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great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven members of the Michigan Brewers Guild brought home a total of nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world, presented by the Brewers Association.  Michigan-based Rockford Brewing Company was recognized as the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year”

In all, 293 medals were presented in 98 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016). The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S.

great american beer festival

 

Michigan Brewers Guild members received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Shipfaced, Silver Harbor Brewing Co., Saint Joseph

SILVER

  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout, Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids
  • Rye Hipster Brunch Stout, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Sheehan’s Stout, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford

BRONZE

  • Antwerp’s Placebo, Batch Brewing Co., Detroit
  • Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford
  • Passionfruit Gose, Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
  • Pilgrim’s Dole, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland

 

 

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.

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.

great american beer festival

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.”

 

James Crank of Cranker’s Brewery sits down with Pat Evans to discuss beer, brewing and hockey. To learn more about Cranker’s Brewery, please visit our profile on the brewery, “Cranker’s thrives under the perfect ‘closer.'”

James Crank of Cranker’s Brewery sits down with Pat Evans to discuss beer, brewing and hockey. To learn more about Cranker’s Brewery, please visit our profile on the brewery, “Cranker’s thrives under the perfect ‘closer.'”

BIG RAPIDS — Jim Crank took a risk when he hired his brewer for Cranker’s Brewery.
When he began looking into expanding his Coney Island operation into the brewing world, he was interviewing professional brewers from some of the largest breweries across the country, including Sierra Nevada, Gordon Biersch and Rogue Ales.
These brewers came in, wearing work shirts with patches acting as points of pride from their work in the industry.
One brewer stood out, but it took some time to find him.
Upon Adam Mills’ arrival, Crank walked into the room and couldn’t find him. Mills was in a suit, a far cry from the other’s choice in clothing.
Mills was the last interview for the head brewer position and didn’t even sniff the 10 years of professional brewing experience Crank was seeking. He was a homebrewer.
“He comes in and has a suit and tie on, it’s, ‘Hi Mr. Crank, this that and the other,’” Crank said. “He didn’t fit the bill.”
Crank said he’s not sure how it came up, but he found out Mills is Italian and their views on food and beer being crucial to each other matched up well.
One of the requirements of the interviews was for the brewers to bring their six best beers and Crank said Mills’ were the best across the board.
Then, Mills invited Crank and his wife to his house for dinner to show him more beers.
At Mills’ house, Crank’s mind was made up as soon as they reached the dinner table and the three hyper kids running and jumping around the guests became angels.
“This guy knows what he’s doing,” Crank said. “It’s been a great relationship and he’s family. He’s like a son.”
The risk paid off and the close relationship hasn’t caused any detriment to the product, which has found its way on to the market gradually since production began in 2012.
 
[tw-parallax image=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Crankers-14.jpg” target=”self” lightbox=”no” ][/tw-parallax]
The beer is beginning to show up on more shelves in West Michigan, but the Big Rapids-based brewery has also had great success in the Detroit market, according to Crank, as the strong reputation of longtime West Michigan IPAs such as Founders Brewing Co. Centennial IPA and Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted is more easily overcome on the East side.
Several beers can be found packaged throughout the state, including Dark Cherry Wheat, Bulldog Red, Coconut Porter and Professor IPA. A canned version of the Professor might be in the works soon as well.
Professor is one of Cranker’s points of pride. And the IPA with massive West Coast influence from Crank’s travels in the 1990s isn’t a slouch.
Crank said he’s blind tasted the Professor against several nationally recognized IPAs on three occasions with 12 drinkers. The closest session was 9-3, with Cranker’s winning out.
The test might be a bit biased, but the beer is crisp and clean, an attribute Crank gives to Mills strongest quality.
“He is the closer,” Crank said. “This dude knows how to finish a beer as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. There are brewmasters that are better, but a lot of it is how he finishes the beer. That’s his specialty.”
Crank pushes his production team to brew as much as possible, but he said he wouldn’t ever ask Mills to cut corners, not that Mills would do it.
“If I told him to, he would let me know that he doesn’t agree with that,” Crank said.
Last year, Cranker’s brewed approximately 4,000 barrels and it hopes to hit 6,000 barrels by the end of 2015. Distribution is expanding rapidly, going from 24 Meijer stores to more than 90 and 50 Kroger stores.
Some additional capacity can come from an expanded facility in Big Rapids, but Crank said the brewery is looking for space to get a 40-barrel brew system with 120-barrel fermenters.
Aside from the 15-barrel brew system in Big Rapids with 30 and 60 barrel fermenters, there’s also a 2-barrel system at their Grand Rapids restaurant, which recently made the switch from Coney Island to authentic Mexican and barbeque. A Cranker’s restaurant also can be found in Mount Pleasant.
Crank has come a long way since he and his wife were first looking at breweries such as Big Buck Brewery in the 1990s. Then, he saw the market wasn’t ready for him to start a brewery, so he waited. He waited nearly 20 years before it was time, and then decided to grab the market.
With that in mind, Crank and his team look to continue making beer they like and believe consumers will latch on to.
“I’m in it for the love of the beer, the love of the culture,” he said.

BIG RAPIDS — Jim Crank took a risk when he hired his brewer for Cranker’s Brewery.

When he began looking into expanding his Coney Island operation into the brewing world, he was interviewing professional brewers from some of the largest breweries across the country, including Sierra Nevada, Gordon Biersch and Rogue Ales.

These brewers came in, wearing work shirts with patches acting as points of pride from their work in the industry.

One brewer stood out, but it took some time to find him.

Upon Adam Mills’ arrival, Crank walked into the room and couldn’t find him. Mills was in a suit, a far cry from the other’s choice in clothing.

Mills was the last interview for the head brewer position and didn’t even sniff the 10 years of professional brewing experience Crank was seeking. He was a homebrewer.

“He comes in and has a suit and tie on, it’s, ‘Hi Mr. Crank, this that and the other,’” Crank said. “He didn’t fit the bill.”

Crank said he’s not sure how it came up, but he found out Mills is Italian and their views on food and beer being crucial to each other matched up well.

One of the requirements of the interviews was for the brewers to bring their six best beers and Crank said Mills’ were the best across the board.

Then, Mills invited Crank and his wife to his house for dinner to show him more beers.

At Mills’ house, Crank’s mind was made up as soon as they reached the dinner table and the three hyper kids running and jumping around the guests became angels.

“This guy knows what he’s doing,” Crank said. “It’s been a great relationship and he’s family. He’s like a son.”

The risk paid off and the close relationship hasn’t caused any detriment to the product, which has found its way on to the market gradually since production began in 2012.

 

[tw-parallax image=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Crankers-14.jpg” target=”self” lightbox=”no” ][/tw-parallax]

The beer is beginning to show up on more shelves in West Michigan, but the Big Rapids-based brewery has also had great success in the Detroit market, according to Crank, as the strong reputation of longtime West Michigan IPAs such as Founders Brewing Co. Centennial IPA and Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted is more easily overcome on the East side.

Several beers can be found packaged throughout the state, including Dark Cherry Wheat, Bulldog Red, Coconut Porter and Professor IPA. A canned version of the Professor might be in the works soon as well.

Professor is one of Cranker’s points of pride. And the IPA with massive West Coast influence from Crank’s travels in the 1990s isn’t a slouch.

Crank said he’s blind tasted the Professor against several nationally recognized IPAs on three occasions with 12 drinkers. The closest session was 9-3, with Cranker’s winning out.

The test might be a bit biased, but the beer is crisp and clean, an attribute Crank gives to Mills strongest quality.

“He is the closer,” Crank said. “This dude knows how to finish a beer as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. There are brewmasters that are better, but a lot of it is how he finishes the beer. That’s his specialty.”

Crank pushes his production team to brew as much as possible, but he said he wouldn’t ever ask Mills to cut corners, not that Mills would do it.

“If I told him to, he would let me know that he doesn’t agree with that,” Crank said.

Last year, Cranker’s brewed approximately 4,000 barrels and it hopes to hit 6,000 barrels by the end of 2015. Distribution is expanding rapidly, going from 24 Meijer stores to more than 90 and 50 Kroger stores.

Some additional capacity can come from an expanded facility in Big Rapids, but Crank said the brewery is looking for space to get a 40-barrel brew system with 120-barrel fermenters.

Aside from the 15-barrel brew system in Big Rapids with 30 and 60 barrel fermenters, there’s also a 2-barrel system at their Grand Rapids restaurant, which recently made the switch from Coney Island to authentic Mexican and barbeque. A Cranker’s restaurant also can be found in Mount Pleasant.

Crank has come a long way since he and his wife were first looking at breweries such as Big Buck Brewery in the 1990s. Then, he saw the market wasn’t ready for him to start a brewery, so he waited. He waited nearly 20 years before it was time, and then decided to grab the market.

With that in mind, Crank and his team look to continue making beer they like and believe consumers will latch on to.

“I’m in it for the love of the beer, the love of the culture,” he said.

GRAND RAPIDS — James Crank’s mission to spread his beer across Michigan is working.

His company, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Brewery, recently was honored by MLive.com as one of the top 10 breweries in Michigan.

Moving beyond Big Rapids, his beer is now available at his Crankers location south of Grand Rapids, with plans to expand to his Mount Pleasant location as well.

But the true test to his growth strategy — customer feedback — was confirmed Thursday night at the sixth annual Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival where he showcased four beers. Crank chatted with a steady crowd of visitors throughout the night while his pouring assistant tried to keep up.

“I love your coconut porter!” said Jane Lovett of Grand Rapids as she ran up to greet Crank. “Grand Rapids cannot have too many breweries.”

Crank joined about 40 other breweries in the Brewer’s Loft, a new third floor feature at the festival. The three-day event is expected to attract 17,000 visitors to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

In addition to tastings, the festival features beer seminars and how beer pairs with food seminars, according to organizers.

A notable beer at Cranker’s booth was Crankenstein (6.5% ABV), an amber lager made with German malts and German hops to offer the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.

Bay City-based Tri-City Brewing Company featured Giant Slayer (8.5 % ABV), a dark Russian Imperial Stout with strong flavor and a barrel-aged sibling in the works. Zachary Schultz, a sales representative for Tri-City, said word-of-mouth has helped push demand for the beer.

“This beer is exploding right now,” he said.

Finally, over at Grand Rapids-based Hideout Brewing Company was the most unique beer of the night: Mango Guava Pale Ale (6.5 % ABV). It started out with a sweet, smooth mango taste and finished with a light, hoppy flavor.

The festival also featured the new Michigan Blue Cider House, a dedicated space that featured more than a dozen cider producers.

Ada-based Sietsema Orchards showcased Orange Label (6.9% ABV), an American cider aged in an oak bourbon barrel that is easy to drink because it isn’t too dry or too sweet.

Bob Reusch of Grand Rapids was excited about the expanded hard cider section because he is learning more about how cider is made. He planned to attend a Cider 101 session that night.

“It’s a nice alternative,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival continues 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 at the door.

GRAND RAPIDS — James Crank’s mission to spread his beer across Michigan is working.

His company, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Brewery, recently was honored by MLive.com as one of the top 10 breweries in Michigan.

Moving beyond Big Rapids, his beer is now available at his Crankers location south of Grand Rapids, with plans to expand to his Mount Pleasant location as well.

But the true test to his growth strategy — customer feedback — was confirmed Thursday night at the sixth annual Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival where he showcased four beers. Crank chatted with a steady crowd of visitors throughout the night while his pouring assistant tried to keep up.

“I love your coconut porter!” said Jane Lovett of Grand Rapids as she ran up to greet Crank. “Grand Rapids cannot have too many breweries.”

Crank joined about 40 other breweries in the Brewer’s Loft, a new third floor feature at the festival. The three-day event is expected to attract 17,000 visitors to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

In addition to tastings, the festival features beer seminars and how beer pairs with food seminars, according to organizers.

A notable beer at Cranker’s booth was Crankenstein (6.5% ABV), an amber lager made with German malts and German hops to offer the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.

Bay City-based Tri-City Brewing Company featured Giant Slayer (8.5 % ABV), a dark Russian Imperial Stout with strong flavor and a barrel-aged sibling in the works. Zachary Schultz, a sales representative for Tri-City, said word-of-mouth has helped push demand for the beer.

“This beer is exploding right now,” he said.

Finally, over at Grand Rapids-based Hideout Brewing Company was the most unique beer of the night: Mango Guava Pale Ale (6.5 % ABV). It started out with a sweet, smooth mango taste and finished with a light, hoppy flavor.

The festival also featured the new Michigan Blue Cider House, a dedicated space that featured more than a dozen cider producers.

Ada-based Sietsema Orchards showcased Orange Label (6.9% ABV), an American cider aged in an oak bourbon barrel that is easy to drink because it isn’t too dry or too sweet.

Bob Reusch of Grand Rapids was excited about the expanded hard cider section because he is learning more about how cider is made. He planned to attend a Cider 101 session that night.

“It’s a nice alternative,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival continues 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 at the door.


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