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beer and brat festival

Nothing says Memorial Day weekend like a giant cookout.

For the last 12 years, Crystal Mountain has been hosting just that, bringing together Michigan breweries and unique takes on that favorite summer staple: the brat.

This year, Crystal Mountain will host its 13th Annual Michigan Beer and Brat Festival on May 26 from 4-8 p.m.

The festival takes place at the base of the four-season resort’s ski slopes—a unique, outdoor atmosphere that keeps attendees coming back every year.

beer and brat festival

“Everyone is ready for summer to begin, there’s nothing more summer-like than beer and brats,” said Brian Lawson, director of public relations at Crystal Mountain.

Attendees to this year’s festival can look forward to a variety of twists on the age-old combination. Thirty-five Michigan breweries will be present along with over 100 of their craft beers. Those attending will be able to pair those selections with 24 different kinds of brats from local markets. Past favorites have included flavors like asparagus, morel mushroom and Roadhouse salsa.

Lawson said the festival has become a favorite way to spend the holiday for guests and brewers alike.

“It’s a big cook out, in a lot of ways. It’s like one big Memorial Day party” Lawson said.

He added that he is consistently surprised, and flattered, by how enthusiastic the Michigan brewers are about the festival.

“We’ve gotten a sense from the brewers that they’re just as excited to come here as the guests,” Lawson said. “We’re grateful and flattered to get such great participation from the breweries on a holiday weekend.”

A few non-beer beverage makers will also share some offerings at the festival. Iron Fish Distillery is a neighbor to the resort and the two often collaborate. They’ll be pouring drinks made with their craft spirits at the festival. Traverse City’s Brengman Brothers winery will also have some special offerings.

As is tradition, the festival will also feature a car show. The British Car Club will show a selection of vehicles. Lawson said this component of the festival started as a happy accident. Now it’s a favorite part of the festival. In the last few years, Tesla and electric vehicle owners have also brought their cars to display. As advocates of sustainable energy, Lawson said the resort is proud to host them.

Musicians Drew Hale and The Rock Show Band will provide live music.

Tickets can be purchased online. General admission tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the day of and come with a 9 ounce glass and five tokens. VIP tickets are $60 in advance and come with a 9 ounce glass, 10 tokens and access to the festival an hour early at 3 p.m. Kids are welcome to attend at the general admission ticket price, with tokens usable towards food and pop.

The Michigan Beer and Brat Festival takes place the day before the North Mitten Half Marathon, 10K and 5K. For those who’d like a taste of the action but don’t want to consume beer and brats the day before their race, the resort will host Micros on the Mountaintop that Sunday, May 27. The event features a chairlift ride to some of the Michigan brews celebrated at the Beer and Brats Festival. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 the day of.

 

beer and brat festival

 

Sponsored by Crystal Mountain

 

 

winter beer fest

LANSING, Mich—Tickets for the wildly popular Michigan Brewers Guild 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival, will go on sale on Thursday, November 30 at 10am at MiBeer.com. The 13th Annual festival will be held Friday, February 23 (5-9pm) and Saturday, February 24 (1-6pm) at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids.

Friday tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the gate if any remain available; Saturday tickets are $50 in advance. In past years, Saturday tickets for this outdoor craft beer celebration have sold out as quickly as 17 minutes and will sell out in advance of the festival again this year.

Enthusiast Members (active as of October 30) are invited to a ticket pre-sale which opens at midnight on Tuesday, November 28 and ends at 11:59pm on Wednesday, November 29. Enthusiasts are also admitted into all Guild festivals one hour prior to the general public (with valid membership). Access to festivals is just one of the benefits for Enthusiasts for their $55 a year annual membership.

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.”

 

Michigan-based cidery, Vander Mill, announces today its partnership with West Michigan businesses to celebrate the fall season at the 8th Annual Vander Fest. The event will take place at its Spring Lake location at 14921 Cleveland Street on Saturday, October 7, from 4 – 10 p.m.

Several Michigan breweries and restaurants have joined Vander Mill to create a unique festival experience that captures the best of West Michigan. The event will feature live music by local artists, food trucks, beers from local breweries, and delicious Vander Mill cider and donuts.

vander fest

“We’ve cultivated some of our favorite West Michigan businesses and entertainment and brought them together for our biggest event of the year,” says Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill. “Fall is the best time of year in Michigan, and what better way to enjoy it than with a hard cider with friends?”

Vander Fest will have several new features, including:

  • Laser Beam Lounge: a tented area filled with laser beams, Vander Mill ciders, and a laser-themed photo booth, sponsored by Van Wyk Insurance. Live music by Social Bones and DJ Nick Awesome.

  • Crystal Court: a tented area tucked into the woods and surrounded by fog. This spooky section will feature a dozen Vander Mill ciders on nitro.

  • Barrel-aged booth, which will supply all of Vander Mill’s barrel-aged ciders.

 

Attendees can also enjoy beers from Vander Mill’s brewery friends: Big Lake Brewing, Brewery Vivant, Unruly Brewing Co., Greenbush Brewing, and Oddside Ales. Several food trucks that will be on-site include Dalty Raes, Standard Pizza, and Righteous Cuisine. Vander Mill will also supply cider donuts, coffee, and hot cider.

Tickets are required for entry into the event and are available in three tiers:

  • VIP Tickets: $85
    Guests will receive entry into the event, Vander Fest souvenir glass, eight drink tokens, entertainment, reserved seating at a table in a roped-off area, and Vander Mill food.

  • General Admission Tickets: $35
    Guests will receive entry into the event, Vander Fest souvenir glass, eight drink tokens, and entertainment.

  • Designated Driver Tickets: $10
    Guests will receive entry into the event and entertainment.

Attendees can purchase tickets at Eventbrite until 11:30 p.m. the evening before the event here.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — More than 18,000 people are expected to enjoy a vast menu of food and beverage at the 9th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival coming up Nov. 17-19 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

grw-3001This pre-holiday celebration welcomes everyone from the novice looking for an introduction to the world of epicurean culture to the connoisseur who appreciates the finest things in life. Considered a “night on the town” or the ultimate “Saturday afternoon tasting room experience,” this 3-day event exposes attendees to dozens of area restaurants and over a thousand wine, beer, cider, mead, malt beverage and spirit offerings. Complimentary workshops and seminars add to the overall experience.

New this year…

Enhanced Elite Wine Collection: First introduced last year, this feature has matured into its second year (just like a fine wine) and will be hosted by the Tasters Guild — an organization founded in Michigan in 1987 representing now over 30 active chapters throughout the country. The nearly 50 offerings in the Elite Wine Collection have been hand-selected by our consulting sommeliers and importing specialists as the “best of the best” top shelf vintages, chosen from among 1200 assorted wines at the Festival. These high-end wines—like Opus 1, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, and Dom Perignon—require a minimum 10-ticket ($5) tasting fee due to the cost of the product being served. Each of these wines have at least a 90-point value in a recognized wine rating system and are regarded as among the most exclusive wines of the Festival, according to industry experts. No need to invest hundreds of dollars in a full bottle — the Elite Wine Collection allows you the opportunity to sample these wines for a minimal cost. Located in the center of the Vineyard, inside the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place.

The GR Mixer blends together award-winning spirits and mixers into craft artisan cocktails, the region’s noted mixologist and distillers who will serve up hands-on workshops guaranteed to educate and entertain. These complimentary 15-minute workshops will amp up your bar-tending skills, just in time for holiday entertaining with family and friends.

Nearly two dozen craft beverage workshops will be held throughout the weekend, presented by Coppercraft Distilling and New Holland Artisan Spirits. Held in the Secchia Lobby, running along the western edge of the Steelcase Ballroom and overlooking the Grand River, the new craft cocktail concourse workshops are limited to the first 12 people who step up to the bar at the scheduled times.

Bartenders from six-one-six inside the JW Marriott are also planning an exciting “Chopped”-style competition during their Pairing aimed to perfectly match cocktails with prix fixe menu.

Once again, the Festival is the culmination of Cocktail Week Grand Rapids, which this year runs Nov. 9-20 and is presented by Experience Grand Rapids.

Returning features…

Beer City Station: The Festival’s popular beer area returns to Exhibit Hall C on the Main Floor of DeVos Place off the Grand Gallery. Step into the world of creative craft beers, imported and domestic brews, hard ciders and foods that pair well with both. Meet the American craft brewer—the small, independent and traditional producers who display passion and excitement for their unique beverages. New products, as well as traditional favorites, will be offered for sampling.

Cider Row: Tap into the Cider Row at the Festival, featuring almost 20 cider producers from Michigan and nationally-known brands. Hard cider is among the fastest growing craft beverages on a national scale. It is fermented to produce a range of flavors — from dry to sweet. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.

Flavored Malt Beverages: This sector of the beverage industry is taking off with hard iced tea; sodas—such as root beer, orange, cherry, lemon and other fruit flavors; seltzer waters and carbonated caffeinated products. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.

Growers Champagne Flights: Add a little extra class to your glass with an intimate tasting with Bradford Hammerschmidt from Imperial Beverage. These special flights offer champagnes you will not find anywhere else in the Festival. Each of the champagnes will be paired with specially selected cheese and crudités. Flights offered Saturday at 4pm and 7pm only. The cost is $40 per person. Reservations may be made online or on site space permitting.

Pairings: Select restaurants partner with distinguished wineries and breweries for special limited-seating Pairings — gourmet multi-course meals served on-site in a casual yet intimate “bar top” setting. Tickets are $45-$65 each and may be purchased in advance online or at the Festival on a first-come, first-served basis. This year’s restaurants include: Ganders, San Chez, six.one.six, Reds at Thousand Oaks, Vander Mill Cider and Wolfgang Puck’s The Kitchen.

Ultimate Dining Opportunities: Chefs from about a dozen of the area’s top restaurants prepare and serve small plates of their culinary specialties.

RendezBREW: The Coffee, Cordials and Dessert Café will be open in the Grand Gallery for the duration of the Festival. Start your Festival experience, or make it a nightcap, with unique pairings of coffee, lattes and cocktails crafted for your enjoyment with a variety of cordials, indulgent sweets and other treats.

Seminars & Workshops: Esteemed individuals from the culinary world host complimentary demonstrations on the Meijer Food Stage. Complimentary beverage seminars, held classroom-style in the rooms off the Grand Gallery, give attendees an in-depth look in to the world of wine, beer and spirits. Cocktail workshops are also offered for a unique hands-on experience for those wishing to learn tricks of the trade from top leaders.

Tickets for the Festival are $15 for Thursday (and for advanced Friday and Saturday ticket sales) and $20 for Friday at Saturday at the door. A 3-Day Pass is available for $40 and allows admission each day of the Festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience. Online sales end Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5pm (Box Office sales for the pass end at 10pm on Thursday, Nov. 17). Food and beverage samples require varied amounts of sampling tickets of 50-cent denominations (sold at the Festival). We suggest guests start with at least $20 worth of tasting tickets.

b nektar

In its eight years of existence, B. Nektar Meadery has grown steadily, upgrading from fermenting in carboys and 55-gallon food-grade drums to producing up to 150 barrels of liquid a week.

“We just keep getting bigger,” said William McCune, production manager at B. Nektar.

Now, the meadery’s annual festivals draw crowds of over 1200 people to its quiet neighborhood in Ferndale, Michigan.

“The amazing thing is that’s all just people for us,” McCune said. People who want B. Nektar’s unique brand of mead, cider, and beer.

Stop and think how mead, a traditionally heavy, syrupy drink sipped by the likes of Beowulf, could possibly draw crowds that huge in the warmest months of the year.

The answer is in B. Nektar’s one-of-a-kind approach—one informed in various ways by wine making, the craft brewing industry, and traditional mead making. Its effect has been to vastly widen mead’s audience, paving the way for meaderies everywhere.

“Ever since we’ve started, we’ve kind of been seen as the ‘big guy,’” McCune said. “After our success, that’s where you’re seeing all these meaderies popping up across the country.”

Drawing more people to mead called for a little beverage re-branding and finding the right audience.

“We wanted to make something that was drinkable and enjoyable and not too high of an ABV,” said Miranda Johnson, B. Nektar’s marketing director. “Taking Beowulf and Vikings away from it, but also throwing in session meads for easy drinkability.”

Though B. Nektar’s mead making process and tools share a lot in common with wine making, the connections with that industry stop there. The meadery is more interested in engaging the curious palates of craft beer drinkers.

“We want to continue pushing pretty hard to set the precedent for stepping outside of the box in mead, and really introducing it into the craft beer realm of people,” Johnson said.

The meadery is achieving this not only by making sessionable meads and ciders, but also by brewing a few beers. Those selections are only available at B. Nektar’s taproom in Ferndale. With varieties such as a Jasmine Green Tea Belgian IPA and a Sage Lime Witbier, they bear the same experimental style of B. Nektar’s meads.

But simply being experimental and still drinkable doesn’t get you extra points in the Michigan craft industry. B. Nektar surpasses that by making nuanced flavor combinations that are well suited to the beverages. Lime zest and juice complement agave nectar and orange blossom honey in Tuco-Style Freak Out. Michigan grapes sing with wildflower honey in Grapes Gone Wild.

Those successful recipes meant taking risks and being smart about them. B. Nektar’s company culture fosters the creativity showcased in their concoctions.

“Everything in our social media says ‘we let our imagination guide us,’” Johnson said. “It’s not a joke. Sometimes the imagination’s a little crazy, but thankfully we have enough people that are like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, let’s talk about this.’”

“It’s a really fun environment and creativity is welcomed and there is no lack of it, that’s for sure,” Johnson said.

B.Nektar’s 2016 Summer Mead Fest is set for August 6. Learn more here.

 

Photography: Steven Michael Holmes

suds & snow

Suds & Snow started ten years ago in the back of Timber Ridge Resort. The festival has continued to grow each year, setting itself apart from others it’s unique atmosphere. This year’s event, held on Saturday, was perhaps the best yet.
Originally organized solely by Timber Ridge, Troy Daily of Create TC took over organizing the event two years ago and aims to continue to build the festival.
It started out as 25 people and continued to grow over time. We wanted to make it a real festival and something unique to the area,” said Daily.
As “the ultimate party in the woods” Suds & Snow distinguishes itself from most beer festivals with its unique venue, atmosphere, and set up. This year’s festival attracted roughly 2,500 people.
suds & snow
“No other festival is like this. Most are in parking lots. Back here, we don’t have tents, buildings, or infrastructure,” said event organizer Troy Daily.
The festival was exclusively outside and exemplified everything that is Northern Michigan. First of all, in order to get to the festival, attendees had to trek through the woods of Timber Ridge Resort to a clearing bordered in breweries and food vendors.
“This one is fun. It’s nice and laid back,” said Dark Horse representative Haley Davis.


Live music from local musicians, bonfires built in the snow, extravagant food necklaces, and an ‘80s ski bum theme set this event apart from others. With two different sections of the festival, local favorites G-Snacks performed in one area while 2BaysDJs kept music going in the other. Bonfires and the long-awaited March sun kept everyone warm throughout the afternoon.
A large part of Suds & Snow is its exuberant atmosphere. The setting in the woods is much more relaxed than usual, and attendees are encouraged to wear outlandish outfits.
“We really are aiming for this to be the highlight microbrew event of Traverse City,” said Daily.
At most festivals, people come prepared with food necklaces filled with prepackaged snacks like pretzels and string cheese — these are not enough for Suds & Snow; this festival requires Hawaiian rolls, hot dogs, and your own roasting stick.
Over twenty breweries were present at this year’s festival, including: Founders, Stormcloud Brewing Company, Blackrocks Brewing, and Dark Horse Brewing Company. Tandem Ciders and Blake’s Hard Cider were also present. MI Grille and Daily Blend were there with a wide selection of food including a pig roast, hamburgers, hot dogs, stir fry, and tacos.
Next year’s Suds & Snow will take place at the beginning of March, and is sure to be even more memorable. You can visit http://sudsandsnowtc.com/ for updates and more information.

 
Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

suds & snow

Suds & Snow started ten years ago in the back of Timber Ridge Resort. The festival has continued to grow each year, setting itself apart from others it’s unique atmosphere. This year’s event, held on Saturday, was perhaps the best yet.

Originally organized solely by Timber Ridge, Troy Daily of Create TC took over organizing the event two years ago and aims to continue to build the festival.

It started out as 25 people and continued to grow over time. We wanted to make it a real festival and something unique to the area,” said Daily.

As “the ultimate party in the woods” Suds & Snow distinguishes itself from most beer festivals with its unique venue, atmosphere, and set up. This year’s festival attracted roughly 2,500 people.

suds & snow

“No other festival is like this. Most are in parking lots. Back here, we don’t have tents, buildings, or infrastructure,” said event organizer Troy Daily.

The festival was exclusively outside and exemplified everything that is Northern Michigan. First of all, in order to get to the festival, attendees had to trek through the woods of Timber Ridge Resort to a clearing bordered in breweries and food vendors.

“This one is fun. It’s nice and laid back,” said Dark Horse representative Haley Davis.

Live music from local musicians, bonfires built in the snow, extravagant food necklaces, and an ‘80s ski bum theme set this event apart from others. With two different sections of the festival, local favorites G-Snacks performed in one area while 2BaysDJs kept music going in the other. Bonfires and the long-awaited March sun kept everyone warm throughout the afternoon.

A large part of Suds & Snow is its exuberant atmosphere. The setting in the woods is much more relaxed than usual, and attendees are encouraged to wear outlandish outfits.

“We really are aiming for this to be the highlight microbrew event of Traverse City,” said Daily.

At most festivals, people come prepared with food necklaces filled with prepackaged snacks like pretzels and string cheese — these are not enough for Suds & Snow; this festival requires Hawaiian rolls, hot dogs, and your own roasting stick.

Over twenty breweries were present at this year’s festival, including: Founders, Stormcloud Brewing Company, Blackrocks Brewing, and Dark Horse Brewing Company. Tandem Ciders and Blake’s Hard Cider were also present. MI Grille and Daily Blend were there with a wide selection of food including a pig roast, hamburgers, hot dogs, stir fry, and tacos.

Next year’s Suds & Snow will take place at the beginning of March, and is sure to be even more memorable. You can visit http://sudsandsnowtc.com/ for updates and more information.

 

Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

If the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is true, then the people who attended the Cider Dayze fest in Armada can look forward to many, many days of good health and no doctors’ bills.
Hosted by Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, Cider Dayze was the first of its kind in southeast Michigan. Andrew Blake of Blake Farms said that his orchard was thrilled to host the event.
“We wanted to have a cider supportive event at our facility, and this was the perfect opportunity because we could also help out charities,” he said. All proceeds will go to local, Michigan-based charities.
“We have a great lineup of local cideries and breweries,” Blake continued. “We wanted to bring everyone together for kind of a bonding weekend and to get people excited about cider. This event allows to showcase most of the (cider) producers in Michigan.”
The list of participating vendors was impressive, and it included Blake’s Hard Cider Company, Uncle John’s Hard Cider, Vander Mill, Tandem Ciders, Sage Creek Winery, and Farmhaus Cider Company. Breweries were also represented by Perrin Brewing Company, and Roak Brewing Company.
Some of the standouts included:

  • Blake’s Apple Lantern: Made with roasted pumpkin and molasses, this beer reminded me of apple and pumpkin pie with a layer of alcohol
  • Fieldstone’s Ginger Peach Apple: This cider was perfectly balanced. Ginger sometimes overwhelms, but it mixed perfectly with the tart apple and sweet peach flavors
  • Short’s Brewing Company brought along several offerings from Starcut Ciders, including Erraticus, which was brewed with wild yeast. Attendee Ken Anderson said, “(The yeast) gave this dry, tasty beer a wonderful touch of sour that only wild yeast can give.”
  • Sage Creek’s Winery offered several different kinds of wine, including its Pomegranate Wildberry. A dark red, this wine was sweet enough to please a choosy sweet tooth like myself
  • New Holland’s Ichabod: For my first “fall” beer, this was perfect as usual: pumpkin spiced but not overwhelming and a perfect match to the ciders that I had

In addition to the beverages, the event featured talks given by Andrew Blake and other experts in the field.
“We wanted to show people different cider profiles that you can get from cider and also how to make it,” said Blake.
Cider Dayze also included an outstanding selection of food from local vendors. The hosting orchard had gourmet hot dogs, and attendees could also get eats from Mulefoot Gastropub and Bad Brad’s BBQ.
But the cider was the star of the show. Luckily, the forecast for scrumptious apple cider is good. Blake reported that for southeast Michigan, “the apple crop has been very good this year.” While some orchards in northern Michigan had some winter damage, his orchard “has a very nice crop this year.”
The rain could not dampen enthusiasm or attendance, as crowds swelled as the event went on and more and more people enjoyed the wide variety of fermented beverages.
“This is the perfect way to get producers together in one place and to kick off the fall right!” Blake said.


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