Currents events, gatherings, tastings, all around good times.

Brewery_VivantBrewery Vivant, known for its unique Belgian­-American styles of beers, welcomes another GR Beer Week and hoards of craft beer fans to Beer City USA with it’s annual Brewer’s Big Breakfast. The Pub opens its doors early once a year ­­the Saturday of Winter Beer Fest­­ for breakfast. February 27, from 8am to 2pm, the highly anticipated breakfast menu will showcase a breakfast poutine, vegetarian eggs Benedict, house­made crullers and of course, the beer­mosa (Farm Hand spiked with OJ).

The breakfast originally started as a way to fuel the brewers before stepping out into the frigid Michigan temperatures to pour beer at Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Fest at 5/3 Ball Park in Comstock Park. The idea caught traction with Executive Chef Christopher Weimer. “I’ve always liked cooking breakfast, and appreciated this style of cuisine. I don’t know that I’d want to subscribe to the lifestyle, or if I could, but once a year it’s fun for us to stretch our chops and step outside our traditional dinner routine.”

The day is fast paced in the kitchen, but guests revel in the unusual circumstance they’re able to find themselves in: enjoying kegs and eggs in the Brewery Vivant chapel. “The atmosphere is jovial and there is a palpable excitement running through guests and our staff as well,” Says Kate Avery, Director of Sales & Marketing, “It’s Winter Beer Fest after all. Even if you don’t have tickets, you still are able to be a part of this thing we call Beer City, USA.”

True to the Vivant spirit, the breakfast is open to all and no reservations are required. The community tables fill up with hungry beer lovers and foodies alike. People coming together over good beer and good food? That’s living the ​bon vivant​.

At 2pm breakfast will conclude, the pub will operate with a limited food menu while the kitchen resets for a 3pm return to regular, full dinner menu service. We’ll be eating and drinking well into the night. The Pub closes at midnight on Saturday.

Suds and SnowSuds & Snow will return for its tenth year at Timber Ridge Resort on Saturday, March 5. Timber Ridge Resort, Create TC, and Craft Beverage Artisans have partnered to put together this year’s “ultimate party in the woods.” The event will take place from  1-6 p.m. and includes a hike through the woods, favorite Michigan brews and food, and live music.

Attendees will enjoy a half-mile hike to the backwoods where the event will take place. The event space will include twenty beverage vendors and three food vendors including MI Grille, Roaming Harvest, and Daily Blend. There will be three tents with different food selections including — soups, burritos, tacos, paella, a pig roast, and a burger and brat bar. Additionally, there will be two stage areas — one with live music and another with DJ sets from 2Bays DJs. Live music will be performed by Savage Soul, The Pocket, and G-Snacks.

Participating breweries include — The Filling Station Microbrewery, Right Brain Brewery, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak Brewing, Bell’s Brewery, Short’s Brewing, Founder’s Brewing Company, Blackrocks Brewery, Stormcloud Brewing Company, Oddside Ales, New Holland Brewing, Lake Ann Brewing, Hop Lot Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing Company, Arcadia Ales and Brewery Vivant. For those non-beer drinkers, the event will also feature Tandem Ciders, Blake’s Hard Cider, and wine from Bowers Harbor Vineyards and Left Foot Charley.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets include two drink tokens. New for 2016, there will be two drinking options — one token will get you a half pint and two tokens will get you a full pint. All food will be purchased with event tokens as well. The first 500 ticket purchasers will receive a free half pint Silipint glass. A limited supply of additional half pint and pint Silipints will also be available for purchase. Additional drink tokens will be sold for $3 each or two for $5. $2 of each ticket sold will go to supporting local Traverse City charities and non-profits.

For additional event information or to purchase tickets, visit  

Beer Week

It’s the most wonderful time… for a beer!

Certainly that line could be sung nearly anytime of the year in Beer City.

During the extra long week of February 17-28, also known as GR Beer Week, the community of Grand Rapids busts out of their cabin fever and celebrates all things beer.

Sure, there may be snow and ice on the ground, but we are Michiganders: we drink beer for breakfast — outside with pride, in the bitter cold of winter. Yes, that’s right — Beer Week GR will culminate with the 2 Day Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark on February 26 and 27. It is an outdoor event, and every attendee should dress for the weather (as in, ski-gear.) Saturday sold out in minutes, but Friday tickets are still available.

winter beer fest

To fire up enthusiasts’ livers – ahem – spirits for the Winter Beer Fest, and to welcome visitors to Beer City, GR Beer Week was created in 2012 and this year it is overflowing with nearly 120 events. Check out ExperienceGR’s Beer Week calendar for a full list of events that is updated on a daily basis. Even if you are not a planner, you could drop into many Grand Rapids area breweries, tap-houses, or brewpubs during Beer Week and be greeted with smiling faces from the collaborative community of Grand Rapids and some form of festivities.

Many Beer Week events will feature tap takeovers, ranging from a few select taps from a small MI brewery, to a crazy 20-tap blow-out from one brewery. Most breweries plan to bring rare craft beers, a few might even toss in a specialty firkin you won’t find anywhere else. It truly is a fun adventure. Be prepared to stand, to be kind, and to tip bartenders and servers generously. Also… designate a driver when necessary.

Beer Week

As you make your way around Beer Week GR, be sure to bring your Brewsader Passport to earn stamps at Grand Rapids Area Breweries. With 8 stamps during Beer Week GR, participants will receive a Brewsader koozie and bottle opener, plus an official Brewsader t-shirt. Passports and prizes can be picked up at GoSite inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum while supplies last. As an added bonus, enthusiasts will earn extra perks at participating breweries. With a full passport stamped (23 stamps!) you are considered an ULTIMATE BREWSADER and will earn even more perks at participating breweries. You don’t want to miss out on these incredible deals, from pint glasses to mug club memberships — it’s worth making the full Beer City Tour and earning those stamps. Again, drink responsibly!

Beer Week

ExperienceGR has also lined up Cool Brews Hot Eats with 50 menu items for enthusiasts to devour at a wide array of Grand Rapids area restaurants during the same time-frame. Cool Brews Hot Eats menu options are beer-infused entrées, desserts, and beyond that utilize beer as an ingredient, or a dish created for a specific pairing with a Michigan beer. There truly is something to warm everyone’s palate up for the last weeks of February.

I’ve got cabin fever and the only cure is… Beer Week GR!

GRAND RAPIDS–Any restaurant engaged in the annual Cool Brews. Hot Eats. has an appetite for enhancing beer culture. Though beer has been paired with food for a long time, there are still folks out there who are newcomers to the concept. Thankfully they can experience this phenomenon at 51 different locations throughout Grand Rapids from February 17-28th.

cool brews hot eatsExperience GR is working with the area’s restaurants to create these unique beer and food pairing deals and centering the week and a half long event around the annual Winter Beer Festival.

I’ve taken some time to look through the pairing options that we have coming up for Cool Brews. Hot Eats. I was pleased to see a range of subtle uses of beer as a cooking medium, all the way to creative collaborations of pairing a specific glass of Michigan beer with either a lunch or dinner plate.  

While digging through the various restaurant offerings, I found out that everyone is obsessed with cheese. Go figure. Beer and cheese will forever be the ultimate pairing, so venues have decided to play up this known fact by offering selections such as the Beer Cheese Soup at Tom and Chee’s ($3.50/Cup, $5/Bowl), which is made with a Five Cheese Blend and New Holland Brewing Company’s Sundog Amber Ale. Aperitivo is offering The Meltdown, their ever-changing fancy grilled cheese paired with beer. They’ll create your special pairing AND you’ll get $2 off if you order both.

If you’re excited to gorge on meat and beer, don’t you worry. Cool Brews. Hot Eats. restaurant participants knew you’d crave it, and there is no shortage of deliciousness like pot roast and pork belly being offered. For instance — Ramona’s Table is serving up an Atwater Vanilla Java Pot Roast Sandwich plus a side dish ($9.99). The sandwich is made of Vanilla Java Porter Simmered Pot Roast served on a Grilled Pretzel Bun with Haystack Onions and is sure to stick to those ribs to keep you warm for excursions such as the Winter Beer Festival.

Looking for a fresh catch instead? Check out The Heritage at Grand Rapids Community College to educate your palate with their Dark Mahogany Shrimp Etouffee made with Founders Porter ($14.50). It’s sure to make for a satisfying lunch. Osteria Rossa also collected their ingredients from the sea with their Cioppino. Made with Brewery Vivant’s Farmhand, their Cioppino consists of P.E.I. mussels, Tomato Broth, Manilla Clams, Italian sausage, Potatoes, and Fennel. It sounds oh so fresh — yet hearty.

The beer selections themselves caught my eye most of all. Founders Brewing Company is forever present with their Porter, Dirty Bastard and All Day IPA (among others of course), but Atwater’s Vanilla Java Porter and New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk made an appearance on almost every other menu I saw.

Though these giants in the Michigan beer scene are prevalent, it was wonderful to see lesser known items pop up such as the Odd Side Ales Troll Toll IPA that will be used at the Black Heron for their Troll Toll Risotto and Łosoś ($22). This Parmesan and Lemon Risotto made with Odd Side Ales Troll Toll IPA comes with a Salmon Steak topped with a Cherry and Thyme Chutney. It will turn quite a few heads I’m sure.

Thought that you were all done with your beer pairings because you’ve moved onto dessert? Think again. Pairing beer with dessert is a special sort of perfection in life, and sure enough there are several venues that will indeed be proving this to you. CitySen Lounge anyone? Take a walk into the CityFlats Hotel and visit the Lounge so you can test out their pairing of Bell’s Double Cream Stout with their Peanut Butter Double Cream Stout Brownies that comes with Sticky Plum Jam and White Chocolate ($6). Decadence without a doubt.

With 51 restaurants, breweries, and brewpubs participating, be sure to visit as many venues as you can to get in on these great deals and personal approaches to pairing the fine suds of Michigan with a meal. The lessons gained can only comfort the residents and guests who lovingly call Grand Rapids, Beer City USA.


jolly pumpkin

Detroit, Michigan–The craft beer world’s most infamous feud has sparked a collaboration brew that no one ever anticipated.

In 2014, Ron Jeffries, owner and master brewer of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, hosted Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Mikkeller at his Dexter, Michigan brewery to work on a few collaborative brews.  Later that year, Mikkel’s identical twin, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso of Evil Twin Brewing, stopped in to work on a few new creations.

Then the unthinkable happened; Jeffries blended the Bjergso brothers’ beers, despite the twins’ complicated relationship.

The resulting brew is called Hamajang—Hawaiian slang for “that’s messed up, bro.”

jolly pumpkinAll three collaboration brews are available now at Jolly Pumpkin’s Detroit, Michigan tap room:

Sea Buckthorn Fandango
(5.7% abv.) Sour Ale with Sea Buckthorn Juice

This collaboration with Mikkel Bjorg Bergso of Mikkeller Brewing was brewed in August 2014 and spent 1 year 4 months in oak barrels.

Innovatorman (6.8% abv.)  Sour Ale with Strawberries

This collaboration with Jeppe Jarnit-Bergso of Evil Twin Brewing and Charles Psenka from Leelanau Brewing Company was brewed in September 2014 and spent 1 year 3 months in oak barrels.

Hamajang This blend of Sea Buckthorn and Innovatorman combines the work of the Bjergso twins (perhaps without their knowledge) for the first time.


For the past six years, Ashley’s of Westland has hosted it’s Belgian Beer Week, serving only beer brewed in Belgium over an eleven day period. In 2015, they added the North American Belgian Beer Festival and this year are adding a second ‘festival within a festival’ by hosting the Ultimate Funk Beer Fest.

Friday February 12 is the inaugural Ultimate Funk Beer Fest. This event will feature more than 120 beers from 60 breweries in 8 countries. The featured styles will include lambics, gueuzes, Berliner weisses, goses, Flemish red ales, oud bruins, wood-aged ales, rauchbiers, and more. Beers aged in bourbon barrels will be well represented as well, with stouts, quadrupels, Scotch ales, barleywines, and other styles making an appearance.

“As we evolve to ‘Craft Beer 2.0,’ brew enthusiasts are seeking the next big thing,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “American consumers are just now really beginning to discover sour and other funky ales that are in reality based on centuries-old styles. Many are blended and aged for years in oaken barrels, called foeders, before being ready for release like fine wines. The resulting beers are often delicately complex and a rewarding experience for those who have cultivated a taste for them.”

“Since 1983, Ashley’s has existed to help people have a good time and discover new tastes,” said More. “This inaugural Funk Beer Fest is in line with our mission of expanding our guests’ experiences in new ways.”

Saturday February 13 sees the return on the North American Belgian Beer Festival, the country’s largest Belgian-only beer event. The event is sponsored by the Consulate General of Belgium/Flanders Investment and Trade, a partnership that blossomed at last year’s inaugural event.

As many as one thousand attendees will be able to sample more than 220 beers from the more than 80 Belgian breweries represented.

“You would have to go to Belgium to find this many Belgian beers in one place,” said Xavier Van Honsebrouck, fifth generation owner of Van Honsebrouck brewery in Ingelmunster, Belgium — who attended the 2015 festival and plans to attend again this year.

Belgium is recognized by many experts as one of the world’s top beer nations, with Belgian brewers creating more recognized styles of beer per capita than any other country.

“This event showcases exclusively craft beers brewed in Belgium,” said Luc Strybol, head of the economic mission of Flanders. “There will be breweries that trace their roots back a thousand years, breweries that have been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, and others that just formed in the past few years.”

Festival attendees will also have the chance to pair the many unique specialty and boutique brews with a menu of Belgian-inspired “cuisine à la bière.” Brewers and other Belgian beer experts will be on hand to help educate and guide guests through the amazing diversity and complexity of the Belgian beer world.

Due to the success of the last year’s festival, the 2016 event will take place in an expanded, heated tent next to Ashley’s. It will include several educational sampling sessions that cover the history of Belgian brewing, the Trappist monasteries that make beers, and beer blending. New this year is a VIP suite within the festival that will include a private Belgian-inspired buffet as well as exclusive samples.

“To address the growing interest among beer drinkers, many American craft brewers are making their interpretation of Belgian beers,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “This festival offers guests the opportunity to try the originals.” More, along with co-owner and brother Jeff, are frequent visitors to Belgium, where they were both knighted last fall by the Belgian Brewer’s Guild in recognition of their support of the Belgian beer industry.

Tickets for both events are available online at the following links-

Ultimate Funk Fest-

North American Belgian Beer Festival-

great lakes hops and barley conference

Educators from Michigan State University Extension with support from Michigan State University AgBioResearch, and the Michigan Brewers Guild will host the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference March 16­-17, 2016 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Mich.  

New this year, a larger venue has been chosen to accommodate more attendees.  An expanded trade show will also be featured.

Tracks will be offered for beginning hop management, advanced hop management, and barley and malt production. Participants are welcome to move between tracks to catch speakers and topics of interest.

Keynote speaker Fred Bueltmann will launch the conference on Wednesday before participants break into their respective tracks.

Those participating in the hop tracks will hear presentations covering topics including hopyard weed management, sustainable production, downy mildew management, and hop breeding.

Those participating in the barley and malt track will learn about DON management, the potential for winter barley production, and the evolution of malting and rise of the craft malting industry.

Additional presentations will highlight malting barley quality analysis and research conducted throughout Michigan.

Following the presentations, the Michigan Brewers Guild will host a Brewer/Grower networking event highlighting beers produced throughout Michigan. The conference concludes with a tour of MI Local, a new hop farm and processing facility located outside of Traverse City.

Registration is now live for the 2016 conference. To view the complete agenda, review sponsorship or vendor opportunities, or to register, visit here.  


rat festYpsilanti, MI – Long before Arbor Brewing Company was born in 1995, owners Matt and Rene Graff earned their stripes as homebrewers. In celebration of their roots in the homebrewing community, ABC will host the sixth annual Rat Fest homebrew competition in February.

Rat Fest started as a competition between the brewery staff and members of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild to brew 24 beers in 24 hours on just two systems. Over the course of the first two years, the event grew and the brewery opened the competition to homebrew clubs in Southeast Michigan.

This year the microbrewery has invited eight home brewing clubs to demonstrate their brewing creativity on a 10­ gallon brewing system, affectionately known as The Rat Pad. The AABG Hopheads, AABG Yeasters, Burns Park Brewing, Brighton Home Brew Club, The Brew Divas, Motor City Mashers, The Sons of Liberty and Hyperion Brew Club are each brewing four beers for the public competition.

As an added bonus, the ABC Microbrewery brew staff has come up with a challenge for the homebrewers; one of their four beers must be a sour. The result is a wide array of fantastically tart, puckering brews.

This year’s Rat Fest will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on February 20th at Arbor Brewing CompanyMicrobrewery in Ypsilanti. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $40 at the door, and include a commemorative tasting glass, beer samples and appetizers. Tickets can be purchased in person at the microbrewery or by phone.

For more information visit their website at

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