FRANKENMUTH — Apparently the World Expo of Beer is a great way to spend a wedding anniversary. It’s also a worthwhile reason for friends to have an annual reunion.
“It’s actually our wedding anniversary today,” said Rusty Blackwell of Manchester. “It’s a cool way to get to know about new beers. We’ll try new stuff as much as we can.”
No matter the motive for each attendee — there were newbies, beer-connoisseurs and, yes, even snobs — the annual event certainly brought the masses together. The nearly 20,000 people in attendance (spanning two days) had their choice of about 400 brews — beers, ciders, mead, malts and more.
This was was the second venture to the event for Rusty and his wife, Jennifer. They began their day by sampling two Wolverine State Brewing Company beers, Helles Bock and Dark Lager.
“We like both of them quite a bit,” Rusty said. “It’s better than spending $12 on a six-pack you might not like.”
While they weren’t all Michigan brews (or even crafts), the majority of representation was from the Mitten. But the Expo was not just about the brews, it was about people. As we scanned the crowd at Heritage Park, we met beer enthusiasts, families, young couples and spotted some people watchers (well, they weren’t drinking and just kind of peering around).
Attendees didn’t have any reason to be bored — blaring music, food and the chance at everything from trying their hand at the beer pong tournament to going to class at Beer School. And let’s not forget the mug strength competition, a test of endurance to see who of five competitors could hold up a mug of beer the longest without bending his or her arm (the record was a little of five minutes for the guys and about three for the ladies at last check).
We tried a handful of beers, ciders and a couple tasters of mead. Not much leaves the BrewCrew disappointed, and we certainly were pleased with our choices (for the most part). Our favorites came from breweries like Wolverine, Atwater, Bells, Shorts, Mount Pleasant, Schmohz, Great Lakes and Saugatuck. Although Crispin Cider Company is not from the Mitten, we have to admit they have a killer pear cider.
All in all, the World Expo of Beer is worth a trip to Frankenmuth (even if you’re four hours or so away). There aren’t many beer events that can match it in the combination of brews, entertainment and food.