LANSING — Lights went on at the Cooley Law School Stadium on Friday night, as many took the field prepared. Complete with hats, glove, and a glass, Lansing’s semi-annual Beerfest in the Ballpark commenced.

It wasn’t time for the first pitch, but instead the first pour. The Lansing Lugnuts’ season is over, after all.

Despite the weather being chilly for mid-September after warm temperatures just a week before, the festival’s second start turned out to be another win, as hundreds gathered around the vendors and breweries set up around the field.

The festival featured nearly 40 Michigan breweries, as well as a special appearance of out-of-state and import Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers.

Some breweries held on to summer, with fruit and citrus beers, while others moved on, showcasing their pumpkin beers, porters and ciders. Settling in between, both Paw Paw Brewing Company and Crankers Brewery brought a coconut porter — a dark, malty brew with a light hint of a summer coconut.

When Paw Paw’s Coconut Porter tap ran out, a festival attendee expressed her disappointment after looking forward to trying the interesting blend of flavors.

“There’s a coconut porter at a brewery over there, too,” a fellow craft beer fanatic said, pointing across the field.

While I was not able to compare the two, the appearance of both at the festival displayed the creative minds behind Michigan brewers and their vast variety of products.

Attendees kept their palates clean between tastes of the different styles with a bite off their pretzel necklaces, but Bad Brewing Company sought to use a tortilla chip to complement one of their specialty beers. Salsa? — it was displayed on a chalkboard in front of their booth, brewed with tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño.

Serving normal, seasonal and specialty brews, breweries brought Lansing what locals often miss, as far as a variety of breweries goes.

“We don’t have a lot of breweries here in Lansing, so it’s cool when beer festivals come to the area,” Lansing-area native Eileen Lederle said.

Although Lansing is not known for its craft beer festivals, September’s Beerfest at the Ballpark marked the festival’s second event, with the first having occurred in April.

In addition to this festival, the Lansing area also enjoyed its first annual Lansing Microbrew and Music Festival and second annual Lansing Beer Festival earlier this year. Lansing’s first annual Cider Fest is still to come, planned for Oct. 11.

LANSING — Lights went on at the Cooley Law School Stadium on Friday night, as many took the field prepared. Complete with hats, glove, and a glass, Lansing’s semi-annual Beerfest in the Ballpark commenced.
It wasn’t time for the first pitch, but instead the first pour. The Lansing Lugnuts’ season is over, after all.
Despite the weather being chilly for mid-September after warm temperatures just a week before, the festival’s second start turned out to be another win, as hundreds gathered around the vendors and breweries set up around the field.
The festival featured nearly 40 Michigan breweries, as well as a special appearance of out-of-state and import Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers.
Some breweries held on to summer, with fruit and citrus beers, while others moved on, showcasing their pumpkin beers, porters and ciders. Settling in between, both Paw Paw Brewing Company and Crankers Brewery brought a coconut porter — a dark, malty brew with a light hint of a summer coconut.
When Paw Paw’s Coconut Porter tap ran out, a festival attendee expressed her disappointment after looking forward to trying the interesting blend of flavors.
“There’s a coconut porter at a brewery over there, too,” a fellow craft beer fanatic said, pointing across the field.
While I was not able to compare the two, the appearance of both at the festival displayed the creative minds behind Michigan brewers and their vast variety of products.
Attendees kept their palates clean between tastes of the different styles with a bite off their pretzel necklaces, but Bad Brewing Company sought to use a tortilla chip to complement one of their specialty beers. Salsa? — it was displayed on a chalkboard in front of their booth, brewed with tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño.
Serving normal, seasonal and specialty brews, breweries brought Lansing what locals often miss, as far as a variety of breweries goes.
“We don’t have a lot of breweries here in Lansing, so it’s cool when beer festivals come to the area,” Lansing-area native Eileen Lederle said.
Although Lansing is not known for its craft beer festivals, September’s Beerfest at the Ballpark marked the festival’s second event, with the first having occurred in April.
In addition to this festival, the Lansing area also enjoyed its first annual Lansing Microbrew and Music Festival and second annual Lansing Beer Festival earlier this year. Lansing’s first annual Cider Fest is still to come, planned for Oct. 11.

Locals filled the Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing, MI to celebrate great food, music, and of course, beer, at the Microbrew and Music Festival on Friday and Saturday. 

Over 40 breweries were represented from places all over Michigan as well as the entire country. While the festival brought many favorites for those in attendance, like Bell’s Oberon, it also enabled the showcasing of new brews and new breweries. 

One of the newer breweries at the festival — Beggars Brewery, which started brewing this past fall in Traverse City — took advantage of the spring festival to get their name out. 

“This is our first festival outside of Traverse City,” owner and brewer Michael Rizik, said. “As a brewer, I just want to expose my beer to the widest audience as possible and hopefully get some converts.”

Other breweries, such as Short’s Brewing Company, opted to expose new seasonal brews rather than bringing their more well-known favorites.

While touring the park full of booths from breweries and food vendors, attendees could also enjoy the music that the festival also brought. Two stages allowed for a variety of bands including a headliner each night — Dirty Heads on Friday and O.A.R. on Saturday. 

O.A.R. fans responded to a tweet on Saturday posted on the band’s twitter page asking for song requests. Not only did the band receive plenty of requests to build a set list, but fans also expressed their devotion, noting that they were traveling hundreds of miles for the concert. 

One fan, Lansing resident Chelsea Lewis, mentioned she would be seeing the band for the 34th time.

“I have loved them for years and they always play night after night with the same energy as before,” Lewis said. “I think it helps to bring bigger bands into the Lansing music scene and show what a growing industry it is becoming.”

While the festival provided a great time along with food and drinks, it was all a part of a greater cause. All of the net profits from alcohol sales benefited the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Xero Waste Events.

Greater Lansing Food Band provides food for those in need in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Shiawassee Clare, Isabela and Gratiot counties, annually serving tens of thousands of people in the area.

Xero Waste Events is a Michigan non-profit organization that provides recycling services and education on sustainable event practices.

LANSING — Mother Nature eased off on cold temperatures for a while and let her Spring light shine down on Lansing this past Saturday for the first annual Beerfest at the Ballpark.

The event was held at the Cooley Law School Stadium in Downtown Lansing. Hundreds of craft beer aficionados and first-time beerfesters flocked to the ballpark, which is home to the Lansing Lugnuts.

Breweries sprawled on the front lawn of the stadium as well as setting up inside the concourse.

Michael Biddick, West Michigan Market Manager for Saugatuck Brewing Company, said the near 50 degree weather put everyone in a good mood.

“The sun is shining and everyone seems to be having a great time,” he said. “I believe they sold out, which is great for a first time event.”

People soaked up the sun as much as they could. While cold and chilly in the concourse, it was easy for festivalgoers to walk down a few steps to stadium seating in the sunlight.

Over 35 Michigan breweries, cideries and meaderies participated in the event. Entertainment was provided in the form of live acoustic music.

Lansing resident Dave Shannon was excited for the event as soon as it was announced.

“It’s great for the city,” he said. “I’m glad they’re bringing craft beer to Lansing. I think it really helps bring everyone together so we can all enjoy it.”

For $30, festivalgoers received 10 tasting tickets and a souvenir logo glass. With $35 tickets, patrons received early entry, a logo glass and 15 tasting tickets.

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Old News Boys of Lansing, which raises money to provide shoes and boots for children.

Biddick said feedback on all of the Saugatuck beers was positive. He also had a great time enjoying some beers like the rest of the crowd.

“I’m a big fan of Dark Horse’s Plead the Fifth and Kuhnhenn’s DRIPA,” he said. “It’s a great event and I hope they do it again and it continues to grow.”

As a lifelong Lansing resident, Shannon is excited for next year.

“I can’t wait to do it again,” he said. “The weather was perfect and we had a blast.”

JACKSON — The Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival is on the cusp of a general renaissance.

Rebecca Calkins, PR and Technology Manager at Experience Jackson, connects the dots.

“We are the visitor’s bureau for Jackson, and we are a sponsor (along with the Grand River Marketplace-home of Grand River Brewery) for this event.  The Jackson Country Fair Association puts on and organizes the event, and does an amazing job,” she said.

“We actually had a power outage today — we are operating on generators, and you don’t even realize it. Denise Owens from the Jackson County Fairgrounds was on it! I cannot say enough good stuff about her.

“We’ve got a wonderful turnout, and everyone I talk to is really impressed about what we’ve got here, and they are enjoying themselves.”

Walking around, I found the usual cast of characters, with everyone getting into the spirit of the day. Members of the self-appointed Waterloo Chug Club were at the festival in force. They describe themselves as “a bunch of people who like to drink beer who live in the Waterloo area.” Emily, a member, shares that she has “really enjoyed everything, I love the camaraderie of the place.”

Despite this being the fourth year of the festival, many people MittenBrew spoke with were in attendance for the first time.

This indoor and outdoor event was almost too crowded, which made it a little difficult to navigate within the crowd, but everyone seemed to be having fun. Local restaurant Night Light even got inspired and sold pretzels necklaces for festival goers (one for $3 and two for $5), and live music played outside in a warming tent. 

While the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival isn’t just Michigan craft brews, it does utilize local distributors to provide their product, with a healthy representation of Michigan-based beer. Just to name a few: Dark Horse, Paw Paw, Atwater, Brewery Vivant and Founders all had volunteers pouring their brew.

While some particulars and questions about specific beers went unanswered because of the volunteer presence at tables (these folks were not representatives of the breweries), it caused people to turn to each other and discuss what they had in their hand.

The event allowed many to discover a new beer, develop their beer palates and give a chance to try something that may not have been on their radars.

In addition to this Michigan representation, local Jackson brewery Grand River was on hand with samples straight from the tap, a small merchandise table featuring the brewery’s whimsical steam punk inspired designs, and some brewers on hand to chat.

I talked to Tom Block, one such brewer. “This is awesome, look around, there’s a ton of people drinking great beer.”

Taste testing Grand River’s samples, MittenBrew tried the Lady Valance Cherry Cream Ale, with an up front cherry aroma and a subtle taste, Baron Barista Coffee Porter and The Gypsy Laddie Irish Stout, with a cocoa and tobacco aroma and roasty taste.

“I’m a hophead,” says Block as we sip, “and if you come to the brewery, you’re gonna get a big hoppy IPA and pale ale, dry hopped, and I’m a flavor snob, everything is gonna have a nice big nose on it and be very flavorful.”

Rebecca Calkins (Experience Jackson) says that the Michigan craft brew involvement in the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival has grown since inception of the event, and will continue to grow. In addition to Grand River Brewery, Jackson is home to three other nano-breweries and small brew pubs — Bifferhaus, Shed’s and Tootsie’s. Next up for Jackson beer lovers is the Michigan Wine & Beer Fest in May.

Another member of the Waterloo Chug Club may have summed up this event the best: “This is the funnest time I’ve ever had in Jackson.”

EAST LANSING — Coming from three different locales, HopCat East Lansing proved the perfect spot for a collaborative meetup of women beer aficionados. The longstanding Grand Rapids based PussyCat Beer Guild joined the Detroit Draft Divas and the  newly formed Lansing-based Beer Houndettes for a meet-and-greet of epic proportions.

Taking up a good quarter of the upstairs space at HopCat on the day of a Michigan State football game is no easy feat, but the groups managed to do it.

The Tripel D’s, as the Detroit Draft Divas are known, originally launched under the guidance of Todd Parker, formerly of Copper Canyon Brewery.  Known as a group for women interested in all things craft beer — from tasting to brewing to everything in between — these women are passionate, knowledgeable and able to hold their own in this mainly male dominated culture of beer groups and homebrew clubs.

When Parker headed to Washington, DC for a new position, Jon ‘Danger’ Cole of Saugatuck Brewing Company stepped in, showing up early to one of the events with a cleverly handmade campaign poster explaining exactly why he should be the group’s new guy.

Acting as official ‘mascot’ for the Tripel D’s, Cole helps to orchestrate events across the state for the group — including Saturday’s get-together.

“Jon decided that he wanted to help the Beer Houndettes [launch] and he thought it’d be great if the Divas came and the Pussycats came and we met in the middle, so we could start them off in style,” said Sheryl Rose, a leader of the Pussycat Beer Guild.

Saturday started with a tour of BAD Brewing Company in Mason, then continued on to HopCat and REO Town Pub before finishing the night off at EagleMonk Pub and Brewery.

The ladies of craft beer even had their own brew, the ‘Token Guy Rye’ — a rye pale ale brewed by HopCat especially for the meetup, symbolic of Cole’s role with the girls. An affable, easy-going guy, Cole even went the extra mile for this one, sporting an official mascot t-shirt and a beautifully glittery beard and ‘stache, supplied by Carla of the Detroit Draft Divas.

Paul and Tammy Starr, co-creators of I’m A Beer Hound were on hand, representing the ‘Beer Houndettes,’ Tammy’s brainchild.

“This started because I met some of the Detroit Draft Divas, and I decided that I ultimately wanted to start a woman of craft beer group in Lansing,” she said. “We actually just launched it about two months ago, so we are trying to build the following and trying to get people out to the events. Right now, we do a monthly brewing group where just the women come out, and we learn how to brew at the Red Salamander in Grand Ledge. It’s been a lot of fun — we tap the beer we brewed the month before, we drink and we hang out and brew another beer.”

There was a great sense of camaraderie amongst the three groups — women who were passionate about craft brew and this industry in the Great Beer State. These clubs exist to encourage inclusion and to provide a friendly, welcoming environment for women who are interested in beer. The groups denounce snobbery and all things catty, instead seeing themselves as an outlet for the women who is just learning to appreciate her IPAs to the gal who’s been home brewing for ten plus years.

Wherever you stand, wherever you are, you are welcome here.  As long as you love craft beer.

For more information on the three groups, visit Facebook:

EAST LANSING — Wouldn’t it be cool if…?

This is a phrase commonly used at Short’s Brewing Company for creating different beers, according to Public Relations Coordinator Matt Gacioch. It starts with an idea, goes through a process, and if it works, it works. Something new is born.

This seems to be a familiar method, as Mark and Michele Sellers, owners of Barfly Ventures LLC, asked a similar question before purchasing their own bar.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we owned a bar?

Wouldn’t it be cool if we featured great craft beers from all over the world?

Wouldn’t it be cool if we did the same thing in East Lansing as we are doing in Grand Rapids?

Of course we’re talking about HopCat. On Thursday, HopCat’s East Lansing location opened its doors for the first time with a truly grand opening.

HopCat and Short’s team up

Short’s and HopCat teamed up with its ideas that turned into a world-record breaking 100-tap takeover.

“Creativity and innovation are in the lifeblood of Short’s,” Gacioch said. “Our brewers are constantly exploring how to push the boundaries of craft beer in exciting new ways. Since our founding as a company in 2004, we’ve put out over 300 different beers.”

With that being said, about one-third of the entirety of Short’s beers were showcased Thursday, allowing room for variety.

“The beauty of 100 beers in one place is that everyone in your party may have a different favorite, but that’ll leave everyone happy and more excited about craft beer,” Gacioch added regarding the event.

Due to the limited amount of Short’s beer combined with the high-volume of customers, HopCat offered 8 ounce pours and 4 ounce half-pours throughout the day. Although the pours were small, customers took advantage by trying multiple different beers.

The wait is over

East Lansing is not a stranger to high demand, though. Just like on game day outside of Spartan Stadium, the crowd was in line and eagerly awaiting kickoff, and as the doors opened, the cheers sang like a wave down the long and winding line.

The first people closest to the doors arrived on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m., while others further down arrived at various times throughout the early morning.

Not only did the early birds ensure their pick of the limited Short’s beers, but the first 200 people to the doors also received free crack fries for a year.

Among the first people through the HopCat doors was Sean Rannow, a third year law student at Michigan State University College of Law, who got in line at 2 a.m.

“I’m from Arizona, and we don’t get a lot of craft beers out there,” Rannow said while sipping on Short’s Sweet Taters. “Since I’ve moved here, I’ve gotten into trying different beers. East Lansing needed some new development, and I have been really excited about this.”

Rannow was not only impressed with his beer, but also the hospitality that HopCat showed to those waiting in line.

“They brought us pizza, cookies and energy drinks,” Rannow said.

A firm foundation

While any grand opening has a fresh and new feel to it, HopCat hopes to have that feeling linger.

Opposed to the many normal bars in East Lansing, HopCat wants to be known for something different.

“We are bringing in a place that doesn’t cater to the typical bar crowd,” Garry Boyd, the “Ringleader” said, noting HopCat’s expectation to bring good beer, food and service. The new menu includes items from both HopCat and Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids.

While the 100 taps were filled with all Short’s beer during the grand opening event, the 100 taps will continue to be full all of the time from craft breweries around the world. Keeping the taps filled seems like a difficult feat, but not for HopCat. The Grand Rapids location has mastered its 48 tap system, and at the East Lansing location, they are confident in the plan.

“It’s going to move like a river,” Boyd said. “We’ll have a standard 20 beers that are like the little ponds in a river that don’t really move much. We’ll have a few that are like the outside of the river, the slower parts that will be on tap for a couple days to a week. We’ll have some that move a little faster, like a day or two, and some even faster, like the one-offs and experimental beers.”

The East Lansing location will also continue to run specials throughout each week. There will be a “Kill the Keg” Monday special and Sunday specials from Stella’s Lounge, including brunch, a Bloody Mary bar and stuffed burgers.

EAST LANSING — Michigan’s largest beer bar is planning a record-setting grand opening, set for August 22.
HopCat East Lansing will open with 100 different Short’s beers on tap, surpassing previous records of 62 beers by Sierra Nevada and Cannery Row Brewing Company in California.
“We wanted to launch HopCat – East Lansing with a bang by doing something unique that no one has ever done before,” said Mark Sellers, owner of BarFly Ventures and a Michigan State University alumnus.
“This partnership with Short’s, another Michigan company that makes some of the world’s most creative beers, is a reflection of our commitment to supporting Michigan breweries.”
Guests will also be treated to free orders of HopCat’s crack fries, with the first 200 patrons receiving free crack fries for a year.
HopCat, founded in 2008 by BarFly Ventures in Grand Rapids, has received many accolades and awards, including being named third-best beer bar in the world by BeerAdvocate. The East Lansing location will be HopCat’s second location.
“Working with HopCat to attempt this record has been one of the most exciting challenges we’ve accepted at Short’s,” said Joe Short, founder of Short’s Brewing Co. “We’ve brought out all of our year-round brews, some seasonal favorites and an amazing selection of some new, experimental recipes that guests will be able to try for the first time.”
Following the event, HopCat plans to add a variety of other drafts from Michigan brewers. The 100 tap system will offer t he largest draft selection in the state.
HopCat East Lansing is located at 300 Grove Street.


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