The Saturday morning of August 27 looked dicey. There was lightning cracking and rain coming down sideways. Perhaps this was the curse of Burning Foot? After all, the festival’s inauguration last year was marked by the same dismal weather.
But perhaps not a curse—a tradition instead. Last year’s festivities were still enjoyed by many, and hey, we Michiganders never let weather get in the way of good, fun craft beverage consumption.
And maybe it was because of this optimism that the weather did a complete turnaround. Festival-goers were met with the perfect beach day by the time festival gates opened—the sun was shining high and the lake was sparkling.
And oh yes, the beer was pouring.
The festival was a crazy fun beach party—beach blankets all over, rockin’ live music, 54 craft beer tents, local BBQ food fare, and cozy bonfires. People were running around in bathing suits, building sand castles, and ultimately living the beach dream. There was even some extreme skydivers who landed next to the festival grounds! Everyone was having a blast.
Organized by the Lakeshore Brewers Guild, Burning Foot embraced Michigan breweries as well as breweries from our neighboring Lake Michigan states—Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Everyone had a chance to expand their craft beer knowledge with these new offerings, not to mention they also got to make new friends.
Une Annee from Chicago, IL brought their own unique tap list. Known for brewing recipes in the Belgian and French styles, they recently began a sour program, adding the infamous brettanomyces to their Saisons. The huge flavor profiles and extreme tartness was enjoyed by many who kept going back for more—well worth the involuntary puckered face after the first sip.
Mob Craft, a brewery and taproom out of Milwaukee, WI, had some pretty neat offerings, one being their Helles Ginger Bock, a traditional Bock made untraditionally with ginger—spicy and malty and delicious!
Lisa, a representative of Mob Craft and festival attendee for the second year, says the festival has built on itself.
“The weather has topped last year’s. It’s fun regardless, but it’s amazing on the beach in this atmosphere.”
Asked why this festival is so potentially important for breweries, she said, “We love Michigan. It’s fabulous to be over here. It’s all about collaborating—we’re next-door neighbors!”
The spirit of camaraderie and collaboration could be seen everywhere on the festival grounds. It was in the setup—festival-goers were surrounded by an inclusive circle of breweries that opened right into Lake Michigan. At the center was a spectacular hop art installation that saluted the burning man, a symbol that inspired the festival origins.
The true community feel of a beer festival is one of its most defining characteristics, and Muskegon made everyone feel most welcome. So although the rain may come again next summer to Pere Marquette Beach, it will be met with happy grins and great beer.
Photography: Steph Harding