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Grand Rapids, Mich – As Atwater Brewing approaches its one-year anniversary at its Grand Rapids location, the Detroit-based craft brewery kicks off celebrations with Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 9. This 21 and over event will take place at its downtown Grand Rapids location at 201 Michigan Street NW from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Attendees can expect true Oktoberfest festivities with German-style food, German-style beers, and live music. They can also compete in shuffleboard and the traditional Oktoberfest “mug holding contests.” The winners will receive gift cards and Atwater swag. The first 25 people to attend will get a free mug club membership for a year.

This is an rain-or-shine event with tented outdoor areas. No advance ticket purchases are necessary, but attendees will be asked to show identification at the door.

Other Atwater Brewery News

As parking becomes a growing concern in downtown Grand Rapids, Atwater Brewing will now provide parking validation tickets to visitors, covering one hour of parking. The closest parking lots available to the public are located under DeVos Place and near the government buildings. Street parking is also available on Monroe Avenue and is free after 6 p.m. and all day on Sundays.

LANSING, Mich – A record number 92 Michigan craft breweries will be serving up more than 588 beers on Saturday, September 9 at the Michigan Brewers Guild’s 9th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.

Tickets are available online now and are $40 in advance (and $45 at the gate, if any remain available). Admission includes 15 tasting tokens, each good for a three-ounce sample. Additional tokens are 50-cents each.

In addition to online tickets, a handful of outlets around Marquette also have tickets for sale for $40—including Blackrocks BreweryMarquette Food Co-OpOre Dock Brewing and The Vierling.

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

#MiBeer #MiBeer20Years #DrinkMiBeer #GreatBeerState #UPFBF17

 

 

GRAND RAPIDS – I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.  Not just your average ice cream though – ice cream beer.

Two completely different products, both delivered in a pint, combined forces to support one common goal: to protect our winters against climate change.  New Belgium Brewing Company and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream collaborated to make both of their pints pair together to make a Salted Caramel Brownie two ways.  One being a new delicious flavor packaged in an ice cream pint for Ben & Jerry’s, called Salted Caramel Brown-ie Ale, while the other is constructed into a beer, called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, delivered in a pint glass for New Belgium.  

This past Monday, New Belgium and the West Michigan Environmental Council (WMEAC) put the pints together. Asher Attick, Michigan Field Marketing Manager for New Belgium and Nicholas Occhipinti, Director of Policy and Community Activism for WMEAC, served up pour overs, or beer floats, at an event called “Pour Over Climate Sessions.”  

A sweet beer seems to be the beer of choice for the float.  Yet one ends up with a double sweet overload. This mistake does not happen with The Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale.  It has enough of the sweet notes subtly peeking through, but it doesn’t overpower the delicious sweetness we all love from Ben and Jerry’s. The perfect sweet success story.

Success also comes through Attick’s duty in Michigan to work with local nonprofits and community outreach, tying it into the regional and national programs that New Belgium is running as a whole.

“We always feel at the size we are, when we go into a new state, it is going to make an impact. And the last thing we ever want to see is a negative impact.  Beer is a competitive business––that is never going to change. We feel it is important going into communities and lending a helping hand to make positive change.  Especially when it is something we strongly believe in as a brewery, like climate change,” stated Attick.

The two brands together with their pints are encouraging communities to write letters to their Governors about the importance of  climate change––not only what may become of our climate in the future, but how it is impacting each and every one of us today.

“Right now in Michigan, there is major climate legislation that is about to come to the forefront, and the only way the politicians care is if you tell them they care. The Fruit Ridge in Michigan was devastated two years ago, and Michigan has already had six 1,000 year floods in the last several years,” Occhipinti said.

With a climate continuing to have patterns of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, our crops will suffer.  That means there could be no hops, there could be no apples and there could be no grapes for the libations we love dearly.  As much as we may all love mild winters and dry summers, our crops do not.  No crops means no beer.  No beer means lots of unhappy locals.

Monday night’s event held letter stations, where people were encouraged to fill out a Mad Lib-styled letters to send to Governor Snyder about what is important to them about climate change and the issues that matter specifically to Michigan. At the end of the program, Attick is taking the handwritten letters and mailing them to the Governor Snyder.  Right now there are over 200 letters that will be mailed and end up on the desk of Governor Snyder.  

The donations from the event went directly to benefit WMEAC but from a national standpoint, for every pint of ice cream sold and every 6-pack, a dollar from each benefit #ProtectOurWinters. Buy both to make some beer floats at home and protect our four seasons!

Sponsored by New Belgium – Michigan

We all have our favorite beers, but what if you had to pick your favorite without knowing what it was?

The TC Ale Trail, along with sponsors Drink My Brewcast, Michigan Hop Alliance, and MI Local Hops, brought back the Traverse City IPA Challenge for its second year. The TC Ale Trail promotes Traverse City brews through several creative events, such as Paddle For Pints. The Traverse City IPA Challenge, held downtown at Little Fleet, involved a blind tasting of ten different IPAs.

“I wanted to create another event that would join the local breweries together in one venue,  and what better place to do it than at The Little Fleet,” said TC Ale Trail Co-Founder Troy Daily.

At most beer festivals and events, attendees can choose from a tap list of old favorites and new experimental brews. However, the Traverse City IPA Challenge required attendees to use what they know – and like – about beer to find a new favorite.

Upon arrival, attendees were given a tasting glass, tickets for ten tastings and food, as well as a ballot for voting and tasting notes. The tickets for tastings were simply numbered 1-10; breweries were kept secret until voting had been completed.

Without knowing who brewed the beer, tasters had to evaluate each beer without previous knowledge or judgement. This required tasters to assess aroma, mouthfeel, and flavor profiles with each sip. Tasting notes could then be added to the ballot sheet to help make a final voting decision.

“The IPA challenge is a great way to blindly try new IPAs without the prejudice of knowing where it’s coming from,” said Chad Rickman, who attended the event and is an devoted IPA fan. “I try to guess what brewery makes each one and most of the time I’m surprised.”

Each IPA was crafted by a local brewery, most of which are a part of the TC Ale Trail. Breweries competing included: Right Brain Brewery, Rare Bird Brewpub, Beggar’s Brewery, Brewery Ferment, North Peak Brewing, The Filling Station Microbrewery, Bravo Zulu Brewing, Old Mission Brewing Company, The Workshop, and Brewery Terra Firma.

At the end of the evening, the taps were revealed and a winner prevailed. Third place went to newcomers Bravo Zulu Brewing. Second place went to Rare Bird Brewpub, for the second year in a row. And the trophy for “Traverse City’s Best IPA” went to The Filling Station Microbrewery. headbrewer Andy Largent gladly accepted the hop-shaped trophy as brewers and tasters cheered for his success.

SALINE – Salt Springs Brewery, a recent addition to the Southeast Michigan beer community, has quickly become a mecca. Officially open since July 31, it has established itself as a must-visit destination not only for its beer, but also for its farm-to-table food and its charming ambiance.

The name Salt Springs is a nod to the history of town of Saline (pronounced Suh-leen, unlike the typical expectation of Say-lean) as a place Native Americans and early explorers gathered salt from area springs.

The building was dedicated in 1899 as a Methodist church. In its 116-year history, it housed a gift shop and most recently an event space before becoming Salt Springs Brewery. The original stained glass windows still grace the walls, glowing colorfully during daylight hours. The former church lawn where ice cream socials had taken place is now paved and serves as the brewery’s 75-seat beer garden.

The purchase plan was in place for months, but the new owners couldn’t take possession of the building until all previous event space obligations were fulfilled in January. The arduous process of remodeling and installing the brewhouse was done in six months.

The design was thoughtfully developed beforehand with the intention of preserving the building’s heritage. They wanted to be “respectful of the grand space because this is a historic building in the Saline area. There are still citizens who live in the city who were baptized here, married here, et cetera and so we knew we had to respect the space the best we could,” said Ed Brosius, one of the brewers and owners.

Various doors removed during renovations now serve new purposes as the base for the bar, the soffit above the kitchen cookline, and as walls in the bell tower room. Another owner, Ron Schofield, an architect by trade, points out, “You can still see the hinges on the ends of the boards” in the bar and brewery area.

“We envisioned it as a community gathering place. So far we’ve had a very good response, from not only our local communities,” said Brosius. Press attention has come from nearby Toledo, including a food review that brought an influx of visitors from south of the Michigan border.

To meet the high demand, they’ve recently added brunch from 10 a.m. on weekends and lunch every weekday at 11 a.m.

The upper level mezzanine, formerly the organ loft, offers seating for up to 24 guests and has hosted gatherings for out-of-town friends and family who have come from many states to visit Saline-area residents and experience the brewery’s charm. Reservations can be made for groups of five or more before 5:30 p.m. and after 7:30 p.m., with those busy dinner hours being available first come first served to walk-in guests.

Brewing is done three days a week on average, using a seven-barrel brewhouse to fill seven barrel fermenters. A 15-barrel fermenter houses double batches. A crowler system allows for canned take-out beer that stays fresh for an extended period of time, and glass growlers are available for more immediate enjoyment at home.

The team describes their brews as following “Old-world European traditions with a modern American twist,” according to Schofield.

Quality is key in every aspect. No expense is spared to achieve the intended result.

“We use the proper yeast for every style. It doubles the cost of the beer, but for us it’s the only way to do it,” said owner and brewer Mark Zadvinskis, who has a background in finance.

Each owner brought individual strengths to the process of growing the business from concept to reality.

“We had Mark as the brains of the business, Ed as the brains of the beer, and I was the brains of the construction. We were the holy trinity,” Schofield joked. “The three of us have symbiotic skills,” said Brosius.

SaltSpringsBrew (15)

A local focus is clear in many aspects of the operation. Financing was obtained from a local bank, and “we try to obtain as much of our foods, and our hops, from Michigan farms,” according to Brosius.

Executive Chef Justin Dalenberg was formerly employed by a notable high-profile Ann Arbor-area restaurant before joining the Salt Springs team.

Artist Dan Barry, who is an investor in the brewery, created the Michelangelo-esque ceiling fresco of a hand giving life to hops.

“There are three things going on. Number one it pays homage to the church. It pays homage to all creation, and it pays homage to the creation of beer in a secular way. It’s meant to be respectful, not cheeky,” said Schofield.

Saline resident and brewery investor Chris Frey of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, who also holds a seat as one of two American Homebrewers Association representatives on the Brewer’s Association board, produced his Belgian Tripel with the Salt Springs brew team for a special release this weekend. Frey will be at the brewery to officiate the release on Friday, November 6.

Tickets are available for their inaugural Beer Dinner on Tuesday Nov. 17. Live music will begin on Thursday evenings starting Nov. 19 with Dragon Wagon.

In the more-distant future there will be barrel-aged offerings, including a collaboration with Tippins Market using barrels from their proprietary blends of spirits. Dominic Aprea, beverage consultant at Tippins, said the barrels he’s providing will be from the store’s popular co-branded single barrel selections. Salt Springs will receive one barrel from Eagle Rare and one from Blanton’s.

“We’ve been experimenting with what to do with the barrels after our bourbon comes out of them. We were looking for someone to partner up with to fill a couple with beer and do something fun. Support local, keep it local, so we chatted with them.” Aprea said.

The final decision on which brews will go into the barrels hasn’t been made.

“I’m going to leave the style up to the brewmasters, whatever they want to put in them we’ll go with,” Aprea said.

Possibilities currently being considered include a barleywine, a porter, or their Breakfast Stout.

Not that long ago, pumpkin spice did not invade every aspect of our society. Oh, sure, there were pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins, and the occasional pumpkin cheesecake. But one couldn’t get pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin spice Oreos.

Now, of course, that flavor is everywhere—including in our beer. Pumpkin spice signals fall and all of its glories—colorful leaves, football games, warm hoodies, apple cider. Another sure sign of fall is the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival. Along with thousands of others, MittenBrew attended the festival to sample the best fall beers around, as well as to get some expert opinions on the ubiquitous pumpkin spice.

Tri-City Brewing Company featured many non-pumpkin beers, but did release their Scarecrow Spiced Brown on Saturday. Self-described “brewery ninja” at Tri-City, Jay Green, indicated that while he is not a fan of the spice himself, the pumpkin beer is a big seller. But, he adds, “you have to keep it balanced. It has to taste like pumpkin spice, but you’d better taste the base beer underneath. Like any good beer, balance is key.”

Gabi Palmer, head brewer of Schmohz Brewery Company in Grand Rapids, agreed.

“It’s the season for all things pumpkin, but you have to balance it,” she said.

Palmer loves pumpkin spice and recommended Griffin Claw’s  Screaming Pumpkin and Liberty Street’s Punkin’ Pie Ale.

“Both are great examples of well- balanced beers that still give you spice.”

CRAFT Homebrew Club President Tracy Broomfield also loves pumpkin spice.

“I hate this meme that is going around,” Broomfield said as she enjoyed Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Cocoa Bourbon Nibbler. “It says to enjoy pumpkin beer, you should throw it in the trash. Pumpkin spice beer can be great, especially when the brewer restrains herself a little and lets the base beer come through.”

Both pumpkin spice lovers and non-lovers could enjoy plenty of both kinds of beer at the festival. Over 80 breweries featured more than 675 beers for thirsty attendees.

Pumpkin Spice Standouts:

Northville’s North Center Brewing Company’s Headless Horseman Pumpkin Pie Ale, like the examples cited by Palmer, did an excellent job of providing a taste of the pumpkin spice but not overpowering the beer. Truly tasted like pumpkin pie in fermented form.

Muskegon’s Unruly Brewing Company came through with an excellent pumpkin beer called Punk’n’Rock. The real pumpkin taste stood out, but not to the exclusion of the tasty spices.

Shelby Township’s Sherwood Brewing Company featured its Smoked Pumpkin Porter. The addition of smoked pumpkin gave this dry porter a wonderful taste.

Non Pumpkin Spice Standouts:

There is a reason that Tri-City’s Brownhoist has won three gold medals at the World Expo of Beer—it’s a darn fine brown ale. Some browns tend to taste like plain beer, the malts being hidden under adjuncts or too many hops. Not this beer. It is a creamy blend of five grains and two hops, resulting in a creamy mouthfeel and smooth finish.

Lansing’s Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale had a huge winner in their Hazed and Confused coffee brown ale. One of my friends described it as “Nutella in a glass.” I took a drink and said, “Yes. If Nutella actually tasted good.” So just the fact that a Nutella fan and non-fan can agree should indicate how terrific this beer is.

Milford’s River’s Edge Brewing Company featured a beer called Karate Bonfire, a coconut vanilla stout. Sometimes vanilla beers taste like a bottle of vanilla extract. This beer, however, perfectly married coconut, vanilla, and coffee. Warm as a bonfire, but much tastier.

South Lyon’s Witch’s Brewing Company treated us to its Furious Ginger. This milk stout was aged in bourbon barrels and spiced with ginger and peppers. Would it be cheesy to say that one could not possibly be furious after drinking this wonderful beer? Too bad, because I am saying it anyway.

As always, the Fall Beer Festival had something for everyone—Oktoberfests to stouts to smoked porters to IPAs and yes, plenty of pumpkin spice. Maybe the pumpkin spice invasion isn’t such a bad thing after all.

DETROIT – Five Detroit breweries will pour their own Weizenbock this week as part of a collaboration that is being called the Detroit Beer Experiment.

You can try the individual recipes on tap at Atwater Brewery, Batch Brewing Company, Brew Detroit, Detroit Beer Company, and Motor City Brewing Works. They will also be featured Friday and Saturday during the Michigan Brewers Guild Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market in Detroit.

As with many ideas in the brewing community, this one was developed over a few shared pints.

The brewers agreed on the Weizenbock style and all developed their own recipes utilizing the same Michigan-grown hops from Hop Head Farms.

The malty, German-style dark beer usually clocks in between 4-6% ABV.

“After 12 years of brewing beer in the city of Detroit, Detroit Beer Company is thrilled to beworking together with all of our friends at the other Detroit breweries,” said Justin Riopelle, head brewer at Detroit Beer Company.

“It’s a fun way to showcase the great beer made in this city,” Riopelle added.

According to the breweries, the “Detroit Beer Experiment” name comes from the 2002 musical collaboration between Carl Craig and Marcus Belgrave, called The Detroit Experiment. The brewers hope to turn their collaboration into an annual tradition.

“We’re excited to see the Detroit brewing scene become even more collaborative,” said Stephen Roginson, founder and head brewer at Batch Brewing Company.

“It’s a tight-knit community of great brewers that was just begging for a project like this,”

All logo work crafted by Detroit Beer Press Senior Designer, Ian Burk

GRAND RAPIDS – Starting today, Grand Rapids residents and tourists alike will have the opportunity to win the title of “Brewsader” and a free T-shirt.

Experience Grand Rapids, a local destination marketing organization, has just launched the Beer City Passport program. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age can pick up a Beer City Passport booklet at any one of the 23 participating locations or the Grand Rapids GoSite, which is located in the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

To earn the title, a participant must visit eight different participating breweries and collect stamps in the Beer City Passport. Once that is achieved, participants bring the passport to the GoSite. A GoSite staff member checks the passport for eligibility, and the participant walks away with a Brewsader T-shirt and a much more cultured palate for craft beer.

The program is part of an effort to enhance beer tourism, which has proven its economic importance in Grand Rapids. Earlier this year, Experience Grand Rapids hired Grand Valley State University to do a study quantifying the impact beer tourism has had on the economy. The study found that beer tourists visit an average of 3.7 breweries during their stay, and they create an economic output of $12.23 million annually in Kent County.

Start collecting stamps at any one of the following breweries:

  • 57 Brew Pub & Bistro
  • B.O.B’s Brewery  
  • Brewery Vivant  
  • Cedar Springs Brewing Company  
  • Cellar Brewing Company  
  • Cranker’s Restaurant & Brewery  
  • E.B. Coffee & Pub  
  • Elk Brewing  
  • Founders Brewing Co.  
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Co.  
  • Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery
  • Harmony Brewing Company
  • Harmony Hall  
  • The Hideout Brewing Company  
  • HopCat  
  • Hudsonville Pike 51 Brewing Co.  
  • Jaden James Brewery  
  • The Mitten Brewing Company  
  • Osgood Brewing  
  • Perrin Brewing Company  
  • Railtown Brewing Co.
  • Rockford Brewing Company  
  • White Flame Brewing Co.

Learn more about the Brewsader program on the Experience Grand Rapids website.

 

Photo courtesy: Experience GR