For a complete recap of the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click here.

DETROIT — When you first walk into a Michigan Brewers Guild festival, you are handed your handy festival guide, one beer cup and 15 tokens. One might think to themselves, “Only 15 tokens? I’m definitely going to need more.”


First-hand experience will soon lead you to change your mind after several three-ounce pours. Flagship beers, specialty brews and generous pours will lead to your perma-grin by the end of your five hour stint. Here’s what contributed to a great day at Eastern Market, part one:

Odd Side Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Citra: As a huge fan of the standard Citra and Black Citra, I was immediately drawn to the bourbon barrel aged version. The bourbon is apparent in the nose and initial taste, however, the booze is hidden very well. Sweet notes of bourbon and vanilla give way to roasty flavors with a slight hoppy finish. Light tasting, dark looking and quite complex. All in all, a solid start to the day.

Dark Horse Top Fuel: Of course, I had to stop by the Dark Horse tent for a few of the brewery’s top offerings. Top Fuel is a huge bourbon barrel aged barleywine that should please any strong beer lover. Bourbon and vanilla shine through up front. A little heat from the bourbon lingers, leading into a nice amount of malted barley. As expected, the beer itself is quite heavy, thick and very, very good.

Kuhnhenn All Hallow’s Ale: This particular brew was the only pumpkin beer I tried all day. A fair amount of spice is detected in the nose: nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice to name a few. Many of these spices are also prevalent in the initial taste. For a pumpkin beer, there’s not a ton of pumpkin up front, but it is there in the aftertaste. Not a ton of carbonation and a bit light for such a spiced beer. I’m not particularly fond of pumpkin beers, but it is fall and I felt it necessary to give one a shot. Overall, I was quite pleased with this one.

Short’s Bourbon Barrel Woodmaster: Again, I’m a huge fan of the seasonal release of the Woodmaster, thus there was a keen interest in the bourbon barrel version. There’s a huge hit of bourbon up front — a little boozy, but not too hot. The maple and roasted pecan flavors are a nice sweet undertone after the bourbon dissipates. A smooth, thick mouthfeel with a great aftertaste. I wish they would bottle this.

Brewery Vivant Cave Blend Barrel Aged Sour Ale: This delicious 5.2% ABV brew was aged for over a year in oak barrels with Brettanomyces, imparting the recognizably complex characteristics described by Brett lovers in such superlatives as “horse blanket,” “Band-Aid” and “barnyard.” It wowed the taste buds at Vivant’s October 5 Wood Aged Beer Festival and managed the same feat just a few weeks later.

Sherwood Brewing Co. Harvest Michigander IPA: One of the top Michigan harvest IPAs around. Extremely well-rounded and exactly what a harvest ale should be: amazingly pungent with sweet and crisp aromas and flavors. All of the ingredients comprised of Michigan-based malts, grains and hops, including wet hops from Top Hop Farms. If you missed this at the festival, it’s worth the trip to Shelby Township for a few pints. All Michigan, all delicious.

Atwater Blueberry Cobbler: This single batch series was one of the specialty releases Atwater brought to the table for the fest. This ale brewed with blueberries was decent on the nose and strong on taste when it came to the fruit. The overall smoothness and mouthfeel made it enjoyable to drink even on a cold day.

Compiled by Erik Hart, Mike D’Orazio and David Bardallis.