The Michigan Brewers Guild 2023 Spring Beer Festival in Traverse City was a dinger!
Spring Beer Festival – The Promenade
The layout differed from other festivals since the Spring Beer Festival was inside the Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City. The tents were distributed around the field along a paved walkway creating a promenade for beer enthusiasts—no weaving between tent rows.
Like a broken record, I heard festivalgoers say, “This is perfect.” Were they referring to the weather? If they were, I would agree the weather was just right. Or the location, which at first, I was a little skeptical about. But having the festival inside a baseball stadium is a bonus– clean bathrooms, a nice walking path, plenty of seating, and space to spread a blanket. You could even play games out on the field.
During the festivals, brewers are slinging beers and talking with beer enthusiasts. It is part of what makes the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals awesome. The Spring Beer Festival was no exception. Brewers are happy to share beer stories and suggestions.
Did you know Maibock beers (aka May bock) are traditionally brewed in the fall, lagered over the winter, and released on May Day? We didn’t, but we do now, thanks to Michigan beer pioneer Ted Badgerow with Ypsi Alehouse, who was slinging beers and tossing around beer facts during the Spring Beer Festival.
Kuhnhenn Brewing also had a Maibock. Earthen Ales and Drafting Table Brewing collaborated on one, each having a different version. Jay Green, the Beer Ninja from Perrin Brewery, said, “Maibock is an old style that you don’t see that often because it’s not a sexy beer like an IPA or something. But they’re so so good. All of us brewers know what it is, and we all go for it when we see it.” We agree with Jay; Maibock is a damn good beer!
Mitten & Perrin’s Collaboration
I bumped into Jay early in the festival. He pointed out Mitten Brewing’s “10th Inning” beer – A strawberry Blond Ale. Last year was Mitten Brewery and Perrin Brewery’s 10th anniversary. To celebrate, they did the 10th Inning beer collaboration. Mitten Brewery had stashed a “10th Inning” keg to tap during the Spring Beer Festival.
I asked Jay if Perrin named their beer 10th Inning too. He answered, “No, ours was the 10th Inning Stretch because it had more of a bite.”
City Built Brewing
City Built Brewing’s Ed Collazo was behind the taps. I asked what I should try. He suggested their newest beer, “Baby Cit.” He said, “It is really good if you like 5% IPA.”. Edwin didn’t steer me wrong; this beer is crisp, clean, and hoppy. Edwin also suggested their “Go Go Juice,” adding, “Go Go Juice is really super fruited, like pink lemonade.”
We finally caught up with Bryan Wiggs. I had to look up his first name because everyone knows him as “Wiggs.” I forgot he had a first name. We got the scoop on his new position as Director of Brewery Operations, overseeing Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and North Peak Brewing. We shared how much we liked the new beer, “Switchback Clementine Wit.” (Inside scoop – this beer may be switching names soon.) If you are looking for a great summertime beer while out on the deck or wherever this wit is for you.
I love it when Jay Green recommends beers. Another he suggested was Kuhnhenn Brewing’s “Chattanooga Aged Eisbock.” I would have missed it if he hadn’t pointed it out. “No fruit this year, just Bourbon Barrel. It’s boozy, almost 17%. It’s tasty. It’s got that nice malty taste and the bourbon in the background,” Jay shared.
Whiskey Point Brewing
Whiskey Point’s Founder & Head Brewer, Patrick McGinnity, had the backstory on Michigan’s first island-based brewery. “The lighthouse at the point where you come into the harbor is called Whiskey Point Light,” Patrick said. “The Whiskey Point was named that because that’s where they used to sell or trade alcohol or whiskey to the Indians for furs. So it was kind of like, you know, a shameful name at first. Then it was just the name it got stuck with. We are called that because, in part, we’re only a quarter mile from it. But Beaver Island Brewing Company already exists in Minnesota.”
Chuck tried the “Kastaway” Kolsch and found it to be spot on. Sounds like we need to plan a trip to Beaver Island.
Right Brain Brewery
Natalie Stevenson, Sales Director at Right Brain Brewery, turned us on to their “Blue Magic Lavender.” “It has the lavender scent and aroma, but not that weird soapy flavor. It’s really good.” Chuck tried it and loved it. I think he could have easily parked himself at Right Brain for the rest of the festival. Chuck said, “Oh man, this is spring and summer in a glass!”
Loco Boys Brewing was on our radar as a new brewery to check out. It opened last year but is already brewing some fantastic beers. During the festival, I sampled the “Sour Senorita” and got the lowdown on the mural in the brewery of the owner’s grandmother.
After the festival, we headed to Loco Boys Brewing on West Front Street, located in Traverse City’s historic Slabtown neighborhood. They serve great beer and amazing Mexican food. Plus, they did a fantastic job renovating the space. The mural over the brew works is super.
A few I sampled that I would recommend:
- Trail Point Brewing’s “The Melon Farmer” fruit beer
- Flat River Brewing’s “Port Stitches” peanut butter porter
- Stone Hound Brewing’s Strawberry Rhubarb Sour
While taking pictures and talking with everyone, Chuck loved these beers:
- Brewery Terra Firma’s “Copper Grasshopper” ESB
- River Saint Joe Brewery’s Rye Saison
- Innovators Brewing’s Frankenhilf Dunkel
- Cedar Springs Brewing’s Kusterer Weizenbock
Jake and his sister had the honor of tapping the firkin for us. Earthen Ales provided the “Municipale” – a Kolsch and Lime beer, which is a perfect beer for a gorgeous spring day.
Finding the perfect tone for a chilled-out afternoon at the Spring Beer Fest is our buddy Mark Lavengood. As we listened, folks would walk by yelling, “Huggy Bear!”. Mark would flash his trademark smile or add a “yeah buddy” to the verse he was singing. Joining Mark on stage was Jeremiah Wenger. Jeremiah took rhythm duties while Mark ran the fingerboard on his dobro and flat-top. Let me tell you, sitting down with a “Casa de MI Padre” from Grand River Brewery while listening to Mark Lavengood is pretty much heaven.
Mixing it up with their own chunky jam of blues, rock, and funk were The Marsupials. They hail from just up the road in Harbor Springs. With spicy keyboards and guitar backed up with deep-in-the-pocket bass and drums, they had enthusiasts shaking their booty as the beers kept flowing. Kicking back in the grass with a Fresh Coast Beer Works pale ale while soaking up the jams was the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful Spring Beer festival in Traverse City.
We’ve got more shots from the 2023 Spring 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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