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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

Traverse City, MI —The Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival will return to the front lawn at the Village of Grand Traverse Commons for the ninth year on August 26 and 27, 2016. This summer’s festival will bring a bevy of some of the best brews in Michigan as well as brews from beyond our high-five border. New Orleans-inspired live musical acts will grace the stage and local food will include a Pit BBQ Competition.

The festival will pay tribute to Michigan’s eclectic craft brewery scene while featuring flavors from over 60 select breweries throughout the U.S and Canada. With over 300 beers, ciders, meads, and wines, the weekend will be overflowing with flavorful beverages, delicious food, talented musicians, and thousands of beer and music lovers. Patrons will be able to explore every corner of the craft brew culture via a Rare Brew Tour, Homebrewer’s Challenge, and a new Brewer’s Collaboration Court. Also, the Hop n’ Brew Shack will make its return and feature extra-special brews and first releases from select breweries.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and The Revivalists (one of Rolling Stone’s March 2016 10 New Artists You Need to Know) will headline the weekend and will be supported by Traverse City’s own The Accidentals, The Heard, festival favorites That 1 Guy and Heatbox, Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds, The Last Revel, The Change, Detroit Party Marching Band, Violin Monster, Deep Blue Water Samba, and more. The Silent Disco tent with 1500 wireless headsets and the only Michigan Silent Disco Presents company will be rockin’ with a LIVE BAND Silent Disco with That 1 Guy and Heatbox as well as DJs, including DJ Dominate, DJ Johnny Walker and many many more.

Tickets include five 8 ounce tasting tokens and commemorative tasting glass, plus access to a full lineup of national musical talent, merchandise, the Homebrewer’s Challenge 6 beers, Brewer’s Collaboration Court, and Hop n’ Brew Shack. Friday tickets are $50, Saturday tickets are $55, and weekend passes are $100. Early bird tickets are sold out.

The Microbrew & Music Festival has hosted 15 festivals, raising over $100,000 for our collaborative nonprofits, invested over $1M into craft brews, local food, passionate musicians, and sustainable practices and is proud to raise a glass to the great work in the mitten state.

Tickets and more information can be found on microbrewandmusic.com.

 

Traverse City, MI —The Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival will return to the front lawn at the Village of Grand Traverse Commons for the ninth year on August 26 and 27, 2016. This summer’s festival will bring a bevy of some of the best brews in Michigan as well as brews from beyond our high-five border. New Orleans-inspired live musical acts will grace the stage and local food will include a Pit BBQ Competition.
The festival will pay tribute to Michigan’s eclectic craft brewery scene while featuring flavors from over 60 select breweries throughout the U.S and Canada. With over 300 beers, ciders, meads, and wines, the weekend will be overflowing with flavorful beverages, delicious food, talented musicians, and thousands of beer and music lovers. Patrons will be able to explore every corner of the craft brew culture via a Rare Brew Tour, Homebrewer’s Challenge, and a new Brewer’s Collaboration Court. Also, the Hop n’ Brew Shack will make its return and feature extra-special brews and first releases from select breweries.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and The Revivalists (one of Rolling Stone’s March 2016 10 New Artists You Need to Know) will headline the weekend and will be supported by Traverse City’s own The Accidentals, The Heard, festival favorites That 1 Guy and Heatbox, Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds, The Last Revel, The Change, Detroit Party Marching Band, Violin Monster, Deep Blue Water Samba, and more. The Silent Disco tent with 1500 wireless headsets and the only Michigan Silent Disco Presents company will be rockin’ with a LIVE BAND Silent Disco with That 1 Guy and Heatbox as well as DJs, including DJ Dominate, DJ Johnny Walker and many many more.
Tickets include five 8 ounce tasting tokens and commemorative tasting glass, plus access to a full lineup of national musical talent, merchandise, the Homebrewer’s Challenge 6 beers, Brewer’s Collaboration Court, and Hop n’ Brew Shack. Friday tickets are $50, Saturday tickets are $55, and weekend passes are $100. Early bird tickets are sold out.
The Microbrew & Music Festival has hosted 15 festivals, raising over $100,000 for our collaborative nonprofits, invested over $1M into craft brews, local food, passionate musicians, and sustainable practices and is proud to raise a glass to the great work in the mitten state.
Tickets and more information can be found on microbrewandmusic.com.
 

MARQUETTE Ask anyone at the U.P. Fall Beer Festival and he or she will say it’s the favorite festival of the year. Of course, under the influence of amazing craft beer, it’s easy to say that about any festival.

However, this seems to be the feeling across the board—for both Upper Peninsula locals and Michiganders making the long trek up north. Perhaps it was the beautiful September weather—60 degrees and sunny—a perfect afternoon to usher in the fall season. Or maybe it was the location—Mattson Lower Harbor Park—a beautiful green space in Marquette’s harbor next to the historic ore docks.

More likely, it was a combination of weather, location, beer, and the excellent hospitality offered by the community of Marquette. Like most cities who host a Michigan Brewer’s Guild event, local businesses and residents welcomed visitors from all over the state to embrace Michigan craft.

Unlike other guild fests, the U.P. Fest only took place on Saturday instead of the customary Friday-Saturday block. But this hardly inhibited the merriment. Most festival-goers and brewery representatives made the festival a long weekend journey, with down-staters stopping on the way up to experience other beer destinations and catch up with their northern acquaintances.

Trevor Doublestein, owner at Our Brewing Company in Holland, MI, stopped in his Michigan birthplace of Petoskey on his way up to Marquette, bringing his father, Erwin, with him. “I came up with Trevor. I’ve been living in Holland for three years to help with the brewery,and I’ll be moving back to Petoskey soon. But this weekend I’ll be pouring and drinking with Trevor.”

The Our team connected with Beards Brewery in Petoskey, storing their kegs there before the next half of their journey to the U.P. And they were not the only ones stopping to take a beer break—soon Beards had staff from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales as well as official guild volunteers and attendees filling up the bar seats. Everyone was happily surprised to meet each other, catch up, and discuss the upcoming festivities.

When Saturday rolled around and the festival gates opened, everyone was ready to sample over 450 different beers from the 65 breweries that made it to Marquette. U.P breweries played excellent hosts to all of their visitors and counterparts while they juggled both pub crowds and festival crowds.

“This is a crazy, crazy weekend for us, but it’s going great,” said Dan Andrews, Blackrocks Brewery manager.

Michigan Brewer’s Guild festivals offer great variety from all regions of Michigan, and guests were treated to all styles of beer. Kuhnenn Brewing Company’s well known Fluffer IPA was featured, but it was also remixed into Grapefruit, Habanero, and Mango versions. Brewery Vivant kicked off the fall seasonal brews with Pumpkin Tart, a Belgian-inspired Ale brewed with real pumpkin. And Brewery Becker had attendees drinking in the old-style of the Vikings with Vargdricka, a Scandinavian Farmhouse Ale.

Veteran breweries supplied brilliant beer options as always, but there were also newer breweries to discover. River’s Edge Brewing Company (Milford), Cognition Brewing Company (Ishpeming), and Tripel Root (Zeeland) were all enthusiastic pourers at the festival, reminding us all that the craft beer industry is still growing across the state.

“We have made everything ourselves, from our beer to our tables, chairs, and building renovations,” said Laura Gentry, part owner and founder of Tripel Root.

They opened their brewpub in Zeeland this past December, bringing craft beer and the dining experience to the small community. The U.P. Beer Festival was their first, and they knew it was a no-brainer when they decided to come, bringing with them Kentucky Waterfall, a Bourbon Barrel-aged Black IPA and Perception Defines Reality, their already award-winning (3rd place People’s Choice Awards for Best Beer Name) Belgian Tripel.

“Both of us, my husband Nate and I, both went to Michigan Tech and love the U.P. And we knew coming to this festival would be more laid back and relaxed. I mean, it’s gorgeous!” said Gentry.

Lines at brewery booths may have been long, but there was plenty to see and plenty to do while waiting. Many were soaking up beer and sunshine while also enjoying a variety of food vendors and musical entertainment. The Aral Sea Divers, Conga Se Menne, Jerry Kippola, and Green Gene the singing farmer provided tunes for lawn lounging and relaxed dancing.

The festival may have ended at 6 p.m. sharp, but downtown Marquette was ready to continue the craft celebrations afterwards, with everyone flocking to local bars, restaurants, and breweries for more music, craft beer, and music.

MARQUETTE — Beer news has been abuzzing throughout the Upper Peninsula lately; from the Upper Hand Brewing announcement to Blackrocks’ notable expansion and canning project.

Everything came together Saturday, for the fifth annual Michigan Brewers Guild U.P. Fall Beer Festival, held at Riverside Park.

And despite some colder-than-expected temperatures and a slight mist in the air, 3,500 festival-goers were treated to beers from across the state.

Several breweries brought everything from staple, well-recognized beers to the exploratory kiwi, ice cream, pumpkin and coconut brews.

One of the brews I had been wanting to try for a while was out of Petoskey Brewing. While its Brain Freeze (6.9% ABV) was available at the Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, it sold out within a matter of minutes, and I wasn’t able to try any. Petoskey was one of my first stops during the enthusiast hour on Saturday, and sure enough, the brew was sold out when I went back a few hours later. The brew was sweet and tart raspberry, with somewhat of a cream aspect. Believe it or not, this hit the mark and reminded me just of a waffle cone and raspberry ice cream.

Switching it up, Dark Horse brought a stout that was right out of the candy aisle. I’ll Have More Stout (8.6% ABV)— themed after a 100 Grand candy bar — was sweet, bold and rich. Lots of chocolate, vanilla and some toffee flavors help to offset the alcohol feel of this brew. This is certainly a worthy option for adults looking for a bit of a twist on the famous candy dessert.

For those looking for somewhat of a less intense stout offering, Hereford & Hops out of Escanaba brought its Schwartzbier (4.9% ABV) — a stout brewed as a lager. The light body made this enjoyable, yet still contained the flavor profile that many come to expect with a stout — chocolate, malt and caramel with a hint of bitterness.

Southern Michigan heavyweight Greenbush Brewery made the long trek north, bringing some of its best and brightest, including Memento Mori (6.3% ABV). This Oktoberfest ale contains some citrus, spice, roasted malt and a slight bitterness — making for a very easy-drinking fall brew.

But one of my favorites of the day was an old favorite, given a rebirthing process at Griffin Claw Brewing Company out of Birmingham. Screamin’ Pumpkin (5% ABV), the popular pumpkin-flavored beer originally brewed at the now-defunct Michigan Brewing Company, was given a second life when the original brewer, Dan Rogers, decided to revitalize it at Griffin Claw. The result? A brew that couldn’t have represented the original any better — and on tap, the flavors were even more present. While this won’t be available in your local grocery or beer stores (yet), it’s definitely one to make the trip for this fall.

Other beers that impressed included White Flame’s Cookie Monster, Short’s Kiwi Destroy Mission, Soo Brewing’s Barbaric Saftig Reserve and Blackrocks’ Coconut Brown.

The next Michigan Brewers Guild festival takes place Oct. 25 and 26, at Eastern Market in Detroit. Saturday is sold out, but tickets are still available for Friday at mibeer.com.

MADISON, Wis. — It began like any Michigan beer festival: With a line of thousands of thirsty people waiting to be let into a park, where brewery representatives and volunteers lurked under large tents to pour sweet, sweet suds into sampling glass after sampling glass.

But while Michigan’s oldest continuously hosted beer fest is a mere 15 years old, the annual Great Taste of the Midwest — the latest edition of which was this past Saturday — has been going on since 1986. And as a regional festival, it plays host to a much larger number of breweries: A record-breaking 142 this year.

Twelve Michigan establishments joined breweries from eight other states, ranging from Ohio to Nebraska and Minnesota to Missouri, to offer a truly mind-blowing number of beers. Those establishments included Arcadia, Atwater, Bell’s, Dark Horse, Dragonmead, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Kuhnhenn, New Holland, Short’s, The Livery and meadery B. Nektar. Due to the popularity of the event, there is often a long waiting list of breweries that want to participate.

Many, though far from all, breweries developed themes. Bell’s handed out branded superhero capes (a brilliant gimmick as plenty of festgoers put them on). The “Kuhnhenn Dynasty” offered all Asian-themed beers, including Mandarin Orange Wit, Fire Dragon Ginger-Cinnamon IPA, Asian Pear-suasion Golden Ale, Chai-tea-weizen and General Tso’s Ginseng Wheat Ale.

New Holland rocked a “Prom of the Undead” theme complete with dancing zombies, a mummified Elvis and “Beervangelist” Fred Bueltmann dressed as a ghoul. The brewery brought a 2006 Pilgrim’s Dole Wheat Wine, a 2009 Blue Sunday Sour Ale and “Blend of the Undead,” which mixed Rye Hatter and Black Hatter with barrel-aged Golden Cap Saison and The Poet Stout and floating whole-leaf Cascade hops.

With ticket sales limited to 6,000, lines at the Great Taste were usually quite reasonable, though the popularity of breweries like Short’s (which had its own standalone tent) and Founders was still apparent. Short’s was typical Short’s, bringing regulars like Huma Lupa Licious and Nicie Spicie, as well as such creative or rare offerings as Black Chai India Cream Ale, Richard in the Dirt Belgian Tripel, Bourbon Black Cherry Porter, Van Dammage Belgian IPA and Grasshoppah IPA — brewed with chocolate mint.

Founders served staples such as All Day IPA, Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, Centennial IPA and Red’s Rye PA to throngs of eager Midwesterners, but the lines really surged during timed tappings of Breakfast Stout, Frangelic Mountain Brown, Curmudgeon’s Better Half Barrel Aged Strong Ale, Devil Dancer Triple IPA and KBS Bourbon Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout.

All told, there were five huge tents of beer, along with a sixth tent dedicated to nothing but cask ales. Many of these beers unfortunately poured muddy and opaque, meaning the casks had been jostled about, stirring up the live yeast, but the ones that weren’t yielded some of the tastiest beers of the day. Sometimes the tried-and-true is the best, as a glass of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale reminded me how Michigan’s oldest brewery really “gets” how to serve beer in this traditional fashion.

Lest anyone think I traveled all the way to Madison to try only Michigan beers, let me say that other standouts included Cross of Gold, a blonde (ish) ale from Chicago’s Revolution Brewing on cask; Two Women Country Lager, a refreshing and flavorful collaboration between Wisconsin’s New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting; and Krankshaft Kolsch from another Chicago brewery, Metropolitan. Vintage and Great Dane, two local Madison breweries, also had some tasty brews including Tippy Toboggan Roggenbier and Old Glory American Pale Ale, respectively.

Two things I really liked about Great Taste as compared to Michigan’s beer festivals: Glasses made of actual glass (which you take home as a keepsake) and no tokens. You just walk up, tell someone you want beer, and they pour it. Crazy. Actually, a third thing: the rinsing/drinking water stations were really nice; they trickled streams of water into a basin and made it super easy and quick to step up and rinse the schmutz out of your glass and fill it up to stay hydrated.

If you’re lucky enough to get tickets (it’s notoriously difficult), then a trek to Madison for Great Taste of the Midwest should be on your beer bucket list, if only to see with your own eyes and tastebuds just how well Michigan beers stack up against those of our neighboring states and beyond.


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