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Winter Beer Festival served up Michigan brews & snow

What do you get when you put together an empty parking lot, falling snow, and craft beer made in Michigan? A fabulous fun time!

This past Saturday I headed to Grand Rapids to attend the Winter Beer Festival thrown by the Michigan Brewers Guild at Fifth Third Park. Almost 60 Michigan brewers were on hand showing off 370 different craft beers.

The event had been sold out for a month and as we arrived at the ballpark a huge line to get in had already formed. Having never been to a beer festival before, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I love good beer but I am by no means a beer snob. So I won’t be reviewing the beer, I’ll leave that to the experts.

The brewers certainly come up with some creative names for their libations. There was a cheeky shout-out to the current It Boy ‘Justin Bie-beer’ from Copper Canyon, a nod to a has-been from Right Brain with their ‘Bonaduce Ginger IPA’, and the cute ‘Under the Kilt Scottish Wee Heavy’ from Dragonmead in Warren.

One of highlights and most anticipated moments of the festival was the tapping of Founders’ KBS Imperial Stout. The lines were long and the chants were loud.

Another standout was newbie Brewery Vivant, named one of the 12 breweries to watch in 2011 by Draft Magazine, they specialize in French and Belgian style beer. I was a fan of their Contemplation Ale while my friends enjoyed the Big Red Coq Hoppy Belgian Ale.

The snow started coming down soon after the festival started but it didn’t damper the mood; people were friendly and having a great time. The veterans came bundled in snow pants and overalls and most were wisely bundled up. The fashion was fantastic, especially the headwear and hats. The fire pits in the center of the lot were a popular place to warm up and talk about beer.

Entertainment and food were also on hand; many attendees were chomping on huge turkey legs. Experienced beer festivalgoer’s prefer to wear their food around their neck, though. I mean, who wants to stop and eat when you can just take a nibble off of your neckwear.

I was introduced to pretzelaces earlier in the week by the team at Drink Michigan and they made me an extreme pretzelace, complete with donuts, cookies and peach rings. Basically, any food with a hole made it on the necklace. We had so many people stop us and tell us ours were the best of the fest.

Me, Nick Nerbonne from Crystal Mountain, and Trisha Verma & Audrey Walker from Drink Michigan.

Grand Rapids has so much to offer and it makes the perfect setting for the beer festival. Restaurants, nightlife, and culture are in abundance. I loved seeing some of the Artprize pieces around town, including the Steampig and a stunning mosaic in the lobby of the lovely JW Marriot.

The Artprize Steampig.

Winter Beer Fest is now a must-do Michigan event for me. I can’t wait to get back to Grand Rapids and explore more of the city.

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Reader Comments (6)

Sounds like a great time! We were just out in GR a couple of weeks ago and noticed quite a few things from this past year's ArtPrize still there--like the Steam PIg. Which mosaic did you see in the hotel lobby? I remember seeing the reflections piece and a really cool piece made of crayons when we wandered through the JW's lobby when we went to ArtPrize.

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Great post, Becks! One of my takeaways from Michigan Winter Beer Festival weekend was that I needed more Moxie in my life. Little did I know I'd lucky enough to be featured on the pages of Detroit Moxie. Thanks! Great seeing you at the festival and sharing a little suds n' snow.

Something that was very obvious to me after spending the day sampling beers and talking with a number of brewers - who were very accessible, by the way, is that Michigan has arrived as one of the top beer states in the country. From stouts and porters to IPAs and lagers, Michigan breweries are making some excellent beer. Many thanks to the Michigan Brewers Guild for providing us with the venue to try so many of them in one fun afternoon. Can't wait 'till next year!

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Nerbonne

I'm glad you had such a great time! We thought about going to the beer festival, but the tickets sold out so quickly, and then just decided against it. So exciting you were able to explore a little of Grand Rapids! I would love to show you around my home city a little more sometime! Founders is also a must-stop for sandwiches and delicious award-winning beer on tap. Keep me posted on the next time you come (hopefully a warmer weekend)!

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWagsFTW

The piece is called Svelata, it came in second place. I could see the Gerald Ford Museum from my hotel room at the JW and thought of you and the posts you wrote on Midwest Guest.

Thank you! Everyone needs a little more Moxie in their life. ;-)

The brewers and the Michigan Brewers Guild should be very proud; they put on an excellent event and showcased incredible beer. I also can't wait until next year!

You're on! I want to come back up once it warms up and show the beautiful city of Grand Rapids to my husband. I'll keep ya posted.

March 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Is the mosaic at the GR Hyatt multimedia? I remember a piece with a lot of fabric that was really amazing.

I have a future post/series idea: Images of Detoit/Michigan Fashion from Detroit Moxie's travels. Just a thought. ;)

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

The mosaic wasn't multimedia but it was beautiful.

It's funny you mention a post or series on fashion. A fashion blogger would have had a blast at Winter Beer Fest. If I had my dSLR with me at the festival I would've snapped a lot more pics. Because of the snow, I decided against bringing to the fest.

You have my brain whirring with ideas, though. :)

March 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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