TRAVERSE CITY — With charismatic outfits, outlandish food necklaces (Girl Scout cookies, anyone?), and fun for all, the ninth annual Suds and Snow, held Saturday at Timber Ridge Resort, was a welcomed chance to enjoy the outdoors.

This “party in the woods” is unlike other beer festivals and has become a favorite in the area. While most are contained in parking lots, Suds and Snow adds an adventurous element by having festival-goers trek down a trail to get the party. Some choose to walk, while others get adventurous and snowshoe.

“Suds and Snow is about the atmosphere and the experience,” said Troy Daily, Executive Director of the festival. “Snow bars, pig roasts, two stages, all in the middle of the woods!”

This was Daily’s first year as Executive Director of the festival. He’s led other microbrew projects including the TC Ale Trail and the TC Cycle Pub. He was joined by an experienced team who have planned similar events in the area. With an active social media campaign and the unique festival approach, they attracted over 1,500 people to the festival.

“It was much more than we expected but was a great turnout,” said Daily.

Seventeen breweries were present, as well as a great selection of food and a fun set of music. Breweries included favorites from throughout the state, like Founders, Bell’s, Blackrocks and Short’s. Many of Traverse City’s newest breweries, like Bravo Zulu and Beggars Brewery, were also present.

Beggars Brewery, which opened in 2013, has focused on distribution thus far. Since opening, owner Michael Rizik has created a strong following. In fact, not long into the festival, Rizik was worried about running out of beer. “We’ve been busy all afternoon,” said Rizik.

One of Beggars’ featured brews was the Black Rainbow Saison, which debuted at this year’s Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival. This ultra dry black saison was brewed with a heavy amount of rye and local hops.

The result was a dark beer that was surprisingly light and fruity. “I’ve been saving this for festivals,” said Rizik. Even those who are usually intimidated by dark beers found themselves going back for seconds. “I like to make beer people can enjoy more than one pint of,” he added.

There were a few other “lighter” dark beers available at the festival, allowing festival-goers the opportunity to try something they might otherwise shy away from.

As the evening went on, the festival atmosphere only improved. The Lucas Paul Band kept the crowd energized with covers of everyone’s favorite 80s and 90s music, large fires kept everyone warm, and beach balls thrown in the air brought hope of warmer weather.

Daily looks forward to keeping this energy alive next year, as well as making a few improvements. “We are going to keep growing, we are going to make some changes to facilitate that which means better planning, more people and a bigger area in the woods,” he said.

Suds and Snow will return for its tenth year next March. You can follow Suds and Snow on Facebook for future festival updates.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery