Beer Fest Recap: Ludington Brrrew Festival 2015
We would like to welcome our newest Michigan area intern, Andrew Buikema. Andrew is at the beginning of his craft beer journey, and was gracious enough to take on the task of covering last weekend’s Ludington Brrrew Festival. Andrew offers his unique perspective on the event and his first impressions on many Michigan made beers. If you are interested in an internship with The Full Pint, please follow this link. Cheers!
Weekends are always better with craft beer…outside…in 20 degree weather. Wait…what? Yeah, good beer seems to taste better when it’s outside, in the cold. And it was freaking cold. That was the scene this past weekend at the Ludington Brrrrew Festival held in Ludington, MI. This small, quaint little town is typically a summer hot spot in middle-northern Michigan. It sits along a generous coast of Lake Michigan that spans as long as the eye can see…you have to check it out to believe it. It’s worth it!
Back to the beer!
This was the inaugural Brrrew Festival and included 17 Michigan breweries from smaller hand filled bottles of cider to small barrel output to major 350,000 barrel capacity. It was a wide spectrum of Michigan’s own.
The festival ran on Saturday from 1-6 pm with tickets costing $25 in advance and $30 at the door. This included your small tasting glass (5 oz.) and 6 tokens (6 drinks). More tokens were available for purchase on site – cash only. Three total tents were sitting in the middle of a small parking lot. On one side was a tent holding 7 brewer tables, in the center was a “hospitality” tent which included food for brewers and meat on a stick for those needing food. On the other side was the music tent holding the other 10 brewers, a stage and people. There was live music all afternoon and in to the evening with local soloists and small cover bands that were rocking the small festival tent.
There was not a whole lot of room in the music tent as most of the patrons tried to tour the various brews and listen to the music…many glasses fell from the mitten clad hands…remember that cold part? Yeah…still cold. The inside of the tents were heated as best as they could for an outdoor festival.
So there’s the scene…let’s talk about the beers that I so happily consumed!
- Stormcloud Brewery – Frankfurt, MI – I sampled The Farthest Shore – a dark and strong stout that had a smooth texture almost to a nitro stage, but had a great taste. Their Rainmaker is their best selling beer for it’s 6 % ABV and light flavor. All 4 beer selections were on tap.
- Petosky Brewing – Petosky, MI – at a 4,000 barrel a year output they brought everything in cans. Not a huge fan of canned craft beer, but worth a try. Best selling has one of the best names: Horny Monk at 6% ABV, another smooth lighter beer. The brewer stated “the name gets the first round, the taste gets the second”. Opened in 2012, they are on their way to spreading the word around Michigan.
- Mountain Town Station – Mt. Pleasant, MI – Brewing since 1996 – I tasted their top seller called Train Wreck made from Michigan maple syrup. This was a decent beer, but nothing that blew my mind.
- Jolly Pumpkin – what is truly a franchise in Michigan. These guys specialize in sour beers and wow was this different. They pride themselves on the ‘weirdness’ of their sour brews. Everything they make is from Belgian hops at their Dexter, MI production plant. I tasted the Ora Calabraza – which was so incredibly sour at first taste but finished SO smooth. Amazing and was not what I expected.
- North Peak Brewery – Traverse City, MI – also produced in Dexter, MI but also has on site brewing in Traverse City. This brewery has a full service restaurant that boasts a big menu and big beer taste in northern Michigan. They pride themselves on bottling in stubby’s to be different. I tasted the Hullabaloo – a chocolate cream beer. Great full body taste and incredibly smooth.
- Arbor Brewing – Ann Arbor, MI – brewing since 1995 with a 10,000 barrel capacity….this still relatively small brewery has some big flavor in their Buzzsaw IPA. True bitterness of an IPA but such a smooth aftertaste that it’s almost not an IPA. Fan-freaking-tastic!
- Founders Brewing – Grand Rapids, MI – brewed for us is their motto and stays true to that motto. Founded in 1997 with almost 225 employees now, this small town brewery has become a big boy in craft brews in 32 states and 17 countries. I had a great taste of their Black Rye. Smooth dark ale with a full taste at 7.5% ABV and 78 IBU.
- Blake’s Hard Cider – one of my wife’s favorites other than Vander Mill…this small operation bottles everything by hand…labels and everything! Amazing! The cider that blew my mind was ‘El Chavo’ – habanero pepper and mango. What a combination of flavors!!!
Summary – there were some that we did not get to as the lines were pretty long. We stayed at the festival until 4 pm. A good three hours of conversing with the brewers and other craft brew lovers…this was a great festival.
The planning committee planned this last August and in this short time was able to pull this off. Actually impressive to see the turn out. What I would have loved to see is a little more room for those who wanted to taste and still listen to the music. Being the first year I’m sure they will figure it out for next year.
The same committee has another brew festival in the summer called Suds on the Shore, which is August 15. There is not information available for that festival yet.
You can always check out their website for more information: http://www.pureludington.com/beer.cfm