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Our unofficially declared Michigan Beer Month may not have hit 11, but it definitely was cranked up a notch or two following an awesome Saturday night in Traverse City at the 3rd Annual Winter Microbrew and Music Festival. The atmosphere, beers, and people all combined to contribute to a fantastic winter beer night.
When I found out that I had to come to Traverse City to help clean out my grandparents house which recently sold, I helped steer that date to February 11, so that I could attend the beer festival. After we loaded four vehicles with furniture from my grandparents house, I put on my warm clothes and made my way downtown to pick up the shuttle to the festival.
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After initially going to the wrong parking garage (I know I've been away for awhile, but when did TC get all these parking garages?), I managed to follow the crowd and found the line for the shuttle which took us to the festival site at The Village at Grad Traverse Commons. People were lined up all the way around both sides of the round about entrance at the front of the re-purposed old Traverse City State Hospital waiting to get their IDs checked and get inside the event.
Fortunately, I didn't wait to buy my ticket at the event because it was sold out and the will call line went quickly. Before long, I was inside the fence with my sample glass and five drink tickets following the crowds and entering the nearest of five beer tents searching for my first sample.
However, one of the first things I began to pick up on was that a number of people weren't drinking beer out of the logo plastic sample glass they gave us at the gate, but rather were enjoying beer in real glass logo pint glasses. Spotting the merchandise table nearby I quickly put two-and-two together and decided: "It comes in pints? I'm getting one."
Now that I had my drinking glass, I quickly got my first sample: Furry Black IPA from North Peak Brewing Co. in Traverse City. North Peak was the nearest beer table and I've really enjoyed Black IPA's this winter. I was not disappointed as the Furry was one of my favorites of the night.
With beer in my glass, I set about exploring the festival which comprised of five large tents set up in a circle with camp fires in the middle, a Hop N' Brew Shack, and the requisite porta johns out back.
All the beer was located in three tents. The fourth featured wines and ciders which is all well and good, but I was there to drink beer. The fifth tent featured Silent Disco. Now I've heard cool things about silent disco and it probably is a lot of fun in a club with lots of lights and people dancing, but it was a bit out of place in a tent in Michigan where people were carrying around pint glasses and wearing ski parkas.
I hear a lot about Frankenmuth Brewery from my friend, BBQ Bob with The Grillin' Guys, but personally haven't made it to the brewery, so I made a point to visit their booth early. I sampled their Winterbock, and chatted with Joseph Osberger who handles their distribution. It just so happened that Joe was up next in the Hop N' Brew Shack, so I took my glass of their Batch 69 IPA (best American IPA I had Saturday) and followed Joe to the Hop N' Brew Shack.
|Joe From Frankenmuth|
Now the Hop N' Brew Shack was one of my favorite aspects of the festival. A small shack where brewers could cozy up with a small group of festival goers, share a special brew, and talk about the brewery and the beer being served. I do mean cozy. The shack fits about a dozen comfortably, but 20 or more crammed in for these special brewer greet and drink. Joe shared three of the only 801 bottles of Frankenmuth's New Year's Imperial Stout this year. A strong yet smooth stout, I'm going to be looking to get my hands on a bottle and shelve it for a year and let it age.
I returned to the Hop N' Shack later for Schmohz Brewery's Beer Engineer, Chas Thompson's, greet and drink. Chas brought along the Hopknocker Imperial IPA which was almost as big of a hit as Chas' coyote skin hat.
One of the things I enjoy about festivals, and beer festivals specifically, are the people you get to meet. It was great to see Chas and others I recognized from Schmohz at the beer festival, but I also want to give a shout out and thank you to some of the other awesome people I met and hung out with at the festival Saturday:
- The four awesome gals from Kalamazoo - Amy, Jessica, Katie, and Lauren.
- Dr. Joel Armato (honorary title), Beer Captain, from New Holland Brewing Company. The NHBC Cabin Fever has been keeping me warm all winter.
- Jim from Arcadia Ales and the Arcadia Sky High Rye.
- Bruce Grossman of Acoustic Draft Mead and his Apple BzZz.
- Adriana Martin, Chef de Cuisine/Patissier at Adriana's Cakery. Major props for her delicious cupcakes.
|Thanks for the cupcake, Adriana|
Overall it was a fantastic event. Beer, people, and music made for a fantastic fun February festival. I cannot wait for the Michigan Winter Beer Festival coming up February 25 at Fifth Third Ballpark. Be sure to come back in a few weeks for that recap.