Camp Fair State: a micro-brewed, micro-summer camp

This post is sponsored by Fair State Brewing Cooperative.

On a warm Monday afternoon in late spring, Camp Fair State Director Davin and Counselor Peter were indoors, sipping on Pils and planning the summer event at one of their favorite watering holes, Grumpy’s NE. “But where will we play the lawn games in the evening?” Director Davin asked as he took a bite of a Heggie’s veggie pizza square. “Might Axe’s hop farm – where we will camp – is truly a farm,” Counselor Peter clarified, “It’ll be much different next month. The hop vines weren’t more than six inches tall last week, but the trellises are upwards of twenty.”

Set to start at 9 am on July 8, Camp Fair State is micro-brewed, micro-summer camp experience for its Member-Owners. The shindig is designed to help “escape the city, but also get closer to people” explained Counselor Peter with a wistful gaze into the distance. “And [the Mighty Axe farmers] have a lot of stuff to burn,” Director Davin added, smiling widely. What is a camp without a big bonfire? Not a camp at all, at least for Fair State Co-op members, many of whom have already signed up and are planning their venture north.

Peter Heidorn

There are up to 80 spots available for the daylong adventure in Foley, MN, about an hour and a half drive north of the Twin Cities, where “there is no stream or trees to run off to – we’ll be hanging out by the dozens,” described Director Davin. “It’s about what each member brings to the camp – more summer camp than going camping.” With two skillshare sessions, one in the morning before the build-your-own sandwich bar and a later one before the afternoon snack and the first beer is cracked, some Member-Owners and other participants will teach one another one of their many talents.

While a complete list of activity options will be announced closer to July 8, some are, of course, beer related – previous Home Brew Challenge winner and Member-Owner Kyle Schmidt will lead a homebrewing curriculum. Fair State cellarwoman Rose Picklo will educate campers in the art of fermentation, from kimchi to detecting beer off-flavors. There will also be yoga, crafts and maybe even a sketch comedy show.

“I love that!” Counselor Peter exclaimed. “We can set a scene for Members to improvise on. We’ll shoot, edit, and share it with them. It’s a social media version of the “what I did at summer camp” letter.” Director Davin nodded excitedly back, “The premiere of the Fair State Players!” But does attendance require Fair State membership? Not necessarily: “Members are allowed to bring a non-member plus one, or an interested non-member can be sponsored by a member” Counselor Peter said. “But we’re not trying to be exclusive. We know non-members will feel at home as well. Fair State members are eager to extend their hands and make new friends. The invitation to participate in our community is always open.”

Davin Haukebo-Bol

“We thought it’d be fun to go camping with members,” Director Davin extrapolated on the impetus of the summer camp. “We talked about doing a member camp-out along with All Pints North in Duluth in late July, but there is already so much going on we didn’t want to distract – or make people drive after a beer festival.” So they contacted friend and business partner Eric Sannerud, CEO of Mighty Axe Hops, who quickly agreed. Fair State was the fledgling farm’s first customer using their fresh cascade hops in the award-winning wet-hop seasonal golden ale It’s Gold, Jerry!

The other benefit of camping out on the farm, besides the bounty of kindle and space to day drink, is it “allows people who would be interested in seeing the farm, up close and personal,” explained Director Davin. “The Mighty Axe guys are gracious hosts.”  Gerhard’s, Minnesota’s quintessential German sausage-makers, will be providing dinner for the campers, with the breakfast of bagels will be served alongside feel-good coffee from Tiny Footprint.

Peter Heidorn

Just as Director Davin and Counselor Peter started to discuss attendees carpooling to the camp (biking is also an option, one Member-Owner is for sure doing it), Charlie Tonks slid into the booth. “The fun is now official!” he said with a grin as the table erupted in laughter. Fair State Taproom Manager Charlie will also join the team onsite – taking his usual award-winning over-bar counseling into the (hop) field.

With a team like this, Camp Fair State will undoubtedly live up to Counselor Peter’s description as a “camping experience unlike any other; one that you’ll look back on and think, ‘Wow, that was different.’” The 24-hour experience, complete with four meals, a bevy of beers, a special edition t-shirt and a stainless steel pint glass for future camping endeavors costs $99 per attendee. It’s BYO-tent event, and besides plenty of food and drink, fun (and the aforementioned bonfire) is also guaranteed.

Tickets available through June 18.