THOMPSONVILLE — When there is no snow on a ski mountain, what is there to do?
Plenty! Well, at least there is at Crystal Mountain. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and to kick off a day of remembrance there is first lots of sunshine, beer and food to be enjoyed at the 10th Annual Michigan Beer & Brat Festival.
The beautiful day ushers in families from all over the state, all happy to relax and celebrate courtesy of Crystal Mountain’s hospitality and Michigan’s craft industry.
“We built the event around who we are and we are a family resort,” said Brian Lawson, Director of Public Relations. “The other part of it is—it’s a unique event. I mean, how many beer events can you say happened at the base of a mountain?”
A great time can be had by all. The mountain offers slides, a rope course and an outdoor activities area for children. Parents can rest easy for a time, knowing their children are entertained while they enjoy some of the more adult offerings.
And there are many offerings! Craft beer, cider, mead and even exclusive Crystal Mountain wine—there are over 30 booths to choose from.
On top of that, a majority of the booths had limited specialty pours available throughout the day. To name a few: Beards Brewery’s Tree Blood Maple Sap Stout, Asparagus Spear Beer from Right Brain Brewery and Schmohz Brewery’s Barley Wine.
“A lot of these breweries have served here since the beginning — Short’s Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery [and] Founders Brewing Company,” said Lawson. “Ten years ago the beer industry in Michigan was radically different, so they were kind of…it.”
The 10 years Crystal Mountain has hosted this event prove the overwhelming growth of not only the festival itself, but also the Michigan craft scene.
“The first festival we had numbered 115 people. Back in 2005, a lot of what you see here [now] just wasn’t there. We have grown astronomically since then. But in the beginning we were challenged to create an event that brought people in,” said Lawson.
To compare numbers now, 400 VIP tickets alone were sold out a month before the event. Guests received a special 10 year anniversary drinking glass, drinking tokens and a festival t-shirt to commemorate their time.
In between beers, festival goers lounge on the grassy lawn, soaking up the sun, and listen to the Sweetwater Blues Band play some mellow rock’n’roll. And maybe when there’s enough drink, it’s time to visit the food tent which features eleven different brat options, all from local Michigan meat markets and shops.
“It’s all about keeping it local. People seem to like that we run the brat side of it like we run the beer side of it,” said Lawson.
Indeed, it seems like everyone likes how Crystal Mountain throws this event.
“We come up here every year to celebrate, and every year it’s a perfectly sunny day with awesome beer and delicious food,” said Beer & Brat attendees Matt and Jamie from downstate Michigan.