Monday, July 30, 2012

State of the Great Beer State

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

Below is the exclusive (fictional) transcript of MichiganBrewers Guild Executive Director, Scott Graham’s State of the Michigan Craft Beer Industry address at the Summer Beer Festival this past weekend in Ypsilanti:

My fellow Michigan Craft Beer Enthusiasts.

Thank for joining us on this beautiful summer day in Michigan here in Ypsilanti for the 15th Annual Summer Beer Festival. We’re here to celebrate Michigan Craft Beer and discuss the state of the craft beer industry in the great state of Michigan. And my fellow Michiganders and beer enthusiasts, the State of Michigan craft beer is strong. (Queue applause)

The strength of the industry is on display here in Ypsilanti. We had another sold out festival here at Riverside Park featuring over 545 beers from over 60 Michigan Brewers Guild member breweries.

And our industry continues to grow. In 2012, we’ve seen numerous new breweries open their doors including Harmony Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, The Filling Station in Traverse City, and White Flame becoming the first brewery in Hudsonville.

These new breweries are strong additions to nationally recognized beer cities. Grand Rapids now shares the title of “Beer City U.S.A” (applause) thanks to an overwhelming online campaign by Michigan craft beer enthusiasts – give yourselves a round of applause (more applause)…It was a remarkable display of the unification of our breweries and enthusiasts. The breweries of Grand Rapids celebrated the honor and thanked their supporters through collaboration in creating the Beer City U.S.A Pale Ale available at most breweries in the city.

Recently, Grand Rapids received another accolade by making Drinking Made Easy’s Zane Lamprey’s list of Top 25 Beer Cities in the World. But Grand Rapids is not alone. Kalamazoo and Traverse City have been nationally recognized as beer enthusiast destinations, and Michiganders would well point out that Detroit and Ann Arbor are also excellent beer cities.

As Michigan craft beer has gained recognition, awards, and popularity, Michigan breweries continue to expand to meet the increased demand:

Those are merely handful examples of the growth currently ongoing in the Michigan craft beer industry which contributes $133 million annually tothe Michigan economy. More importantly, our industry has been a source of pride and a leader in Michigan's economic resurgence.

Pride that is rooted in the passion and innovation of those in our industry; the unity and collaboration amongst the industry to see it grow; and the enthusiastic support of better beer drinkers. 

The state of Michigan now has 118 active brewer licenses - an increase of 27% from just last year - and the Michigan Brewers Guild remains committed after 15 fantastic years to continues to support Michigan breweries grow and be a national and world leader in the craft beer industry. 

Take your glass of one of the 500+ Michigan beers available tonight and let us toast to Michigan Breweries, Michigan Craft Beer Month, 15 years of the Michigan Brewers Guild and the Summer Beer Festival, and finally, to you, the Michigan craft beer enthusiasts. Cheers.

And don't forget, tickets are now on-sale at MiBeer.com for the 4th Annual  Fall U.P. Beer Festival coming up in Marquette on Saturday September 8th!  

7 Tips for the Michigan Summer Beer Festival

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
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.