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GRAND RAPIDS – The 5th Annual Wood Aged Beer Fest (WABF) at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids has come and gone. Friends, if you weren’t able to attend one of the two sessions on Saturday September 19th, I’m really, very sorry.

The ease and astute organizational flow of this beer festival have only improved since the first barrel-aged brew was poured.

“Having done this for five years, every year has been different,” said Brewery Vivant Owner Jason Spaulding. “We try to learn as we go, and focus in on a few things. We were in the street last year, and it seemed more of a street party atmosphere. We’re back in the parking lot [this year], and it’s more intimate. People have more time to enjoy the event and enjoy the beer. We tried to make sure it’s about the beer.”

Which, it is, of course. Previous WABFs have spawned larger production of favorites, such as the Wizard Burial Ground, a bourbon barrel-aged Quad. It was so loved by attendees, Brewery Vivant decided to scale up production and release it on a wider scale. Like Spaulding said, WABF is a big experiment—an opportunity for Vivant to test brews and have fun and for the public to help shape the future flavor profile of beers to come.

Twenty six beers were available during each of the two sessions held this year—another new component to the festival. An afternoon session and evening session, with an hour in between for cleanup and last call, seemed to go smoothly and everyone was able to taste to their hearts’ content without massive lines and crowded seating.

John Ward , Vivant’s Experience Warden, dressed appropriately in monk garb, said that “more than anything, we wanted to make it more accessible, not have 1200 people at a time, 1800 people at a time. Your lines are more cluttered, there are more things that can go wrong. This makes it easier on us, better for them, and a better overall experience.”

It was definitely a good experience. So many notable and fun beers available in one place, it’s hard to pick standouts, but I’ll try.

Angelina is the girl with lots of fests under her belt. Vivant’s first barrel ever, she’s been around for as long as the brewery has. A 6.7% ABV oak-aged house Sour, this beer is a good representation of what Vivant is.

Paris is another girl we’ve seen before. The nature of barrel aging makes things a little different each go around, and it’s usually a wonderful surprise. A wild red wine barrel-aged Saison, the mild funk works well with the notes the red wine imparts.

A few firkins were available. The unique properties of cask conditioning beer and serving it at a warmer temperature make for some very tasty, more traditional, and often surprising results, like the Tree Bucket Double IPA aged on brandy-soaked cherrywood.

Dead Wizard in the Basement, Wizard Burial Ground oak barrel aged with brettanomyces yeast came in at 11% ABV, making for a heady beer. Guardian of the Universe, a traditional, northern France biere de garde—Vivant’s Verdun—aged in a white wine barrel, had just enough tartness and twist but still kept true to its roots in a delicious way.

Head brewer Jacob Derylo, of course, loved everything, but he did share that Coming Up Peaches, a bourbon barrel-aged Tripel with fresh-from-the-farmers market peaches, might be his favorite this year.

“We’re having fun, making cool beer, and meeting cool people,” said Derylo. “I wake up every morning and want to go to work. I love my job. I make people happy. Not everyone can say that.”

Brewery Vivant has been a mainstay of the burgeoning East Hills area in Grand Rapids. They have witnessed new stores, restaurants, and community members become part of their circle. They give back to the community, in more ways than just providing beer. The WABF is a gathering place—an opportunity to talk to your neighbors and talk to those folks you haven’t seen in a few months, all over an expertly crafted glass of barrel-aged goodness.

“Why is it so popular? Because it’s cool. And it tastes delicious. It’s that simple,” said Derylo.

 

It’s that time of year again. We’re only a month away from Brewery Vivant’s biggest, baddest, woodiest party of the year—their Wood-Aged Beer Festival (WABF). The Grand Rapids mainstay is hosting this year’s event Saturday, September 19th in the parking lot behind the pub. Things are a little different, with two tasting sessions: Afternoon (1-4 p.m.) and Evening (5-8 p.m.) scheduled, to allow for more people to enjoy 20 plus limited, rare, and exclusive beers in an intimate beer-centric environment.

The Vivant scratch-kitchen will have festival foods available should hunger arise. Tickets are $35 and include 10 tokens, a collector’s edition tasting glass, and access to some incredible beer. Limited tickets available online at www.breweryvivant.com or directly through wabf15.brownpapertickets.com.

More fun info: This will be the “Wooden anniversary” (as per Victorian tradition) of WABF at Brewery Vivant as they celebrate their fifth festival and fifth year in business in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
“We’re hoping with more tokens in your glass from the start, less people on the grounds at once, and a map to guide you, this year’s festival will be the best one yet,” said Kate Avery, Abbess of Beer and Director of Sales & Marketing. “The brewers have been plotting for this unveiling since last November. It’s their big party with big flavors. We’re glad to share it with more enthusiasts by offering two sessions this year.”
Wood-aging beers hearkens back to the earliest beer brewing traditions when vessels were all made of wood and brewers worked to blend flavors into drinkable liquid. Unique flavor profiles arise in the already flavor-forward craft beers when aged in wood. Expect old favorites from the vault, as well as new, never-before-tasted experiments. Love Shadow, the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout makes a triumphant return to the tap handles, as well as a cellared Wizard Burial Ground (2014 vintage bourbon barrel-aged quadrupel).

Get your tickets ASAP, as this one usually sells out. MittenBrew will be there and we hope you will be too!

Note: The Pub will be open for business as usual on Saturday, 11am-midnight. The festival grounds are separate.

It’s that time of year again. We’re only a month away from Brewery Vivant’s biggest, baddest, woodiest party of the year—their Wood-Aged Beer Festival (WABF). The Grand Rapids mainstay is hosting this year’s event Saturday, September 19th in the parking lot behind the pub. Things are a little different, with two tasting sessions: Afternoon (1-4 p.m.) and Evening (5-8 p.m.) scheduled, to allow for more people to enjoy 20 plus limited, rare, and exclusive beers in an intimate beer-centric environment.
The Vivant scratch-kitchen will have festival foods available should hunger arise. Tickets are $35 and include 10 tokens, a collector’s edition tasting glass, and access to some incredible beer. Limited tickets available online at www.breweryvivant.com or directly through wabf15.brownpapertickets.com.

More fun info: This will be the “Wooden anniversary” (as per Victorian tradition) of WABF at Brewery Vivant as they celebrate their fifth festival and fifth year in business in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
“We’re hoping with more tokens in your glass from the start, less people on the grounds at once, and a map to guide you, this year’s festival will be the best one yet,” said Kate Avery, Abbess of Beer and Director of Sales & Marketing. “The brewers have been plotting for this unveiling since last November. It’s their big party with big flavors. We’re glad to share it with more enthusiasts by offering two sessions this year.”
Wood-aging beers hearkens back to the earliest beer brewing traditions when vessels were all made of wood and brewers worked to blend flavors into drinkable liquid. Unique flavor profiles arise in the already flavor-forward craft beers when aged in wood. Expect old favorites from the vault, as well as new, never-before-tasted experiments. Love Shadow, the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout makes a triumphant return to the tap handles, as well as a cellared Wizard Burial Ground (2014 vintage bourbon barrel-aged quadrupel).

Get your tickets ASAP, as this one usually sells out. MittenBrew will be there and we hope you will be too!
Note: The Pub will be open for business as usual on Saturday, 11am-midnight. The festival grounds are separate.

GRAND RAPIDS — Now in its fourth year, Brewery Vivant’s Wood-Aged Beer Fest (WABF) has expanded on its popularity and notoriety.

Growing from an event held in the brewery’s outdoor seating, to its parking lot, to closing down the entire street, WABF was well attended and looked forward to by Grand Rapidians and visitor alike. “It’s like Christmas,” said Megan Smith, Monk Clubber and long-time Vivant fan. “[It’s] one of the best days of the year!”

Monk Clubbers rejoiced. The ‘VIP’ noon hour entry allowed the few (by comparative standards) mug club members to call dibs on the short lines and barrel aged brews. Entry began for everyone else at 1 p.m., and the tents quickly filled up.

At least 1,000 people crowded Cherry Street in front of the brewery. Attendance was capped at 3,000 — double what it was last year — and online sales sold out the day before the event, but were available at the door.

The $12 ticket included a collector’s tasting glass, two beer tokens and entry. A general light-heartedness and good spirits dominated the day, despite the cold and rainy weather.

“We’re just really excited to have everyone here, it’s our yearly bash. It’s a great day for barrel aged beers,” said Ben Darcie, Wandering Monk for Vivant. “Nowhere else — except maybe a [Michigan Brewers] Guild festival — will you get to taste this many barrel aged beers in one place, let alone from one brewery.

“This is really something completely unique and different than anything else that happens in the state all year long.”

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With 24 different barrel aged beers on tap, WABF really is like no other. The brewery offered new and unique offerings — spinoffs from taproom favorites as well as new beers.

Cask conditioned ales included Tree Bucket — a 9.3% ABV brew aged on brandy conditioned cherry wood and double dry hopped with Citra hops — and a Belgian Amber — aged on bourbon conditioned maple wood with maple syrup and a lot of cinnamon. Some of the stand outs included the Sourtude — Solitude oak-aged w/ pediococcus — and the so-popular-it’s-been-resurrected Wizard Burial Ground — a powerhouse Bourbon barrel aged at 10.6% ABV, which will be available in cans in December.

The Vivant kitchen also provided protein-rich options like giant turkey legs, brats, pulled pork sandwiches and the perennial favorite duck nachos.

“This is a fantastic crowd of people, there’s tons of great beer on tap. It’s a really great atmosphere and it’s a really fun time for everyone,” said Chris Bates, Assistant Manager at Vivant.

“I can’t say too much [about the future]. But hopefully soon you will be seeing us in some more markets and more places. We are looking forward to more great times and great beers to be had.”