great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven members of the Michigan Brewers Guild brought home a total of nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world, presented by the Brewers Association.  Michigan-based Rockford Brewing Company was recognized as the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year”

In all, 293 medals were presented in 98 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016). The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S.

great american beer festival

 

Michigan Brewers Guild members received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Shipfaced, Silver Harbor Brewing Co., Saint Joseph

SILVER

  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout, Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids
  • Rye Hipster Brunch Stout, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Sheehan’s Stout, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford

BRONZE

  • Antwerp’s Placebo, Batch Brewing Co., Detroit
  • Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford
  • Passionfruit Gose, Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
  • Pilgrim’s Dole, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland

 

 

The Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

great american beer festival

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

craft beer stroll

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.

But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.

craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.

“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”

For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”

The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.

A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.

“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.

The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.

craft beer stroll

And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.

“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”

The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.

“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.

The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.

“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”

McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.

This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.

Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.

“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.

“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.

“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”

That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.

“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”

Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.

 

Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 

 

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.
But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.
craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.
“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”
For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”
The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.
A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.
“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.
The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.
craft beer stroll
And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.
Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.
“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”
The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.
“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.
The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.
“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”


McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.
This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.
Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.
“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.
“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.
“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”
That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.
“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”
Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.
 
Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 
 

burning foot

Organizers of the Lakeshore Brewers Guild know how to throw an epic end of summer bash. They hosted 65 breweries from all around the shores of Lake Michigan, brought in several legendary bands to play live music, set up a couple community bonfires, offered overnight camping on the shore of Lake Michigan, and mixed it all together at Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Beach.


The park’s vast stretch of white sand and fresh water was the ideal location for the appreciative crowd of attendees to savor gathering with friends at this year’s 3rd annual event. Cool breezes off the lake kept everyone smiling on a day of perfect summer sunshine.

A friendly reminder printed on the event program says “Be sure to enjoy yourself while you’re here, which shouldn’t be too hard since you’re on one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan, taking in the sights, and sounds, and friends all around you, cheers!”

Beer enthusiasts had a fair share of options from local and regional breweries. Participating guild members are mainly located in counties that border Lake Michigan, with a few inclusions from further inland.

burning foot fest

burning foot fest

burning foot fest

Music filled the air throughout the event, including Melophobix, Southpaw, and Tropidelic‘s synergistic sounds. Festival favorites Badfish returned this year to please the crowd with retro Sublime hits. Headliners Less Than Jake ended the evening with a raucous pit of revelers in front of the stage doing their thing. Guests left the festival grounds with grins on their faces.



“Where else can you go and enjoy beer from over 60 breweries on arguably the most beautiful beach in Michigan? Burning Foot has become one of our most anticipated days of the year—we liken it to Christmas for the beer-lover. It’s worth every penny that we spend to enter. We already have it on the calendar for next summer!” said Amy Silvis, who has attended all 3 years along with her husband Josh.

Next year’s festival is slated for Saturday, August 25th. Tickets will go on sale in June.

 

 

Photography: Steph Harding

short's fest

“Today is obviously a beautiful day,” said Eric Tranchell, Beer Liberator for Short’s Brewing Company.

August 5th was, in fact, a perfect day for the brewery’s annual Short’s Fest: blue skies, 70 degrees, and plenty of beer on tap. Held against the backdrop of the Elk Rapids production facility, it was a casual summer gathering compared to the spring rave of an anniversary that happens every April at the original pub and brewery in Bellaire.

short's fest

It had a different feel, first of all. It was still a celebration of Short’s beer, but everything was less frenzied, more contained and more intimate. It was like attending a neighbor’s backyard barbeque.

The production facility, more fondly known as the “pull barn,” has  become a spot for summer pit stops. Trying something new, Short’s opened its Elk Rapids grounds to patrons for casual evening eats, Short’s and Starcut Ciders beverages, and facility tours. It has been a great success and has bonded the company with the Elk Rapids community even further.

This more casual gathering was a breath of fresh air following the previous week’s announcement of Short’s new partnership with Lagunitas, which created quite a frenzy in the Michigan craft beer world.

The Short’s staff at the Elk Rapids celebration were generally excited and glad to be together for a night, serving beer and toasting another summer amidst local patrons.

“There are a lot of unknowns for Short’s right now, but Short’s has always been good with unknowns. It just means a lot of possibilities,” said Tranchell.

Owner Joe Short was spotted scaling one of the beer trucks, maybe to better take in the crowd and enjoy the festivities.

“We never imagined Short’s was going to be this big,” said Tranchell, “and now we have a big family to take care of—and I mean every Short’s employee. And Joe himself has told me that he is responsible for every person here. He wants to know everyone is taken care of, from top to bottom.”

That united front of Short’s staff—their family—was what made the atmosphere of Short’s Fest so relaxed and welcoming.

“Short’s Fest is the pinnacle of summer,” said Emily Sullivan, marketing communication associate for the company.

Short’s beers and Starcut Ciders flowed from multiple stations on the fest grounds. Favorites of the evening were Always on Vacation, a beautiful and simple session IPA, and Gose Good With Wood, a French oak passion fruit Gose that was a perfect blend of tart, salty, and fruity. Fest-goers also had the opportunity to purchase the specialty bomber release of She Uses Tangerine, a Belgian Strong Ale made with tangerines.

short's fest

Music for the night featured Red Herring, The Mark Lavengood Band, The Go Rounds, and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers.

Short’s Fest always takes place in conjunction with Elk Rapids Harbor Days, and tonight the last call for beer coincided with the town’s fireworks display over the harbor.

Short’s Brewing Company has lived by the mantra, “stay awesome hungry” over their 13 years of existence.

“Tonight,” Sullivan said, “I feel ‘awesome fed.’”

 

Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

summer beer fest

In the beginning, 1997 to be precise, there were approximately 30 breweries with membership in the newly minted Michigan Brewers Guild. The purpose of their inception was to form an alliance to promote our state’s emerging beer industry and advocate in legislative matters. Two decades later, with their support and guidance, that number is 239 and growing. More than half of the current members helped celebrate this milestone anniversary at the 20th edition of Summer Beer Festival in Depot Town.

The Guild’s first sanctioned beer festival took place in their inaugural year with a couple dozen breweries and approximately 600 attendees. Eleven of those original participating breweries have returned for this year’s festival, although not all of them have been present at every festival in between.


This weekend’s celebration nearly broke the perimeter of Riverside Park and exemplified the exponential growth realized over twenty years, with more than 145 breweries serving over 1,140 beers, and a two day total crowd of 12,000 people enjoying the wealth of choices.

Several of the breweries participating in last weekend’s edition were also celebrating their 20th anniversary and have grown alongside the Guild. In 1997, Founders Brewing Company was a relatively small operation whose back door read “Canal Street Brewing.” Dark Horse Brewing Co began its first incarnation in downtown Marshall as a now-closed gastropub that would blossom into an entire compound of craft businesses in it’s second life. Dragonmead Microbrewery was formed and preparing to open. Atwater Brewery began producing German style lagers in Detroit’s historic Rivertown district, adding more locations as their range of beers expanded. CJ’s Brewing Company set up shop in Commerce Township, later opening a second location in Plymouth. Woodward Avenue Brewers began “putting the ‘ale’ in Ferndale” and hasn’t stopped. The list of breweries with proven staying power goes on.



Inevitably not every beer business succeeds. As the years have come and gone, so have some of the breweries. Fortunately for enthusiasts there’s a steady stream of new breweries willing to take their place in the game. Those new to the MBG festival circuit this summer include Transient Artisan Ales, Greyline Brewing Company, Speciation Artisan Ales, and several others. Breweries are able to participate as members when they’ve satisfied the Guild’s requirements including a waiting period.

The seasonal festivals planned in 2018 are sure to impress with steadily bigger numbers representing the ever-expanding beer scene as the Michigan Brewers Guild reaches the equivalent years of the legal drinking age in our Great Beer State. In the meantime, enjoy the remainder of Michigan Craft Beer Month and toast a hearty cheers to 20 years!

 

burning foot

Imagine you and your friends on a sandy beach along Lake Michigan, encircled by the area’s best breweries, jamming out to some awesome live music; could there be a better way to end summer?

Well, on August 26, the Burning Foot Beer Festival will once again take over the Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, MI. Burning Foot is set directly on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, where you can roam barefoot throughout the circle of breweries, enjoying the best the area has to offer.

The Burning Foot Beer Festival was started just three years ago by the Lakeshore Brewers Guild with 36 breweries and 4 live bands. The first year was fairly low-key, but as the Guild has grown, so has the festival.

burning foot

 

The Lakeshore Brewers Guild is a regional guild that encompasses breweries that surround the Lake Michigan shoreline. This includes breweries in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

“We’re really paying attention to our area, and taking the base that was Burning Foot and expanding,” said Allen Serio, a board member of the guild.

Burning Foot brings the mission of the Lakeshore Brewers Guild to life and exemplifies the “lakeshore lifestyle.” If you’ve spent any time along Lake Michigan or in the shoreline’s vibrant communities, you’ll understand why this festival incorporates more than just beer. There’s a certain “energy” to a lakeshore lifestyle—it’s uplifting, creative, and free-spirited.

“We are a part of this circle, this family for just a brief period of time, and we really want to create a great experience,” said Serio.

This year’s event will boast 65 breweries and 5 live bands, including two national acts. The festival has evolved in many ways over a short period of time, as the guild continues to expand its representation of all that is great about communities along Lake Michigan.

“Every year you should see an increase in music and quality. The atmosphere is really a focus for us; the sound, lighting, and colors all are all part of the experience. The energy level is something you don’t get in many places,” said Serio.

In the center of last year’s festival was a stunning hop tower art installation. Expect to see more brewery art this year, as well as the return of a shoe check-in, beach camping, a bike valet, unique “cross-lake” brewery collaborations, and a VIP lounge area.

The shoe check-in and bike valet services are not only nice festival add-ons, but also serve as ways to give back to the community. Donations from the shoe check-in will again go to Noah Project, a no-kill animal shelter in the area. The bike valet will be set-up and run by Habitat for Humanity, with donations from that service returning to the organization.

The newly added VIP area will be an exclusive space in a prime location close the stage. It will include a covered tent area, a tiki bar, fire pits, lounge area, and access to food and beverages.

And, as part of the experience, there is also the unique option to camp along the lakeshore. Tents can be set up along the sandy beach and campers are placed in the parking lot (sites do need to be reserved in advance). Muskegon’s trolley service is also available to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

Tickets for this year’s festival can now be purchased online.

 

crystal mountain

Memorial Day weekend: a weekend that boasts endless activities, events, and happenings under the hopeful curtain of a warm spring sun. Barbeques, boating, backyard hangouts, downtown strolls, outdoor festivals. So, how does one choose what to do?

The staff at Crystal Mountain think people shouldn’t have to choose—they’ll be there waiting with beer, brats, music, and a welcoming community that Saturday, May 27th, when their 12th annual Beer & Brat festival kicks off at four o’clock.

 

 

“What we found with our festival is that it’s a good time of day,” says Brian Lawson, Director of Public Relations.

“A lot of people might do an early BBQ or might be opening their cottage that morning, and by the time four o’clock rolls around, they’re ready for a little bit of fun. People can cap off their busy days with some fun and relaxation at our resort.”

The relaxation and fun are guaranteed! Crystal Mountain has hosted this event for going on 12 years, with attendance and activities growing every year. To make things extra special, the resort is celebrating their 60th anniversary. To the resort staff and surrounding community, this casts an even brighter light around everything in 2017.

The festival itself will offer its usual awesome array of Michigan craft—local brat vendors, breweries from all around the state, and local musicians.

Skarcasm, a power trio hailing Traverse City, will be returning this year with some original sounds and rock’n’roll covers. Joining them will be newcomers to the lineup, Lookin’ Back, a Bob Seger tribute band who consider themselves a forward-looking group united to perform Seger’s hits at their highest possible standard.

“This band makes it a point to invite Bob Seger to all of their gigs. And they play certain covers in the same key he would, so if he did happen to show up, there would be a smooth transition into him joining in,” says Lawson.

While enjoying the music, festival goers can enjoy the many smells and tastes offered under the food and beer tents. Honor Family Market, Buntings Cedar Market, Maxbauer Market, Ebel’s, Kaleva Meats, Sander’s Meats, and Mikowski’s Meat Market & Deli will be providing the traditional brat fare and sides, and all are local Michigan markets.

Like the Michigan craft industry in general, Crystal Mountain increases in number of breweries represented every year. And for this 12th year, the event boasts the highest number of first-time-in-attendance breweries, including: Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, Creston Brewery, Big Lake Brewing, Tapistry Brewing, Oddside Ales, Roak Brewing, and Latitude 42 Brewing Company.

“The combination of music, breweries, and the brats are a great way to start the summer. Having it all focused on Michigan makes it special, too,” says Lawson.

And what makes this event unique? It’s perhaps the small details that actually have a huge impact on atmosphere.

“We have a cool venue at the base of the mountain, which I guess is kind of obvious. But as a resort, we tend towards a different atmosphere than most. We’re very family friendly and are surrounded by a tight knit community that has grown up here alongside us. The sense of community—it feels very inclusive here. You can just kind of feel it,” says Lawson.

The event offers a child care camp if parents want to slip away for a bit and set up a blanket on the lawn with beers and brats in hand.

The annual Tesla car show will also happen again this year, but event attendees will now have the opportunity to talk to Tesla and Chevy representatives while test driving on-site the morning before the event.

And although the event happens Saturday, Crystal Mountain will extend the fun into Sunday this year. For the first time, the resort will be hosting Micros on Mountaintop, a Sunday afternoon mini-beerfest at the top of the mountain. The event caters to the 400+ North Mitten Race runners who will be completing their 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances early that morning—but anyone is welcome to buy admission to attend later that afternoon. Local brews, food, and music will greet attendees as soon as they step off the chairlift!

Memorial Day weekend traditionally launches all of the resort’s summer offerings. Mountain biking, golfing, rock climbing, archery (new!), chairlift rides, local craft tours to Iron Fish Distillery and St. Ambrose Cellars, guided rides on the Betsie Valley Trail into Frankfurt—where one can stop at Stormcloud Brewing Company—these are just some of the options available to resort guests.

When visiting, be sure to check out the newest addition to the resort—a brand new section dedicated not only to more rooms for guests, but also a market and restaurant.

“You won’t be able to miss it, [the new building], says Lawson. “It’s the new centerpiece of the village.”

The addition won’t be open for guest use until later in the summer, with the market and restaurant following in the fall, but Lawson says the plan is to have the Grand Opening coincide with their 60th Anniversary celebrations, a true culmination to a great year filled with new things.

In the meantime, kick off the summer in true Michigan style, by heading up north for barbeque, beer, and family at the Beer & Brat festival.

Tickets available on the Crystal Mountain website.

 

Sponsored by Crystal Mountain Resort

 


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