Local Current Blog

All Pints North 2019 leads another perfect weekend of music and fun in Duluth

l-r: Jay Gabler, Brittany Lind, Emily Larson, and Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild executive director Lauren Bennett McGinty.

Mayor Emily Larson said it, speaking to 5,000 attendees at the All Pints North beer festival in Bayfront Festival Park. I said it, speaking to anyone who would listen. It just rolls off the tongue, the phrase popularized by a local blog: Saturday was truly a perfect Duluth day.

120 Minnesota breweries and cideries lined the park’s periphery, realigned from the crowded rows of previous years. It was easy for everyone in the sold-out crowd to find their favorite beverages to sample, and the new arrangement also left more room for the smelt parade.

That’s right, the smelt parade. “She works for the city, but she moonlights as a smelt,” said Mayor Larson, waving to a member of Duluth’s Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe — a Dixieland marching band costumed in tribute to the little freshwater fish that are traditionally netted and fried each spring. (If you missed this year’s smelt run, you can buy a little paper boat full at the Minnesota State Fair’s Walleye on a Stick booth in the Food Building.)

That wasn’t the only music at the fest: in addition to the traditional bagpipers saluting the opening of the gates at 3:00 p.m., Duluth’s own One Less Guest played a smooth opening set.

It’s hard to upstage the beer at a beer festival, but All Pints headliners Viva Knievel — the Bauhaus Brew Labs house band — managed to do just that. When Duluth Local Show host Brittany Lind and I took the stage to present Best of Fest awards, we were overwhelmed by cries of “One more song!” for the energetic cover band, who happily picked their instruments up for a rousing rendition of “Born to Run.”

We did finally present the awards: Fair State Brewing Cooperative, of Minneapolis, won the crowd-voted Best Beer award for their Double Spirit Foul, while perennial local favorites Bent Paddle Brewing won Best Booth for their effort, which included a game that had attendees tossing fish into waiting waders.

Bent Paddle also hosted our All Pints Eve Hootenanny, with three bands taking the taproom stage for fans who wandered out to the Lincoln Park Craft District for a festival pregame featuring local beer and local music. It’s always gratifying when someone comes up to me and asks about a band, “Where are they from?” and I can respond, “They’re from right here.”

That happened at least twice during a rousing set by Black River Revue, who anchored the middle of Friday’s lineup. For an opener, Duluthians were treated to Rory Isakson (a Bent Paddle brewer) and Jen West, playing a rare set of favorite songs by their band Space Carpet. “I’ve been waiting years for this!” said Brittany, standing in the front row as the duo played “The Only.”

Friday’s headliners were the Slamming Doors, a Duluth band who recently made waves as Trampled by Turtles’ hand-picked opener for a big June gig at Bell’s Beer Garden in Michigan. Frontman Adam Herman and his bandmates also graced the Bayfront stage on Independence Day, and their roots rock proved just as well-suited to the more intimate confines of the Bent Paddle taproom.

A full weekend of live music and great company is one of our favorite annual traditions at The Current, but you don’t need to wait another year to celebrate the north country’s inimitable music scene: tune in to The Duluth Local Show every Sunday night at 8 p.m. in the Twin Ports. If you’re outside the Duluth broadcast area, you can hear the show at 2 p.m. every Monday on our Local Current stream — or find each week’s episode archived on our website.