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With literally thousands of beers to try from hundreds of breweries, time is a precious commodity at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Fest. One gulp of Brewery Becker’s 15% Braggot and you might need a 15 minute breather by the riverside to sober up. Tick tock. Follow up with a healthy pour or two of KBS and that’s a wrap. Needless to say, the four hour window can hardly feel like enough to scratch the surface of Michigan’s amazing beer scene. I found a winning formula in seeking out unfamiliar brews, mingling, and simply taking in the sights.

summer beer fest

Hayley & Beer-tern Jack

One key observation: what a good looking group of drinkers. It’s clear the craft beer community has upgraded its sartorial sensibilities beyond those hosed hardhats you suck beer out of. I saw patterns galore, sick kicks, fanny packs too. The range of personal style reflects a culture as diverse as its beer selection. Still, in spite of our differences we can all unite behind a pretzel necklace, the greatest tongue-in-cheek alternative to a choker. Sense of humor should always precede fashion sense, and judging from all the smiles I saw Friday, craft beer still has its priorities straight. Here are a few of the friendly faces we met while patrolling the grounds.

 

 

 

Photography: Katie Raymond

Dutton, Mich. — Railtown Brewing Company will open the doors to its newly constructed expansion on July 16.

The new building is located at 3595 68th Street SE, Dutton, Michigan—next door to the brewery’s original location. It boasts two floors and an outdoor patio, and it will seat over twice as many guests as the original space.

railtown brewing

The new location’s second floor will eventually be available for private events and beer dinners.

Hungry guests of Railtown Brewing previously had to bring their own food, but the new space has a kitchen that will serve American pub grub with some cultural flavor. Dishes will take inspiration from Chinese, Korean and Dutch cuisine, to name a few.

Exposed ceilings and duct work lend an industrial feel to the new building. It will seem familiar to those who visited the original location, said Justin Buiter, co-owner of Railtown Brewing Company. Popular dart boards will still hang on the walls, and the decor will follow a similar theme.

“It takes a lot of the feel from our current space, it’s just bigger,” Buiter said.

Buiter said the expansion was built by the local community—both literally and figuratively.

In the literal sense, much of the construction on the new building was completed by local businesses.

“Most everybody involved in the project is Michigan based, but we had a lot of trades that came specifically out of Dutton,” Buiter said.

Figuratively, the expansion was built on support received from the Dutton community. When the brewery opened in 2014, Buiter said he wasn’t sure what to expect. Dutton was a dry town until 2005.

“The support from the residents and businesses of Dutton has been absolutely unbelievable,” Buiter said. “Our growth thus far has really been fueled by the local community.”

The brewery’s growth will continue, Buiter said. Railtown Brewing has also doubled their production capacity with new equipment from Psycho Brew, a Michigan-based brewing equipment company. Sights are set on distribution for Railtown Brewing in the near future.

“As we get our feet underneath us and make sure we have our taproom taken care of, we’re going to start looking at opportunities within the distribution market,” Buiter said.

The brewery will celebrate its last hurrah at the original location on Saturday, July 14. The event  will feature special beers on tap.

“All our staff will be present to reminisce about all the stuff we accomplished over here, and the future next door,” Buiter said.

winter beer festival

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich – After last week’s flooding of the Grand River in Comstock Park forced the rescheduling of the 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival, the Michigan Brewers Guild says it now has Saturday, March 3 tickets available to the previously sold out day, for $50 in advance and $55 at the gate. Tickets for Friday, March 2 are also available for $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Online tickets can be purchased at http://www.mibeer.com/winter-festival.

Original tickets will be honored on the respective Friday and Saturday this weekend. Those unable to attend during the rescheduled weekend have until 11:59pm on Wednesday, February 28 to request a refund by emailing info@michiganbrewersguild.org.

Those traveling to the festival from the south should be advised that Northbound US-131 will be CLOSED at 28th Street (M-11) for bridge work from 9pm Friday, March 2 through 5am on Monday, March 5. Michigan Department of Transportation says northbound through-traffic should take westbound M-6 to eastbound I-196 to northbound US-131.

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

 

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich – Anticipated flooding on the Grand River in Comstock Park has forced the Michigan Brewers Guild to postpone this weekend’s popular Winter Beer Festival to next weekend, Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3. All tickets already purchased will be honored on the respective Friday and Saturday of the new weekend.

After meeting with the Whitecaps staff and taking into consideration information provided to us by the National Weather Service and the Kent County Emergency Management, the MBG Board of Directors has decided to take cautious approach and postpone the festival by a week to allow the Grand River to drop below the flood stage.

Rain is forecast for Friday morning between 5am and 10am. That will contribute to the levels of the Grand River, which is expected to crest its 18-foot flood stage on Friday afternoon and rise as much as three feet above that over the course of the weekend. The Sheriff’s Department has issued Flood Warnings for this section of the Grand River untilTuesday, February 27.

“We reviewed several contingency plans and discussed multiple options before coming to this decision,” says Scott Graham, MBG Executive Director, “but in the end the safety of our attendees, our breweries and volunteers is of utmost concern.”

Over 9,000 tickets have been sold for the festival, with a “Sell Out” status for Saturday at 6440. Friday tickets are still available for purchase for $45 in advance (www.mibeer.com/winter-festival) or $50 at the event at the main Whitecaps ticket office.

At this point, the Guild expects most of the 142-member breweries to participate in the rescheduled dates and the event to run just the same.

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

 

 

michigan brewers guildKALAMAZOO, Mich – The Michigan Brewers Guild recently elected its 2018 Board of Directors at its annual meeting, January 13, at the Kalamazoo Radisson Plaza Hotel. Each board position is a two-year term, elected in alternating years (4, 3).

The conference was a record-breaker in many ways for the organization, with more than 525 attendees and 112 vendors in the Allied Member Trade Show. The Guild also reported a record 245 member breweries during the Annual Meeting—an increase of 22 members since the previous January.

This year, four people were elected to the Guild board:

  • Ryan Cottongim, Owner of Witch’s Hat Brewing Company in South Lyon, was re-elected to serve his second term on the board, and will serve as the Guild’s Secretary.
  • Scott Newman-Bale, Vice President of Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, was re-elected to his fifth term and will once again serve as the Guild’s Treasurer.
  • David Ringler, Owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Company in Cedar Springs, was elected to his first term on the board.
  • Chas Thompson, Beer Engineer at Schmohz Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, was appointed in 2017 to fill a vacancy on the board and he was elected to his first term on the board.

Additional board members include:

  • Eric Briggeman, Director of Brewing Operations at Rochester Mills Production Brewery, continues his seventh term on the board and will serve his eleventh year as Guild President.
  • Isaac Hartman, “Ambassador of Great Beer” from New Holland Brewing Company, continues his fifth term on the board of directors.
  • Garry Boyd, Managing Partner at BarFly Ventures (HopCat & Grand Rapids Brewing) continues his second term on the board and chairs the organization’s sustainability and quality committees.

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

 

summer beer fest

In the beginning, 1997 to be precise, there were approximately 30 breweries with membership in the newly minted Michigan Brewers Guild. The purpose of their inception was to form an alliance to promote our state’s emerging beer industry and advocate in legislative matters. Two decades later, with their support and guidance, that number is 239 and growing. More than half of the current members helped celebrate this milestone anniversary at the 20th edition of Summer Beer Festival in Depot Town.

The Guild’s first sanctioned beer festival took place in their inaugural year with a couple dozen breweries and approximately 600 attendees. Eleven of those original participating breweries have returned for this year’s festival, although not all of them have been present at every festival in between.


This weekend’s celebration nearly broke the perimeter of Riverside Park and exemplified the exponential growth realized over twenty years, with more than 145 breweries serving over 1,140 beers, and a two day total crowd of 12,000 people enjoying the wealth of choices.

Several of the breweries participating in last weekend’s edition were also celebrating their 20th anniversary and have grown alongside the Guild. In 1997, Founders Brewing Company was a relatively small operation whose back door read “Canal Street Brewing.” Dark Horse Brewing Co began its first incarnation in downtown Marshall as a now-closed gastropub that would blossom into an entire compound of craft businesses in it’s second life. Dragonmead Microbrewery was formed and preparing to open. Atwater Brewery began producing German style lagers in Detroit’s historic Rivertown district, adding more locations as their range of beers expanded. CJ’s Brewing Company set up shop in Commerce Township, later opening a second location in Plymouth. Woodward Avenue Brewers began “putting the ‘ale’ in Ferndale” and hasn’t stopped. The list of breweries with proven staying power goes on.



Inevitably not every beer business succeeds. As the years have come and gone, so have some of the breweries. Fortunately for enthusiasts there’s a steady stream of new breweries willing to take their place in the game. Those new to the MBG festival circuit this summer include Transient Artisan Ales, Greyline Brewing Company, Speciation Artisan Ales, and several others. Breweries are able to participate as members when they’ve satisfied the Guild’s requirements including a waiting period.

The seasonal festivals planned in 2018 are sure to impress with steadily bigger numbers representing the ever-expanding beer scene as the Michigan Brewers Guild reaches the equivalent years of the legal drinking age in our Great Beer State. In the meantime, enjoy the remainder of Michigan Craft Beer Month and toast a hearty cheers to 20 years!

 

michigan craft beer month

(LANSING, Mich) – The Michigan Brewers Guild has once again designated July as Michigan Craft Beer Month—this year, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the non-profit organization dedicated to representing more than 220 member breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs throughout the state.

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its members breweries, which attracts more than 35,000 people collectively each year.

This year’s Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Tickets are still available for both days and can be found online at MiBeer.com.

Other festivals coming up this year include:

Proclamations were also recently introduced in Lansing. Representatives Farrington, Crawford, Elder, Ellison, Hughes, Rabhi, Rendon, Sabo, Schor and Sneller offered House Resolution No. 127, while Senators MacGregor, Zorn, O’Brien, Hertel, Jones, Schuitmaker, Proos, Robertson, Ananich and Hune offered Senate Resolution No. 76, each recognizing that:

  • Michigan craft brewers are a vibrant affirmation and expression of Michigan’s entrepreneurial traditions, operating as community-based small businesses and providing employment for more than 5,000 workers;
  • Michigan has craft brewers in every region of the state and more than 220 craft brewers statewide; and Whereas, Michigan ranks sixth in the nation for overall number of breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs;
  • The Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates Michigan Craft Beer Month each year by hosting a Summer Festival in July;
  • Craft brewers in Michigan support state agriculture by purchasing hops, malted barley, wheat, beet sugar, cherries, apples, and numerous other fruits, herbs, and vegetables grown in Michigan;
  • Michigan craft brewers promote Michigan’s spirit of independence through a renaissance in handcrafted beers like those first brought to Michigan by European settlers and produced here by our forefathers, including Bernhard Stroh, for the enjoyment of the citizenry;
  • Striving to educate legal drinking-age residents, Michigan craft brewers convey awareness about the differences in beer flavor, aroma, color, alcohol content, body, and other complex variables, beer history, and gastronomic qualities of beer;
  • Michigan craft brewers champion the message of responsible enjoyment to their customers and work within their communities to prevent alcohol abuse and underage drinking;
  • Craft brewers in Michigan produce more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful beers, the quality and diversity of which have made Michigan the envy of many states, contributing to balanced trade with increased Michigan exports and promoting Michigan tourism;
  • Michigan craft brewers have been a successful business model by contributing more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million, thriving and expanding in furthering their economic importance to the state;
  • Michigan craft brewers are vested in the future, health, and welfare of their communities as employers providing a diverse array of quality local jobs, as contributors to the local tax base, and as committed sponsors of a broad range of vital community institutions and philanthropic causes, including not-for-profit housing development associations, chambers of commerce, humane societies, athletic teams, and medical research.

 

michigan craft beer monthThe 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.”

 

In sharp contrast to a city built on politics—a force with the power to polarize millions, beer just proved to have the strength to do the exact opposite. Nearly 15,000 professionals just converged for a week in Washington, D.C. for Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, the industry’s largest annual convention, hosted by the Brewers Association.

We attended because… well, beer, of course. And so did an honorable contingency from Michigan. When I travel to a new city or an international destination, the last thing I want to consume is something I can get back at home. You’ll never catch me eating a Big Mac in Europe (or domestically, for that matter, but you get the point). However, when you see people from all over the U.S. waiting excitedly in line for MI beer, and then bummed when the keg of Two Hearted kicks, it makes you feel proud to be an American, reppin’ The Mitten State.

On Wed, Apr. 12, Michigan Brewers Guild threw a party, Michigan Hoppy Hour, at Capital Lounge, and picked up a generous bar tab that I can only imagine had a few zeros on it. For a couple hours, we hung out with our arms around our friends from back home, and got to watch D.C. locals gush about the beer we have at our fingertips on any given day. It makes you pause, and realize we’re a part of something special—regardless of whether you voted for Trump.

 

To all those from MI we bumped into, saw in passing, or shared a few pints with throughout the week, here’s to you—a shout-out!

  •      Shannon from Michigan Brewers Guild
  •      Jeff from Harmony Brewing
  •      Mitch from Speciation Artisan Ales
  •      Chris and Brendan from Transient Artisan Ales
  •      Rings and Matt from Cedar Springs Brewing Company
  •      Jeff from Rockford Brewing Company
  •      Dave, Francesca, Lauren, and Jason from Founders Brewing Co
  •      Jason, Kate, Jacob, Brooks, and Josh from Brewery Vivant
  •      Chris and Max from The Mitten Brewing Co.
  •      Mike from Cheboygan Brewing Company
  •      Fred, JP, Adam, Mark, and Isaac from New Holland
  •      Tim from Territorial Brewing
  •      Dave from City Built Brewing Company
  •      Stephen from Batch Brewing Company
  •      Brian from StormCloud Brewing
  •      Brad and Matt from Atwater Brewery
  •      Erik, John, and Michael from Pilot Malt House
  •      OpenRoad Brewery
  •      Jay and Steve from North Pier Brewing Company
  •      Matt and Rene from Arbor Brewing
  •      Boyd and Chris from Coldbreak Brewing Equipment
  •      Steve from Hunter’s Handmade Brewery
  •      Brew Detroit
  •      Laura & crew from Bell’s Brewery
  •      Steve from Henry A. Fox
  •      Justin & crew from Hop Head Farms
  •      Brown Iron Brewhouse
  •      North Channel Brewing
  •      Alliance Beverage Distributing
  •      Imperial Beverage


Photography: Steph Harding


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