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Michigan Guild

LANSING, Mich—Ten (10) brewery members of the Michigan Brewers Guild were awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence, presented by the Brewers Association.

In all, 286 medals were presented in 96 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers.

Michigan Brewers Guild member received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Dirty Frank Stout — River’s Edge Brewing, Milford
    Category 89: Export Stout
  • Raucher – Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor Category 34: Smoke Beer

SILVER

  • Expedition Stout – Bell’s Brewing Co., Galesburg
    Category 32: Aged Beer
  • reDANKulous – Backstage Series – Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids
    Category 63: American Imperial Red

BRONZE

  •  Angelina – Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
    Category 30: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
  • Kusterer Original Weissbier – Cedar Springs Brewing Co, Cedar Springs
    Category 75: German-Style Wheat Ale
  • Broadway Light – Detroit Brewing Company, Detroit
    Category 38: American Style Cream Ale
  • Bangin The Mash – Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Portage
    Category 88: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout
  • Good Mooed Milk Stout – Railtown Brewing Co, Dutton
    Category 91: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
  • Live Wire – Roak Brewing, Royal Oak
    Category 55: English IPA

 

The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. The ultimate goal of the judging panel is to identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the GABF.

Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival, with judges assigned to evaluate beers in their specific area of expertise. Breweries are awarded points, which are tabulated to arrive at the top three place medals in each category. 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. Medal distinctions are as follows:

  • GOLD: A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
  • SILVER: An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
  • BRONZE: A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

Now in its 35th year, the Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. Sponsored by The Brewers Association, the festival features more than 3,800 different beers from 780 breweries throughout the country. More than 60,000 attendees and 3,600 volunteers gathered at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver for the 3-day event.

Michigan’s brewing industry continues to grow in the total volume of beer produced and sold, as well as in the number of breweries. Michigan currently ranks #5 in the nation in terms of the total number of breweries and the Guild proudly represents its highest number of members at 210 (and continually growing)—thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” Michigan’s breweries are located in every area of the state, operating as community-focused small businesses that collectively employ more than 7,000 individuals and pay more than $144 million in wages. The overall impact of the craft beer industry in Michigan totals more than $608 million.

4.5% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Jet black, tall pale head
Aroma: Strong coconut muddled with a little malt — reminiscent of almond joy
Taste: Very sweet and, well, “coconutty”
Mouthfeel: Light and silky smooth

If ever there was a summer stout, this is it. You can still taste the maltiness, but the dominant coconut taste, and the lighter feel of a nitro draft, makes it really laid back. The coconut helps to add some interest to the flatter character of the nitro; the sweet flavor lasts to the bottom. It might be hard to drink more than one at a time.

5.5% ABV, Can

Appearance: Inky black, thin tan head
Aroma: Strong aromas of coffee, caramel and brown sugar
Taste: Unapologetic porter, with a rich maltiness and a slight bitterness
Mouthfeel: Full body, with a creamy feel over the tongue

The scent and feel are robust, and while the taste starts fairly mild it quickly expands to its full array on your palate. The malt gives it a slightly sweet beginning, but it works its way through the dark chocolate and coffee tones of the malt to a dusky, hoppy, bitter finish. The ABV is moderate enough that, even with the full taste, it’s not too much in the summertime.

PORTAGE — Scott Freitas has a whole catalog of names for what it is: A mini-keg, an earth saver, a billboard, a handful of high tech, the “ultimate package for beer.” He can also tell you what it isn’t: “It is not your grandpa’s Budweiser.”

“It” is a can. It’s the only packaging Freitas uses for his craft brews from Latitude 42 in Portage, and it’s a growing trend in the rest of the craft beer world as well — Founders and Bell’s have both introduced canned lines in the last year.

For Freitas, however, canning is an old habit, not a new trend. He has sold his beer in cans since his days as head brewer at Maui Brewing Co., and when he helped found Latitude 42, it was the only option he discussed. “That’s all I was willing to do,” he says.

You can tell he’s a veteran of canning — and an enthusiastic one — because he fires off its facts and benefits faster, almost, than you can listen to them.

It’s cheap — simpler to make, lighter to ship and easier to store than bottles.

It’s safer, and thus more portable, than bottles — you can take it tons of places where glass is forbidden, which is especially handy in an outdoors-friendly state like Michigan.

It’s eco-friendly – easy to recycle and reuse. (If we recycled all the cans we’ve already got, says Freitas, we wouldn’t have to make another for 20 years.)

It’s a better billboard for brand and product than a narrow bottle label.

And most of all, it’s better for your beer. “Bottles bleed sunlight and leak oxygen,” says Freitas. A can doesn’t; it keeps beer fresher longer. And with advances in can tech – things like BPA-free liners – you no longer have to fear the tinny taste your grandfather’s Bud had. There’s no contact between liquid and metal at all.

But a lot of people don’t know that, especially the last part. Most craft beer, of course, is still sold in bottles, and many people assume better beer automatically comes in a better container. Cans are for macro, bottles for craft, they think.

That turns canners like Freitas into de-facto evangelists for cans, and that seems to be why all this information is on the tip of his tongue. He’s “always” educating customers, he says. “Step outside the box a little bit,” he tells them. “Things are changing these days.”

Give it a shot. You can try three different Latitude 42 brews (Lil’ Sunshine Golden Ale, Red Beard’s India Red Ale and Powerline Porter) in cans off your local store’s shelves, and the brewery will be adding new varieties soon.

6.5% ABV, Can
Appearance: Clean copper, moderate creamy head
Aroma: Hoppy, with a strong pine scent
Taste: Slight malt at the front followed by a strong woodsy hop flavor
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied
This is a hybrid beer — half red ale, half IPA — and it’s surprisingly aggressive for a mutt. It’s got a sharp piney scent that might shock your nose a little, and once you get past the hint of the malt from the red ale on the tip of your tongue, the piney, cedary hop taste really dominates. This is a good unique flavor for hopheads and IPA aficionados looking for something a little different.

6.5% ABV, Can

Appearance: Clean copper, moderate creamy head
Aroma: Hoppy, with a strong pine scent
Taste: Slight malt at the front followed by a strong woodsy hop flavor
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied

This is a hybrid beer — half red ale, half IPA — and it’s surprisingly aggressive for a mutt. It’s got a sharp piney scent that might shock your nose a little, and once you get past the hint of the malt from the red ale on the tip of your tongue, the piney, cedary hop taste really dominates. This is a good unique flavor for hopheads and IPA aficionados looking for something a little different.

4.8% ABV, Can

Appearance: Lucid golden, light head, bubbly
Aroma: Elusive hints of yeast
Taste: Yeasty malt tones with slight bitter finish
Mouthfeel: Smooth and clean, with a fuller than expected medium body

As the branding suggests, this smells and tastes a lil’ bit like summer, but it’s not really the light beer you think you’re getting. The yeasty malt tones, which carry a few hints of sourness, and especially the hoppy aftertaste give it a medium body and a somewhat bitter finish. Try this if you want a summer ale that trades wheat for barley and citrus for hops.

4.8% ABV, Can
Appearance: Lucid golden, light head, bubbly
Aroma: Elusive hints of yeast
Taste: Yeasty malt tones with slight bitter finish
Mouthfeel: Smooth and clean, with a fuller than expected medium body
As the branding suggests, this smells and tastes a lil’ bit like summer, but it’s not really the light beer you think you’re getting. The yeasty malt tones, which carry a few hints of sourness, and especially the hoppy aftertaste give it a medium body and a somewhat bitter finish. Try this if you want a summer ale that trades wheat for barley and citrus for hops.

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