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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 – “This is amazing. I’m used to festivals with maybe 20 breweries, two of which are Budweiser or Miller.”
The guy speaking stood before me, dressed in a red ball cap and sweatshirt with a large “N,” denoting where he recently moved from — Nebraska. In contrast to his native Cornhusker State’s beer events, the festival we were at — the sixth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival — sported more than 75 breweries serving nearly 700 beers, all of them from right here in Michigan.
It was a timely reminder of what Michigan craft beer lovers are sometimes tempted to take for granted: we are blessed with a large, diverse array of great local brews that is the envy of most any other state in the union. Here are a few of the more interesting ones I sampled over the festive weekend, including several that confounded my expectations.

Got Their Claws in Me

Apridisiac Sour Apricot Amber Ale, Bourbon Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Griffin Claw Brewing Co. (Birmingham)
Cool story, bro: last month I attended a beer dinner with Griffin Claw head brewer Dan Rogers, who told the story of how he transitioned from chef to brewer during his days in Las Vegas in the 1990s. It turns out I drank his beer at the now defunct Holy Cow Microbrewery during my one and only trip to Sin City in 1996. Happily for me and the rest of Michigan, Rogers is back home and turning out some amazing brews including Apridisiac, a hay-colored, medium-bodied ale that delivers sweet and sour apricot jam and marmalade notes with a mild funky finish. Of greatest surprise to me was how much I enjoyed Bourbon Imperial Pumpkin, which combined three of my least favorite fads into one beer.

Livin’ on the Edge

Ctrl+Alt+Del Altbier, River’s Edge Brewing Co. (Milford)
I have yet to make the trip to River’s Edge, which opened just this past summer, but the buzz around its beers has been consistently good. This is no doubt due to the shrewd decision to bring Michigan brewing veteran Kim Schneider (formerly of Traverse City’s North Peak, among others) on board as head brewer. Ctrl+Alt+Del is fashioned as a traditional Northern German altbier, with a light malt flavor, balanced nicely by Spalt hops and a crisp, satisfying finish. Not to mention, it has a great name.

Goodd Beerr

Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co. (Kalamazoo)
Longtime brewer of both the home and pro variety Greg “Gonzo” Haner finally put his extensive Siebel Institute training to its ultimate use in 2013 when he opened Gonzo’s BiggDogg in Kalamazoo. Despite my reservations about the brewery’s silly name, the beers are top notch, especially the Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter, a robust, chocolatey brew with vanilla notes highlighted by the bourbon character, all smoothed out with a pleasantly silky mouthfeel.

Gravitas

440 Pepper Smoker, Barrel Aged Rye-Headed Stepchild, Original Gravity Brewing Co. (Milan)
The first time I had 440 Pepper Smoker on tap, I knew I had finally found a pepper-flavored beer I could get behind. The toasty amber malt notes are accentuated with just enough jalapeno heat to leave you with a slow burn and a thirst for another pint. The Rye-Headed Stepchild brought a brilliant balance of ginger and rye malt spiciness, overlaid with complex, woody notes from the whiskey barrel.

Hops and Oats

Oats ’N Hoes Imperial IPA, Unruly Brewing Co. (Muskegon)
Another surprise for me was Oats ’N Hoes, an imperial IPA from relative newcomer Unruly Brewing, the brainchild of homebrewer-turned-pro Eric Hoffman. Hoffman’s known for brewing beers with copious amounts of hops, and this rendition of the 8.1% ABV bitter bomb was all the more hoppy for being pushed through a Randall of, if memory serves, fresh Chinook and Simcoe cones. The malt backbone (which included flaked oats) held up nicely against even this much hoppiness. I’m not normally a fan of these types of beers (or even Simcoe hops in general), but this one managed to hit the spot. The name is apparently a reference to a rap parody by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly that I’m not hip (hop) enough to have seen.

Beer Garden

Dandelion Rhubarb Saison, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter)
Head brewer and founder Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin is known both for making some pretty funktastic wild ales as well as experimenting with various leafy green ingredients. His Dandelion Rhubarb Saison featured the well known Jolly Pumpkin sour profile, but topped it off with a counterbalance of earthy, vegetal notes. Dee-licious and gone too soon.

The Ones That Got Away

Two beers I wanted to try included Brewery Vivant’s Paris — a saison fermented with brettanomyces and aged in red wine barrels — and Bourbon Barrel Territorial Baltic Porter — a collaboration between Liberty Street and Witch’s Hat, named for a road that runs between Plymouth and South Lyon, where the two breweries are respectively located. A number of people enthusiastically recommended these beers, but I never quite got to them. Sad face.
There were, of course, many other amazing beers deserving of mention. But just like beer festivals, where time is limited, so is the word count for articles recapping them.
In the meantime, get ready for the next great Michigan Brewers Guild fest, the 10th annual Winter Beer Festival, now two days long — Feb. 27-28, 2015 — in Grand Rapids.  Tickets go on sale Dec. 4 (with pre-sale for Enthusiast members Dec. 2-3). See mibeer.com to buy online.

DETROIT – “This is amazing. I’m used to festivals with maybe 20 breweries, two of which are Budweiser or Miller.”

The guy speaking stood before me, dressed in a red ball cap and sweatshirt with a large “N,” denoting where he recently moved from — Nebraska. In contrast to his native Cornhusker State’s beer events, the festival we were at — the sixth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival — sported more than 75 breweries serving nearly 700 beers, all of them from right here in Michigan.

It was a timely reminder of what Michigan craft beer lovers are sometimes tempted to take for granted: we are blessed with a large, diverse array of great local brews that is the envy of most any other state in the union. Here are a few of the more interesting ones I sampled over the festive weekend, including several that confounded my expectations.

Got Their Claws in Me

Apridisiac Sour Apricot Amber Ale, Bourbon Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Griffin Claw Brewing Co. (Birmingham)

Cool story, bro: last month I attended a beer dinner with Griffin Claw head brewer Dan Rogers, who told the story of how he transitioned from chef to brewer during his days in Las Vegas in the 1990s. It turns out I drank his beer at the now defunct Holy Cow Microbrewery during my one and only trip to Sin City in 1996. Happily for me and the rest of Michigan, Rogers is back home and turning out some amazing brews including Apridisiac, a hay-colored, medium-bodied ale that delivers sweet and sour apricot jam and marmalade notes with a mild funky finish. Of greatest surprise to me was how much I enjoyed Bourbon Imperial Pumpkin, which combined three of my least favorite fads into one beer.

Livin’ on the Edge

Ctrl+Alt+Del Altbier, River’s Edge Brewing Co. (Milford)

I have yet to make the trip to River’s Edge, which opened just this past summer, but the buzz around its beers has been consistently good. This is no doubt due to the shrewd decision to bring Michigan brewing veteran Kim Schneider (formerly of Traverse City’s North Peak, among others) on board as head brewer. Ctrl+Alt+Del is fashioned as a traditional Northern German altbier, with a light malt flavor, balanced nicely by Spalt hops and a crisp, satisfying finish. Not to mention, it has a great name.

Goodd Beerr

Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co. (Kalamazoo)

Longtime brewer of both the home and pro variety Greg “Gonzo” Haner finally put his extensive Siebel Institute training to its ultimate use in 2013 when he opened Gonzo’s BiggDogg in Kalamazoo. Despite my reservations about the brewery’s silly name, the beers are top notch, especially the Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter, a robust, chocolatey brew with vanilla notes highlighted by the bourbon character, all smoothed out with a pleasantly silky mouthfeel.

Gravitas

440 Pepper Smoker, Barrel Aged Rye-Headed Stepchild, Original Gravity Brewing Co. (Milan)

The first time I had 440 Pepper Smoker on tap, I knew I had finally found a pepper-flavored beer I could get behind. The toasty amber malt notes are accentuated with just enough jalapeno heat to leave you with a slow burn and a thirst for another pint. The Rye-Headed Stepchild brought a brilliant balance of ginger and rye malt spiciness, overlaid with complex, woody notes from the whiskey barrel.

Hops and Oats

Oats ’N Hoes Imperial IPA, Unruly Brewing Co. (Muskegon)

Another surprise for me was Oats ’N Hoes, an imperial IPA from relative newcomer Unruly Brewing, the brainchild of homebrewer-turned-pro Eric Hoffman. Hoffman’s known for brewing beers with copious amounts of hops, and this rendition of the 8.1% ABV bitter bomb was all the more hoppy for being pushed through a Randall of, if memory serves, fresh Chinook and Simcoe cones. The malt backbone (which included flaked oats) held up nicely against even this much hoppiness. I’m not normally a fan of these types of beers (or even Simcoe hops in general), but this one managed to hit the spot. The name is apparently a reference to a rap parody by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly that I’m not hip (hop) enough to have seen.

Beer Garden

Dandelion Rhubarb Saison, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter)

Head brewer and founder Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin is known both for making some pretty funktastic wild ales as well as experimenting with various leafy green ingredients. His Dandelion Rhubarb Saison featured the well known Jolly Pumpkin sour profile, but topped it off with a counterbalance of earthy, vegetal notes. Dee-licious and gone too soon.

The Ones That Got Away

Two beers I wanted to try included Brewery Vivant’s Paris — a saison fermented with brettanomyces and aged in red wine barrels — and Bourbon Barrel Territorial Baltic Porter — a collaboration between Liberty Street and Witch’s Hat, named for a road that runs between Plymouth and South Lyon, where the two breweries are respectively located. A number of people enthusiastically recommended these beers, but I never quite got to them. Sad face.

There were, of course, many other amazing beers deserving of mention. But just like beer festivals, where time is limited, so is the word count for articles recapping them.

In the meantime, get ready for the next great Michigan Brewers Guild fest, the 10th annual Winter Beer Festival, now two days long — Feb. 27-28, 2015 — in Grand Rapids.  Tickets go on sale Dec. 4 (with pre-sale for Enthusiast members Dec. 2-3). See mibeer.com to buy online.

For the sixth year running, Eastern Market hosted the Detroit Fall Beer Festival this past weekend in Detroit.

In what has seemingly become tradition, Michigan craft beer enthusiasts donned Halloween costumes in spirit of the upcoming holiday. They waited patiently in line to sample rarities and regulars from the state’s finest breweries.

Over 75 breweries participated in this year’s festival. Patrons had the options to choose from nearly 700 beers on tap.

Aaron Rzeznik, Brewer at Witch’s Hat Brewing Company, said most people were seeking out the rare beers that aren’t on tap at the pub.

“We appreciate that the Michigan craft beer drinkers are thirsty for some good beer,” he said. “We want to serve them good beer that’s unique and quality. And hopefully we do that. That’s our goal.”

Witch’s Hat’s first Brewer’s Guild festival was back in 2012, therefore making the brewery veterans compared to many of the newer breweries.

River’s Edge Brewing, located in Milford, is merely four months old and found themselves participating in their first Michigan Brewers Guild festival.

“The weather’s amazing and it’s great to be downtown,” said Owner and General Manager Ryan Wiltse.

Temperatures found themselves in the 60s on Friday and pushing 70 on Saturday for the sold out crowd, providing the perfect backdrop for the fest and those in the sheds off of Russell St. in Detroit.

Wiltse said the reception at the festival and their taproom has been “phenomenal.”

“We’ve made about 30 batches of beer so far and only about six or seven have been repeat brews,” he said. “So far we’ve brewed about 210 barrels in the last four months. Quite a bit more than we anticipated.”

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For many festival-goers, this wasn’t their first stint at Eastern Market.

Jason and Kristy Smith, second timers at the Eastern Market festival, enjoyed making the festival an over-night event by staying downtown.

“I used to just come down to Detroit for sporting events,” Jason said. “This is the only time I’ve come down here for something else and it’s a good time.”

Some of the couple’s favorite brews included the caramel flavored Karm-Ale and the Pecan Turtle Triffel, both from 51 North out of Lake Orion.

“I love the fact that it’s all Michigan breweries,” Jason said. “It’s all Michigan stuff. It’s all local.”

 

For a complete recap of the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click hereTo view part one of our favorite beers from the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click here.

Brewery Ferment 45th Parallale: Brewery Ferment is a fairly young operation based out of Traverse City. One of their flagship brews, the 45th Parallale is light, crisp and slightly hoppy, This American Pale Ale has a nice, earthy hop up front, with a slightly sweet citrusy aftertaste. A nice, drinkable beer that could be enjoyed again and again.

Kuhnhenn Kürbis Sour Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Available only during the Michigan Brewers Guild Beer Enthusiast hour (take note, those on the fence about becoming Enthusiast members), this brew created with the second runnings of All Hallows Ale stood out as the most interesting beer of the festival. Advertised as 12.25% ABV, it was light bodied enough to sip like it was less than half that. The spices – including nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon – dominated the nose, but upon tasting faded into a well balanced blend of sour tartness and honey sweetness. The overall effect reminded of mulled wine.

Short’s Bourbon Hammer Jack: An outstanding and quite boozy barrel aged offering by Short’s. This is a strong winter scotch ale with sweet notes and malty body. Very thick palate and very bourbony upfront with the aroma. This high ABV brew clocks in at around 9%. Although it’s typically a pub exclusive, there is no doubt this one will warm your bones during the fall and winter.

Arbor Harvest Ale: This barrel aged, dry-hopped IPA delivered the full piney fragrance of fresh, locally grown Chinook hops along with a palate-pleasing balance of spicy bitterness and mildly toasted malt flavors. An impressive exemplar of what’s possible through the rapidly developing Michigan-grown hop scene.

The Livery FramBam Wild Ale: Barrel aged with raspberries, this tart delight stood out even from The Livery’s other solid offerings, which included several barrel aged brews. FramBam melded the raspberry fruitiness with oaky and bitter notes for a surprisingly dry and satisfying finish.

Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde: The draft version of this modified blonde was just as tasty as the bottle version. Coffee aroma dominates the nose and the consistency is smooth with a surprising clean body. This brew blends the best of both worlds with its light mouthfeel and stout qualities. For those who don’t like heavy stouts but appreciate the look and aroma, this one’s for you.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th Imperial Stout: OK, nothing new here obviously. But is there anything wrong with sticking to an old stand-by? BBPt5 is one of if not the best bourbon-barrel stouts around. Smooth, dark, creamy and strong. In a time where everything is being thrown into a barrel, Dark Horse is still showing how it’s supposed to be done. Damn-near perfection.

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Compiled by Erik Hart, Mike D’Orazio and David Bardallis.

For a complete recap of the fifth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival, click here.

DETROIT — When you first walk into a Michigan Brewers Guild festival, you are handed your handy festival guide, one beer cup and 15 tokens. One might think to themselves, “Only 15 tokens? I’m definitely going to need more.”

Wrong.

First-hand experience will soon lead you to change your mind after several three-ounce pours. Flagship beers, specialty brews and generous pours will lead to your perma-grin by the end of your five hour stint. Here’s what contributed to a great day at Eastern Market, part one:

Odd Side Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Citra: As a huge fan of the standard Citra and Black Citra, I was immediately drawn to the bourbon barrel aged version. The bourbon is apparent in the nose and initial taste, however, the booze is hidden very well. Sweet notes of bourbon and vanilla give way to roasty flavors with a slight hoppy finish. Light tasting, dark looking and quite complex. All in all, a solid start to the day.

Dark Horse Top Fuel: Of course, I had to stop by the Dark Horse tent for a few of the brewery’s top offerings. Top Fuel is a huge bourbon barrel aged barleywine that should please any strong beer lover. Bourbon and vanilla shine through up front. A little heat from the bourbon lingers, leading into a nice amount of malted barley. As expected, the beer itself is quite heavy, thick and very, very good.

Kuhnhenn All Hallow’s Ale: This particular brew was the only pumpkin beer I tried all day. A fair amount of spice is detected in the nose: nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice to name a few. Many of these spices are also prevalent in the initial taste. For a pumpkin beer, there’s not a ton of pumpkin up front, but it is there in the aftertaste. Not a ton of carbonation and a bit light for such a spiced beer. I’m not particularly fond of pumpkin beers, but it is fall and I felt it necessary to give one a shot. Overall, I was quite pleased with this one.

Short’s Bourbon Barrel Woodmaster: Again, I’m a huge fan of the seasonal release of the Woodmaster, thus there was a keen interest in the bourbon barrel version. There’s a huge hit of bourbon up front — a little boozy, but not too hot. The maple and roasted pecan flavors are a nice sweet undertone after the bourbon dissipates. A smooth, thick mouthfeel with a great aftertaste. I wish they would bottle this.

Brewery Vivant Cave Blend Barrel Aged Sour Ale: This delicious 5.2% ABV brew was aged for over a year in oak barrels with Brettanomyces, imparting the recognizably complex characteristics described by Brett lovers in such superlatives as “horse blanket,” “Band-Aid” and “barnyard.” It wowed the taste buds at Vivant’s October 5 Wood Aged Beer Festival and managed the same feat just a few weeks later.

Sherwood Brewing Co. Harvest Michigander IPA: One of the top Michigan harvest IPAs around. Extremely well-rounded and exactly what a harvest ale should be: amazingly pungent with sweet and crisp aromas and flavors. All of the ingredients comprised of Michigan-based malts, grains and hops, including wet hops from Top Hop Farms. If you missed this at the festival, it’s worth the trip to Shelby Township for a few pints. All Michigan, all delicious.

Atwater Blueberry Cobbler: This single batch series was one of the specialty releases Atwater brought to the table for the fest. This ale brewed with blueberries was decent on the nose and strong on taste when it came to the fruit. The overall smoothness and mouthfeel made it enjoyable to drink even on a cold day.

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Compiled by Erik Hart, Mike D’Orazio and David Bardallis.

DETROIT — For the fifth year, Eastern Market played host to one of the largest all-Michigan beer festivals.

The Detroit Fall Beer Festival, presented by the Michigan Brewers Guild, was held Friday and Saturday, including almost 450 beers from over 60 Michigan breweries.

For five solid hours, heavily layered Michigan craft beer enthusiasts — some even dressed in Halloween garb — descended upon the tasting. They came prepared to hand their tokens over for some of the finest craft being poured in the heart of the Motor City.

Matt Cebula, Sales Manager for Atwater Brewery, said bringing people down to Detroit is a huge goal and accomplishment.

“This [festival] is the one that’s most important to us because our main goal is to let people know that beer is thriving in Detroit,” he said. “There are reasons to come down to the city other than a baseball or football game.”

Atwater came stocked with its normal roster of beers and also brought some single batch series beers, released once every two months.

Metro Detroit brewery Sherwood Brewing Co. also felt the pride associated with having the fall beer fest in its backyard.

“I grew up in Detroit so for me, the city’s always got my heart,” said Ray Sherwood, Owner of Sherwood Brewing Co. “Even though we’re way out in the suburbs, we love being able to bring people down to the city and to Eastern Market.

With so many breweries in attendance, festival-goers had plenty of variety to choose from.

Marshall-based Dark Horse Brewery came to the party with a slightly smaller list than usual this year, but still brought some non-flagship goodies for everyone.

“Right now we have a specialty on top called Top Fuel,” said Trent Thurston, Cellarman at Dark Horse. “It’s a collaboration we did with Local Option out of Chicago. They come over, they brew with us. We just did another one with them and we infused almost 200 pounds of tea.”

Dustin Jones, Head of Fermentology at Brewery Ferment, said the fall beer fest is rounding out the brewery’s first full season of festivals.

“We’re learning over the course of the festival what people want and how much to bring. And it seems to be weird stuff,” he said. “They want to try something new and different and things they can’t necessarily find on a regular basis or in a bottle.”

Brewery Ferment’s 45th Parallale seemed to be a huge hit even with other breweries.

“It’s all local hops and a simple recipe. But we run it through a dry hop vac all the time. Even at the festivals,” Jones said. “We’re right here next to Greenbush and the brewers there are obsessed with it. They cannot get enough. They are going around telling other people that they need to try it, which is about the biggest compliment you can get.”

The weather held out for the enthusiast crowd for nearly the entire festival, with exception of the last half hour. As the clouds hovered over and rain started pouring down, people ran for shelter in the tents and tried to cozy up to the kegs for after-hour pours.

The festival wasn’t strictly dedicated to those with tokens in their hands. According to Jones, the event also holds great significance for the ones behind the magical fermentation.

“We’re constantly making connections with other people at other places. And that’s why I love coming to festivals personally,” he said. “This is where collaborations start. This is where innovation happens. And that’s more or less why I’m in this industry and why I love it so much.”

Clouds were hovering. Wind was whipping. People were bundled. Lines were long.

But none of those things stopped Michigan craft beer enthusiasts from visiting Eastern Market in Detroit on Saturday, for the fourth annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival.

Bags of tokens were passed out to patrons whose pretzel necklaces were waiting to cleanse the pallets of those wearing them.

Winter hats on heads and gloves covering the hands holding three ounce samples of beer.

Then, the sun poked its head out and shined on festival-goers at Shed 5. And all was right with the world.

Out of 50 Michigan craft breweries and over 300 beers to choose from, here were my personal favorites.

Best Bourbon Beer: Dark Horse Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the 5th Imperial Stout

Definitely not your average find-it-at-the-party-store-and-pick-some-up-for-a-night-of-drinking stout. Imperials don’t get much better than this when it comes to bourbon barrel aged.

Best Pumpkin Beer: Wolverine State Brewing Co. Curcibita Smiles Pumpkin Spiced Lager

Big pumpkin flavor with great fall spice and a subtle vanilla finish. The balance of the beer was on point with the best of the best when it comes to pumpkin brews.

Biggest Beer List: Greenbush Brewing Co.

With over 30 beers listed, Greenbush had the biggest selection and not to mention the longest line. The Rage Double Black IPA (14.6% ABV) was outstanding. After that, I got impatient and the line became too much.

Best Beer Name: Traffic Jam & Snug Festivus Oktoberfest

Naming your beer Festivus? How could you go wrong with that? The answer is you can’t.

Beer I Wanted To Try But Didn’t: Greenbush Brewing Co. Distorter Porter over Habanero and Vanilla Bean Firkin 

One side of me said, “This sounds delicious.” The other side of me said, “You don’t like habaneros!”

Other Enjoyable Beers:

  • Dark Horse Homobourbon Sapien Trip Ale Oak Age Cherry Ale
  • Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. Final Response Ale American Barley Wine

Beers That Missed the Mark:

  • Short’s Brewing Co. Bourbon Dirty Bird Barrel Aged India Brown Ale
  • Mt. Pleasant Brewing Co. Season of the Witch Pumpkin Ale

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