DETROIT — For the fifth year, Eastern Market played host to one of the largest all-Michigan beer festivals.
The Detroit Fall Beer Festival, presented by the Michigan Brewers Guild, was held Friday and Saturday, including almost 450 beers from over 60 Michigan breweries.
For five solid hours, heavily layered Michigan craft beer enthusiasts — some even dressed in Halloween garb — descended upon the tasting. They came prepared to hand their tokens over for some of the finest craft being poured in the heart of the Motor City.
Matt Cebula, Sales Manager for Atwater Brewery, said bringing people down to Detroit is a huge goal and accomplishment.
“This [festival] is the one that’s most important to us because our main goal is to let people know that beer is thriving in Detroit,” he said. “There are reasons to come down to the city other than a baseball or football game.”
Atwater came stocked with its normal roster of beers and also brought some single batch series beers, released once every two months.
Metro Detroit brewery Sherwood Brewing Co. also felt the pride associated with having the fall beer fest in its backyard.
“I grew up in Detroit so for me, the city’s always got my heart,” said Ray Sherwood, Owner of Sherwood Brewing Co. “Even though we’re way out in the suburbs, we love being able to bring people down to the city and to Eastern Market.
With so many breweries in attendance, festival-goers had plenty of variety to choose from.
Marshall-based Dark Horse Brewery came to the party with a slightly smaller list than usual this year, but still brought some non-flagship goodies for everyone.
“Right now we have a specialty on top called Top Fuel,” said Trent Thurston, Cellarman at Dark Horse. “It’s a collaboration we did with Local Option out of Chicago. They come over, they brew with us. We just did another one with them and we infused almost 200 pounds of tea.”
Dustin Jones, Head of Fermentology at Brewery Ferment, said the fall beer fest is rounding out the brewery’s first full season of festivals.
“We’re learning over the course of the festival what people want and how much to bring. And it seems to be weird stuff,” he said. “They want to try something new and different and things they can’t necessarily find on a regular basis or in a bottle.”
Brewery Ferment’s 45th Parallale seemed to be a huge hit even with other breweries.
“It’s all local hops and a simple recipe. But we run it through a dry hop vac all the time. Even at the festivals,” Jones said. “We’re right here next to Greenbush and the brewers there are obsessed with it. They cannot get enough. They are going around telling other people that they need to try it, which is about the biggest compliment you can get.”
The weather held out for the enthusiast crowd for nearly the entire festival, with exception of the last half hour. As the clouds hovered over and rain started pouring down, people ran for shelter in the tents and tried to cozy up to the kegs for after-hour pours.
The festival wasn’t strictly dedicated to those with tokens in their hands. According to Jones, the event also holds great significance for the ones behind the magical fermentation.
“We’re constantly making connections with other people at other places. And that’s why I love coming to festivals personally,” he said. “This is where collaborations start. This is where innovation happens. And that’s more or less why I’m in this industry and why I love it so much.”