The List – 20 Beers You Want to Try at the Michigan Winter Beer Festival (2019)

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For those who want the quick list, just scroll all the way to the bottom for ease of use!

Before we begin, make sure to head over to DET.BEER and sign up for the mailing list.  Detroit Beer Week 2019 will run from October 18th through the 27th including the Michigan Brewers Guild Fall Beer Festival!  (Note, Detroit Beer Week is not affiliated with the Michigan Brewers Guild)

Each and every year the Michigan Brewers Guild have four major festivals in which they collect a huge number of beers from the now over 348 breweries in the state that allow you to sit down and have a beer (and there are more than 74 breweries upcoming). Every February the Winter Beer Festival takes over Grand Rapids, MI. and this year is no different! With over 1000 different beers from nearly 150 breweries, the list is the biggest ever. But with over a thousand beers, we tell you the 20 we want to try at the festival.  With over 150 breweries to even choose from, our criteria is different than just telling you the 20 ‘best’ beers.  We give you a variety of flavor, a variety of reasons, and we make sure to spread the love across all different breweries even from our previous posts.  Missing your favorite beer or brewery?  Check out our previous LISTS, they may be there!

1. Arvon Brewing – DDH Jurassic Haze

I don’t think it would be a list without having at least one New England IPA, but it’s the Jurassic Haze caught our attention for this years winter beer festival  double dry hopping using Vic Secret, El Dorado, and Citra hops to create a crazy new beer that may be for those bitter fans looking to cash in on the New England phase.  To our knowledge this beer hasn’t been made/distro’d even in the brewery yet, so this is your first (and maybe only) chance to try!

2. Barrel + BeamTerre Migique (Collab with Speciation)

A brewery that focuses on farmhouse and barrel aging real ales, they bring some of the best beers out there coming all the way up from Marquette, Michigan, and working with Speciation this fruit forward sour coming in at 7.7% is going to give you this crazy tart and dry flavor.  Prepare the need for a palate cleanser for sure after this!  Maybe at our #3 beer!

3. Big Hart Brewing CoScreeching Sands

What better way to reset your palate from many of these beers than with a hoppier amber low on the IBU’s.  This amber lager is not going to be the lightest beer in this list at 9.5% ABV, but with the sweetness and booziness it’s going to be a good reset to sip on as you try to warm up in the Michigan Winter.

4. Brew DetroitPaczki Porter

Last year in collaboration with Baffin Brewing we were introduced to the Fat Tuesday of beers, the Phat Ash Paczki Porter, and it looks like Brew Detroit is back at it again with another Paczki Porter.  Lightly carbonated to enhance the fruit overtones, this beer is nearly a liquid jelly donut with caramel.  At 6.9% this beer is one of the lighter ones on this list (Michigan is crazy with these high ABV beers, and we talked about it on Tap That AZ last month).  Why not check out episode 122 with Brew Detroit!

5. Brewery 4 Two 4Breakfast in Istanbul 

Not Constantinople, this beer is going to give you all of the flavors you want from a coffee stout.  Huge hits of hazelnut, chocolate, and coffee, this 9.7% ABV imperial Stout is not hiding what it is.  Your mouth will feel all the flavors at once and to quote “Josh” on Untappd…  “Fuggin dynamite” and we agree!

6. Cheboygan BrewingImperial Cinnamon Hefeweizen

Asked on episode 150 with Nick from Cheboygan where the beer is, we finally get our chance to try it!  Using Vietnamese cinnamon and bourbon vanilla beans, gives you this weird addition of malt and spice that adds up to a great beer and unique beer you won’t be able to try anywhere else!

7. Dark Horse BrewingVanilla Bean Plead The Fifth

I think the trend this year is vanilla for sure and we’re on board.  This beer was last seen at the Summer Beer Festival and we’re excited to see it again!  Different than their randalled version in their brewery.    We chatted with a rep from Dark Horse back on episode 125.

8. DeHop’s Brewing CoRose Brut IPA

Fermented on top of red grape skins, this champagne/ale yeast made beer has a little bit of everything to get to the IPA.  Utilizing Belgian Pilsner Malt, this beer is going to be dry, hoppy, and a little yeasty.  This beer is not for the faint of heart, it’s going to be bitter and dry and not at Rose as you may think.  I think this could be a sneaky top beer at the festival while everyone is running towards all the heavy and high abv beers, at 7% this beer is going to be a must try!

9. Drafting TableMean Vanilla Bean

Another beer with Vanilla on this list.  It wasn’t a trend we were going for, but hey, it’s not a bad taste!  Mean Vanilla Bean is one of the most well known beers from Drafting Table and they’ll be pushing this beer out fast and one you may have to get right away!  Better on Draft will be pouring Friday night at Drafting Table as well so feel free to come meet us!  If we’re out of the MVB, why not try the Professional Pils.  Crisp, clean, and easy to drink too!  We had Drafting Table on our 3 Year Anniversary show and they’re celebrating their 3 Year Anniversary here soon!

10. FoundersBlushing Monk

Founders always pushing so much amazing beer, and while we have a decent amount of dark beers, we wanted to highlight one of their non-dark beers which is Blushing Monk.  Coming back for the first time in a few years, this crowd favorite is an amazing raspberry beer that would probably top of the day drinking!  You can check out our most recent episode with Founders on Facebook Video 

11. Griffin ClawFlying Buffalo Mole

When Kyle came in on Episode 155, we were able to try all 8 Flying Buffalo’s and this was obviously the winner and we are so excited to have it again!  With so many options this year, this is a CAN’T MISS!  We won’t know if it is coming back next year, but this beer doesn’t need age, this beer needs to be drank, now, by us!

12. HopCatKennedy’s Mistress

When we had Adam and Jay on in the studio on Episode 143, we talked a lot about the bar themselves, but did you know HopCat actually brews their own beer too!  We assume this is a homage to Juidth Exner, but this Blonde middle of the road ABV beer is a great way to try to reset from all these dark beers too!  Smooth and easy to drink, and easily one of the best Blonde’s in the state!

13. Kitzingen BreweryBouncing Betty 

We’re curious how this Dry IPA may react in the frigid cold that typically comes with the festival and it’s all natural cooling for the kegs.  If served super cold it may lose the dryness but this is a beer to watch out and a brewery to watch out for 2019.  We’re hoping the citrus comes out of this bad boy like it should!

14. KuhnhennCreme Brulee Java Stout

What… you’ve never had Kuhnhenn?  You’ve never had their Creme Brulee Java Stout?  You’re joking right?  This is the INDUSTRY STANDARD for a sweet stout.  Out of Warren, MI.  Kuhnhenn easily produces some of the most underrated beer because of their lack of distro, but the beer inside the four walls is phenomenal and along with DRIPA, this beer is easily one of the best.  This is one of those “do not pass go” beers.  If you’re not planning on a trip to Detroit anytime soon, this beer is one you have to get first

15. North CenterAltra Violet

What is an altbier.  I’m sure you’ve had a few that you may not have even realized including Lighthouse Amber from Cheboygan or Alaskan Amber from Alaskan Brewery.  Starting from the mind of Better on Draft host Ken, Kodi tricks magic with this edition of Alt-ra Violet.  Crisp and easy to drink, malt forward.  Hop heads beware, this isn’t for you!  Check out our episode of Better on Draft with North Center, even with Special Guest Harry from The Brewz Brothaz Podcast

16. Old NationBelgian Club of Thailand

Every time Travis from Old Nation comes onto our show, we learn so much about beer.  We all know he makes amazing NEIPA’s, but the rest of his repertoire is stacked with amazing Belgian and German style beers that are out of this world.  Brewed for the first time since 2016, you’re going to get an interesting flavor of a Belgian strong with lemongrass and lime.  At 10.7% this strong is a sipping beer, perfect for drinking while maybe waiting in line for one of those timed releases!  Check out all the great shows with Old Nation over at our Spotify page

17. Paw Paw Brewing – CranHeffe

This ‘complex as hell‘ beer is from the amazing brewery at Paw Paw Brewing.  When Donavon joined the studio with us he taught us so much about beer including how he goes about the beer!  A Heffe may be perfect for the cold day with the sweet of the cranberry and the spice of the Heffe, this is one that is a can’t miss especially since it’s their first release of it!

18. South Haven BrewpubNot Your Grandma’s Cookie

Calling itself a no bake cookie stout, this beer is sweet, easy to drink, and only at 5.1%, the mixture of oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter will allow you to crush this beer faster than you want!  Enjoy the sweetness, maybe grab a second one after you drink the first one, and make sure to take it easy with this session beer!

19. Tantrick BrewingDark Side of the Berry

This Baltic Porter is going to be a sneaky good beer for the style.  We don’t know the ABV, but if we had to guess it’s going to be around 8 with a higher OG and a malty flavor more similar to a Brown Ale.  I would think this would taste really good really good too, so probably one of the ones to finish the night with!

20. Trail Point BrewingWee-Off Kilter

This is a lot and at 12.5%, please remember that The Michigan Brewers Guild does not provide a driver for you!  (Still don’t know why we have to say that).  A Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Wee Heavy Scotch Ale.  Or a BBADWHS for short.  The scary thing here is the beer isn’t boozy.  The bourbon really magnifies the malty flavoring getting a sweet and malt that you just can’t beat.  A must try!


Arvon Brewing DDH Jurassic Haze
Barrel + Beam Terre Migique
Big Hart Brewing Co Screeching Sands
Brew Detroit Paczki Porter
Brewery 4 Two 4 Breakfast in Instanbul
Cheboygan Brewing Co Imperial Cinnamon Hefeweizen
Darkhorse Vanilla Bean PT5
DeHop’s Brewing Co & Café Rose Brut IPA
Drafting Table Mean Vanilla Bean
Founders Blushing Monk
Griffin Claw Flying Buffalo Mole
HopCat Kennedy’s Mistress
Kitzingen Brewery Bouncing Betty
Kuhnhenn Crème Brulee Java Stout
North Center Altra-Violet
Old Nation Belgian Club of Thailand
Paw Paw Brewing CranHeffe
South Haven Not Your Grandmas Cookie
Tantrick Brewing Dark Side of the Berry
Trail Point Brewing Co Wee-Off Kilter
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A craft beer fan since 19, used to look for your non-regular beers on frequent trips to downtown Windsor with friends, at 21 Ken basically took over an entire refrigerator with monthly visits to Merchants. With 5 years of podcasting prior, Ken decided to create the brand and show Better on Draft in the spring of 2015, and began creating his dream of a beer-centric website that wasn't too full of itself. He now runs the board and does a lot of the back office stuff while the show goes on, keeping everyone in line, and the beer flowing!

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