have to prove you are 21+ to get in the door. Even those with a designated driver ticket must be of age to enter the event. There are no exceptions. No one without an ID, proving they are 21+, will get into the event. Don’t hold up the line by fumbling for your ID…especially if I’m behind you.
  • Wear a pretzel necklace. This isn’t mandatory by any means. But, you might want one. You’ll want to cleanse your pallet between beers (that jalapeno-infused beer last year had me grabbing for a pretzel) and you’ll want to look fashionable (well, by beer fest standards). The first time I made one, I didn’t really know what to do so I just found my lost crocheting skills to create a chain and then threaded pretzels on. The second time I had two kinds of pretzels – fancy! People can get a little outrageous with their necklaces. I’ve seen people wearing necklaces complete with string cheese, pretzels and meat sticks. And there are several pinterest pages dedicated to ideas. But a piece of string with a few pretzels strung on will work just fine too.
  • Dress comfortably. You’ll be standing for hours, so this is not the time to try out your new high heels or skinny jeans that are too skinny.
  • Don’t pre-party! We had some friends who took a party bus to the festival one year…um,not a good idea. Start out sober,so that you can get your money’s worth of beer tasting at the event.
  • Remember that even though the recommended tasting amount is 2 ounces, the commemorative glasses hold about six ounces (if filled to the top) so two tastes would equal a 12 ounce can of beer. Do the math…it is easy to drink a lot — fast. It is very appropriate to tell the guy or gal pouring the beer that you really do only want a little. Some of them may even comply.
2-ounce fill line. This is how much beer should be poured for a taste.
This is how much beer they normally pour.
A 2-ounce taste can easily become 1/2 a can of beer.
  • So, pace yourself.
  • And, if you don’t like a certain beer, dump it out. They have dumping stations situated around the arena just for that purpose.
  • Plan ahead. This is also not mandatory, and I’d guess that not many people besides me actually do this, but I like to look at the program ahead of time to identify beers that I really want to taste.
    • For one, some beers run out. Last year, my brother quite literally got the last taste of Insight Brewing’s Door County Saison. That beer ended up winning the expo’s people’s choice award, so it went fast. I was glad to get the 2nd to last taste and also glad that there was just enough left for my brother to get a taste too. A couple companies usually have cider samples as well, and historically, those have run out really fast. So, if you want to taste cider, head to those booths early.
    • And second, when you approach a booth you will usually be faced with choosing from two or three or four beers. A lot of those beers have descriptive names like American Ale or Hop Dish IPA, so it is pretty easy to know what you’re choosing from. But more often than not, you will be faced with names like Zarabanda or Facist Pig or Mole Smoke or Day Tripper. Those are great names, but… how do you know which beer is for you? You can always ask the server, but reading ahead of time might save you some time.
    • And lastly, I personally want to taste beers that are more local to me than those that come from the coasts or otherwise geographically far away. So, it is good to know who is who and where they are from.
  • Really taste your beer. Smell it. Look at it. Then taste it. You may not be able to give a flowery or entertaining description like they do on the side of a bottle, but over time, you will likely start being able to identify some flavors in each beer that you like or don’t like. And by the end of the event, it is likely that your descriptions will be entertaining even if they don’t actually describe the beer in hand.
  • Take notes. If you find something you really like, stop and take a note so that you can look for that beer in the liquor store later. We’ve tried rating each beer as we tasted it, but I have to admit that I’ve not always been able to stay on task with taking time to do a rating. But if I really like something (or really hate something) I do take a note.
  • Hit the water fountain now and then.
  • Know where the restrooms are located. Girls, there will be lines so plan accordingly.
  • Talk to the beer people. It gets a little busy at times, but when you get a chance, talk to the brewery representatives. They will likely have some interesting information to share about their brewery and their brews, or perhaps a great story about how one of the “big beer” companies tried to take over their little craft brewery.
  • Talk to your fellow beer drinkers.
  • Have a designated driver, plan to take a taxi, or plan to stay downtown for quite a few hours after the event so that you can safely drive home.
    • In Rochester, there are a couple services that will get both you and your car home safely. You can check out Auto Pilots (507-208-0879), Double Ds Designated Drivers (507-990-6701), or Reed’s Safe Ride (507-990-9097). I’ve not personally used any of these services, so I can’t endorse them, but the concept is good.
    • We have several traditional taxi services as well. These include Yellow Cab of Rochester (507-282-2222) and Med City Taxi (507-282-8294).
    • We have great restaurants within walking distance of the event too.
    • Oh, and parking is free downtown most hours of the weekends. You can even leave your car in a ramp overnight if you need. There is a charge of $13.50 for overnight parking in the city parking ramps.
    • Don’t drink and drive!
  • Have fun!
  • The Breweries

    Though the program for the 2016 event is not yet available, the list of participating breweries for this year has been posted. I’m sure it is subject to change, but here is the current list.

    Rochester Beer

    Our local Rochester breweries and brew pubs will be attending:

    Minnesota Beer

    And our home state of Minnesota is well represented.

    Cold Spring









    New Ulm



    Saint Paul


    Spring Valley

    • Loon Juice (hard cider from Four Daughters winery)


    White Bear Lake

    Wisconsin and Iowa Beer

    Our neighbors to the east and south are also participating.



    Imported Beer (from Other States)

    There is also a good representation of breweries visiting from other parts of the country.








    North Dakota




    Join Me?

    I have my tickets, how about you? Join me for the event. I’ll taste a beer (or two or three) with you! It is sure to be a great time!

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