Beer, burgers and B-Dubs were on the menu at the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Saturday during the fourth annual BRU Fest, a benefit for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation (CLF) of Michigan.

Bell’s Brewery, the exclusive beer sponsor of the event, had more than 20 craft beers on tap for attendees to enjoy while they noshed on burgers and wings from Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern and Buffalo Wild Wings.

“Bell’s has been a partner in the event, along with Buffalo Wild Wings and Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern, since the very beginning,” said Jackie McIntosh, director of development for the CLF. “We are so grateful that these fantastic organizations continue to provide their time and product to support our events. Everyone is so professional and amazing to work with. When it comes to event time, we all just click. It’s a really fun event to put together.”

Admission to BRU Fest included 10 tokens for beer samples and four tickets for food. Visitors were encouraged to try beer and food pairings, with suggestions listed on large color-coded menus on display at the venue. A few recommendations: The Chillin’ Cherry Burger — a turkey burger with smoked Gouda, peppers, onions and a cherry stout chili sauce — paired with an Oberon or Two Hearted Ale, and the Ravin’ Radish Burger — a prime rib burger patty with sautéed mushrooms, green pepper and a Kalamazoo Stout horseradish sauce — paired with an Amber Ale or Third Coast Beer.

Other Bell’s beer on tap for BRU Fest included Oarsman Ale, Quinannan Falls Special Lager, Midwestern Pale Ale, Double Cream Stout, Expedition Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout, Berry Ale, Sweet Potato Stout, Cherry Stout, Mercurial Belgian Style Ale and Wheat Love Ale.

In addition, guests enjoyed live entertainment by The Hype Syndicate and even had a chance to test their skills at the first-ever BRU Pong tournament. For an additional $5, teams of two could enter the tournament and represent a CLF patient family, with proceeds benefiting The Walk, an upcoming fundraiser for the foundation.

“An event doesn’t have to be black-tie to make an impact,” said Bill Seklar, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Royal Oak has been a perfect home for this event that raises awareness and funds for our patients and families based in Michigan affected by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases.”

McIntosh added that she’s thrilled with the outcome of this year’s BRU Fest.

“While the final numbers are still being tallied, we thought it was a great turnout and a fun atmosphere, and the feedback we are getting indicates that both attendees and volunteers really enjoyed being a part of the event,” she said.

The CLF also held a BRU Grand Rapids in 2013 in conjunction with the opening of its new regional office in the Grand Rapids area. According to McIntosh, a date for BRU Grand Rapids has not been set for this year, but the organization is interested in doing it again.

GRAND RAPIDS — The parking lot was definitely an indicator that we’ve reached Conference Week. License plates from Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Maryland, Iowa and Ohio, just to name a few, were present in Brewery Vivant’s lot prior to the start of the second and last day of its ‘Rare Beer & Food Experience’ event. Attendees got to fulfill their appetites with this exclusive food and beer pairing event featuring the Belgian-inspired small batch beers Vivant is known for.
The newly renovated patio/beer garden spaces played host for some 60 AHA members and their guests. “Michigan weather welcomes you!” Brooks Twist, Prophet (yes — that’s his title), greets a member of Beer Nuts, a homebrew club from Cedar Rapids, Iowa at Station #2 during the on again, off again down pour of summer rain. Despite uncontrollable weather situations, everyone stayed reasonably dry while they enjoyed the culinary treats and rare beer that the kitchen staff and brewers offered.
Four stations each offered different food and beer pairings, while a small bar offered samples of all Vivant’s mainstays like Farmhand.
“To put it simply — the beers we have at service are some of our most wonderful offerings. Things we squirrel away for special occasions, beers very good for pairing with interesting culinary exploits,” said Alex Atkin, brewer and head of the Quality Control lab.
Chris Weimer, Executive Chef/General Manager, and Chris Vander Meer, Chef de Cuisine, worked together to create the menu for the night’s event. “It’s definitely centered around the beer, and we developed these food options to go with it,” Vander Meer said. “I like the fact that these are mostly finger foods — things people can grab. They can try this or that and walk around, talk to each other. This menu gives a little sense of what we do here, but in a different format. All really fun stuff that highlights what we do best.”
Station #1 featured cheese and charcuterie — a perennial favorite on Vivant’s regular menu. Boss Mouse Peppercorn cheese out of Northern Michigan was offered up with prosciutto, beer wort chutney, locally-made Fire & Fire baguette and MI Bee Company honey. To pair? The renowned and much-loved 2012 Escoffier — a Bretta Ale brewed in collaboration with New Belgium. The brettanomyces’ beautiful funk and little bit of sweetness pair excellently with this plate. If anyone has any cans hiding out in their beer cellar — now is the time to crack them open. It’s hard to believe that Escoffier could get any better, but it has.
Station #2 was a teaser, a preview of next week’s annual Smoke Week. Dry rubbed ribs, chicken wings, deliciously moist, fall off your fork beef brisket and an incredibly flavorful smoked Portobello mushroom cap were served alongside Zaison, an Imperial Sasion. The sweetness of the orange peel and bite of the tellicherry black peppercorns present in the Zaison went nicely with this smokehouse plate.
On to Station #3, the tartines. “Tartines are kind of our French sliders, if you will,” says Vander Meer. This is classic Vivant — four different French inspired options pairing with North French — a 6% abv Biere De Garde, roasted malts, bready (in a good way), a little tart, a little sweet. Four options were available: pickled beets with kale; smoked salmon with fried capers and dill; house made bacon, tomato relish and a beautiful little hard boiled quail egg; and honey, goat cheese mousse and black pepper served on thinly sliced baguettes made for easy transportation to meet and mingle with other attendees.
Katy Waltz, Pastry Chef created the decadent desserts that rounded out the meal at Station #4. The beer was Paris — a wood aged brew that really needs to be sampled to be understood. “It was a pretty tricky beer to pair with because it’s tart and bitter. I tried to go more fruit forward with the desserts,” says Waltz.
Braised rhubarb crepes and blackberry mousse cones ended up being the options.
“The rhubarb has a lot of spices, cardamom, orange and ginger — it brings out the sour notes in the beer. The blackberry pairs well with the red wine barrels the beer was aged in. The mousse and mascarpone [in the crepe] tone down the sourness. It balances. We used fresh berries, just keeping everything fresh and seasonal.”
Weather proved to not have any effect on the vibe, despite initial concerns. Food disappeared quickly, cups were emptied and refilled, and everyone — from the gentlemen from Cleveland to the lady from California — enjoyed their first taste of BeerCity USA.

GRAND RAPIDS — The parking lot was definitely an indicator that we’ve reached Conference Week. License plates from Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Maryland, Iowa and Ohio, just to name a few, were present in Brewery Vivant’s lot prior to the start of the second and last day of its ‘Rare Beer & Food Experience’ event. Attendees got to fulfill their appetites with this exclusive food and beer pairing event featuring the Belgian-inspired small batch beers Vivant is known for.

The newly renovated patio/beer garden spaces played host for some 60 AHA members and their guests. “Michigan weather welcomes you!” Brooks Twist, Prophet (yes — that’s his title), greets a member of Beer Nuts, a homebrew club from Cedar Rapids, Iowa at Station #2 during the on again, off again down pour of summer rain. Despite uncontrollable weather situations, everyone stayed reasonably dry while they enjoyed the culinary treats and rare beer that the kitchen staff and brewers offered.

Four stations each offered different food and beer pairings, while a small bar offered samples of all Vivant’s mainstays like Farmhand.

“To put it simply — the beers we have at service are some of our most wonderful offerings. Things we squirrel away for special occasions, beers very good for pairing with interesting culinary exploits,” said Alex Atkin, brewer and head of the Quality Control lab.

Chris Weimer, Executive Chef/General Manager, and Chris Vander Meer, Chef de Cuisine, worked together to create the menu for the night’s event. “It’s definitely centered around the beer, and we developed these food options to go with it,” Vander Meer said. “I like the fact that these are mostly finger foods — things people can grab. They can try this or that and walk around, talk to each other. This menu gives a little sense of what we do here, but in a different format. All really fun stuff that highlights what we do best.”

Station #1 featured cheese and charcuterie — a perennial favorite on Vivant’s regular menu. Boss Mouse Peppercorn cheese out of Northern Michigan was offered up with prosciutto, beer wort chutney, locally-made Fire & Fire baguette and MI Bee Company honey. To pair? The renowned and much-loved 2012 Escoffier — a Bretta Ale brewed in collaboration with New Belgium. The brettanomyces’ beautiful funk and little bit of sweetness pair excellently with this plate. If anyone has any cans hiding out in their beer cellar — now is the time to crack them open. It’s hard to believe that Escoffier could get any better, but it has.

Station #2 was a teaser, a preview of next week’s annual Smoke Week. Dry rubbed ribs, chicken wings, deliciously moist, fall off your fork beef brisket and an incredibly flavorful smoked Portobello mushroom cap were served alongside Zaison, an Imperial Sasion. The sweetness of the orange peel and bite of the tellicherry black peppercorns present in the Zaison went nicely with this smokehouse plate.

On to Station #3, the tartines. “Tartines are kind of our French sliders, if you will,” says Vander Meer. This is classic Vivant — four different French inspired options pairing with North French — a 6% abv Biere De Garde, roasted malts, bready (in a good way), a little tart, a little sweet. Four options were available: pickled beets with kale; smoked salmon with fried capers and dill; house made bacon, tomato relish and a beautiful little hard boiled quail egg; and honey, goat cheese mousse and black pepper served on thinly sliced baguettes made for easy transportation to meet and mingle with other attendees.

Katy Waltz, Pastry Chef created the decadent desserts that rounded out the meal at Station #4. The beer was Paris — a wood aged brew that really needs to be sampled to be understood. “It was a pretty tricky beer to pair with because it’s tart and bitter. I tried to go more fruit forward with the desserts,” says Waltz.

Braised rhubarb crepes and blackberry mousse cones ended up being the options.

“The rhubarb has a lot of spices, cardamom, orange and ginger — it brings out the sour notes in the beer. The blackberry pairs well with the red wine barrels the beer was aged in. The mousse and mascarpone [in the crepe] tone down the sourness. It balances. We used fresh berries, just keeping everything fresh and seasonal.”

Weather proved to not have any effect on the vibe, despite initial concerns. Food disappeared quickly, cups were emptied and refilled, and everyone — from the gentlemen from Cleveland to the lady from California — enjoyed their first taste of BeerCity USA.

CHARLEVOIX — “Sorry; he told me I needed to dress up.”

Dressed in a suit, a festival goer nodded to the man next to him with a smile and headed to the first brewery table, tickets in hand. Not even a wedding stopped people from coming to enjoy the first annual Charlevoix Craft Beer Festival.

When founders of Bridge Street Tap Room Phil Parr, Adam Engelman and Aaron Hagen brought the tap room to Charlevoix, it only made sense to bring a festival with it. The idea was not only to promote craft beer, but simply to get people downtown Charlevoix.

Both the Bridge Street Tap Room and Charlevoix’s Downtown Development Authority helped to put on the event and the proceeds benefited the Charlevoix’s East Park summer concert series.

The festival spanned two days beginning with Friday night’s welcome reception for the breweries. Charlevoix restaurants featured tap takeovers from different breweries, and the brewery representatives were available to talk with. On Saturday, the festival came together in Bridge Park with 14 Michigan breweries, local food trucks and Northern Michigan artist Chris Calleja.

There was a great turnout from both locals and visitors to the area, as the park began to quickly fill with those excited to try new beers from their favorite breweries, or beers from breweries they’ve never heard of until the festival.

“It was nice to see a variety of breweries from around the state, and I was happy to find a couple of great surprises from a few of them,” Charlevoix local Robbie Rundblad said.

“I hope the event can continue to grow and expand for next year. I’d love to see another similar event in the fall perhaps to highlight some different seasonal brews.”

Bridge Street Tap Room has already mentioned that plans for next year’s event are being discussed. While that is a long time away, the tap room will keep an ongoing focus on its purpose for the beer festival with the opening of the tap room.

The tap room will have 32 taps of Michigan craft beer and will feature local entertainment every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is scheduled to open this Saturday.

TRAVERSE CITY — Sure, you’ve driven to your favorite brewery and walked to explore a new brew, but have you ever paddled to your next pint? Paddle for Pints kicked off summer in Traverse City on Saturday with a unique pub crawl.

Paddle for Pints is a new and fun way to experience the breweries on the TC Ale Trail. Instead of visiting each brewery on the trail separately, or on a traditional crawl, those participating are able to paddle by kayak, canoe or SUP along the way.

“The idea came from an article written by the MyNorth magazine a few years back. Kevin Farron and I talked about making it into an Ale Trail event and thought it would be a good idea. The rest is history,” Troy Daily, co-founder of the TC Ale Trail explained.

Daily and Farron co-founded the TC Ale Trail last year as a way to bring together the expanding beer community in Traverse City. The first Paddle for Pints was held last summer and had over 90 participants.

This year, Daily and Farron have planned four separate events and some are already sold out. Daily himself was surprised. “I did not expect this response at all! It’s great and I’m glad that the TC Ale Trail has some leverage to justify such a great event.”

The first of four Paddle for Pints sold out well in advance. Two waves of 100 people launched from Hull Park, behind Filling Station Microbrewery. Participants paddled across Boardman Lake to Right Brain Brewery for the first stop of the tour.

After kayaking across the lake in the summer sun, I was looking to have a lighter beer at Right Brain Brewery. They were out of one of my favorites, Spear Beer, so I opted to try something new. I went with a Stowaway Reclaimed Shandy, which combines Right Brain’s Stowaway Reclaimed Saison with Balaton Tart Cherry Soda. The brew had a light, crisp flavor that pair perfectly with cherry soda. The combination was a light and refreshing way to start a paddling adventure.

After Right Brain, Paddle for Pints headed downtown by paddling along the Boardman River. The second stop was at Brewery Ferment. I, again, searched for something crisp and refreshing and found the Summer Sencha — a lemon green tea ale brewed with honey and grains of paradise. It had a crisp flavor with hints of lemon and green tea and was perfect for a trip down the river.

The adventure continued to North Peak Brewing Company and ended at Workshop Brewing Company. After Workshop, paddlers got back into their kayaks and canoes and paddled down the remainder of the river into the Grand Traverse Bay.

There are three more Paddle for Pints this summer on July 5, July 8 and August 16. Tickets are still available for all, with a third wave recently added to August 16. If you plan on paddling, be sure to order tickets early!

If you don’t get a chance to paddle this summer, Paddle for Pints will be back next summer. “I have a great team behind me and hope to add even more events next year,” Daily stated. Daily hopes to host at least six Paddle for Pints next summer.

Paddle for Pints creates a unique experience by combining some of the best things Northern Michigan has to offer. There aren’t many places where you can easily paddle down a river to grab a pint of your favorite microbrew. If you’re looking for a new way to experience Northern Michigan, this is it.

Follow TC Ale Trail on Facebook for more Paddle for Pints information and to find other TC Ale Trail events.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/98511118

A sold-out crowd of 3,000 flocked to the Detroit Zoo on Thursday to enjoy an evening of lions, tigers and beers.

Now in its fourth year, Zoo Brew gave guests the opportunity to explore the zoo after-hours while sampling beer from Michigan craft breweries. The event also included complimentary tram tours and live entertainment, as well as zookeeper talks at the otter, polar bear, wolverine and reticulated python exhibits.

“Our inaugural Zoo Brew in the fall of 2011 sold out, and the event has done so every year since. We added a spring event this year — another sell-out — and its popularity hasn’t waned,” said Detroit Zoo Communications Director Patricia Janeway.

“Zoo Brew attracts an audience that might not otherwise think of coming here, that being adults with no kids, so it provides a great opportunity for this segment.”

To help kick off the event, Atwater Brewery sponsored a “beer welcome” at the zoo’s front entrance. Visitors could stop and try Atwater’s Traverse City Cherry Wheat, and then make their way toward the main sampling area at the center of the zoo.

Atwater sales rep Matt Cebula noted that the brewery, which has been a part of Zoo Brew since the beginning, tries to partner with the zoo whenever it can.

“Zoo Brew has been wildly popular,” said Cebula. “It’s a good opportunity for people to be exposed to our beer.”

In addition to Atwater, nearly 50 craft breweries participated in the event, and many featured samples of spring and summer brews. Founders’ Rubaeus, Saugatuck’s Oval Beach Blonde and Bell’s Oberon were just a few seasonal offerings that helped visitors celebrate the warmer weather.

A number of ciders — including B. Nektar’s Slice of Life, Virtue Cider’s Red Streak, Uncle John’s Cranberry Cider and Vandermill’s Totally Roasted — were also part of the evening’s lineup.

Frankenmuth Brewery Sales Director Chuck Osberger said it’s been exciting to see Zoo Brew grow over the past few years.

“We were actually one of the first breweries to join Zoo Brew three years ago,” said Osberger. “It was an all-bottle event then. This is the first year we’ve brought all draft, which is pretty cool.”

Frankenmuth served four beers at the festival — Old Detroit, Tornado, Batch 69 IPA and Twisted Helles.

“We’re very enthusiastic to be involved,” said Osberger.

Anyone who missed out on spring Zoo Brew will have another chance to enjoy the festival this fall. The next Zoo Brew is scheduled for Sept. 26, and tickets go on sale June 16. For more information, visit www.detroitzoo.org/events/zoobrew.

GRAND RAPIDS — The first-ever BeerCity Week was certainly a success, with events ranging from pub crawls to beer festivals, to homebrewing seminars and demonstrations. Check out all our coverage of the week below.

What do you want to see for next year’s event? Comment below or visit beercityusagr.com! While you’re at it, don’t forget to enter the BeerCity Coaster Contest!

Photos by Steph Harding