The 12th Annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival was back on Saturday, March 11th, at the American 1 Credit Union Center. With over 180 different beverage choices, there was something for everyone–beer, hard seltzers, cider, and non-alcoholic drinks.
12th Annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival
We arrived early to find the parking lot already full. The beautiful day was coaxing people out of their Winter slumber. Quickly a line formed, snaking its way around the building for the 12-noon general admission. Clearly, there was a lot of excitement for the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival.
We overdressed for the event, fearful it would be cold inside the new-ish American 1 Credit Union Center. I say newish because it was our first festival in the center. We first attended the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival in 2014 and then again in 2017, but those festivals were in a different building. We quickly shed layers and stood in the sun, enjoying the Ice Sculpture Artist working his magic.
We are huge fans of Michigan Brewers Guild Beer festivals and just attended the 2023 Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG( Winter Beer Festival in February. The Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival has a totally different vibe. There are a few snack necklaces and crazy outfits floating around. The Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival is mostly inside, so the weather isn’t much of a factor. I asked Andrew Volk from Ogma Brewing about the differences. He said, “It is an approachable festival.” I would totally agree. The big MBG festivals can be overwhelming.
We were thrilled to find many of our favorite Jackson area breweries – OGMA Brewing, Grand River Brewery, Old Nation Brewing Co., Ironbark Brewing, and Hillsdale Brewing Company. Ok, sure; Old Nation is actually closer to Lansing; work with me here. Brewers and volunteer staff were slinging beers, happy to answer your questions.
I’m not sure where to put Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm. They opened in the ’50s. Since then, they started making hard cider in 2013 and beer in 2019. The line was pretty long, obviously a local favorite. They are located in Somerset Center, just south of Jackson. Pictures on their Facebook page of their delicious baked goods, pizza, and loaded fries made my mouth water.
On top of some great ciders, Odd Brother’s Craft Ciders from Homer had the best display art.
Michigan Beers and Ciders
We were not disappointed by the selection of Michigan beers and ciders! We found:
- Short’s Brewing, along with their sister brands, Starcut Ciders & Beaches Hard Seltzer
- One Well Brewing
- Witches Hat Brewing
- New Holland
- Arbor Brewing Brewing
- Saugatuck Brewing Co
- Cheboygan Brewing
- Griffin Claw Brewing
- Dark Horse Brewing
- Sierra Rose Cellars
- Great Mead Hall and Brewing
There were many more, but only so many tokens.
The “Other” Beers
It is always a tad bit hard to sample non-Michigan craft beer when you’ve got excellent Michigan craft beer available. But who can resist 3 Floyds Zombie Ice? Not me. Chuck tried the Dracula Weed (fun name, aye?) West Coast IPA from Oliphant Brewing said, “It’s damn fine!”.
Something else that sets the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival apart is the big selection of non-beers, including ciders, seltzers, and ready-to-drink cocktails. Of course, I couldn’t resist The Finnish Long Drink. Mighty Swell Blood Orange Spiked Seltzer from Austin, TX, was available too, but I politely declined. Dogfish Head Distilling had several beer options and “culinary-crafted cocktails” to pick from. The Vodka Lemonade was very good.
If alcohol is not for you, there were plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to choose from.
In addition to some solid party tunes, thanks to DJ Mikey Mike, the Southern Michigan Winter Beer fest had a very special guest in Brayden Lape. Brayden recently sprinted to the top of the pop country scene with his outstanding performance on The Voice. With an acoustic guitar, Brayden drew in beer fans with his rich melodic voice giving everyone at the festival an intimate musical performance. His original music is quite good, considering he is only 16 years old. In no time at all, Brayden is sure to blossom into a major artist.
There were many BBQ options, PBJS BBQ, West Texas Barbeque, and Randy’s BBQ. Plus a few other options like Baby Bear Burger, Tiki Sam’s Pizza, The Band Wagon Catering, and fresh cheese curds from Cambridge Cheese Co.
The pizza from Tiki Sam’s seemed to be a hit, as there were tons of folks walking around with pizza to go. According to Chuck, beer and pizza are a perfect combo. You have to admit that the pies made in Tiki Sam’s portable wood-fired oven look great!
We bought a Hop Passport from Mark Stoebel. If you want one, give him a call at 810.429.3309. Why would you want one? Well, the Hop Passport Drink Special – 50% off your first two drinks. Once you hit a few participating locations, the passport pays for itself. There are a few rules like both drinks must be purchased on the same visit, and those first drinks can’t be something like an entire growler or keg.
Kibby Kobb was serving Golumbkis! Holy cow, that was a treat. Anyone who is anyone knows that in addition to their awesome deli, Kibby Kobb has the best craft beer selection in the area.
In a recent MLive Article, Denise Owens, the Jackson County Fair manager, said, “this has been one of their biggest years, The festival, which serves as a fundraiser for the Jackson County Fair Premium Program, provides the monetary compensation for 4H, FFA, and open-class exhibitors.” Beer festivals are great, and they get better when you know that your beer money is helping out local programs.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival Sponsors:
- Jackson Magazine
- Experience Jackson
- Lester Brothers
- The Loyal Handyman General Contracting
- Ramsey Flow Works
Thanks to their support, this fun local beer fest is running strong.
We’ve got more shots from the 12th Annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival in our gallery. Please take a peek and let us know what you think. Leave a comment and show some love by sharing this post.
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