Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival 2017 Recap
The 12th annual Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival 2017 took place at Fifth Third Ballpark north of Grand Rapids on Friday, February 24th and Saturday, February 25th. There were 143 Michigan breweries on hand pouring samples of 969 different beers. Festival attendees were also treated to live music and entertainment both days. We went on Friday, and after a miserable hour of standing in line in the rain our day got better thanks to some amazing beers. In this post we’ll recap some of our favorite beers, highlight a few “new to us” breweries that really impressed us, and pick a few of our favorite beer names from this event.
With a group of seven attendees we were able to visit quite a few booths and try out IPAs, stouts, sours, and barrel aged offerings from more than 20 breweries. Some of the beers that stood out as favorites for our group included:
Imperial No Pies Harmed, Brewery Ferment (Traverse City) – this beer tasted like liquid cherry pie, full of flavor and well balanced.
Weapons Grade Winter Warmer, Dearborn Brewing (Dearborn) – a perfect beer for beating the cold temperatures, this 13% ABV barleywine packed a ton of heat thanks to ghost peppers.
Velvet Throat Punch, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company (Warren) – perhaps the most accurately named beer at the festival, this imperial stout was rich and smooth up front with chocolate and cherry before surprising with a burst of heat from ghost pepper.
Swallows in the Boathouse, Greenbush Brewing Company (Sawyer) – a peach imperial stout doesn’t sound like something that would work or taste good, but Greenbush nailed it with this one – we even had one member of the group head back for more!
Bloody Warrior, Railtown Brewing (Dutton) – Railtown’s Citra Warrior is a favorite, and the addition of blood orange made it even better.
Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Mexican Spice Cake, New Holland Brewing Company (Holland) – we tried a handful of the Dragon’s Milk variants, and this was far and away the one with the best flavor.
Imperial Wookie Kisses, Petoskey Brewing (Petoskey) – this whiskey barrel aged stout had great, rich flavor and hid its 10% ABV very well.
Ninja Turtle Milkshake Stout, Rochester Mills Beer Co. (Rochester) – Even though we had recently worked our way through the 12 Milkshake Stouts of Christmas variety pack, we couldn’t pass this one up. Out of all the milkshake stouts we’ve had from this fine brewery, this one easily places in the top three.
The Juice is Loose, Transient Artisan Ales (Bridgman) – this is one of the juciest IPAs you’ll ever come across, packed with citrus flavor and plenty of hops.
Caesar’s Gimp, Perrin Brewing Company (Comstock Park) – this red ale aged in oak wine barrels packed a punch with its 13% ABV but still had amazing flavor, one of the better aged beers we tried for the day.
While we spent a bit of our time hitting up the heavy hitters like New Holland Brewing (who once again brought many variations of their Dragon’s Milk Stout), Short’s Brewing and Brewery Vivant, we also made sure to check out some of the smaller, newer, and buzzworthy breweries that we have yet to visit. Here’s a few “new to us” breweries that we highly recommend:
Dearborn Brewing- we were blown away by the Weapons Grade Winter Warmer (barleywine), and also enjoyed the Model IP “A”, Falling Walnut Brown, and the decadent Death by Chocolate Porter.
Pike 51 Brewing Company – our first stop once we got inside was this Hudsonville brewery that we need to visit soon. We tried the Chicago Drive By (imperial stout), Cran/Cherry Sour and Reserve Funk Blend. Pike 51 clearly knows how to make a great sour, and the imperial stout was well balanced for nearly 13 % ABV.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company – we spent quite a bit of time at Kuhnhenn’s booth, and were able to try out more than half of their offerings. The Aces High DRIPA and Gnomenclature (Belgian strong ale) were solid, we absolutely loved the Velvet Throat Punch (imperial stout) and the Imperial Creme Brulee (java stout). The Samoa Nut Brown had amazing flavor and the Flesh + Bone was a great imperial stout with chai tea spices.
Cellarmen’s (Hazel Park) – we enjoyed the Lil Smokey (smoked porter) and the Cranpus (mead with cranberry, allspice, orange zest). The Batchmen’s, a braggot with black currants, had an incredibly unique flavor and is a collaboration with Batch Brewing Company (Detroit).
Ozone’s Brewhouse (Lansing) – this newer brewery clearly isn’t afraid to experiment with unique flavor combinations. The Roller Kolscher (cucumber kolsch) and Kryptonale (cherry vanilla amber) provided unique twists on popular styles, and the Vanilla Master of Shadows (vanilla porter) had a great body and solid flavor.
Brewery Ferment (Traverse City) – the Imperial No Pies Harmed was one of the top beers we tried all day, and we also enjoyed the Cowboy Killer (stout) and Big Sap (red ale).
Northville Winery & Brewing Co. – The Grapes of Rock (double IPA), Grateful Fred (IPA), and Bitchy’s Black (maple imperial stout) were all good, but the best beer from this brewery had to be Nibbed for Her Pleasure, a Belgian strong dark ale with cocoa nibs added.
One of the more fun things to do at Winter Beer Festival is marvel at some of the beer names. With almost a thousand different beers on hand, the creativity and sense of humor of Michigan brewers and brewery owners was certainly on display. Some of our favorite beer names included
Poop Someone Else’s Pants, Perrin Brewing Company
Nibbed For Her Pleasure, Northville Winery & Brewing Co.
Uranus on Fire, Final Gravity Brewing Co.
Canadian Tuxedo, Griffin Claw Brewing Company
Velvet Throatpunch, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
Roller Kolscher, Ozone’s Brewhouse
Your Grandma on French Toast, Pigeon Hill Brewing Co.
Fat King with Bacon, Rochester Mills Beer Co.
STAR S’MORES: Episode V The Mallow Strikes Back, Eternity Brewing Co.
The Michigan Brewer’s Guild will host three more festivals this year: the Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti July 21st and 22nd, the Detroit Fall Beer Festival on October 27th and 28th, and the U.P. Fall Beer Festival in Marquette on September 9th. More information is available at http://www.mibeer.com/.
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