The SOLD-OUT 13th Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival will go down in the books as one of the best festivals I’ve attended. Michigan craft beer, paired with perfect weather in Detroit’s Eastern Market, doesn’t get any better.
Steven was deployed in April, and thanks to his creative family, he isn’t missing the Detroit Fall Beer Festival. His father said, “We were video chatting with him this morning and said, you’re going to the beer festival.” Steven, we hear you like the stouts, imperial, and bourbon barrel-aged beer. Cheers Steven! And thank you for serving.
Detroit Fall Beer Festival
On Saturday, October 22, 2022, we joined hundreds of Michigan Beer Enthusiasts, including Steven, thanks to his family, to sample beer from Michigan’s finest breweries. In fact, there was a Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner among them.
Better on Draft
We consulted Ed Norton’s 20 Beers to Check out at the Detroit Fall Beer Festival before the festival. I marked a few beers he suggested on the Detroit Fall Beer festival guide. (Protip: Having a rough plan of which beers to find is helpful but unnecessary.)
Lighter Beer Suggestions
Under Ed’s Lighter Beer section, I was thrilled he suggested Perrin Brewing’s “Billie Eyelash” Hazelnut Coffee Blonde. It was brewed in collaboration with Littlefoot Coffee Roasters and Fermenta. Jay Green Perrin’s Brewery Ninja invited us to help brew this tasty blonde ale. (Pro tip: If you get an invite to help brew a beer, say yes. Check out our post about the experience.) Ed described Billie Eyelash, “With notes of chamomile, apricot, plum, and hazelnut, this brew should be a good one to try!” Ed has a way with words; it is a perfect description.
Ed also suggested Batch Brewing’s “Chela Familiar,” but I got the “Czech Czech 1, 2.” I liked the name and the description, “Crisp + Dry with a rounded bitterness from Saaz Hops.” It doesn’t matter which Batch of beers you pick. They are all good. (Protip: it is fine not to follow the plan; eventually, it will fall apart.)
Trick or Treat Suggestions
Some of Ed’s other suggestions came under the Trick or Treat section. We first tried Bier Distillery’s “1719 Gold Stout – Tropical Stout.” Ed wrote, “According to the beer notes on Untappd, 1719 is the year when the Dutch gave pineapple plants to the English. Bier Distillery played with pineapple in a Stout for the 2022 Beer City Brewers Guild Pro-AM Beer Festival!” When I said I wanted to taste it, my friends said, “Yuck, pineapple in beer, no thanks.” Chuck was game to find Bier Distillery because he wanted to try their “Ms. Pickles-Sour Beer.” I thought you are willing to try a beer with pickle juice but not pineapple. Weird.
“Ms. Pickles” was out. I could feel a gentle wave of sadness as we scanned their draft list. There was even more sadness when I got the “1719 Gold Stout,” and they didn’t. It was one of my favorite Detroit Beer Festival beers. My friends agreed it was delicious and were intrigued by the blond color.
In a CBS Detroit interview, Scott Graham said, “The comradery among craft beer drinkers is unmatched.” He is right. We met Thumb Brewery’s head brewer Nick Bowlby near the front of Middlecoast Brewing’s tent. We were waiting for the tapping of the “Vampire’s Ambroshia” Red Ale. Soon we were sharing tasting notes from the festival and exchanging contact information. We got our sample of Vampire’s Ambroshia Red Ale. Nick said, “I like it.” I agreed with Nick. It was worth the wait. The beets gave it not only a red color but an earthy taste.
Gold Medal Winner
On Ed’s list was Royal Oak Brewery’s “Devil’s Blood Black Lager,” but again, I went rogue. Their Kolsch Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner was on tap; I had to see what all the fuss was about. I’m generally not a Kolsch drinker, but this changed my mind. Cheers, Jeremy Altier, for this fine beer.
Arvon Brewing in Grand Rapids is killing it. Their “Chocolate Dip” sour beer may have been my favorite beer during the Detroit Fall Beer Festival. It’s made with raspberries and chocolate. I told the person pouring the beers, “I wasn’t a sour beer fan until I tried yours.” He replied, “I hear that all the time!”
Chuck sampled Arctic Circle Brewing’s sweet stout, “Caramel Pecan Vanilla Cake Stout,” and said, “It is enjoyable. It’s like fall, preparing for winter. Just delightful and enjoyable.”
He also tried Doster Brewing’s “Git Gor’d Pumpkin Ale” “Nice. It’s got kind of an interesting flavor with the pumpkin coming through, but a little bit of that cinnamon-ish. But not like crazy, you know, grandma’s potpourri.” Chuck’s beer description might almost be as good as Ed’s.
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
We bumped into Annie Zipser early at the Detroit Beer Festival. Little did we know how fortunate we were. Annie is with the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild and was a fountain of recommendations. She asked at one point, “have you brewed at all?” We blushed and mumbled something like, “We did brew Camping with Uncle Charlie with Stiggs Brewery last winter.”
We asked if she had any Detroit Fall Beer Festival beer recommendations. She said, “For me, I generally go searching for sessionable beers when I’m at a festival. I really like Beards’ Deez Nutzn, which is, I think, a 4.5% percent brown. I’ve been coming to these for years. I’m going to head over to Becker’s and pore for them for a while.”
I replied, “I got this from Brewery Becker. It’s the 1905 Amsdell IPA. It’s lovely. I’m sipping it slowly. It’s very good.”
Annie said, “When he started, there were not that many breweries that were doing the antique recipes.”
I asked, “Is it an antique recipe?” (She was probably wondering why I was writing about beer.)
“Well, 1905 probably refers to when the recipe came. I might be wrong, but in many cases, that’s how he names them. If you go back, Vargdricka is a farmhouse ale. A very traditional recipe. The Hornindal Raw Ale.” Annie paused and looked at us. Then said, “You know that generally, the wart is boiled for about an hour, right?”
We nodded, hoping she couldn’t tell we were total novices.
She continued, “A raw ale is not. It is brought up to temperature, but it is not boiled. This is what beer was like way back when. It was made quickly. It was consumed quickly. It’s not like anything else you are going to get. The other one, if you want something big and over the top, is their Fruit Braggot which is coming in at 17% this year. It is a hybrid of mead and a beer.”
We tried the Brewery Becker’s “Nornindal Raw Ale.” The person serving warned us it is sweet. She was right; it was sweet. Thank you, Anne, for your recommendations. I would have missed this experience.
Games People Play
A crowd had gathered in front of Big Buck Brewery’s tent. Curiously got the best of us, we stopped to see what was up. Three boards were set up where beer enthusiasts were playing a dice game. It reminded me of a miniature cornhole game. Kyle Smalley, the board game’s owner, was fielding questions and taking orders. I asked, “What is the name of your company?”
Kyle said, “This is a backyard, basement enterprise right now. My brother knows the owners of Big Buck, which is why they’re here. I made him a couple, but we can make them for whoever.” While we stood there, someone bought one of the boards and walked away with it.
Detroit Fire Fighters
Towards the end of the festival, we saw two couples laughing and so clearly enjoying themselves we had to introduce ourselves. Turns out Nick and Mark are Detroit Fire Fighters and were enjoying their day off with Mark’s fiance Mary and her cousin, who is Nick’s girlfriend.
Nick and Mark had plenty of stories to share, including a teaser that some of Detroit’s Fire Stations are haunted. Nick and Mark looked like they could be brothers. We asked, “Were you, friends before?”
They replied together, finishing each other’s sentences, “No. We met at the academy. We were classmates. They say the academy kind of builds a bond.”
Yeah, that was clear. I was just a little jealous of their excitement and joy for life.
Every beer fest includes great local music. The music was particularly festive at this year’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival, with two bands sporting tons of grooves to make you move. A perfect way to celebrate under the sunny skies at Eastern Market.
As their name implies, this band is big, bold, and beautiful. While the entire band was off the hook, the rhythm and horns were stellar. Jive Colossus had me thinking of Santana with the Latin and African beats combined with the Latin jazz sparkle of Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie with Chano Pozo. The exotic sunshine vibes of Jive Colossus blended well with the smokey satisfaction of Earthen Ales’s “Smoked Arbeiter.”
Isaac Ryder Trio
Led by the exceptionally talented Isaac Ryder, this trio features Brandon Williams on drums and Lamar Hall on bass. Together these guys are fat-bottomed funky fun. They powered through some awesome soul and R&B with awesome covers and a few originals. I definitely loved their take on the kings of R&B, Prince, and Stevie Wonder. They had folks moving and calling out for more, more, more. Sipping on City Built’s “Harvest Lager” while the Isaac Ryder Trio blazed was sweet music.
The Welcome Toast and Firkin Tapping rounded out the festival. The guild’s fight song was sung with gusto in celebration of 25 years of the Michigan Brewers Guild. The firkin, “All Hallows’ Ale ” pumpkin beer was supplied by Kuhnhenn Brewing. I didn’t try it, as I got my fill of pumpkin ales during the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival. Chuck said it tasted just like pumpkin pie.
Gift from Mother-Nature
As we were leaving the festival, we ran into Shannon O’Brien. She said, “This was a gift.” I couldn’t agree more. The Detroit Fall Beer Festival was indeed a gift.
Michigan Beer Enthusiasts
We’ve got a few more shots of the 2022 Detroit Fall 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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