Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Winter Beer Festival Hail Mary Play

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By Doctor

Time was running out. The Eighth Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest was that afternoon. I was so close. Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park was only a 20 minute drive away. Alas, no ticket.

What do you do when time’s running out and you need a miracle? You run a Hail Mary play.

It was a Pure Michigan day for a beer festival
It was a long shot, but I sent out a note on the Michigan Craft Beer Yahoo! Group Saturday morning that I was looking for one ticket.

TOUCHDOWN!

Just like Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol, my Hail Mary came through. Less than five minutes after my call went out, I received a text from someone with an extra ticket. I went from bummed to giddy like a school boy (how many Indiana Jones references can I toss in this post?) in mere minutes. We met up in line at the festival. Thanks, Joe. Hope you had a good time.

The last minute desperation play prevented me from following all of my own Beer Festival guidelines. I may not have had time to make a pretzel necklace or have a wingman (no Goose, to my Maverick), but I still had an awesome time. How could I not? It was WINTER BEER FEST.

The Ice Guru's Winter Beer Festival Ice Bar
Featuring 74 breweries pouring over 600 different beers and 6000 craft beer enthusiasts all outside on a Michigan winter day complete with snow and temperatures in the low 30’s, it is a fun filled event. Throw in live music, ice sculptures, good food, and creative outfits and it’s definitely a Pure Michigan event that’s not to be missed.

The beer is the draw, but I also love the Winter Beer Festival because of the people you meet. The Michigan craft beer community is a filled with fun and friendly people and it’s always a pleasure to meet new people and re-connect with others at the beer festival.

I finally got to meet the gals of DrinkMichigan.org!
It was great chatting with “Ice Guru” Randy Finch who was kind enough to take my picture with his Ice Brigade team ice sculptures including an ice bar complete with ice mugs. Of course, Chaz from Schmohz was there sporting his coyote skin hat and massive flask filled with Bone Crusher Stout. Joel, NewHolland Brewing Company’s “Beer Doctor” is always fun to catch up with and did me well by recommending the MI Nightmare Sour Ale. Kevin Peil, the Founder of Tri City Brewing is one of the nicest guys in the business; it was great chatting with Kevin and Tri City’s Mon Tressor Belgian Lavender Tripel was the beer of the festival for me.

The Filling Station gals rocked it out in Pink wigs
Having grown up in Traverse City, I had to check in with Russ and the Right Brain Brewery team who represented with the CEO Stout and Steve the Imperial Brown. This was the first Winter Beer Fest for The Filling Station Microbrewery which impressed on my visit last fall. They came in style with all the gals sporting matching pink wigs and Amanda celebrating a birthday and had as much fun as any brewery at the festival.

Speaking of beer lovin’ girls, I finally got to meet the gals behind DrinkMichigan.org after years of conversing on social media. It was also good to catch up with Andrew from MittenBrew.com after meeting him earlier this month at the Pistons Craft Beer Night.

I didn’t go through the entire beer list prior to the festival, so I basically ended up going with the flow of the festival which was a lot of fun and I still managed to discover plenty of new and interesting brews. I won’t delve into all of them here, but I will highlight my top three beers from the festival:
  • Death to Flying Things Bourbon Imperial Stout – The MittenBrewing Company: There were a lot of bourbon barrel aged beers served up yesterday and I definitely tried my share, but this entry from the new Grand Rapids brewery stood out and earns this spot. It also deserves recognition for having an awesome name.
  • Mayan Midnight Chocolate Stout – 57 Brewpub: I’m not sure how many patrons sought out the booth of this new small Greenville brewpub, but those that did were rewarded this delicious smooth hot chocolate flavored milk stout. It was the surprise of the festival for me and it’s only heightened my need to make a trip up to Greenville.
  • Mon Tressor Belgian Lavender Tripel – Tri City Brewing: As I mentioned above, this was my beer of the day. On a day I spent drinking mostly bourbon barrel aged stouts, this unique lavender infused Belgian Tripel blew me away.
Be safe. Always have a designated driver.
My Hail Mary paid off Saturday and had an awesome day with fellow Michigan craft beer enthusiasts. Congrats to the Michigan Brewers Guild and Fifth Third Ballpark for another fantastic festival. 

Were you there? What were your favorite beers? Best outfits? Let us know.

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