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draft beer

(LANSING, Mich) – The Michigan Brewers Guild, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, is presenting a series of free seminars this fall throughout the state geared toward effective draft line system cleaning and maintenance. Any brewery, microbrewery, brewpub or retail establishment serving draft beer (including front line staff, managers and owners) is encouraged to attend one of these sessions and get their program certified as managers of quality draft beer delivery systems.

The 2.5-hour seminars will focus on four key areas:

  • Knowing your site’s draft system (equipment and design)
  • Proper draft beer storage and service
  • Cleaning and maintaining a safe and sanitary draft beer delivery system
  • Troubleshooting your site’s draft system

Upon completion of the seminar, each attendee will also receive a copy of the Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Manual as well as certification that they are trained in proper management, sanitation and quality of draft beer delivery systems.

While there is no charge to attend the seminars, pre-registration is required through the official Eventbrite channel. Upcoming dates include:

As additional events are scheduled this fall, they’ll be posted on the Guild’s Facebook events page.

The seminars are being facilitated by Garry Boyd, a long-time member of the local craft beer community. Garry’s last adventure was as the VP of Food, Beverage & Cultural Innovation at BarFly Ventures (the parent company for HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and Grand Rapids Brewing Company). During his 10 years with BarFly, he oversaw all food and beverage menu development, including the expansive beer program as well as the sustainability and charity initiatives for the company’s brands. From 2016 until 2019, Garry served on the board of the Michigan Brewers Guild where he chaired both the Sustainability and Quality committees.

Anyone interested in hosting a seminar should contact Garry at Draft.Quality@MichiganBrewersGuild.org.

 

fall beer festival

LANSING, Mich – A record 101 Michigan breweries  are headed to downtown Marquette on Saturday, September 7 for the Michigan Brewers Guild’s 11th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival. The event takes place along the shores of Lake Superior in Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The beer list is still in the works and will be posted online along with the entertainment schedule.

The U.P. Fall Beer Festival hours 1-6pm, with one-hour early admission for current Enthusiast Members when special beer offerings planned during that first hour.

Festival tickets are still available for $45 in advance or $50 the day of, online at www.mibeer.com/Events/up-fall-beer-festival as well as at select Marquette locations including The Vierling & Marquette Harbor Brewery, Blackrocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewing and Marquette Food Co-op. Tickets will also be available at the Will Call tent at the festival entrance beginning at 11am on September 7.

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 more than 290 member breweries (a number that increases on a monthly basis).

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 contributes more than 17,000 full-time jobs and $700 million in labor income / wages, with a total economic impact of over $2.4 billion. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #4 in the nation—supporting its title as “The Great Beer State.”

 

 

summer beer fest

(LANSING, Mich) – Nearly 150 Michigan breweries will celebrate “Michigan Craft Beer Month” July 26-27 at Riverside Park in downtown Ypsilanti as the Michigan Brewers Guild gears up for their 22nd Annual Summer Beer Festival. More than 1,100 beers will be on tap during the two-day outdoor event, which is held rain or shine. Festival hours 6-9pm on Friday and 1-6pm on Saturday, with one-hour early admission for current Enthusiast Members. Special beer offerings are also planned during that first hour.

This year’s entertainment includes Ryan Dillaha and The Miracle Men on Friday, July 26 (6:15-7:15pm and 7:45-9pm) and Stone Clover(1:30-3pm) and Black Tie Circus (4-5:50) on Saturday.

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 more than 290 member breweries (a number that increases almost on a monthly basis).

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 contributes more than 17,000 full-time jobs, $700 million in labor income/wages with a total economic impact of over $2.4 billion. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #4 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

craft beer month

 

(LANSING, Mich) – Legislators in Lansing have recently declared July as “Michigan Craft Beer Month” with the introduction of House Resolution No. 135 and Senate Resolution No. 61, noting the brewing industry’s long-standing history, impact on both the tourism and agricultural interests and the ongoing contributions to the overall economy of the state.

Formed in 1997, the Michigan Brewers Guild operates as the non-profit trade organization representing craft brewing interests around the state. With more than 290 member breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs spread out from coast to coast to coast – throughout both Peninsulas, in rural and urban areas – it’s no wonder Michigan is known as “The Great Beer State.” Currently Michigan ranks #4 nationally for the overall number of breweries, at 350+, according to the Brewers Association.

The highlight of “Michigan Craft Beer Month” is the 22nd Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival, July 26-27 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town – along the banks of the Huron River. Featuring nearly 150 breweries and more than 1,000 unique beers, this is the largest of the Guild’s four annual festivals (the others being the UP Fall Beer Festival, September 7 in Marquette; Detroit Fall Beer Festival, October 25-26 at Eastern Market in downtown Detroit; and Michigan Winter Beer Festival, February 21-22 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids). More than 35,000 people collectively attend the Guild’s annual festivals.

 

SR61 was introduced by Senator MacGregor and HR135 was introduced by Representatives Farrington, Chirkun, Clemente, Crawford, Garza, Gay-Dagnogo, Haadsma, Jones, Kuppa, Lasinski, Love, Manoogian, Sabo, Shannon, Slagh, Sneller and Warren. The House Resolution reads:

Whereas, 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 17,000 workers; and

Whereas, Our state has craft brewers in every region of the state and more than 300 craft brewers statewide; and

Whereas, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs; and

Whereas, The Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates Michigan Craft Beer Month each year by hosting a Summer Festival in July; and

Whereas, Craft brewers in Michigan support state agriculture by purchasing hops, malted barley, wheat, beet sugar, cherries, apples, and numerous other fruits, herbs, spices, and vegetables grown here; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers promote Michigan’s spirit of independence through a renaissance in handcrafted beers like those first brought to our state by European settlers and produced here by our forefathers, including Bernhard Stroh, for the enjoyment of the citizenry; and

Whereas, 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; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers champion the message of responsible enjoyment to their customers and work within their communities to prevent alcohol abuse and underage drinking; and

Whereas, 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 our state’s tourism; and

Whereas, Michigan craft brewers have shown a successful business model by contributing more than $700 million in labor income with a total economic contribution of more than $2.4 billion, thriving and expanding by furthering their economic importance to the state; and

Whereas, 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; now, therefore, be it

 

Resolved by the Senate and House, That the members of this legislative body commemorate July 2019 as Craft Beer Month and recognize the contributions that Michigan craft brewers have made to our state’s communities, economy, and history; and be it further

Resolved, That we commend Michigan craft brewers for providing jobs, improving the balance of trade, supporting Michigan agriculture, and educating residents about the history and culture of beer, while promoting the responsible consumption of beer as a beverage of moderation.

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.

 

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

craft brewers conference

“Networking” is a cliché excuse to get a paid “vacation” and drink a bunch of beer with your industry buddies, but it’s clear that there’s sincere value in being able to look a peer in the eye over a cold one. We may be in the business of beer, but it’s the beer that makes the business worth the work.

The night before 10 Michigan breweries won medals at the 2018 World Beer Cup, the Michigan Brewers Guild hosted an at-capacity meetup at Nashville’s Hopsmith Tavern. With what seemed like even tighter camaraderie than last year’s party in D.C., we hung with a diverse crowd of industry contributors to get their perspective on what makes attending the Brewers Association’s annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) so special.

craft brewers conference

 

Scott Graham, Director, Michigan Brewers Guild

MittenBrew: On behalf of the Guild, how important is it to be at CBC?

We love to participate in some capacity every year. There’s so much content whether you’re a brewery or you represent a complementary business. For me personally, it’s a wonderful opportunity to network with my counterparts from guilds around the country, as well as connect with the Brewers Association. It’s nice to be in an environment that’s so supportive and recognizes the value of state guilds.

What’s your recommendation for breweries on the fence about attending?

This conference is an invaluable opportunity—one you should be budgeting for. I can tell you that one of the real benefits of CBC that’s not printed in any literature is that it gives you perspective. You get to step away from the hard work you do every day to learn how other people approach what we do. So often your nose is right in there that it’s good to take a break, come up for air, and put a renewed set of eyes on your business. It’s refreshing and invigorating.

When they return home from CBC, what can Michigan breweries expect from our Guild?

In a nutshell, we exist to protect and promote the craft beer industry in Michigan. Obviously, our beer festivals are the biggest promotions we do, but we want to be a resource, too. We work in a heavily regulated industry, and it’s the reality of our business that breweries are going to bump into regulation or have to deal with other parties who want to affect them. So, if we’re not paying attention to that aspect of the industry, it could cause grave problems. You don’t know when or where these things are going to pop up, but because of the growth of the industry we’re naturally going to be exposed to issues that have to be addressed. Certainly, there are nuances involved in making legislative change, so it’s critical to have a voice for the industry in that environment, and we take it very seriously in being a unified voice for our state’s breweries.

Advice for Michigan breweries that are either seasoned vets or fresh out of the gate?

Regardless of how long you’ve been in the game, from a legislative perspective, you have to make sure you know the people who are representing you. Whether those decision-makers drink beer or drink at all, they are very interested in your business. You’re employing people, you’re part of the community. If you haven’t met your representatives or senators, invite them down to the brewery to see how you work. They’re dealing with so many issues that I’m sure they’d be very interested to see what you do, and they’d be flattered that you took the time to invite them over for a beer. And when an issue does come up where you might need their help, it’s going to be a lot easier when you’ve already established a rapport with them.

craft brewers conference

Scott Graham

Dave “Rings” Ringler, Director of Happiness, Cedar Spring Brewing Company

Dave, this isn’t your first CBC rodeo. How many times have you attended, and what keeps you coming back?

This is my fifth year. I’m varsity letterman status. There are two reasons. One: To extract nuggets of information from the seminars, which I’ve found to be a success rate of about 50% of those I attend. Two: Networking here is big time. For most of us, we only see each other at the major festivals and conferences.

How do you approach the seminars?

I bring a notebook where I keep all of those nuggets, and I save them year after year. Three weeks ago, I actually went back to my notebook from the first time I attended because I remembered attending a seminar that addressed a problem we’ve been having, and those notes helped me navigate through the issue. So now, even if I attend a seminar that might not be completely relevant to where we’re at right now, I make it a point to still pay attention and document it because it’s likely going to be something that we’ll have to deal with at some point.

How many people did you bring?

We brought a bigger crew this time—five people. In the past, it started out with just me when we were in that startup phase. But as we’ve evolved we’re able to divide and conquer. I’m tackling distribution, marketing, and sales aspects. Our GM is working on brewpub management, and of course our brewers hone in on the technical side—yeast, safety, etc.

Advice for first-time attendees?

Talk to as many people as possible, and listen. The first time is always going to be a little overwhelming, but if you stay focused—and organized!—you’ll always get something out of it. And, remember, the World Beer Cup is every two years so you’ll get a lot more international exposure as well.

 

Shannon Long, Founder/CEO, BrewExport

You’re in a pretty unique space. I image attending CBC is particularly relevant for you.

Absolutely. It’s essentially the entire industry concentrated in one city for an entire week. It’s super efficient for me because I’m able to get facetime in one location with my suppliers from across the country as well as my international buyers. In some cases, aside from Skype, we’ve never met so it’s really valuable to get to know them, their beers, and their goals all a little better.

Aside from the in-person meetings, what other value does attending CBC provide for you?

They have an education track for export-relevant issues, including seminars on the TTB [The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau] and, particularly important to BrewExport, the intricacies in partnering with China, the UK, Latin American, Canada, all of which are great markets for me. There’s always new little tidbits of information I’m able to take away from the education track.

Anything in particular that’s been of notable success for you this year?

I was able to meet with the TTB and get a ruling on some of the legal interpretations that apply to me. They were great to talk to. They just made my life a little easier, so I’m a really happy girl right now.

 

Brad Etheridge, Brewer, Atwater in the Park, Atwater Brewery

For a brewery that’s distributed in over 20 states, what are you hoping to get out of repeat attendance at CBC?

Being my fourth visit to CBC, I’m focusing solely on the expo floor this year. Generally, you’ll see a lot of product repetition, but I try to look between the lines for something new—any detail that may spark a light bulb idea.

Have you found any needles in this giant haystack this year?

Yeah, what Crowler Nation is doing with their resealable twist-top lids, although I’m still a fan of Oktober’s small footprint designs. Personally, I’m over growlers—they’re heavy, awkward, and glass breaks. We’re trying to transition into being more sustainability-minded, so the ‘can route’ makes sense for us right now.

If you’re not attending any of the seminars this year, is there anything else that adds to your experience?

The expo floor here is just so massive, and it requires your attention. I do really enjoy the Michigan Brewers Guild’s annual conference—it’s definitely more manageable. But, when you walk the floor here, everyone you talk to is a networking opportunity. I try to learn from the practical applications of what other brewers across the country are doing. It’s honest feedback in real-time.

craft brewers conference

Chris Musil & Boyd Culver

Chris Musil, Co-owner, Coldbreak Brewing Equipment

You’re here as an exhibitor promoting your custom jockey boxes. Tell the people how Coldbreak came to be.

We’ve technically been around since 2005 when we were just an eBay store. In 2012, we started producing a line of homebrewing equipment, but it wasn’t until 2014 when we turned out our first jockey box at the request of Matt, the owner of Gravel Bottom. Then it just took off from there.

What’s your experience been like at CBC? I haven’t seen many other jockey box vendors, if any, on the floor.

This is our fourth year here, and probably the most successful conference we’ve had to date. There’s not a ton of competition out there, so if we’re going to be one of few it’s important that we deliver a premium product.

What makes your boxes different?

We design them from the ground up, having gone through several revisions over the years constantly working to make the best version of what we do. What the brewers like is that we keep the inputs for all the taps and lines up front in one location. It’s a clean look from  the guest’s perspective when they walk up to a booth, and the breweries really like that. We use only stainless steel—there’s no chrome. And, all of our coils are hand bent. They’re designed so that they won’t pop out of their shank. From the moment the beer enters the coils until it comes out of the fauces, its profile never changes. It chills the beer down to the proper serving temperature, and each coil holds 17 oz of beer so you’ll have a full pint everytime you pour a beer. All that being said, we also customize boxes with a brewery’s logo or branding. We partner with Premier Graphics in Grand Rapids, who wrap our jockey boxes with printed vinyl. They’re incredibly durable, and will hold up well during the rigors of festival season.

If there’s not a lot of competition, and breweries need jockey boxes, what assurances do you give them that they should choose Coldbreak?  

We back up all of our boxes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. But it’s truly more about the relationships we want to have with our clients, who we have all over the world. We stand behind every one of our products, but if you do have an issue, all you have to do is let us know. We’re approachable, we care, and we’ll make it right. We’re not just trying to sell them a jockey box, we want to sell them better experiences for their beer and ultimately everyone who consumes it. The product we make is something that’s critical in helping drive traffic from a festival back to a brewery’s taproom, and it’s a huge honor that we get to play a role in that.

craft brewers conference

Sherry Curry, David Ringler, Jen Hain

Scott Naylor, Sales Engineer, FOAM-IT

What’s FOAM-IT’s role in the industry?

We manufacture chemical application and distribution equipment.

Unpack that. How does what you do apply to CBC?

Creating sanitary processes around beer production increases quality control and creates better beer. The reality is that every brewery has to be using chemistry, and we’re here to help facilitate those relationships with the people who are supplying chemistry to those breweries.

Do you have exhibitor booth?

No booth, but we value attending because 15 of our customers are exhibiting here. We’ve created strategic partnerships with them to get our equipment in their booths so it’s really important for us to get facetime with those who are advocating our products to the industry. The ultimate end-users are the breweries; our immediate customer is the chemical supplier that’s supplying chemistry to the breweries. The better we can be as a supplier to them, the better they can be in providing solutions to the brewer.

What message do you hope your suppliers are able to communicate to breweries?

The understanding that [a brewery’s] sanitation products don’t do any good just sitting in a bucket, and that chemical application is critical to the sanitation of their operations. Founders has been a customer for about 15 years, and they’re about as good of a testimony as anyone.

 

Mike Moran, Sales and Marketing Manager, MI Local Hops

You’re relatively new to the scene, correct?

Yes. This is our second year here at CBC. We were here last year after our first crop year.

What’s been the reception like to your hops?

Increasingly positive! Breweries are being very intentional about sourcing and diversifying their ingredients geographically. Michigan’s been gaining a great reputation for sourcing and supplying hops.

Has anything helped your presence in the market?

Yes, resources like The Lupulin Exchange. It was originally established for brewers who had overages on their contracts and needed to unload their surplus. Then the Exchange opened it up to brokers and hop farms, so we’ve been selling on it for over a year, and have been able to reach breweries all over the world.

With only one previous year at CBC under your belt, have you had any standout successes?

Absolutely! Last year we met People’s Pint Brewing Collective from Toronto while they were still a brewery-in-planning. We’ve had the opportunity to work with them on recipes, and have been building a really great relationship. Since they opened, they’ve been awesome at promoting our hops to their network, and are proud to say they’re using Michigan-grown hops. That’s led to us earning the business from many other breweries in the Toronto area.

What’s been the most popular hop for you?

Definitely Michigan Chinook. We won the Hop Growers of Michigan’s Michigan Chinook Cup, recognized for the best Chinook hops grown in the state. It was judged by the Hop Quality Group, comprised of some heavy hitters like John Mallet, Jeremy Kosmicki, and Alec Mull. And, we’ve got two other brands, Copper and Mackinac, coming out soon that are becoming conversation starters because attendees here at CBC are looking for the next new thing.

craft brewers conference

Josh Gordon, Plant Production Manager, Odd Side Ales

Josh, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked over a beer, but this is your first time at CBC. What are you and Odd Side up to?

My targets for the last year or two have been on packaging, quality, and safety. We’re kind of at a tipping point where we’ve recently expanded and are likely hitting three new markets by the end of this year, so we’re scoping out what possible next steps are going to look like for us. We’re considering investments in software, process equipment, new packaging lines.

As a CBC virgin, what’s been your biggest takeaway so far?

Hands down, the camaraderie forged with people who might be randomly standing next to me when I’m looking at products, and the productive dialogue that’s come from it. It’s given me a lot of ammo in terms of ideas I can go back to the brewery with—what we can do to constantly refine and improve, and the things we can explore that might not have otherwise been on our radar.

Last year, MittenBrew published a survival guide for first-time attendees. Do you have any recommendations for first-timers or breweries on the cusp of a growth spurt?

Knowledge about the market overall. There’s so much room and so many beer drinkers for breweries to execute well, but there’s also finite real estate on shelf space—we all know that. So, if you get to the point where you’re considering distribution outside of your taproom, you better be prepared to not stop. If you do, you can easily become irrelevant.

How difficult is it to not stop and keep the quality and innovation on point—because it’s not as easy as just brewing more beer?

First of all, there has to be a place for that beer to go. Is there a market for your product? Do bars want your stuff? And more importantly, does the consumer demand your product? And if you’re ready to meet that demand, do you have quality assurances in place? In my opinion, there are two things that are really hard to catch up on—quality and safety. With rapid growth, there’s a lot of shortcuts you may want to take, but they will ultimately circumnavigate quality and safety, and can put your brewery and more importantly—your people—at risk that you could’ve avoided.

craft brewers conference

Nathan Hukill, Brewer, River’s Edge Brewing Company

You’re a first-timer here. What’s captured your interest?

I came for the education track, particularly the technical side, of course. But, one thing that’s been a little frustrating is having to choose between two equally enticing seminar topics that are happening at the same time. It makes for a tough decision.

Did you have any expectations before you arrived?

I didn’t totally know what to expect. Everyone who says the networking is great is right. I’ve been able to draw on the wealth of knowledge not only from Michigan, but breweries that I’m a fan of. There’s something about being able to connect to and learn from people over a beer.

Any parting words for CBC?

Nashville is awesome. I think it’s cool that we’re all fortunate to get to experience an amazing conference in a new city every year.

 

Pat Evans, Freelance Writer

Welcome back! Good to see you. Tell everyone why I’m talking to you.

Before I moved to Las Vegas last year, I covered the West Michigan beer industry for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine, among others. When I left and told people where I was going, the general consensus from a lot of my beer peers was that the Vegas beer scene sucked. So, since I’ve been at CBC this week, it’s been a good opportunity for me to be able to spread the opposite message about beer from Nevada.

Why’d you come back “to Michigan” for CBC?

I missed it. Michigan beer is special. Covering it has allowed me to make a living. So, when I have an opportunity like this to dip back into the Michigan scene and reconnect with everyone I’ve spent the last few years writing about—and getting to know—I can’t not show up to continue to support our industry.

Okay, defend Nevada beer. If CBC ever lands in Vegas, where should we drink?

Tourists are easily swayed by the beers they’re exposed on the strip. Some casinos brew their own beer on site, and most of that isn’t a fair representation of the state’s beer. When you come visit, go support Big Dogs Brewing Company, Great Basin Brewing Co., Revision Brewing Company, Tenaya Creek Brewery, and Craft Haus Brewery.

craft brewers conference

Pauline Knighton, Sonia Buonodono, Steph Harding, Annette May – via Fermenta

Pauline Knighton, Sales Manager, Short’s Brewing Company

What’s been your experience at CBC?

I’ve been four or five times. Our industry is constantly evolving, and people’s roles change on a regular basis, so I think it’s important to continue attending so you can grow with the evolution. Originally, Short’s sent me because they cared about me learning as much as I could about what I was responsible for on a day-to-day basis, but they also wanted me to learn about the industry that fell outside of my scope.

What’s the conference done for you in that aspect?

It’s allows you to make multiple concurrent deep dives into every facet of the industry. In my current role, I’ve been excited to learn more about leadership development and distributors.

Short’s is a pretty iconic brand, with a very special identity. Does Short’s reputation impact your perspective when you attend?

There are a lot of breweries who are nailing it from a branding and sales standpoint, so it’s great to expand your perspective in terms of breweries of different sizes executing effectively.

Goals for attending?

I hope to help continue to grow Short’s, so if I can listen to breweries who are bigger than us and learn from their mistakes, I can better position Short’s to be successful while hopefully bypassing some of those unforeseen pitfalls.

Any advice for other breweries who might need help defining their brand?

We purposely embody the culture of Northern Michigan, and although we may grow operationally, which attending CBC can help us do, it’s important to Joe [Short] to maintain the power of smallness.

Are there any unintended benefits or consequences of growing while wanting to maintain your brand identity?

You’re marrying your partners in these professional relationships, so you need to make sure that when you meet them in person for the first time it’s a cultural fit. You’re going to go through good and bad times together, so you better make sure you can kiss and make up for the greater good of your company.

You’ve been multiple times. How does a brewery determine who on their roster to send?

I think it depends on what phase your brewery is in. You want to make sure that whoever you pay to fly, or drive, to whatever amazing city CBC is held in that they’re going with a purpose to bring something valuable back to your brewery. We’re all professional drinkers, and we can network with a beer in our hand any day of the week, but for the sake of respecting your brewery and the conference, be intentional about it, and it will be worth your time and your brewery’s money.

 

 

winter beer fest

The Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Fest was (understandably) pushed back one week due to local flooding of the Grand River. With knee-jerk reactions on social media, and many shots taken at the MBG, lucky number 13 for the annual Fest proved that all events are realistically not immune to the guarantee of happening “rain or shine.” The Guild had to be the bearer of bad news when they announced the event’s postponement after accounting for safety concerns and what would’ve been a logistical nightmare hosting over 9,000 ticket-holders knee-deep in water.

With a universal good vibe in the air, sunny skies above, and dry ground below our feet, we polled a cross-section of those in attendance about what they enjoy about drinking beer outside in a parking lot in Febru… um, we mean March. Yeah, March.

winter beer fest

 

Ali Brodhacker, 31, Three Oaks, MI

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

Nine.

What do you enjoy most about them?

The entire community. It’s cool watching all these people come out and try different beers they might not otherwise be exposed to. I love seeing my brothers and sisters in the brewing community who are actually brewing the beer and pushing it every single day—these fests are a meeting of the minds.

So, you work for a brewery?

Absolutely. I’m the marketing director at Greenbush.

Any comments about how the flood affected you?

I’m actually a huge fan of how everything was handled. I really respect how the Brewers Guild reacted to the flooding. They were on top of it, and seemed pretty transparent to the public by sharing pictures of the flooding and what it could’ve done to the Fest last weekend. It was a crappy situation for everyone involved, but I have more love for them now.

 

Simion Stewart, 29, Holland, MI

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

This is my very first beer fest, period.

So far, what’s your take?

I love that everyone here—I mean everybody is enjoying themselves. I’m sure that there’s probably some of the best beer in the world here right now, and I get to try it. I know I’ve tasted trash before, but what’s going on here today, I gotta admit, is awesome.

I know you’re only a couple hours in, but is there anything that stands out?

Everything seems cool. I didn’t expect the entertainment or the fires, both are a nice touch. The food options, I think, will come in handy to keep people simmered. And, I like seeing the light security. They’re not in your face, but the environment is a good time and feels safe.

Why did you decide to make this your first beer fest?

It’s simple: To try something new. I’ve never had craft beer before today, but I’m sold. This has made up my mind. I’ll be back.

winter beer fest

The Watrous Family, Grand Rapids, MI: Kevin, 51, wife Cathy, 50-something, and their daughter Helen, 22

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

Kevin and Cathy: 13. Seven Winter, five U.P., one Detroit.

Helen: This is my fifth.

What’s been a highlight?

Cathy: Winter Beer Fest is our absolute favorite. There’s just an untouchable jovial atmosphere. People are in costume, but it’s freezing [laughing]! We all know it’s going to be cold, but we prepare for it, and embrace it.

Kevin: The people. We’re all here—9,000 of us—to enjoy the same thing for the same reason.

Helen: Exploring new beer with my family—it’s a pretty special experience.

Helen, you’ve been to five beer fests at a pretty early age. What’s the connection?

My parents. I live in Charlevoix, so they’ve helped me fall in love with craft beer, thanks to Short’s.

Have you seen anything evolve?

Cathy: The one we’ve seen change a lot over the years has been the U.P. Fall Fest. We were there in ‘13, and we just love seeing how much it’s grown. Marquette is just beautiful, the weather usually cooperates, and the town is really starting to embrace it. We were also really surprised about the Detroit Festival. We went a couple years ago, and we hadn’t spent much time in Detroit before that. We drove in a couple days early to explore the city, and it was awesome to see its revival.

Any suggestions?

Kevin: More water stations, and for the Brewers Guild to distribute the maps and beer lists sooner.

 

Korey Stubleski, 31, Toledo, OH

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

This is my second.

What’s stood out?

I’ve discovered very quickly that there’s way more variety in Beer City USA than Toledo.

Any Michigan breweries that have caught your attention so far?

Speciation and Transient. I’ve loved everything I’ve tried by them.

Any constructive criticism for how we do things in Beer City?

I thought there’d be more water, more easily accessible. Other than that, I dig the entertainment, and the people here have been very cool and hospitable.

 

Josh Gordon, 30, Grand Haven, MI

As Plant Production Manager at Odd Side Ales, how many MI beer fests have you attended?

This is my fifth year at Winter Beer Fest, and I’ve been to four Summer, and three in Detroit. Still haven’t been able to make it up to the U.P. Fall Fest in Marquette.

What do you enjoy most about them?

We’re [employees in the industry] in a unique, special position. By far, I love the set-up on Friday—getting here early, knocking it out, and then getting to hang with all my friends. What’s also really cool is when we bring other guys from the production facility out to fests, they get to see the consumer go crazy over what we spend all day brewing and packaging. It’s those people who support our product that give us a means to make a living.

Have you seen the consumer change at fests?

Overall, they’re definitely more experienced and getting more knowledgeable about the beer everyone’s making. Keeps us on our toes.

Anything you’d like to see different?

Oh, man, that’s tough. I really don’t know what you could change, to be honest. It doesn’t have any bearing on those attending, but from an operations standpoint, the end of the night on Saturday is kind of a bummer—just knowing it’s over and we have to tear down and wait until the place clears to load out. But, the Guild takes really good care of us. I’ve seen beer fests in other states ran really poorly. This one’s pretty kick ass.

winter beer fest

Lindsey Yax, 31, Grandville, MI

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

This is my third.

Third time’s a charm, right? What are you digging about them?

I obviously love all of our Grand Rapids breweries, but having intimate access to sampling whatever I want from the rest across the state is pretty great.

What have you tried that you’d drive there to have again?

Right now, I’m drinking Mango M-43 by Old Nation. I’ve never had an IPA before that I’ve liked, and I looove this!

 

Ryan Sheldon, 31, Sylvan Lake, MI

How many MI beer fests have you attended?

Somewhere between five and 10.

What’s the selling point?

It’s a comprehensive selection of all styles and flavor profiles. Regardless of what you’re personally into, there’s something for everyone.

When you attend, do you have an agenda for what you want to drink?

I’m a homebrewer, so I’m always looking for beers that will challenge me to push my own envelope at home.

Is there a particular style you’re looking to explore next, and have you found an example here that’s inspired you?

Historically, the easy answer is anything bourbon barrel-aged. But, lately, I feel like it’s jumped the shark and become the sell-out. There are so many breweries that have become so sophisticated brewing big beers like these, that classic styles like pilsners, Kölsch, etc. are getting overlooked and falling by the wayside. It seems like everyone just runs to the bourbon barrel-aged beers or double IPAs with a high ABV and fancy name.

 

Despite the unavoidable inconvenience of rescheduling, the event ran like business as usual. It’s clear: the people make this thing tick. From every angle, this community is driven simply by a love for beer. It’s what makes festivals in the dead of winter, or the blistering heat of summer, continue to thrive.

 

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.”

 

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