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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.”

 

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.”

 

LANSING, Mich— A 2-year version of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), which lowers the federal excise tax for breweries, was passed on Wednesday, December 20, 2017  by the 115th U.S. Congress. This savings will allow Michigan’s nearly 300 small brewers, including many manufacturers and entrepreneurs, to reinvest in their businesses, expand their operations and hire more workers.

Under the bill, the federal excise tax will be reduced to $3.50/barrel (from $7/barrel) on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers producing less than 2 million barrels annually, and reduced to $16/barrel (from $18/barrel) on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers. The bill would maintain the current $18/barrel rate for barrelage over 6 million. The legislation is currently written as a 2-year provision. The provisions of this bill are effective January 1, 2018.

The effort to bring meaningful federal excise tax relief to small brewers has been a primary political objective for the Brewers Association (BA) and state guild from across the country for almost 10 years.

“We would like to thank all of our brewery members who have helped support of this effort over the years traveling to DC and reaching out locally to emphasize the importance of this legislation and how it will help stimulate economic growth and create jobs throughout Michigan. We would especially like to recognize the Brewers Association for their tireless leadership,” Scott Graham, Executive Director of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

“Our expectation is that small brewers will use their savings related to the re-calibration of the federal excise tax on beer to invest in their breweries, expand their operations, create more jobs and hire more American workers,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “We are very appreciative that Congress has enacted these bipartisan, strongly supported measures.”

“We are very excited to invest our tax savings back into our brewery and our people,” says David Manson, Ambassador of Fermentology of Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette.

Currently, Michigan craft brewers contribute over $2 billion to the state’s economy and are responsible for an estimated 14,400+ jobs.

We’d like to thank House of Representatives co-sponsors Jack Bergman (R), Bill Huizenga (R), John Moolenaar (R), Daniel Kildee (D), Fred Upton (R), Tim Walberg (R), Mike Bishop (R), Paul Mitchell (R), David Trott (R), Debbie Dingell (D), John Conyers, Jr. (D), and Brendan Lawrence (D); as well as Senate co-sponsors Debbie Stabenow (D) Gary Peters (D) who supported the bill> for joining 303 and 54 of their House and Senate colleagues as co-sponsors of this bill. Their support will help <State>’s small and independent brewers continue to grow and thrive.

 

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.”

 

LANSING, Mich – A record number 92 Michigan craft breweries will be serving up more than 588 beers on Saturday, September 9 at the Michigan Brewers Guild’s 9th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.

Tickets are available online now and are $40 in advance (and $45 at the gate, if any remain available). Admission includes 15 tasting tokens, each good for a three-ounce sample. Additional tokens are 50-cents each.

In addition to online tickets, a handful of outlets around Marquette also have tickets for sale for $40—including Blackrocks BreweryMarquette Food Co-OpOre Dock Brewing and The Vierling.

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.”

#MiBeer #MiBeer20Years #DrinkMiBeer #GreatBeerState #UPFBF17

 

 

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!