Monday, July 30, 2012

7 Tips for the Michigan Summer Beer Festival

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By Doctor

We’re back from our posting hiatus for which I must apologize. Hopefully, you’ve been following updates and links on Facebook and Twitter. Besides, I couldn’t let Michigan Craft Beer Month (July) go by without writing about it, and there’s no better place to start than previewing Saturday’s Michigan Summer Beer Festival organized by the Michigan Brewers Guild.

I did a similar preview prior to attendance at the Winter Beer Fest (preview / recap). Most of the advice will be repeats plus some additional insight I picked up from my experience at Fifth Third Ballpark.

#1: Arrive Early. I was fortunate enough to have early access to the Winter Festival helping my friends, The Grillin’ Guys, but people began to line up to enter the festival 2 hours or more before the gates opened ultimately wrapping half way around the Ballpark. The festival only goes for 4 hours on Friday and 5 hours on Saturday and you will have to stand in line for beer inside the gates, so don’t waste your beer drinking time waiting to get in.

#2: Wear Sunscreen. More broadly, be prepared for the weather. Since this is a summer beer festival, you can leave the tactleneck at home. It’s been hot and dry this summer, so dress cool: sunglasses, hat, and comfortable shoes or sandals since you’ll be spending most of the festival on your feet standing in lines. “And trust me on the sunscreen.”

#3: Hydrate.  One of my best ideas from the Winter Beer Fest was wearing my CamelBak to help stay hydrated throughout the festival. Hydration becomes even more important this weekend when temperatures could reach into the 90’s. I highly suggest bringing a CamelBak or water bottle to stay hydrated while drinking beer for 4-5 hours.

#4: Food. Pretzel necklaces are the rage at beer festivals and for good reason. They keep your hands free to hold your beer and is a tasty convenient salty snack to help soak up all that delicious craft beer.

#5: Try New Beers. The Brewers Guild does a fantastic job of posting the festival program online beforehand, so you know what breweries will be there and what beers they’ll be serving.  Pick out new breweries you haven’t visited before and beers you have never tried. Don’t be one of the 200 people waiting in line at the Bell’s tent for Oberon. Go next door to Greenbush Brewing Co. and try their Dune Grass IPA.

#6: Meet New People. Most likely, if you’re attending the beer festival, you’re going with a friend or a group. While it’s great to have a wingman and fun event with your friends, don’t let that stop you from meeting fellow beer drinkers. Some of the best conversations at beer festivals are with the beer drinkers next to you in line. More importantly, talk with the brewers. One of the great aspects of the Brewers Guild festivals is that the actual brewers and their staff work the booths. Take the opportunity to chat with the brewers and owners about their beers and brewpubs.

#7: Don’t Drive Drunk. Yes, this should go without saying, but I needed one more bullet point for this list to get it to seven since July, the seventh month of the year is Michigan Craft Beer Month. Seriously, have a designated driver or call a taxi. 

Unfortunately, I ruptured my Achilles last night, so I won’t be attending the beer festival Saturday. I hope it is a great success and a fun time for all who attend. I’ll be following updates via Twitter #MiSBF12. If you go, have a great time and please share pictures and your experience at the festival on Facebook, Twitter, or at MichiganExpats@gmail.com.

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