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summer beer fest

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

A year ago, Fermenta: Michigan Women’s Craft Collective premiered 10 collaboration brews with breweries at the 2014 Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG) Summer Beer Festival. At the Winter Beer Festival this past February 2015, they premiered 19. Over the weekend at the 2015 Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Fermenta premiered 26 new collaborations. With many months of prep work, planning and improvised, last-minute tweaks, Fermenta members and involved brewers got to taste the final products of shared labor.

“We tried some of them last night, but you know, there are so many! We have more to try today. It’s a beautiful day to try some amazing beers,” said Annie Zipser, a dedicated Fermenta member attending the festival both Friday and Saturday.

With 26 collaboration brews marked in the official MBG Summer Beer Festival pamphlet, everyone, Fermenta members or not, had a potential checklist to mark between Friday and Saturday at the fest. The large scope of the festival—over 100 breweries with a combined number of over 900 beers—made finding beers a kind of scavenger hunt, but definitely a good excuse to meet new people and revisit fellow craft beer enthusiast friends.

“I’m really proud of the Hibiscus Wheat—it turned out really nicely. Make sure to get over and try it!” said Morag Goyette of Blue Tractor. And indeed, the collaboration brew was a delicious concoction for the hot summer day—refreshing with a light, floral aroma.

To have this many people in one place at one time for the sole purpose of drinking craft beverage was an opportunity for enthusiasts and professionals alike in the Fermenta organization. Members shared their collaborations and toasted each other’s accomplishments, while many were just discovering the organization for the first time.

“I just bought my Fermenta t-shirt today!” proclaimed an excited Fermenta newcomer. “I heard about you ladies and I’m just so excited to try some of your beers.”

The breweries participating in the Fermenta collaborations were as follows: Arbor Brewing Co., Batch Brewing, Beards Brewery, Blue Tractor, Boatyard Brewing Co., The B.O.B., Brewery Ferment, Cotton Brewing Co., Eternity Brewing Co., Fenton Winery & Brewery, Founders Brewing Co., Gravel Bottom Brewery, grizzly peak, Liberty Street Brewery, Mitten Brewery, New Holland Brewery, One Well Brewing, Ore Dock Brewing Co., Our Brewing Co., Pike 51 Brewery, Pleasant House Brewery, Saugatuck Brewing Co., Short’s Brewing Co., Tapistry Brewing Co., Unity Vibration.

There were so many different varieties of beer due to the great enthusiasm of both the breweries and Fermenta members. Some of the final products boasted unique combinations: a cucumber lime gose from Arbor Brewing Co., a passionfruit and scorpion pepper combo from Brewery Ferment, a saison from Batch Brewing that combined a French yeast with Slovenian hops. Each collaborative brew reflected Michigan as a whole, but also the creativity, innovation and ethos of each individual brewery.

“The spiciness will give you a kick, but not too much that it hurts going down!” said Kirsten and Dustin Jones of Brewery Ferment, who brewed Passion and Pain, made with scorpion peppers and passion fruit.

This Fermenta project captured the purpose and inspiration of the ever-evolving Michigan craft industry. Brewers were eager to lend their time and guidance to those interested in order to share the creative and collaborative spirit of brewing. And with the end product proving to be a satisfying success across the board, it’s a tradition that Fermenta hopes to carry on into the future.

In addition to creating a collaboration brew, many breweries have agreed to donate certain amounts of their proceeds directly to the Fermenta scholarship fund. This new development highlights the importance of education in the Michigan craft industry and the support it offers for future pioneers.

Fermenta will also be celebrating its one-year anniversary this summer. To toast such an accomplishment, Fermenta will be hosting an anniversary party on August 23rd, 2015 at Block Brewing Company located in Howell, Michigan. Besides offering great craft beverages and delicious barbeque, there will also be membership renewals, Fermenta merchandise to buy, raffles, educational seminars, and executive board elections. For more information and how to purchase tickets, please visit www.fermenta.weebly.com.

YPSILANTI — Who doesn’t love an excuse to dress up?

The Corner Brewery provided one April 20 with its first “People Are Strange” event, where a parade of freaks, geeks and weirdoes tapped into some oddball beers while digging off-kilter tunes courtesy of several DJs and a live band.

The beers, created by brewer Logan Schaedig, included Pork Roll Egg and Cheese Ale, a 4.5% ABV smoked beer brewed with black salt and poppy seed, and Dr. Gonzo, a 6% blonde ale “doctored” with wormwood, chicory root and Japanese tea. A specially prepared menu of strange food featured hop pizza and Jell-O, which is always strange if you ask this reporter.

Beers from the Corner’s regular stable were also available, including some heavy hitters like the 7.7% Ryeclops Imperial Rye Ale and Buzzsaw Imperial IPA, an 8% assault of Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops that took Best of Show at the 2011 World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth.

People who dressed appropriately — i.e., insanely — received happy hour prices all night, and among those taking advantage were a female Jesus, the Skipper and Gilligan, a pair of space aliens and other less identifiable wackjobs.

The Corner also provided a variety of colorful glue-on fabrics, ribbons and accessories at the “Creation Station,” where guests were encouraged to create their own wearable artistic masterpieces. Members of Spontaneous Art, a local performance collective, engaged attendees in acts of random artistry.

A strange time was had by all.

For more information on Corner Brewery’s beers and upcoming events, visit arborbrewing.com/brewery. And check out Spontaneous Art at spontaneousart.org.


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