Saturday, February 9, 2013

A New Podcast is born.


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig


Download this MP3 - (Right Click)

That’s right, everyone.  After nearly a year, I finally got back to the podcast.  You can listen to it below and, of course, it is on iTunes.

If you don’t want to listen to me blabber, we have a great lineup including the ever-entertaining Electric Six and a couple of artists with very interesting stories.

As always, if you have song suggestions, send them to or mention it to us on twitter @michiganexpats.

It’s a Shame – The Spinners

Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother) – Electric Six

Shake it Baby – John Lee Hooker

I’ve Got to Use My Imagination – Gladys Knight & The Pips

Convoy – Rev. Righttime and the First Cousins of Funk

Sugar Man - Sixto Rodriguez

When My Love Hands Come Down – The Ruffin Brothers

Friday, February 8, 2013

Winter Beer Fest Preppers

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

It's February in Michigan which means that 1) there's snow on the ground and 2) it's the perfect time to gather in large groups and drink Michigan craft beer. Yes, the Traverse City Winter Microbrew and Music Festival is tomorrow, and the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest is now only two weeks away. 

Both are well organized, fun events, featuring dozens of Michigan breweries, but it is important to properly prepared in order to maximize your experience. Therefore, here is the official 2013 Michigan Expats Winter Beer Fest Preppers Guide (updated from the 2012 version).

1. Transportation - It's a beer festival, so you'll be drinking. Arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up after the festival. Being safe is priority number 1.

2. Arrive Early - The smart ones are the Brewers Guild Enthusiast Members and those who purchase the VIP tickets to the Traverse Festival which grant them entrance an hour before general admission. There's a lot of beer to sample and the lines can get long. If you're craft beer hardcore, that first hour with shorter lines are worth it.

3. Food/Petzel Necklaces - Be sure to have a good meal base before the festival. You'll want to sample a lot of beer and no one recommends this on an empty stomach. Make a Petzel Necklace - simply string pretzels on a string and tie it around your neck providing an easily accessible tasty snack while you're waiting in line and drinking beer. These festivals also have great food vendors. Support the vendors and treat yourself to some of the delicious food.

4. Water - The festivals run for five hours and feature hundreds of beers. It's a marathon. Just as important as food will be (see above), so is staying hydrated. However, since one hand will already be occupied by beer and you don't want to carry around a water bottle all day, fill up a CamelPack with water. I did this last year for the Winter Beer Fest and it worked extremely well. 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 (this unfortunately did not happen last year).
Coyote skin hat keep Chaz warm

5. 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 February in 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.

6. Attack Plan - With hundreds of beers on tap, and no federal agency telling you which beers you can and can't drink, 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, but it can be easy to miss a particular brewery or beer. Especially with certain breweries tapping special beers at specific times. Both festivals post site-maps ahead of time, and with a little effort you can find the lists of beers the breweries will have available. Make a 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.

With Kim from Mount Pleasant Brewing Co.
7. Meet the Brewers - What I love about the TC and Brewers Guild festivals is that the breweries supply their own staff and the brewers are also in attendance. This provides an excellent opportunity to learn about beer and breweries that you're not familiar with or don't visit that often. These are entrepreneurial individuals with great passion for their breweries and their beers. The beer's right there. Let them tell you about it while you enjoy it.

8. Wingman - Han and Chewie, BBQ Bob and Joppie, 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.

I guess I have 8 main tips, a few more than last year. I hope the guide helps and that everyone has a great time at the festivals. Please let us know if you're going and what your favorite breweries and beers are at each event. We're also still looking for tickets to both festivals, so if you've got extra drop us a line.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Talking Traverse City

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

I grew up in Traverse City: going to the beach on East and West Grand Traverse Bay; skiing at Mt. Holiday; biking along the VASA and TART Trails and up and down the peninsula; and of course, spending hours and hours each July at Cherry Festival functions. Even though my family moved “South” to the Grand Rapids area fifteen years ago, due to the many memories and friends and family that reside there, Traverse City remains near and dear to me and I still consider it home. 

Therefore, that February is National Cherry Month and that Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World combined with that this week is also Traverse City Beer Week which culminates in the Winter Microbrew and Music Festival on Saturday that I have enough to justify talking about Traverse City. If that wasn't enough February Traverse awesomeness, Traverse City is also hosting a Winter Comedy Festival this month featuring Jeff Garlin, Colin Quinn, and others. Put it all together, it's a great month to head Up North to Traverse City, but then again, when is it not.

Last year was very difficult for Michigan farmers, especially cherry farmers, so National Cherry Month gives us excellent reason to be hopeful and optimistic that 2013 will be a bounce back year for fruit farmers and offer a bountiful harvest of cherries for the Traverse region whose economy and identify is closely tied to the delicious fruit. Just typing this makes me hungry for my next slice(s) of Cherry Crumb pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company and the Sara Lee cherry sundae which is an annual Cherry Festival tradition for thousands. Fortunately, I have some Cherry Republic cherry salsa and cherry pepper jelly to carry me over for a bit. And yes, both GT Pie and Cherry Republic have online stores and deliver.

The Filling Station
There’s much to celebrate at the Traverse City Beer Week and more places. Two breweries (The Filling Station and Brewery Ferment) opened in Traverse City last year and another, Right Brain Brewery, moved into a new larger facility. In November, I was fortunate to visit each of the new breweries, and I’m still working to figure out if I can swing a trip to Traverse yet this week for the events and festival. (My TC Food & Brew Recap, Part I & Part II).

 I attended the Festival last year and had a fantastic time. The brewery line-up this year once again is top flight and there are still tickets available for those who missed out on the sold out Michigan Winter Beer FestivalPorterhouse Productions does an excellent job organizing and promoting the festival and coordinates the fantastic Beer Week that kicked off this weekend. Seriously, check out this beer week event line-up.

There are presently still tickets available and if you’re looking for a first class Northern Michigan food, beer, and hospitality package, check out the weekend package my buddies, The Grillin’ Guys, have put together with Leelanau Sands Casino and Resort featuring lodging and transportation to and from the Resort and the beer festival (VIP tickets included). Yes, we proudly plug our friend’s Michigan businesses here at Michigan Expats.

Traverse City is not only known for its beaches, beer, and cherries, but it has an excellent food scene as well that has received a lot of national attention as a "foodie haven." I may not be a famous chef, but I can share a few personal favorite spots to check out.

  • Soul Hole – I sought out this eatery last time I was in Traverse and was not disappointed. Yes, you can now find delicious southern style food in Northern Michigan: BBQ ribs, southern fried chicken, gumbo, and fantastic cornbread. Limited seating gives it a hometown hole-in-the-wall feeling. They don’t serve alcohol, but that’s not a problem since Brewery Ferment is just a few spots down across the street and they don’t serve food. It’s a win win.
  • Red Mesa Grill – A family favorite spot across from East Bay featuring in-house made chips and salsa and the region’s best tequila selection. I personally recommend Michigan owned, Blue Nectar.
  • Burgers – Of course, few things go as well with beer as a hearty greasy burger. Don’s Drive In is a pure Americana Traverse City institution with its 50’s d├ęcor and while it is a tourist stop, the burgers and onion rings are worth the trip. For a more local feel, pop into Brady’s Bar downtown which is a local dive, but the burgers made with beef from Maxbauer’s Meat Market next door are excellent. 

Definitely plan to come hungry and thirsty next time you’re in Traverse. Park along or near Front Street and spend a couple hours walking in and out of the many great small local shops and pop in for coffee, desserts, food, or a drink along the way. 

What's your favorite Traverse City event, brewery, or restaurant? We want to hear from you.