The 16th Annual Michigan Winter Beer Festival was a sweet success. Our recap is best enjoyed with a few props. I suggest grabbing your grandma’s afghan, some venison jerky, and your favorite Michigan Craft Beer. If you only have your favorite Michigan Craft beer, that works too.
Michigan Winter Beer Festival
This year’s Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival was a wee bit chilly but thankfully the sun was shining brightly. The hearty Michigan Craft Beer enthusiasts were not deterred, they just added an extra layer or dug out their snowmobile suits from the back of the closet.
This beer enthusiast found gear for the festival via a time machine.
Snacks and Fire Pits
The fire pits were popular this year and folks brought plenty of beer snacks. Amy Sherman advised in a recent article, “and don’t forget your snack necklace.”They clearly took her advice to heart and came prepared for the festival. This guy took it a step further made a snack ammo belt.
Online Festival Beer List
For just a second, the technology nerd in me needs to shine. I’m loving the online festival beer list. It was handy to search through the 119 breweries to find those presenting a particular style of beer or for a specific brewery. Did you know there were 707 unique beers in 92 different styles? If they’d add which tent the brewery was located we could ditch the paper program.
Collaboration with Stiggs Brewing
Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he said, “God loves us and made beer to make us happy.” Until you brewed your own beer it’s hard to fully appreciate Benjamin’s proverb. I didn’t until Stiggs Brewery invited us to brew a beer with them. We were excited but a bit worried; we didn’t know how to brew beer.
Since we were brewing a sweet stout which would hopefully taste a bit like a smoky s’more it required a campfire. When we arrived at the brewery it was barely above zero. I learned a lot that day, but the take-home message is brewing beer is a labor of love, a craft transferred from generation to generation. It takes time and can’t be hurried. Most important, it also makes us happy.
When I told Jay Green from Perrin Brewing about our day brewing with Stiggs, he said we all had a similar experience that pushed us into brewing beer. I believe it. If I were 20 or 30 years younger, I’d consider it.
On Saturday, we finally got to taste Camping with Uncle Charlie, the sweet stout we brewed with Stiggs Brewing. It was good and stood its ground with all the other amazing beers at the festival. An added bounce, a few beer friends joined us. Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez from Behind the Mitten stopped by to say hello and taste our sweet stout. You may also know Amy from the MIBrew Trail.
Searching for more Sweet Stouts
After tasting Camping with Uncle Charlie, I wanted to compare it with the other sweet stouts at the festival. Now you can see why I fell in love with the new online festival beer list. I queued up the list, there were 21 breweries with sweet stouts. Whoa, I only had 15 tokens so tasting them all was out of the question. So I picked a few randomly.
Grand Armory Brewing
Grand Armory Brewing’s Fluffer Nutter Peanut Butter Marshmallow Stout caught my eye, the name was so fun to say. It was freaking amazing. I nearly went back for a second but then remembered my tokens were dwindling.
The crew from Rockford Brewing stopped by at 1 to sample our sweet stout so I thought I should be neighborly and check out their Chocolate Stout. It was delicious.
The Copper Hop Brewing
Since The Copper Hop’s sweet stout, Cookies in the Alamo’s Basement had such an interesting name, I swung by their booth too. It didn’t disappoint. Chuck tried their oatmeal stout called Today is Especially Delicious and thought it was delightful. A full bodied beer with all the great flavors you could hope for in an oatmeal stout. Copper Hop has been around for a few years but they were new to us this year.
Big Hart Brewing
We met Rick from Big Hart Brewing during the Great Beer State Conference in January. We mentioned we were brewing our first collaboration with Stiggs later that week. He was full of tips which we were grateful for. You can’t go wrong with any of Big Hart’s beers. Not familiar? They are over on the west side of the state between Ludington and Muskegon. They brought several tasty beers including Collin’s Full Size their Triple IPA. Chuck said it was fabulous. I’m wondering about the mascot, the stickered penguin. What is its story?
Chuck’s Search for New Breweries
My mission at most of the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals is to check out the new breweries. Here are a few that caught my eye and are now on our list to visit.
3 Gatos Brewery
After listening to an episode of the Brewers Guild’s Great Beer State podcast where Fred Bueltmann talked with 3 Gatos Brewery owner Linus De Paoli about opening their brewery during a pandemic, I knew where my first stop would be at the Michigan Winter Beer Fest 2022. Having been on a stout kick this winter, I went for the Panthera pardus imperial stout.
This is an exceptional beer with a deep dark roasted flavor that is not too bitter and not too sweet. It is impossible to say this is the best beer at the fest given there are something like 700 beers on tap, but it was my number one. I definitely want to go visit their brewery and enjoy more of their beers.
While I enjoy checking out different styles and flavors, in my heart I’m a metalhead and an IPA fan. The Creeper American IPA at Bursurk Brewing satisfied that need for a beer with a big hophead nose and super satisfying pine-a-la-grapefruit taste. I meant to go back and try their stout, but got sidetracked. Sounds like a road trip out to Grand Haven to visit Burzurk Brewing is in order.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
When I walked up to Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s stand at the Michigan Winter Beer Fest 2022, the person serving asked me what I wanted and I said “I’m open, surprise me”. As they were pouring me a glass of Secondhand Sour, they mentioned it is a Lichtenhainer. “Ah…Licken what?” may have popped out of my mouth. They explained it was smoked sour beer style from Germany.
I’ve had hit and miss experiences with smoked beers; some subtly smoked and others like sucking on a briquette. This was very nice with a bit of smoke and just sour enough that you experience it without being overwhelmed. Secondhand Sour would be a nice change of pace when hanging out on the deck with friends.
Hop Hog Backyard Brewpub
I had to laugh at the name Bad Comrade which Hop Hog Backyard Brewpub bestowed upon their imperial stout. This beer wasn’t bad, it was damn good; nicely balanced with a slightly dry finish. I meant to ask about the name of the brewpus as I’m thinking BBQ factors into the equation. Guess we’ve got a reason to head up to Greenville.
Tapping the Firkin Cask
This year Brewery Vivant had the honor of providing the specialty cask for the firkin tapping, a Terpene Station IPA. It didn’t disappoint either and was a nice change after all the sweet stouts I’d been sampling. Chuck liked the homage to the Grateful Dead in the naming and thought the beer a delicious easy drinking beer.
Our buddy Pauly Brady (of Stone Clover) never fails when booking music at the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals and the Michigan Winter Beer Fest 2022 was no exception. Swedish rockers and two-time Winter Beer Fest alumni Slumlord Radio were back in action. Closing out the show was Grand Rapids Latin rockers EPCYA.
If you are looking to spice up a party, add a dash of Slumlord Radio and watch the fun ensue. These valiant punk rock swedes were cooking with gas at the Michigan Winter Beer Fest 2022 as they belted out their classics such as “Fort Knox”, “Call Me Chief Tonight”, and “Holy Smokes”. More than a few tasty brews were consumed rocking out to these hometown kings of punk.
In between bong hits and shots of cocaine (ok, that didn’t happen but it sounds like rock and roll right?), Slumlord kicked this fest in the ass with covers of “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges and “Kick Out The Jams” by the mighty MC5. It is always great to see and hear Slumlord Radio cranking out killer rock music.
I have my friends in Slumlord Radio to thank for turning me on to EPCYA. They play an enticing brand of hard rock which embraces their Latin roots and adds a dab of punk and funk to their secret sauce. I had a chance to chat with them on Fans With Bands and was stoked to see they were on the bill for the Michigan Winter Beer Fest 2022.
EPCYA jammed quite a few tunes from their album Metamorphosis. The deft guitar work of Julio and Aaron soared over the meaty rhythms of Jonathan (bass) and Dustin (drums). They had the crowd popping to “Science”, “Lucha”, and “Mi Tierra”. One dude was super excited as he screamed from the barrier in front of the stage while pointing to the band. I’m with this dude, EPCYA kicks ass.
You could feel the excitement bouncing through the LMCU ballpark during the Michigan Winter Beer Festival. Michigan Beer enthusiasts waited two years for this event but they were rewarded for their patience. They clearly had plenty of time to plan their party outfits.
Huge thanks to the many festival volunteers! Thanks for showing up and putting on an amazing festival.
We’ve got more photos of the festival in our galleries. Take a look, then share this post and leave a comment. Sharing is caring and we want to hear what you think of the festival.
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