YPSILANTI — The forecast Saturday called for rain, rain and more rain. But despite the gloomy weather, thousands packed Riverside Park in Ypsilanti for the 16th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival.
And, lucky for the attendees, the rain only affected the beginning of the festival.
VIPs and enthusiast members braved the initial downpour for an eventual sampling of some of the best beer Michigan has to offer. And with over 800 beers to choose from, there was no shortage on liquid enjoyment for anyone.
Our group started off the day at one of Dark Horse’s 10 tables, sampling the brewery’s 6 Pair of Legs Maple Porter. This beer was quite a mouthful — both to say and to drink! 6 Pair of Legs held a very sweet aroma, with chocolate and maple syrup rushing to the forefront. The taste is similar, with a touch of bourbon, but not too hot. A slight roasted malt comes through at the finish, leaving a small vanilla aftertaste. The first beer of the day, even with its heavy mouthfeel, might have very well been our favorite from the day.
We moved on to Bell’s Brewery, which changed its mind about skipping out on the event shortly before the festival started Friday. The Comstock brewery featured its Uberon beer (6.7% ABV), a twist on the ever-popular Oberon summer ale. Aged in bourbon barrels, this cloudy, dark orange beer keeps Oberon’s citrus notes and combines them with a slight bourbon flavor. Not overpowering by any means, this is probably one of the most refreshing beers we tried all day.
Keeping with the refreshing, summer trend, Kuhnhenn Brewery brought several of its Carnivale creations. While they all packed a similar Mardi Gras-themed flavor punch, the best had to be Carnivale: Zombie. The pale yellow beer cocktail was rather sweet, with some nut and tropical flavors.
The Mitten Brewing Company also brought some interesting brews, including its Soulless (4.9% ABV)— which is exactly what you’d think. A slight bitterness offsets a bit of the ginger, but no doubt about it — this is definitely a ginger beer. This relatively low alcohol brew is made with local malt and ginger root, packing a punch that definitely wake your tastebuds up.
Brewery Vivant’s latest creation, Blandford Maple Amber Ale (6% ABV), was an interesting take on an amber ale. Brewed with 20 gallons of maple syrup from Grand Rapids’ Blandford Nature Center, the Maple Ale is a mildly sweet amber that goes down smooth. While it wasn’t quite as packed or heavy as Dark Horse’s Maple Porter, this was still flavorful and yet very drinkable, making for one of my favorites of the day.
All in all, the Festival brought in 5,800 beer fans on Saturday, and 5,010 for Friday’s session.
Plans are already being finalized for the U.P. Fall Beer Festival, scheduled for September 7. Tickets can be purchased online at mibeer.com.
Erik Hart contributed to this report.