GRAND RAPIDS — Intermittent rain did not damper Thursday’s Beer-A-Palooza.
For the second year, the event was held 5-9 p.m. in the yard outside of Mangiamo! restaurant in the city’s East Hills neighborhood. In all, an estimated 100 attendees sampled beers from eight different Michigan breweries, including:
- Arbor Brewing Company — Ann Arbor
- Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo
- Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids
- Dark Horse Brewing Co. – Marshall
- Founders Brewery – Grand Rapids
- Greenbush — Sawyer
- New Holland Brewing – Holland
- Saugatuck Brewing – Saugatuck
Participants received eight tickets, a taco bar buffet and live entertainment for a $25 entry fee. For the breweries, the more intimate, smaller feel of the event allowed staff members to connect directly with the consumer and gain new potential craft beer drinkers.
“Exposure is big for us,” said Scott Farney, sales manager for Saugatuck Brewing. “We try to make ourselves available for things.
“We’re smaller than a lot of these (other breweries at the event) — we need the visibility.”
Saugatuck specializes in traditional and balanced beer styles, such as its best-selling Oval Beach Blonde Ale. The brewery’s Singapore IPA is catching up in sales, Farney said, while its ESB Amber won Best in Show at the World Expo of Beer in April.
This past year, Saugatuck saw a somewhat unexpected rise in keg sales, as many Michigan bar and restaurants are adding a Saugatuck tap handle, according to Farney.
“I truly think quality-wise our liquid has gotten consistently better,” he said. “The quality has to be there.”
Despite being the Mitten’s third highest-selling craft beer company, New Holland was pleased to be part of this relatively smaller beer event (comparatively, the Winter Beer Festival draws crowds of more than 5,000).
“With craft beer being as popular as it is, this kind of event is perfect for attracting people on the fence,” said Eamon McCarthy, a brew assistant for New Holland. “There’s no excuse for us not to be here.”
McCarthy emphasized the variety of styles New Holland offers, which helps create a bridge to craft beer for any palate. The brewery has already finished brewing the entire season of its famous pumpkin ale, Ichabod, which is being released next week.
The 7th Annual Release Party is Aug. 20 at Logan’s Alley, 916 Michigan St., in Grand Rapids. In addition to tapping the brew, a special cask-conditioned Ichabod will be tapped at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, for Arbor Brewing, the attraction to the event was location — in the heart of BeerCity USA.
“We love Grand Rapids,” packing director Aaron Stryker said. “This event has been on our radar for a few months now.”