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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.”

 

 

winter beer fest

Before I worked in the craft industry, I was a beer festival attendee. My perspective only stretched as far as to see the glorious, seemingly never-ending flow of beer from taps. I sought out IPAs and Flanders Reds, but would absolutely try anything. My friends and I would all get different pours and trade them around, forgetting who had what, but enjoying all the different flavors and tastes anyways. People around me would start the beer battle cry and we would all join in, knocking elbows with friendly, slightly intoxicated neighbors and doing our best imitations of freed animals howling at the moon. It was always an atmosphere of (slightly reckless) happiness and friendship.

emilyA couple of years later, I speak from the other side of festival operations as a brewery employee. The air of happiness and friendship is still very much there, but for different reasons. Beer is hard work. As an employee of a Michigan brewery, I now appreciate the science, creativity, innovation, patience, and elbow grease it takes to churn out one magical recipe. I respect brewers for their meticulous natures and passion for creation. I appreciate all of the pubtenders and barbacks for being on the front lines of service. I admire sales representatives and marketing gurus who grow the brand and spread the good word of beer. And I bow down to brave individuals who put every last iota of capital and confidence into opening their own small businesses.

I started as a pubtender in a small brewery to learn the beer and study the brand. I tried out brewing, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the everyday vocation I wanted to devote myself to. I am now a brewery sales representative who dabbles in marketing. I’m also the lead on festivals and events, working with new people and old friends every day. Like all workers in the craft industry, I wear a lot of hats, and gladly. I am still new to the industry, but I recognize that the best brewery team is one that not only believes in the brand, but also in all of its individual members.

And only the best craft and brewery teams are brought to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest. Not only is it hosted by the largest craft beverage organization in Michigan—this festival takes place in Grand Rapids, known by many as Beer City, USA. For Michigan breweries, this is our semester’s final exam, making all of the festival-goers our very enthusiastic and very opinionated graders.

Like a majority of fellow breweries, we plan our beer list carefully (and usually months in advance). We want to bring recognized favorites, but also new styles and maybe a few surprises. Some of those surprises, like a barrel-aged beer, take months to age, with brewers carefully tasting and testing the product until that exact moment that it’s pronounced perfect. And when we tap that beer, crossing our fingers that it wasn’t damaged in transportation or that the tap lines aren’t too cold to pour through, nothing makes us happier than handing it over to an eager attendee.

The weather for this year’s Winter Beer Fest ran the gamut of possible Michigan forecasts. Friday kicked off the festivities with heavy rains downways, sideways, and everyway, drowning everyone, yet spirits remained high. Saturday ushered in a cold snap, welcoming back some fluffy white snow following a pretty mellow winter season. Luckily, the biggest issue weather caused was a few flyaway tents, so festivities went forward.

winter beer fest

A huge attribute to the success of a festival is the volunteer staff. Sometimes, they are the close friends and family of fellow brewery staff. Sometimes they are complete strangers eager for a new experience. Whatever their motivations, they are often thrust into the thick of things with nothing but their enthusiasm to guide them.

We had a great mix of volunteers pouring with us at this beer festival, all with different experience levels. A couple had never poured beer before, while a few others were volunteer veterans, pouring with ease and fielding questions like they owned the place. This mix of strengths caters to all of the different festival goers as well. First-time attendees want more questions answered while some just want the beer options listed as efficiently as possible. Either way, it’s always good to have help.

Even with advanced planning and care, things don’t always go quite the way we want—weather, forgotten supplies, broken down vehicles, sick workers—it all happens. This is usually the nature of the beer business. Luckily, the Michigan craft industry is known for camaraderie. We all lend out a lot of spare wrenches, air tanks, and even volunteer workers at festivals to ensure that all attendees are allowed the best possible time of their lives. At this year’s Winter Beer Fest, we forgot an air tank, meaning we had no way to push beer through the taplines (sheer will does not work). I knew I could reach out to friends in the industry for assistance, and it was no surprise when someone had an extra they could lend us. Later that day, we helped jumpstart another brewery’s vehicle.

The Michigan craft industry is very much a community—a lot of give with little take. We only want to help each other excel in order to grow the industry into further success as a whole. It all comes down to our beer in a person’s hand. With our whole hearts, every fiber of our being, we want people to enjoy it. But we want honest feedback. We want questions and discussions. Most of all, we want to have a conversation with people about our beer and our brand.

With the number of Michigan breweries growing monthly, Michigan craft-drinkers are becoming more and more educated. They recognize quality, they ask questions about ingredients and brew systems, and they appreciate something new. The constant challenge of fulfilling and exceeding every attendee’s expectation keeps us all on our toes and guarantees an innovative and creative future for the industry as a whole.

Whether craft is a hobby or a career, Michigan craft is all about passion. We believe in what we drink and who pours it no matter what side of the bar we’re standing on.

 

Photography: Amee Rutan

Brewery_VivantBrewery Vivant, known for its unique Belgian­-American styles of beers, welcomes another GR Beer Week and hoards of craft beer fans to Beer City USA with it’s annual Brewer’s Big Breakfast. The Pub opens its doors early once a year ­­the Saturday of Winter Beer Fest­­ for breakfast. February 27, from 8am to 2pm, the highly anticipated breakfast menu will showcase a breakfast poutine, vegetarian eggs Benedict, house­made crullers and of course, the beer­mosa (Farm Hand spiked with OJ).

The breakfast originally started as a way to fuel the brewers before stepping out into the frigid Michigan temperatures to pour beer at Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Fest at 5/3 Ball Park in Comstock Park. The idea caught traction with Executive Chef Christopher Weimer. “I’ve always liked cooking breakfast, and appreciated this style of cuisine. I don’t know that I’d want to subscribe to the lifestyle, or if I could, but once a year it’s fun for us to stretch our chops and step outside our traditional dinner routine.”

The day is fast paced in the kitchen, but guests revel in the unusual circumstance they’re able to find themselves in: enjoying kegs and eggs in the Brewery Vivant chapel. “The atmosphere is jovial and there is a palpable excitement running through guests and our staff as well,” Says Kate Avery, Director of Sales & Marketing, “It’s Winter Beer Fest after all. Even if you don’t have tickets, you still are able to be a part of this thing we call Beer City, USA.”

True to the Vivant spirit, the breakfast is open to all and no reservations are required. The community tables fill up with hungry beer lovers and foodies alike. People coming together over good beer and good food? That’s living the ​bon vivant​.

At 2pm breakfast will conclude, the pub will operate with a limited food menu while the kitchen resets for a 3pm return to regular, full dinner menu service. We’ll be eating and drinking well into the night. The Pub closes at midnight on Saturday.

B.O.B's

GRAND RAPIDS – As an original Winter Beer Festival contributing drinker, B.O.B.’s Brewerys Brewmaster John Svoboda’s interests are always surpassed by the excitement and fun that the festival brings. Ever since the WBF made its way to Grand Rapids, B.O.B.’s has been a participant.

“It is wonderful publicity and you have the opportunity to meet new people and people that are a fan of the brewery! It is nice to see people enjoying themselves at the festival and appreciate what we do. It is difficult to stand out at the festival. There are a thousand beers and after you eliminate all of the standards, you have to stand out and bring something unusual and how you get it to be unusual can be a challenge,” said Svoboda.

Their most popular beer to date, the Peanut Butter Porter, will be pouring its dark smooth peanut taste into your cups this year. A similar style and new beer will deliciously be by its side – a milk stout made with hazelnuts and chocolate, rightfully given the name: Nutella Stout.

“It will be really great or we aren’t going to bring it – ha! We want you to taste it and it taste like Nutella, not just chocolate,” said Mick Rickerd, Executive Chef of the Gilmore Collection.

B.O.B's

B.O.B.’s beer isn’t only found at the WBF, you can find B.O.B.’s at the bottom level of The B.O.B. Unlike most breweries, this one sits below restaurants, a nightclub, and a comedy club all filling the building’s five levels. The beauty of a setup like this is that B.O.B.’s beer is available on tap at every location, not just the lower level that they occupy.

“Having other beers on tap, actually gets people to try more of our beers,” said Svoboda.

On Saturday February 20 from noon to 4 p.m. The B.O.B. is having their Winter Beer Festival Brunch. With Rickerd’s extensive beer and food knowledge he has created an elaborate food menu that will leave every taste bud happily pleased. On tap will be 43 Michigan beers from 11 breweries and three brunch stations, as well as dessert. You might as well call it, ‘the easy way to keep warm because you are inside’ WBF kickoff to prepare you for the following weekend.

Whether you like to keep warm inside or try and keep warm outside, B.O.B.’s Brewery is lined up with some great brewing talent this February for all to enjoy.

Photography: Bri Luginbill

GRAND RAPIDS — If you’re on a beer forum or two, you’ll find plenty of advice on which whales to slay during the Saturday session of the 10th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival.

For the first time in it’s history of celebrating in Grand Rapids, the Guild added a second day to the party.

Based on Friday’s experience and enhanced by previous tasting research, here are a few beers I suggest you seek out tomorrow in no particular order:

Big Lake Brewing Company “Dark Star” breakfast stout. Travis Prueter, brewer, told MittenBrew it’s brewed using “Kona and Sumatra coffee, Godiva dark baker’s chocolate, then aged on cacao nibs.”

The barrel aged version spends “at least three and a half months on the barrel.”

Big Lake also provided a mean Imperial Brown — BB Elroy, which was aged in bourbon barrels.

Jolly Pumpkin “Saison X” farmhouse saison. A nice refreshing, complex, saison to treat your palate to. Brewed with candied ginger, lemon peel, orange peel and a blend of pink, black and green peppercorns.

Pike 51 “Oud Bruin” sour brown. I didn’t get to enjoy it Friday; it’s only being tapped today. I’ve had it from the source and will be seeing you in line for it tomorrow. Probably more than once.

Chelsea Alehouse “Hollier 8” double brown ale. A beautiful, roasty, toasty brew.

Dark Horse “Black Bush” black IPA. This relatively new release does worthy battle with their more well-known beers.

Witch’s Hat “Night Fury” imperial stouts. This series of bourbon barrel beers provides everything from vanilla bean to espresso and cherry flavors. We tried the vanilla bean variation, and were blown away by its subtle sweetness an overall balance, especially with it being a bourbon barrel age brew.

The Saturday session of Winter Beer Festival opens to the public at 1 p.m. today, with early entry available for VIPs and Enthusiast members at Noon. We hope to see you there!

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