10th Annual Winter Fest – Recap and Pictures
Our brave intern Andrew from Michigan trekked out to the 10th Annual Winter Fest. Here is his unique recap along with pictures. If you are interested in covering a beer festival for The Full Pint, please drop us a note at [email protected] . Cheers!
Welcome back to Michigan! The Michigan Brewers Guild hosted their annual Winter Beer Fest at Fifth Third Ball Park this past weekend over the course of two days. I was fortunate enough to attend the Friday afternoon session starting at 2 pm and literally froze my butt off for three and half hours! The 10 degree weather was not kind to anyone and I left my snowsuit at home. My jeans and running shoes just were simply not enough to keep me warm. Lesson learned and makes me excited for SUMMER festivals! Enough complaining about the weather…this is about the beer…although the weather effected that too…but that will come soon enough.
First off, I love baseball. So the fact that this was at the “A” affiliate park for the Detroit Tigers was pretty great and made me excited for the upcoming season. There were tents set up in the parking lots with an entertainment one in the middle. The food tent was set up next to the bands that were playing serving a multitude of massive legs of turkey that would make any Viking proud! Amazing selection! On the left of that were some ice sculptors that were finishing up their works of art. These guys not only used primitive ice tools but massive blow torches. Truly a work of art. I was able to snap a couple pictures of people that were enjoying this scene as much as I was.
This festival had a lot of beer…and I mean A LOT! There were just over 85 breweries represented at this festival and served over 650 varieties of beers. I was given a guide of the breweries and their offerings and I have to admit, it was hard to keep track. So, I focused on some specific ones that sparked my interest by brewery name and offerings. So here they are:
Tent 1 – Right Brain Brewing (Traverse City, MI) http://www.rightbrainbrewery.com/ – This one I picked because of the “Naughty Girl Stout”. Why? What a title, but I also like beers that can give me a nice smooth taste with a hint of mint. I tweeted (https://twitter.com/running_andrew/ status/571389121475670016) out this picture of this sample and it didn’t disappoint at all. The full flavor of mint, chocolate and coffee made this first sample of the day a true hit for me. After that first taste I was able to connect with their head brewer to talk business, his ideas and where they are going. I also tasted Thai Peanut. Holy kick in the pants with FULL taste of Thai that you could feel all the way down. My sinuses could feel this selection for the next 20 minutes. Although not my preferred style of beer and taste all I could do is appreciate the level of mixtures and flavor it had. Well done Right Brain!
Tent 2 – Brewery Vivant (Grand Rapids, MI) http://www.breweryvivant.com/ – This one I picked because of the intimacy that I heard about the brewery itself. Staying true to form, I picked their “Pothole Stout” to try. Yes I am aware that need to broaden my palette and that will come in time, but this name?! Why was this named: The owner of the company hit a massive pothole on the way to the brewery that morning and called it as such. Done! This smooth tasting coffee stout had subtle flavors of chocolate, but the coffee flavor just was so present in this one. Maybe it was the cold, but that first taste was pretty awesome. As I continued talking with their head brewmaster Jacob Derylo my beer FROZE! Yep, it was that cold. So I finished that very quickly and went on to taste their BARRP – BA Raspberry Rye Porter. Now, I told you I was going to expand what I was tasting and I know my limits…barrel aged anything means I need to be careful. The content of this was nothing but strong with the great after taste of raspberries. One word: delicious.
Tent 2 – Dark Horse Brewing (Marshall, MI) http://www.darkhorsebrewery.com/ – First off, what great people. Had a great talk with their head brewmaster Wiggs and his wife before even tasting a beer. I have say, talking to passionate people about their craft is what makes this so much fun to be around and be a part of. The people are great. After the conversations, I had the opportunity to taste their best selling, “Crooked Tree IPA”. I am also a fan of IPA as much as the dark stouts. Again, it could have been the cold crisp air, but the refreshing taste of this lighter IPA was a fantastic surprise. This “grapefruit” IPA was my first IPA of the day so I was ready for something lighter and this definitely hit the spot. I was invited to come down for a tour of their facility, so I am hoping to do that in the near future. Cool people.
Tent 3 – Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Douglas, MI) http://saugatuckbrewing.com/ – Did I mention how awesome the people are? The people I met with this brewery were another group very passionate about their beer. Tucked away near the shoreline of Lake Michigan, this brewery brought an army of beers. Since this was my last brewery I was in the mood for some dessert type beer.
My final stout of the day: “Neapolitan Milk Stout”! As I discussed this beer with their brewmaster, Ron Conklin, he indicated he had made several separate home brews together to create this flavorful concoction. You truly could taste all three flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. It was so much fun to taste something that I thought would be a gimmick, but turned out was truly amazing! Although I am lactose intolerant, this one was worth it.
Thank you Ron for the great experience and chat!
So in my three and a half hours I was able to really dive in to four of the 85+ breweries. I was let in at 2 pm for media and started right away to connect. The conversations were worth every minute. The mass crowd was let in at 3 pm and the lines were pretty long getting to other breweries and by the end of where my body couldn’t take the cold any longer, the smart patrons were toasty in their full body Carhartt’s. This guy has learned his lesson and will better prepare myself for WBF16.
Please be sure to follow Michigan Brewer’s Guild online and twitter: @MiBrewersGuild for more information on their annual festivals. You may also follow me on twitter and read my silly brew shenanigans: @running_andrew.
Great Festival Michigan Brewers Guild…looking forward to your summer edition July 25 & 26! http://www.mibeer.com/summer-festival Cheers!