The Detroit Fall Beer Festival—when the air gets crisper, and the beers get heavier. It’s like the cozy sweater of beer festivals sandwiched between the larger Summer and Winter fests. And yes, you can’t escape the pumpkin-flavored brews.
14th Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival
In 2021, I attempted Amy Sherman’s ultimate beer checklist for the Detroit Fall Beer Festival and swore off pumpkin beers for life. Done. Kaput. Never again, I told myself. Fast forward to this year, and there I was, sipping on Burzurk Brewing‘s “Pumpkin Cheesecake Smoothie Sour.” I know; it’s like I was beer-possessed! It was easily one of my top picks for the festival.
But before diving into the Detroit Fall Beer Festival details, I must highlight City Built Brewing’s Mi Gente project.
Spotlight on Social Impact: Mi Gente X Chela Familiar
It wasn’t the “Official Pre-Festival” party, but there were a lot of brewers in the house on Friday night before the festival celebrating this important project.
Our friends at Batch Brewing and City Built Brewing have joined forces to launch a special collaboration beer, Mi Gente—which translates to “My People” in Spanish. This West Coast-style IPA is more than just a drink; it’s a tribute. “This West Coast IPA is meant to celebrate this community, and the recipe will be shared with brewers across America,” the brewers announced. The release party took place at Batch Brewing in Corktown and also featured Batch’s Chela Familiar, a Mexican lager.
The collaboration serves a purpose that goes beyond beer. “The collaboration embarks on a heartfelt mission to recognize and honor the contributions of Latino and Hispanic brewers in the brewing industry. Inspired by similar movements, Mi Gente is dedicated to shining a spotlight on the rich cultural tapestry and craftsmanship that these brewers bring to the forefront,” the statement read.
But that’s not all—the giving continues. A portion of City Built’s proceeds from Mi Gente sales will go to the Somos Comunidad Fund. Additionally, until November 27th, Batch Brewing is donating $1 to the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation for every 16-ounce draft sold of Mi Gente and $2 for every 4-pack sold.
Eric Plata, the production manager at Batch, summed up the significance of the collaboration in a news release: “It’s been immensely rewarding to work on this project and see it come to fruition. I’m humbled to be a part of an initiative that represents a growing minority in the brewing industry, all while highlighting the expansive culture of the Hispanic brewer.”
Before the festival, we posted on Instagram a video asking for Detroit Fall Beer Festival recommendations. Our beer family came through!
The Viking Ambassador, aka Jeremy Altier, said, “I just want to hug Chuck.” “Done :)” was Chuck’s reply. Jeremy makes damn fine beer for the people at The Royal Oak Brewery. After at least two hugs from Jeremy, Chuck ambled over to the Royal Oak table. On a bit of a German beer kick, Chuck grabbed a wee nip of Rebels in Defense of Tradition, a Dortmunder. Chuck said this beer should be on everyone’s list of super beers at this year’s fest.
Christophermistopher, aka Chirs Schnepf and Stormcloud’s brewer extraordinaire, said, “Want to give yah both a big high five first of all… second of all we’ll be pouring bottle conditioned Harvest Tripel from this year’s harvest. Come say hi!”
“We can’t wait to try it;” we tapped on the keyboard and added a heart emoji for good measure. It felt a bit like we were sending Morse code back and forth.
Stormcloud Brewing’s “2023 Harvest Triple” features fresh harvest Comet hops from Hop Alliance and could easily be this year’s festival favorite. Brian Manzullo wrote on UNTAPPD, “I love Belgian beers, and I love fresh, hoppy IPAs. This was a near-perfect blend of the two.” We couldn’t agree more. This beer had a wonderful flavor with hints of fruit. If ever a beer was enhanced by its terroir, it is this one.
Stiggs Brewing said, In addition to four #Stiggs mainstays heading downstate, Head-brewer David Ousterhouse and crew will be pouring: Orangement- A Roggenbier with Orange purée 🍊and Resting B**ch Face to keep you warm. Yummy barrel-aged Sour! 11% 🔥With those names, we had to check them out.
Save the date because we are brewing “Camping with Uncle Charlie” in Boyne City on January 13, 2024. It is also Stiggs Brewing’s Anniversary Party. On last year’s brew day, Stiggs home brew club joined the fun. We hope you join the fun this year too.
Beer Festival Camaraderie
Always, I mean always, there is festival camaraderie. You bump into friends you just saw last week, you make new friends, and sometimes you run into friends you’ve not seen in a month of Sundays.
Behind the Mitten
Almost immediately, we ran into Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez. They are the creators of Behind the Mitten, a radio show and podcast about food and festivals. If they recommended any beers, I didn’t write them down as I was too busy connecting with them on a possible collaboration in January for Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week. They would be the friends we’ve not seen a month of Sundays.
Victor Lambert is beer family. He is the one shouting through his sticker-covered blow horn at the festival entrance.
We see him all the time, maybe more often than our kids. After he’d gotten everyone stamped and scanned at the gate, we bumped into him and asked if he had any recommendations. He had a few: Great White Buffalo Brewing’s Chocolate Mint Stout and Arctic Circle Brewing’s Breakfast in NOLA BBA.
While making our rounds in between bands, we ran into Chad from Great Baraboo Brewing.
We asked what he was enjoying, and he held up his cup, “Kuhnhenn’s Eisbock.” Our eyes lit up, knowing that this beer is a heavy hitter. Chad offered a taste which we tried. It wasn’t as boozy as you’d expect, which could be dangerous. The blueberry finished strong with a dark raisin taste. That one is definitely a sipping beer.
Barrel + Beam invited us to join them on November 13, 2023, for a collaboration they are doing with Archival Brewing in Grand Rapids. Afterward, we (Life In MIchigan) are headed to Unicorn Tavern in Grand Haven to hang out with Nick VanCourt and Kevin McKinney and talk about a collaboration with them. It’s exciting when you get to hang out with your beer family.
Towards the end of the festival, we met Scott Millington, the creator of Here Is Their Story & Cameras & Coffee. It was a great conversation on photography, social media, Detroit, and life. We got so absorbed we nearly missed the last band. He’s invited us (well, Chuck) to Camera & Coffee in December. We are super excited about it. He would be our new friend.
With hop harvest in our rearview mirror, brewers could access fresh hops. Fresh Hopped beers were tagged in the MBG program so beer enthusiasts could quickly identify them. I loved this and would like to see beers tagged with Michigan Hops and/or ingredients. The fresh hopped beers we tried:
- Heronmark – Harvest Ale: Heronmark is a new brewery in Allegan. Their harvest ale was a mild amber ale. The hops were subtle but lent it a farm freshness.
- Batch Brewing – Harvest Ale: This amber, almost brown beer was delicious, with the malt and hops balanced in a seductive tango on the tongue.
- The Livery – Heady Harvest: A pale ale with fresh Cascade hops. The hoppy nose invited visions of verdant hop fields kissed by the sun. A magical brew.
Even More Beers
Someday Brewing is a new brewery in Grosse Pointe Woods. Chuck loves to check out the new breweries at every fest. He ordered the Oktoberfest and came running up, “Guys! This is probably the best Oktoberfest I’ve had this year!” Smiling from ear to ear, Chuck proceeded to recommend this beer to anyone who would listen. Something tells me we’ll be heading out to Grosse Pointe Woods.
Grand River Brewery
We had to visit the kids at Grand River Brewery. They had a pumpkin with a tap coming out the side. Intrigued, we asked Caleb (assistant brewer) what was up. He mentioned he finally got his wish to create a pumpkin beer which they named Tricky Potion. I could see Chuck wrinkling his nose at first, but then he ordered one. His face registered a pleasant surprise. “I think this is the only pumpkin beer that I actually enjoy. You get to actually taste pumpkin without all the crazy spice crap.” Chuck has a way with words.
This may be shocking, but we have yet to stop over to the new taproom that Mothfire Brewing opened a mere two miles from our house. We stopped by their table to say hello to David Becker (co-owner) and Alexis Jorgensen (head brewer). Sounds like the brewery is going full steam which is great to hear. It only makes sense as they brew great beers. Chuck tried their Strand American IPA. The look on his face told me all I needed to know. Chuck said, “Man, this is a damn fine IPA. Fresh and clean without knocking you down with hops. Perfect.”
River Trade Brewing
Speaking of IPAs, River Trade Brewing over in Constantine won over our beer buddy Angie with their Well Known Ghosts. Chuck took a sip and concurred that it was a winner. Angie liked it so much she went back for seconds.
Loaded Dice Brewery
Chuck, still on his German beer kick, stopped by Loaded Dice Brewery. After admiring their festival Halloween decorations complete with the smoke machine for added spooky ambience, he drew a token and asked for Hef’s Smoking Jacket. It was a smoked hefeweizen. This intriguing and delectable beer brought to mind campfires and good times.
The Entertainment Line-up: Music that Complements the Brew
Holy Smokes! This is the second year in a row for Isaac Ryder at the Detroit Fall Beer Festival, and I’m so glad he was there. The trio became a quartet with Jayme Orr on guitar and vocals. Isaac has a brilliant voice and is an amazing guitarist. Adding Jayme Orr to the mix made this band phenomenal. Hearing her sing “Respect” would have surely brought a smile to Aretha Franklin’s face. If you want to experience electric and exciting soul music, check out Isaac Ryder!
Closing out the festival were The Vendors from Detroit. They played a fun set of upbeat boppin rock music. They played a mix of covers and originals, which had the crowd moving. I couldn’t help but think of their sound being a mix of The Bangles and Tom Petty. A pretty combo if you ask me.
A Toast to Tradition: The Michigan Beer Fight Song
A Michigan Brewers Guild Beer Festival wouldn’t be complete without “The Michigan Beer Fight Song” by Fred Bueltmann. Cheers to Chas for leading us in song!
Tapping the Keg
The honor of tapping the keg of Dragonmead’s Devil’s Night Pumpkin Ale went to Sherry Kepsel’s sons, Brian and Dan Curry, rounding off an event that united beer enthusiasts in a celebration of taste, community, and culture.
Whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or a first-timer, the Detroit Fall Beer Festival promises an experience that goes beyond just good beer—it serves as a gathering place for a community united by a love for brews, music, and fellowship.
We’ve got more pictures from the 14th Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival in our gallery.
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