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summer beer fest

(LANSING, Mich) – Nearly 150 Michigan breweries will celebrate “Michigan Craft Beer Month” July 26-27 at Riverside Park in downtown Ypsilanti as the Michigan Brewers Guild gears up for their 22nd Annual Summer Beer Festival. More than 1,100 beers will be on tap during the two-day outdoor event, which is held rain or shine. Festival hours 6-9pm on Friday and 1-6pm on Saturday, with one-hour early admission for current Enthusiast Members. Special beer offerings are also planned during that first hour.

This year’s entertainment includes Ryan Dillaha and The Miracle Men on Friday, July 26 (6:15-7:15pm and 7:45-9pm) and Stone Clover(1:30-3pm) and Black Tie Circus (4-5:50) on Saturday.

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its more than 290 member breweries (a number that increases almost on a monthly basis).

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.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes more than 17,000 full-time jobs, $700 million in labor income/wages with a total economic impact of over $2.4 billion. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #4 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

craft beer month

 

(LANSING, Mich) – Legislators in Lansing have recently declared July as “Michigan Craft Beer Month” with the introduction of House Resolution No. 135 and Senate Resolution No. 61, noting the brewing industry’s long-standing history, impact on both the tourism and agricultural interests and the ongoing contributions to the overall economy of the state.

Formed in 1997, the Michigan Brewers Guild operates as the non-profit trade organization representing craft brewing interests around the state. With more than 290 member breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs spread out from coast to coast to coast – throughout both Peninsulas, in rural and urban areas – it’s no wonder Michigan is known as “The Great Beer State.” Currently Michigan ranks #4 nationally for the overall number of breweries, at 350+, according to the Brewers Association.

The highlight of “Michigan Craft Beer Month” is the 22nd Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival, July 26-27 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town – along the banks of the Huron River. Featuring nearly 150 breweries and more than 1,000 unique beers, this is the largest of the Guild’s four annual festivals (the others being the UP Fall Beer Festival, September 7 in Marquette; Detroit Fall Beer Festival, October 25-26 at Eastern Market in downtown Detroit; and Michigan Winter Beer Festival, February 21-22 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids). More than 35,000 people collectively attend the Guild’s annual festivals.

 

SR61 was introduced by Senator MacGregor and HR135 was introduced by Representatives Farrington, Chirkun, Clemente, Crawford, Garza, Gay-Dagnogo, Haadsma, Jones, Kuppa, Lasinski, Love, Manoogian, Sabo, Shannon, Slagh, Sneller and Warren. The House Resolution reads:

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers are a vibrant affirmation and expression of Michigan’s entrepreneurial traditions, operating as community-based small businesses and providing employment for more than 17,000 workers; and

Whereas, Our state has craft brewers in every region of the state and more than 300 craft brewers statewide; and

Whereas, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs; and

Whereas, The Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates Michigan Craft Beer Month each year by hosting a Summer Festival in July; and

Whereas, Craft brewers in Michigan support state agriculture by purchasing hops, malted barley, wheat, beet sugar, cherries, apples, and numerous other fruits, herbs, spices, and vegetables grown here; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers promote Michigan’s spirit of independence through a renaissance in handcrafted beers like those first brought to our state by European settlers and produced here by our forefathers, including Bernhard Stroh, for the enjoyment of the citizenry; and

Whereas, Striving to educate legal drinking-age residents, Michigan craft brewers convey awareness about the differences in beer flavor, aroma, color, alcohol content, body, and other complex variables, beer history, and gastronomic qualities of beer; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers champion the message of responsible enjoyment to their customers and work within their communities to prevent alcohol abuse and underage drinking; and

Whereas, Craft brewers in Michigan produce more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful beers, the quality and diversity of which have made Michigan the envy of many states, contributing to balanced trade with increased Michigan exports and promoting our state’s tourism; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers have shown a successful business model by contributing more than $700 million in labor income with a total economic contribution of more than $2.4 billion, thriving and expanding by furthering their economic importance to the state; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers are vested in the future, health, and welfare of their communities as employers providing a diverse array of quality local jobs, as contributors to the local tax base, and as committed sponsors of a broad range of vital community institutions and philanthropic causes, including not-for-profit housing development associations, chambers of commerce, humane societies, athletic teams, and medical research; now, therefore, be it

 

Resolved by the Senate and House, That the members of this legislative body commemorate July 2019 as Craft Beer Month and recognize the contributions that Michigan craft brewers have made to our state’s communities, economy, and history; and be it further

Resolved, That we commend Michigan craft brewers for providing jobs, improving the balance of trade, supporting Michigan agriculture, and educating residents about the history and culture of beer, while promoting the responsible consumption of beer as a beverage of moderation.

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.

 

gabf

Back in 1982, the craft beer revolution was becoming something exciting, marked by something new—a premier, national festival and competition. 24 breweries, 50 beers, and 800 attendees seemed like small potatoes, but it was grand on a different type of scale. It was the first Great American Beer Festival, after all.

Now it’s 2018. Over 800 breweries, 4,000 beers, and 60,000 attendees over three days of craft madness reflects a different kind of picture, if not the same revolution. If you’ve been drinking craft beer these past few years, you know what the market looks like—unlimited options of craft from all over America. Craft beer is a good thing, so there can’t be too much, right? Right.

GABF, annually organized and put on by the Brewers Association, marks the still-growing and ever-changing craft industry across the world. The all-encompassing nature of the experience is overwhelming (in a positive way), but here’s what we took away as enthusiastic representatives of Michigan and our own craft mitten lifestyle.

Navigating the Colorado Convention Center is like navigating a small city. Countless rows of breweries from A-Z are stacked end to end with large endcap booths marking the beginning and end of another section. In the heart of it all is a meet-the-brewer neighborhood with extra industry folk, extra beer, and hey, it’s extra crowded. Outlying spaces are filled by seminar space, local food trucks, stages for music, walls of merchandise, and casual seating.

Every step and every direction there is something to catch the eye, the interest, and the taste buds. One brewery brought its own break-dancers. One seminar highlighted a bug and beer pairing featuring traditional bug dishes from Mexico. Jameson, as in the whiskey distillers from Ireland, had the biggest festival setup—at a beer festival!

Michigan represented well. We saw pioneers like Bell’s Brewery, New Holland Brewing Co., and Short’s Brewing Co. boldly stake their claim on the floor with eye-catching endcap booths and, as always, delicious beer. Short’s setup screamed northern Michigan, with a booth decorated in waterskis and bright colors. New Holland brought aspects of their original Holland location with them and created a mini, brick-layed pub that created just the right ambiance to highlight their most popular brew, Dragon’s Milk.

Michigan also had some great newbies there, like Eastern Market Brewing Co. and Grand Armory Brewing Co. representing from Detroit and Grand Haven respectively. As first-timers, these breweries were excited to get fresh feedback on their beers and brands from national consumers.

How does all of this come together? How does it connect? Craft beer has always been about fun, but beneath that are attributes that have defined the industry since the beginning—aspects like quality, independence, local, community, collaboration, creativity, hard work, and innovation. This universal language of craft strives to bridge gaps everywhere. Local to global. Professional to amateur. Community to community. Brewer to retailer. Brewery to consumer. Craft to other craft.

Some new offerings at GABF this year definitely fell under the above characteristics and practices. New this year was both a Pro-Am Brewer Competition as well as a Collaboration Competition.

The Pro-Am united professional breweries with homebrewers to collaborate on recipes to compete for top, national honors. This exchange of skill sets, opinions, and experimentation reflects the creativity and transparency of the craft industry. Craft workers always strive for better quality, new ideas, and further education. Most professionals and commercial breweries now are marked by homebrewing pasts. It’s a cycle that keeps craft as dynamic as ever and challenges the industry to go down new pathways.

Also new this year was the Collaboration Competition, which connected multiple breweries in the creation of one great recipe to win national honors. In the spirit of community, this brings two brands, two missions, and two businesses into a new practice with each other. Open communication has always marked workers in craft beer—there is no information hoarding here. This competition just ups the ante on the creativity and collaboration that already defines the craft beer community.

GABF’s evolution reflects craft communities across the nation—how they grow, adapt, and change. What stays the same is the enthusiasm. Brewers create because they love the craft of beer. Consumers drink because they love the liquid and the experience. It all begins and ends with actual beer. Everything in between can change and evolve at anytime. This mystery and guessing and experimentation are how we all get our next steps.

This is how the craft industry boomed with New England IPAs this past year. The demand and craze was so big nationally that GABF added it as a beer style category for the first time ever; and as it turns out, it broke the record for the most submissions in a category. The style that originated on the east coast picked up traction nationally—uniting brewery communities, cultures, and practices. New things created from old. New spins on traditional styles. This was just this year’s example.

What comes next? Breweries always have their ears to their consumers and to fellow brewers elsewhere for inspiration. Whatever it is, it will surely taste great and will represent something bigger than just beer in a glass.

 

Photography © Brewers Association

great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven Michigan Brewers Guild member breweries were awarded a collective nine medals this past weekend at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence, presented by the Brewers Association.

The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 306 medals to 280 breweries across the United States with award-winning breweries receiving prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence. Read more about the competition below.

Michigan Brewers Guild member received the following awards:

GOLD

  • West Coast Swing Amber – American Style Amber/Red Ale: The Mitten Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

SILVER

  • NZ Pilz (American Style Pilsener): Wolverine State Brewing Company, Ann Arbor
  • Kung Fu Smurf (Belgian Style Dubbel or Quadruple): Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak
  • Breakfast Stout (Coffee Stout or Porter): Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
  • Roundhouse (Double Hoppy Red Ale): Bell’s Eccentric Café, Kalamazoo
  • My Brown Eyed Girl (English Style Brown Ale): Thornapple Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
  • Porter (Robust Porter): Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

BRONZE

  • Cerveza Delray (International Style Pilsener): Brew Detroit, Detroit
  • Raucher (Smoke Beer): Wolverine State Brewing Company, Ann Arbor

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. Medal distinctions are as follows:

  • GOLD: A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
  • SILVER: An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
  • BRONZE: A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

GABF Competition Statistics:

  • 32nd edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
  • 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
  • 293 judges from 13 countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
  • 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
  • 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
  • 537 first-time GABF entrants
  • 31 first-time GABF winners

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.

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 of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

Photo © Brewers Association

great american beer festival

 DENVER, CO — The Brewers Association (BA) awarded 306 medals to 280 breweries across the United States at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition. In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 102 beer categories covering 167 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country and earning a symbol of brewing excellence.

 

View the 2018 winners or download a PDF list of the winners.

 

GABF COMPETITION STATISTICS

  • 32nd edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
  • 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
  • 293 judges from 13 countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
  • 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
  • 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
  • 537 first-time GABF entrants
  • 31 first-time GABF winners

 

MOST-ENTERED STYLE CATEGORIES

In its GABF competition debut, the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale style category was the most-entered with 391 entries. Since 2002, the most-entered category was American-Style India Pale Ale (IPA), which saw 311 entries in 2018.

The winners of the top five most-entered categories were:

 

Category 63: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)

GOLD: Alarmist Brewing – Le Jus, Chicago, IL

SILVER: Kros Strain Brewing Co., Fairy Nectar London Double Dry Hopped – La Vista, NE

BRONZE: Eris Brewery and Cider House, Foiken Haze – Chicago, IL

 

Category 62: American-Style India Pale Ale (311 entries)

GOLD: Root Down Brewing Co. – Bine, Phoenixville, PA

SILVER: Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Portsmouth, Not an IPA (P.S. it’s an IPA) – Portsmouth, NH

BRONZE: Green Cheek Beer Co. – West Coast IPA is Dead! – Orange, CA

 

Category 29: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout (177 entries)

GOLD: Against the Grain Brewery, 70K Amburana – Louisville, KY

SILVER: Kane Brewing, A Night to End All Dawns – Ocean, NJ

BRONZE: FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Eclipse – Truckee, CA

 

Category 59: American-Style Pale Ale (170 entries)

GOLD: Ocean Beach Brewery – B.Right On Pale Ale – San Diego, CA

SILVER: Ventura Coast Brewing Co. – Neighborhood – Ventura, CA

BRONZE: Maplewood Brewing Co. – Charlatan – Chicago, IL

 

Category: 28 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (162 entries)

GOLD: Drake’s Brewing Co. – Santa’s Brass – San Leandro, CA

SILVER: The Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Willett Barrel-Aged Ye Old Sprinklerhead Barleywine – Atlanta, GA

BRONZE: Revolution Brewing, Straight Jacket – Chicago, IL

 

NEW COMPETITION CATEGORIES

 

In addition to Juicy or Hazy IPA, the following categories were also new to the competition this year:

Category 60: Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale (132 entries)

GOLD: Tin Roof Brewing Co., Voodoo – Baton Rouge, LA

SILVER: Kings Brewing Co., Sippin on Dank – Rancho Cucamonga, CA

BRONZE: Fiction Beer Co., Madame Psychosis – Denver, CO

 

Category 65: Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale (150 entries)

GOLD: Black Market Brewing Co., New England Style Double IPA – Temecula, CA

SILVER: Corridor Brewery & Provisions, DDH Double IPA – Chicago, IL

BRONZE: Alvarado Street Brewery, Contains No Juice – Salinas, CA

 

Category 35: American-Style Pilsener: (91 entries)

GOLD: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Rocket 100 – Austin, TX

SILVER: Wolverine State Brewing Co., NZ Pils – Ann Arbor, MI

BRONZE: The Post Brewing Co., Howdy Beer – Lafayette, CO

 

Category 57: Australian-Style Pale Ale (46 entries)

GOLD: Butcherknife Brewing Co., Sunshine Express – Steamboat Springs, CO

SILVER: Worthy Brewing Co., Strata IPA – Bend, OR

BRONZE: Austin Beerworks, Flavor Country – Austin, TX

 

MOST MEDALED BREWERIES

  • Most medals won by a single brewery: 3

10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR – 3 medals

  • GOLD – Baywindow, category 77: Berliner-Style Weisse
  • GOLD – Passionate Envy, category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer
  • SILVER – P2P, category 96: American-Style Stout

 

Alesong Brewing and Blending, Eugene, OR – 3 medals

  • SILVER – Terroir Pinot Noir, category 19: Experimental Beer
  • SILVER – Terroir Pinot Gris, category 25: Brett Beer
  • BRONZE – Touch of Brett Mandarina, category 25: Brett Beer

 

Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT – 3 medals

  • GOLD – Miner’s Gold, category 2 American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast
  • SILVER – Pompey’s Pilsner, category 42 Bohemian-Style Pilsener
  • BRONZE – Prickly Pear, category 55 Classic English-Style Pale Ale

 

BREWERY AND BREWER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

(See criteria here)

 

PACKAGING BREWERIES

Very Small Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

<1,000 barrels produced in 2017

Brink Brewing Co. – Cincinnati, OH; Brewmaster: Kelly Montgomery

 

Small Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by ABS Commercial

1,000 – 14,999 barrels produced in 2017

Lewis & Clark Brewing Co. – Helena, MT; Brewmaster: Lewis & Clark Brewing and Packaging Crew

 

Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year – Sponsored by MicroStar Logistics

15,000 – 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017

pFriem Family Brewers – Hood River, OR; Brewmaster: pFriem Family Brewers

 

BREWPUBS

Small Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients

<750 barrels produced in 2017

Ocean Beach Brewery – San Diego, CA; Brewmaster: Jim Millea & Scott Watkins

 

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group

750 – 1,500 barrels produced in 2017

Root Down Brewing Co. – Phoenixville, PA; Brewmaster: Root Down Brew Team

 

Large Brewpub of the Year – Sponsored by The Country Malt Group

Over 1,500 barrels produced in 2017

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. – Austin, TX; Brewmaster: Amos Swifty Kim

 

LARGE BREWERIES OR MULTIPLE LOCATION BREWERIES

Brewery Group of the Year – Sponsored by Live Oak Bank

Over 6,000,000 barrels produced in 2017 or multi-location breweries wishing to compete as a group

FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – Truckee, CA; Brewmaster: FiftyFifty BrewCrew

 

PRO-AM COMPETITION

Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., The Country Malt Group and White Labs

Gold, silver and bronze medals were also awarded in the GABF Pro-Am competition, which pairs homebrewers with professional brewers, who scale up their award-winning homebrew recipes. The medal winners, including the winning professional brewers and American Homebrewers Association (AHA) member homebrewers are:

 

GOLD:             Little Harpeth Brewing Co. – Nashville, TN

Deer Crossing, Munich-Style Helles Lager

Brewmaster: Jesse Brown and Mike Onofray

Homebrewer: Chris Allen

 

SILVER:            Rock Bottom Brewery – Warrenville, IL

Gone for a Burton, English-Style Brown Ale

Brewmaster: Erik Pizer

Homebrewer: Jim Todd

 

BRONZE:         Cheluna Brewing Co. – Aurora, CO

La Bomba; Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale

Brewmaster: Jennifer Perez

Homebrewer: Chris Cardillo

 

COLLABORATION COMPETITION

Medals were also awarded in the first-ever GABF Collaboration Competition, which recognizes the collaborative spirit of the professional craft brewing community.

 

GOLD:             New Belgium Brewing Co. – Ft. Collins, CO

TransAtlantique Kriek

Collaboration Brewery: Oud Beersel – Beersel, Belgium

 

SILVER:            Firestone Walker Barrelworks – Buellton, CA

Pixie Dusted

Collaboration Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – Paso Robles, CA

 

BRONZE:         Quarter Celtic Brewpub – Albuquerque, NM

Mocha Hipster Bomb

Collaboration Brewery: Palmer Brewery and Cider House – Albuquerque, NM

 

GABF STATISTICS

  • 37th anniversary of the festival
  • Over 800 breweries in expanded festival hall
  • 4,000+ beers served at the festival
  • 62,000 attendees
  • 4,086 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
  • 584,000 square feet of festival hall

 

Photo © Brewers Association

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Thornapple Brewing Company will celebrate its first anniversary with a party featuring special releases, live music, games and more.

The event will take place Saturday, June 9 from 11a.m-midnight at the brewery’s location in Cascade Township, Michigan.

Attendees can look forward to 36 of Thornapple’s beers, ciders, and meads on tap, as well as a variety of wine and spirits. Among the options will be some old favorites from the brewery’s first days of operation, including an early version of Hoppy Saison, the first batch of Spicy Salted Session Saison and the first batch of Barrel-Aged Brown-Eyed Girl.

“There will be a few more surprises, for sure. We’re still pulling a couple of the extras together,” said Thornapple Brewing Company Head Brewer Sebastian Henao. “We’re going to have some fun stuff.”

thornapple brewing

Sebastian Henao

The event will take place both inside the pub and outside in the parking lot, where there will be a 30-by-60-foot tent for cover. A variety of bands will play from 4p.m-10p.m and attendees can play games outdoors.

The party is a milestone for what has been an extremely eventful first year for the brewery.

Thornapple opened June 10, 2017, serving craft beers, wines and ciders. By September 2017, four new 15-barrel fermenters were installed, vastly increasing the brewery’s production capacity.

“We started out with just a half dozen ales, now we’ve got a great variety of lagers, ales and more experimental styles on tap,” said Thornapple Brewing Company Co-Founder Jeff Coffey.

thornapple brewing

Jeff Coffey & Eric Fouch

In December 2017, Thornapple introduced spirits to their already diverse lineup, including rum, gin, whiskey, vodka and brandy. At the same time, the brewery launched a Sunday brunch program featuring a bloody mary bar and dishes created by chef Sandra Keiser.

Since then, two of their spirits, a gin and a barrel-aged gin, won silver medals at an international spirits competition in New York. More Silver medals were recently won at GLINTCAP, the world’s largest cider competition, for Pear Eau de Vie (brandy) and their new Beet Heat cider with Michigan beets and just the right amount of habanero pepper.

“It’s been a great year getting to know our community and introducing them to our take on beer,” Henao said.

 

Holland, Mich. — New Holland Brewing Company will celebrate its 21st anniversary, as well as its beloved family of IPAs, with the annual Hatter Days party from Friday, June 8 through Sunday, June 10.

This year, the celebration will take place throughout the entire weekend inside the the brewery’s Pub on 8th and its back patio.

hatter days

Attendees can look forward to live music from local performers, activities for all ages and special food features. And of course, a selection of New Holland’s Hatter IPAs will be available on tap, including Mad Hatter, Berry Hatter and Black Hatter.

“The Mad Hatter is turning 21,” said New Holland Brewing Company General Manager Shawna Hood. “We’ll be toasting to that and celebrating the New Holland fans whose support makes this all possible.”

The festivities kick off with the annual golf outing on Friday, June 8 at Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck, Michigan. Live music starts in the Pub on 8th’s back patio at 5pm with the Moonrays, and Nashon Holloway will take the stage inside the pub at 10pm. A silent disco—where people will dance together to music playing through individual wireless headphones—will also start at 10pm that evening.

Saturday starts with a bloody mary bar featuring New Holland’s own spirits at 11am and gives way to a day filled with live music acts. Catch the likes of Coty Bouchard, Delilah DeWylde, Rachel Curtis and Rusty’s Big Ass Band inside the pub or in the back patio. At midnight, there will be a toast honoring the Mad Hatter’s 21st birthday.

Sunday will offer a variety of family friendly activities, including a cookie decorating workshop with Rachel from OoKalooKa Cookies. There will also be a bloody mary bar and live performances from Vinylicious and Kelli Boes.

All ages are welcome to attend, and there will be no cover charge.

 

winter beer fest

Before I worked in the craft industry, I was a beer festival attendee. My perspective only stretched as far as to see the glorious, seemingly never-ending flow of beer from taps. I sought out IPAs and Flanders Reds, but would absolutely try anything. My friends and I would all get different pours and trade them around, forgetting who had what, but enjoying all the different flavors and tastes anyways. People around me would start the beer battle cry and we would all join in, knocking elbows with friendly, slightly intoxicated neighbors and doing our best imitations of freed animals howling at the moon. It was always an atmosphere of (slightly reckless) happiness and friendship.

emilyA couple of years later, I speak from the other side of festival operations as a brewery employee. The air of happiness and friendship is still very much there, but for different reasons. Beer is hard work. As an employee of a Michigan brewery, I now appreciate the science, creativity, innovation, patience, and elbow grease it takes to churn out one magical recipe. I respect brewers for their meticulous natures and passion for creation. I appreciate all of the pubtenders and barbacks for being on the front lines of service. I admire sales representatives and marketing gurus who grow the brand and spread the good word of beer. And I bow down to brave individuals who put every last iota of capital and confidence into opening their own small businesses.

I started as a pubtender in a small brewery to learn the beer and study the brand. I tried out brewing, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the everyday vocation I wanted to devote myself to. I am now a brewery sales representative who dabbles in marketing. I’m also the lead on festivals and events, working with new people and old friends every day. Like all workers in the craft industry, I wear a lot of hats, and gladly. I am still new to the industry, but I recognize that the best brewery team is one that not only believes in the brand, but also in all of its individual members.

And only the best craft and brewery teams are brought to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest. Not only is it hosted by the largest craft beverage organization in Michigan—this festival takes place in Grand Rapids, known by many as Beer City, USA. For Michigan breweries, this is our semester’s final exam, making all of the festival-goers our very enthusiastic and very opinionated graders.

Like a majority of fellow breweries, we plan our beer list carefully (and usually months in advance). We want to bring recognized favorites, but also new styles and maybe a few surprises. Some of those surprises, like a barrel-aged beer, take months to age, with brewers carefully tasting and testing the product until that exact moment that it’s pronounced perfect. And when we tap that beer, crossing our fingers that it wasn’t damaged in transportation or that the tap lines aren’t too cold to pour through, nothing makes us happier than handing it over to an eager attendee.

The weather for this year’s Winter Beer Fest ran the gamut of possible Michigan forecasts. Friday kicked off the festivities with heavy rains downways, sideways, and everyway, drowning everyone, yet spirits remained high. Saturday ushered in a cold snap, welcoming back some fluffy white snow following a pretty mellow winter season. Luckily, the biggest issue weather caused was a few flyaway tents, so festivities went forward.

winter beer fest

A huge attribute to the success of a festival is the volunteer staff. Sometimes, they are the close friends and family of fellow brewery staff. Sometimes they are complete strangers eager for a new experience. Whatever their motivations, they are often thrust into the thick of things with nothing but their enthusiasm to guide them.

We had a great mix of volunteers pouring with us at this beer festival, all with different experience levels. A couple had never poured beer before, while a few others were volunteer veterans, pouring with ease and fielding questions like they owned the place. This mix of strengths caters to all of the different festival goers as well. First-time attendees want more questions answered while some just want the beer options listed as efficiently as possible. Either way, it’s always good to have help.

Even with advanced planning and care, things don’t always go quite the way we want—weather, forgotten supplies, broken down vehicles, sick workers—it all happens. This is usually the nature of the beer business. Luckily, the Michigan craft industry is known for camaraderie. We all lend out a lot of spare wrenches, air tanks, and even volunteer workers at festivals to ensure that all attendees are allowed the best possible time of their lives. At this year’s Winter Beer Fest, we forgot an air tank, meaning we had no way to push beer through the taplines (sheer will does not work). I knew I could reach out to friends in the industry for assistance, and it was no surprise when someone had an extra they could lend us. Later that day, we helped jumpstart another brewery’s vehicle.

The Michigan craft industry is very much a community—a lot of give with little take. We only want to help each other excel in order to grow the industry into further success as a whole. It all comes down to our beer in a person’s hand. With our whole hearts, every fiber of our being, we want people to enjoy it. But we want honest feedback. We want questions and discussions. Most of all, we want to have a conversation with people about our beer and our brand.

With the number of Michigan breweries growing monthly, Michigan craft-drinkers are becoming more and more educated. They recognize quality, they ask questions about ingredients and brew systems, and they appreciate something new. The constant challenge of fulfilling and exceeding every attendee’s expectation keeps us all on our toes and guarantees an innovative and creative future for the industry as a whole.

Whether craft is a hobby or a career, Michigan craft is all about passion. We believe in what we drink and who pours it no matter what side of the bar we’re standing on.

 

Photography: Amee Rutan