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    Posted January 29, 2012 by
    St. Paul, Minnesota
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    Iced Cold Beer


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     G3Photo shot these photos of the "Beer Dabbler" beer-tasting event at Minnesota's St. Paul Winter Carnival. He spoke with organizer Matt Kenevan, and several attendees.
    - jmsaba, CNN iReport producer

    Nothing says winter like an ice cold beer...
    That's what Matt Kenevan and the organizers of the St. Paul Winter Carnival bet on...and won. The third annual Beer Dabbler, a sampling of the best of local and semi-national micro and small brewers, and a couple larger ones, was held earlier tonight in St. Paul at the Farmer's Market on 5th Street and Wall, a change from past year's due to the enormous explosion in popularity of the event.

    Matt Kenevan, the main man at the Beer Dabbler is wild about being a part of this now twice yearly event. "Craft Beer is like the weeds growing in my garden. It's out of control and awesome in the same way. My event on Jan 28th has 11 new breweries that simply weren't around this time last year. Every week I hear of another brewery or group starting up something here in Minnesota. It's exciting to be part of this industry in these times."

    And the crowd was appreciative. The Mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman was on hand to tap The Keg to kick off the event, and hundreds, indeed it seemed like thousands were on hand to take part. The event sold out days ahead of time.

    Again, Matt Kenevan: "It's something else to get 5000 people to come from 34 states and numerous countries to celebrate craft beer outside in the freezing Minnesota temperatures. It's fun to get emails from folks in Arizona who have never owned a winter coat and want to know what brand to buy so they can stay warm at the event.
    This is a local movement . This is a local movement that is happening all over the united states. Craft beer gives so many people a chance to personally relate to something so fun and so close to where they live. One might relate it to cheering for their local sports team. I think the days of breweries opening and dreaming of being in 50 states are few and far between. I think you will see a lot of operations opening and servicing a few hundred mile radius from where they start. "

    With music from the likes of Romantica and Pink Mink, it was hard to go wrong. Both played in the cold, almost huddling toward the hot lights over them in the early evening shade, when the outside temperature slipped from a balmy thirty degrees (that's below freezing, for those who care about such things...) to about twenty degrees and falling...when any liquids on the street, like spilled beer, might just turn to ice.

    And that started to happen just as the Dabbler started to shut down for the night and the dabblers thinned out and headed to points unknown.

    Why do this, have a beer fest in January when most sane people are sipping hot toddies, coffee, coco, warm brandy, anything but a cold beer? Kenevan's answer is pretty head on; typical for someone who has The Onion as a major player on his resume.

    "I got into this business was to show others what my wife showed me. In my legal younger years I grew up drinking Miller Lite; I went to college in Milwaukee and Miller was the local beer. That brewery employed my neighbors, put gas in their cars and food on there tables. Until I moved to MInnesota to launch The Onion there, I didn't know what craft beer was. My wife introduced me to craft beer and so many amazing people in the craft world. I was lucky to have a wonderful person show me there is more to beer then what I experience. The true reason I started The Beer Dabbler was to show so many people who are craft curious that there are so many styles and flavors to try."

    Its an amazing sight, beer revelers in January, and they don't see themselves as braving the cold, its just another night out, listening to some great local music, having a few great local beers, and doing it all with great friends. It exemplifies St. Paul and its vigorous spirit. And come summer the Beer Dabbler will do it all again, this time at the other end of the thermometer and heat index, bringing the cool of craft to an old school tradition and sharing with the masses.
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