Friday, February 24, 2012

Michigan Winter Beer Festival Preview

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

It's almost here. The Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, MI is tomorrow. I've been looking forward to the festival ever since Santa brought me a ticket for Christmas. 

Excitement built when February arrived chalk full of great Michigan beer news and events so much so that I unofficially declared February Michigan beer month. And it hasn't disappointed. There's been some great beer news across the state, Harmony Brewing Company opened in Grand Rapids, the Traverse City Winter Microbrew and Music festival was a blast, and Grand Rapids inaugural beer week is underway leading up to Saturday's festival

Unfortunately, a cold has kept me from attending the various Grand Rapids beer week festivities, but it'll be worth it to be healthy for the festival Saturday. Fortunately, an old friend has been healthy and enjoying GR Beer Week and chronicling it over at The Starving Artist Blog with in depth food and beer reviews plus bonus recipes.

The good news, is that I'll be in the gates at the festival early and will be able to provide extensive and in depth coverage of the festival that you can look forward to next week. I'll be helping The Grillin' Guys produce their radio show live at the festival grounds Saturday morning from 9AM to 11AM. Jop and BBQ Bob will be talking with participating brewers about the festival, beer, and great recipes for the grill. Listen locally in GR on 107.3 WBBL or  live at the WBBL website. You may even be able to catch me on air.

Beer. Radio show. Early entrance to the sold out beer festival. Beer. Talking with brewers. As you can tell, I'm excited for tomorrow. So excited that I've been scouring the internet (well, Michigan beer enthusiasts Twitter feeds, blogs, and Facebook pages) for some helpful hints from fellow Michigan beer drinkers to maximize my experience at Fifth Third Ballpark. 

Tip #1: Pretzel Necklaces. From Momma Needs a Beer. I saw a few of these in TC and definitely am going to be stringing together some pretzels together for a tasty salty snack while waiting in line.

Tip #2: Water. The festival officially runs for five hours and features over 450 beers. It's a marathon. Just as important as food will be (see pretzel necklaces, above), so is staying hydration. However, since one hand will already be occupied by beer and I don't want to carry around a water bottle all day, I'm planning on filling up my CamelPack with water. Along with helping hydration this also has the probable secondary benefits of 1) being a conversation starter and 2) that there's the slight (read: likely) chance that later in the festival I'll try and convince one of the pourers/brewers to fill out the CamelPack with beer.

Tip #3: Attack Plan. With over 450 beers on tap and no federal agency telling me which beers I can and can't drink (although I'm pretty sure that's in ObamaCare somewhere just not implemented yet), one is left make their own game plan. Yes, you'll be walking around and can see what most of the breweries have on tap, it can be easy to miss a particular brewery or beer. Especially with certain breweries tapping special beers at specific times. The Bell's tent will be the place to be each quarter after the hour for their special taps.

Fortunately, others have done the leg work. The Michigan Brewers Guild has a list with all of the participating breweries and the beers they'll have on tap on their blog. Even better, The Beer Truck made a handy 8 page spreadsheet of all the beers on tap. Jim over at I'm a Beer Hound has already highlighted a handful of special brews he'll be seeking out tomorrow.

Therefore, tomorrow I'll be following I'm a Beer Hound's advice and planning my Winter Beer Fest victory attack plan, rifling through the beer lists and trying to come up with a somewhat just less than reasonable goal of beers to target Saturday.

Tip #4: Tactleneck. OK, I stole that from the world's most dangerous spy, Sterling Archer, but it's going to be cold out there folks. "What do you think this is, Miami Beach." "Not hardly." It's late-February in West Michigan, so that base layer Under Armour cold gear mock turtleneck is essential although I'm going with Spartan green instead of black or slightly darker black. Patti at I'm a Beer Hound even recommends an extra pair of socks in case you step in slush: "Look out for that first step. It's a doozy." Momma Needs a Beer also has specific tips for the ladies at the festival. I'm not sure about the socks, but I may stick an extra hat and gloves in my parka in case of wet heavy snow or tragic beer spillage.

Tip #5: Partner in Crime. I happened to be in Traverse for the beer fest there and made a unilateral decision to attend the festival. I certainly had fun and talking with brewers and fellow beer lovers is one of my favorite aspects of attending the festival, but there's certainly something to be said for having a wing man. Han and Chewie, Maverick and Goose, and Jay and Silent Bob. Quintessential wing men and partners that help each other make good decisions or make bad decisions epic, but definitely help make the stories better and clearer the next day. Therefore, the snow better not stop my buddy from coming up from Monroe or else I'll have to transcript my younger brother or put it up to auction.

Be sure to check the blog next week for my hopefully beyond epic recap of the Michigan Winter Beer Fest with pictures, beer reviews, stories, and various beer fest links. I'll also finish up February with a look back at beer month. In the meantime, get up and listen to The Grillin' Guys tomorrow morning, 9-11AM, live from the festival on 107.3 WBBL (they also have a mobile app) and follow happenings from the festival on Twitter using the #MiWBF hashtag. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let’s do another Podcast!


Michigan Expats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

That’s right everybody.  Mr. Sig is back and is here to stay.  For those of you who don’t remember, I used to record a podcast each weekend featuring artists from Michigan – or at least a connection to Michigan.  It’s been a while since I did this, and along with a new software program, so I’m a little rusty.  Cut-off first song and announcing the wrong episode number are only two of the blunders, but I had a great time.  I’m sure when I get back into the habit, I will be publishing excellent broadcasts across the fruited plain.

As for now, I hope you enjoy this week’s episode.  Episode 28 that is.

If you like this week’s episodes, go ahead and download them from Amazon.  This should keep me out of trouble in case anyone starts to wonder if this is legal.

Electric Six – Nuclear War (On the Dance Floor) – Purchase on Amazon

Andre Williams – Jail Bait - – Purchase on Amazon

Chiodos – The Words Best Friend Become Redefined with Lyrics – Purchase on Amazon

John Lee Hooker – I’m Bad Like Jesse James – Purchase on Amazon

Destroy All Monsters – Nobody Knows – Purchase on Amazon

Nolan Strong and The Diablos – Mind Over Matter – Purchase on Amazon

Den Shannon – Runaway – Purchase on Amazon

Iggy Pop – Real Wild Child (Wild One) – Purchase on Amazon