Frankenmuth becomes the epicenter of the greatest beverage known to humanity as pilgrims of the pint gather for the World Expo of Beer in Heritage Park.
World Expo of Beer
On Saturday, May 20th, we barrel rolled into Frankenmuth for another sudsy adventure at the 26th Annual World Expo of Beer. The expo takes place on the 3rd weekend in May each year at Heritage Park. Within a trifecta of fun made up of the Harvey Kern Pavilion, the Platz Tent, and the Jaycees Tent, you can ramble through a bevy of beers, meads, ciders, and ready-to-drink cocktails.
While the festival runs both Friday and Saturday, we opted for Saturday to get in a full day of beer. For just 30 dollars, you get entry to one day of the expo, six drink tickets, and a commemorative 4 oz mug. Extra tickets are 3 for five bucks, which is a pretty sweet deal. The Frankenmuth Jaycees host the World Expo of Beer. All festival proceeds are given to charity. Over a million dollars has been given to local charities over the course of the expo’s 26 years. Prost to the Jaycees and the army of volunteers who make the expo a stein full of love.
Michigan vs. The World
Sure, this event is called the “World” Expo of Beer; however, the reality is that Michigan beer rules the World. Of the over 60 beverage creators in attendance, 48 hail from the Great Lake state. This makes sense, as Michigan is the home of righteous brews. Brews that howl with the savage glory of fermentation. Beers that capture the tenacious heart of the Midwest. Liquid gold to quench the savage thirst of a Michigander. But I digress.
The World was represented by Canada, Germany, and Finland with White Claw, Hofbrau, Schofferhofer, Radeberger, Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei (DAB), and Long Drink. White Claw and Long Drink are fine, but they are pitiful in comparison to a mighty mug of beer. The German beers were top-notch, with Hofbrau whipping out a fine Maibock. However, these offerings pale in comparison to the unbridled majesty of Michigan’s brawny brews.
Going for the Gold
The World Expo of Beer is more than just a beer festival. It is a no-holds-barred death match for breweries. Ok, no one is actually maimed or killed, but the competition is fierce. There was surely some shit-talking. The competition is open to any commercial brewery and free to enter. All they have to do is submit their beers for judging by professional beer tasters. Some of them sport the fancy pants title of cicerone. It’s a crazy job fraught with danger, but somebody has to do it.
We can thank Jim Brown for helping get the Michigan beer competition going. The Beer Ninja, Jay Green from Perrin Brewing, gave us the skinny:
“Jim Brown has been around a long time. He used to own Frankenmuth Prost Pub just outside of Frankenmuth. When I was in my twenties, I was a cook maintenance guy for him, and he was one of the only guys around that had bottles of beer from England, from Germany, from anywhere.
People would come from all over to try the beers that he had. He had a little home brew shop in the back, and he kind of fostered this little beer community in Frankenmuth outside of German beer. He also helped start the World Expo beer competition so more breweries would get more involved in this festival.
Every year, they (World Expo of Beer) have a competition a few weeks beforehand, and they bring in judges from all over the state to judge the beers. And then we get awards for them, depending on what style we have. And we (Perrin) won a gold medal for our “Call Me Hazy IPA” and a gold medal for our Perrin “Black” this year.
It’s completely free to enter. You just have to register your beers with them and then send them off to whatever location they were picking up from that year. It’s all commercial competition. They have nationally ranked judges, so it’s a very legit competition.”
Sampling The Goods
Saucy Brew Works
We made the rounds seeking out some savage masters from the beer competition. “B.F. heFe” by Saucy Brew Works out of Detroit won Best of Show as well as gold in the German Wheat category. While Saucy isn’t a pure Michigan brewery, they have a pub a few blocks north of Comerica Park. Their hefeweizen was very tasty—a fine beer for a hot summer in the city.
Tri-City was a big hit taking home a number of medals, including a gold for their Nor’Eastern Troubles Vienna lager. Smooth with a malty backbone, I’d give this sumptuous beauty a gold medal any day of the week.
Our friends at Archival Brewing stormed the gates of the Historical category to seize the gold with the “Duke Says Nein.” This Kottbusser, a German beer made with wheat, oats, honey, and molasses, is a devilish outlaw of the Reinheitsgebot German purity law. It tastes great, it’s less filling, and now you can get this beautiful beast in cans. Prost!
The folks at Redwood Lodge are doing something right. They medaled in just about every category at the World Expo of Beer. Fixing to pump up the jams at the expo, they brought a bevy of Belgians to sample.
Steampunk Wizards of Innovators Brewing from just up the road in Richville pulled the rabbit from the hat with their Black lager to grab the gold in the Dark European Lager category. This beautiful brew is dark, sultry, and delicious.
The great folks at Kuhnhenn’s were on fire with six gold medals at the World Expo of Beer. Included in their brewtal assault was “White Devil” This monster wheat beer has the decadent taste of a Belgian with a few notes of citrus. Go ahead and indulge this devil; you can thank me later.
Big Hart Brewing
From the wilderness of western Michigan, Big Hart Brewing came loaded for bear. They scored the gold in the Strong American category with “Collin’s Full Size.” This double IPA is big and burly. Drink one of these, and within minutes, you’ve got a full beard, and your voice has dropped an octave or two.
The gold was elusive in the NA (non-alcoholic category. Yet, the mavericks at FÜL threw a one-two punch with their booze-free IPA and Blonde to snatch the silver and bronze. We learned from Jeff Robinson, owner/brewer at Third Monk Brewing in South Lyon, that FÜL comes to us thanks to Mark Rieth. Mark had started Atwater Brewing, sold that puppy off, and is now fueling adventures with energy drinks, CBD-infused recovery beverages, and NA beers.
I gave the IPA a go, and it was an excellent NA beer—lots of hops in the nose and on the finish. I could easily get used to enjoying these bad boys on the deck this summer.
For the complete list of World Expo of Beer competition medalists, head over to their competition results page.
Entschuldigung! Masskrugstemmen: Was?
While far from novices to a beer rodeo, this was our first time at the World Expo of Beer. On top of the bounty of frothy beers, the expo includes music, karaoke, and, wait for it…Masskrugstemmen. The karaoke is brutal enough, but what the hell is Masskrugstemmen?
It turns out that Masskrugstemmen is stein holding. Evidently, the Germans love to hoist steins of beer and challenge each other to a contest to see who can hold their beer the longest. The rules are simple:
- Fill up your stein with beer (or water if you fear wasting a single drop of liquid gold)
- Grab your stein by the handle keeping your thumb across your fingers
- Hold your stein straight out in front of you with your elbow locked
- Keep holding your stein until your arm breaks off, or you are the last one standing
I decided to join in the “fun” and entered the first round with 8 other brawny young lads (me being the exception to both brawny and young). The first 15 seconds were a breeze. I thought, “Hell, I’m in great shape,” then my inner voice said in my best Conan the Barbarian, “Crush the enemies, see them driven before you!”.
One minute in, and the inner voice switched to Stimpy saying, “Relax, Cap’n,” as my arm started shaking like a nervous chihuahua. I’m holding as the voice in my head switches to Star Wars “Stay on target!”. Ten seconds more, I think. You’ve got this. Don’t be the first one out!
Howard Cosell shouts, “Down goes Frazier!” and my stein tips sideways.
The men’s winner ended up holding his stein for over 3 minutes. The women’s winner for nearly 2 minutes. While I clearly have some training to do, Masskrugstemmen was a lot of fun. Prost to all the participants and the crowd for cheering us all on.
Check out more pictures from the World Expo of Beer 2023l in our gallery. 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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