2020 is here and so are the changes for the Michigan Brewers Guild’s festivals.
The first of the handful of changes go into effect this week with the 15th Annual Winter Beer Fest in Grand Rapids with the festival being reduced to one day instead of two. Other changes this coming year include reducing all festivals to one day except Summer Beer Festival and adding a Spring Beer Festival in May.
The Winter Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, February 20 from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The VIP Enthusiast hour will still take place from noon to 1:00 pm. Tickets are still available for $55 each and the token policy is still in effect.
UPDATE: Brewery locations within the festival have been updated to help you plan accordingly.
Better on Draft is looking forward to the festival and checking out what the 133 Michigan Brewers Guild breweries are brewing up for the new year. Out of the 835 beers listed on the BeerFestList app, we located 20 beers that you are going to want to try. Check them out below!
20. Just Took a DNA Test Turns Out I’m 100% That Beer – Three Blondes Brewing (Tent 2)
Similar to my Lady Gaga pick from last year’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival, the lyrics were playing in my head right when I read the name of this one. Three Blondes Brewing snagged the beer’s name from this past summer’s resurgence of Lizzo’s hit song “Truth Hurts”. Just Took a DNA Test Turns Out I’m 100% That Beer is a promising NEIPA in terms of the style of beer, Three Blondes’ reputation, and the legacy of Lizzo. I hope festival attendees sing the song when they are ordering this beer at the festival.
19. Apple Pie Ale – Tri City Brewing (Tent 2)
Tri City Brewing‘s Apple Pie Ale is going to be good. Tri City is well known for hitting it out of the park with their beers, especially the ones with fruit. The Apple Pie Ale should be no different. The blonde ale will be a good one to start your afternoon out with. I’m happy to see Tri City making the trek from Bay City, so you should definitely check them out.
18. Wookie Wuv – White Flame Brewing Co (Tent 3)
While I am putting together this list, the weather looks to be good on Saturday. Knock on wood. Yet the thought of a Michigan Winter Beer Festival aka standing in a parking lot, drinking Michigan beer, always makes me cold. If you’re like me and like your personal space, check out White Flame Brewing Co‘s, Wookie Wuv, a strong imperial stout that’s sure to warm you right up.
17. She-Shed Shindig – Guardian Brewing Company (Between Tents 3 & 4)
Guardian Brewing Company invites you to Cheryl’s She Shed Shindig. This brew is a little more unique than a normal light party beer in the neighborhood. She-Shed Shindig combines two beers – an 11% barleywine and a Patersbier-style barleywine – and then aged it in a Basil Hayden’s bourbon barrel. It sounds like a solid shindig beer to me!
16. Nate’s Grandma Sitting on a Unicorn Barrel blended with Raspadula Raspberry Wheat Ale – 5 Lakes Brewing Co (Tent 3)
The award for the longest beer name on the program goes to …
While I am unable to verify if 5 Lakes Brewing Co actually has the longest name on the beer list this year, this one is quite the mouthful. Nate’s Grandma Sitting on a Unicorn Barrel is 5 Lakes Brewing Co’s porter barrel-aged in a Jack Daniels barrel. If this was it, I would be happy, but it’s not. The brewery is blending it with Raspadula, their raspberry wheat. Delicious in so many ways!
15. OK Boomerang – Griffin Claw Brewing Company (Tent 1)
I enjoy a good pun, so much so that people often ask if I am secretly a 12-year-old who just picks the punny names for these lists. Hat’s off to Griffin Claw Brewing Company for grabbing my Millenial attention with OK Boomerang, a quick quip at boomers while also introducing a newer style of barleywine – Australian Barleywine. Hopefully, all generations can agree that BIL.
14. Shadow Box Schwarzbier – DeHops Brewing Company and Café (Tent 2)
Shadow Box is DeHops Brewing Company and Café‘s six-time medal-winning German Black Lager. It’s been recently renamed after name contest and the brewery went with the alliterative name that emphasizes the winnings it has reaped.
If you’re new to the lager game or want to check out what a black lager is all about, headbrewer Eric Plata has cooked one up for you.
13. Dancing Dead – Vanilla/Maple – Draught Horse Brewery (In Between Tents 2 & 3)
Draught Horse Brewery is well known for having big and rich stouts on tap in its taproom, especially during the Christmas season. Their 12 Stouts of Christmas have been gaining in popularity and are damn delicious every year. Dancing Dead is a stout that is very dark and malty and not very sweet. The addition of the vanilla and maple are sure to sweeten it up.
12. Taylor Hops – Flat River Brewing (Tent 2)
As one of the guild’s newest members, many may not know that Flat River Brewing is located in Greenville near Flat River. Taylor Hops is one of the most local beers at the festival because it uses hops from Taylor Hop Farm, which is located two miles away from the brewery. Looking forward to seeing what Flat River is all about!
11. X Murks the Spot – Austin Brothers Beer Co (Tent 3)
Austin Brothers Beer Co continues to add to their NEIPA Murk series with X Murks the Spot. This beer has been gaining hype on social media as a light-colored yet dank and tropical NEIPA. It is going to be a good one to check out. Another good thing to check out at the Austin Brothers booth will be Ken, founder, and co-host of Better on Draft. He will be pouring for the brewery during the afternoon on Saturday.
10. My Chest Hurts – Snowbelt Brewing Co. (Tent 3)
It wouldn’t be a Winter Beer Festival without mention of some snow. Hopefully, your chest will be just fine while you participate in the beer tasting festivities on Saturday. Snowbelt Brewing Co is bringing their flagship beer with them – My Chest Hurts. This IPA is noted to be a solid balance between hoppy and malty.
RELATED: Check out our list of MI Flagship beers for Flagship February!
9. Toil and Trouble – ConfluxCity Brewing Co (Tent 4)
Another locally crafted brew will be available on Saturday with ConfluxCity’s Toil and Trouble. The dry stout will be the best, in my opinion, style to feature the local coffee from Courageous Coffee because it will already be roasty and rich. ConfluxCity Brewing Co is based out of Portland and everything I’ve had from there is dynamite, so check them out!
8. Sherbert Hoover – Presidential Brewing Company (Tent 1)
Presidential Brewing Company is making a name for itself as a brewery with a presidential twist. All of the brews have presidential connections to them, so it was difficult for me to narrow down the list of beers for one to try. Sherbert Hoover caught my eye because if it resembles a sherbet, like the name says, then I should like it. If you’re a fan of sours, history, or just trying new beers, stop by Presidential Brewing Company’s booth to check this one out.
7. Careless Whisper IPA – Our Brewing Co (Tent 3)
You can’t go wrong with “Careless Whisper.” It’s tempting and sultry saxophone solo is one of the most popular licks in modern music. Our Brewing Co wants to take your hand and lead you to their booth to give Careless Whisper, a hoppy and malty IPA a try. It’s both hoppy and malty. Don’t be a fool.
6. Vanilla Black Note – Bell’s Brewery (VIP Only) (Tent 2)
Vanilla Black Note was very hard to come by upon its distribution release across the state of Michigan, so this is one to check out on Saturday. Bell‘s added vanilla to its famed Black Note Stout and threw it in bourbon barrels. The result is a sweet and smooth stout that’s still bold and rich. This beer is, again, going to be hard to come by for the majority of attendees at the festival because it is only available during the VIP hour.
5. The Dude Abides – North Center Brewing Company (Tent 1)
Better on Draft sponsor, North Center Brewing Company is bringing cocktail-themed beers to the festival. Owner and headbrewer, Kevin DeGood, said that all of them will be “unique and fun to try.” The Dude Abides is a White Russian Imperial Stout that I’m sure the dude would approve of.
4. Koeze Peanut Cluster Stout – Broad Leaf Local Beer (Next to Tent 1)
Koeze Peanut Cluster Stout is a collaboration beer with Broad Leaf Local Beer and Grand Rapids-based Koeze Company. According to a press release by both the candy company and the brewery, both were looking to recreate the peanut cluster candy in beer form and decided to work with each other on the 110th anniversary of the candy company.
Broad Leaf Local Beer’s taproom in Kentwood is full of shipping containers, local art, and pinball machines. Word on the street is Broad Leaf has secured permission to bring a shipping container full of pinball machines to the Winter Beer Festival.
3. Ball of Confusion – North Channel Brewing (Tent 1)
North Channel Brewing‘s Ball of Confusion is sure to live up to its name. While reading about it on Untappd and on the brewery’s website, I wanted to drink it right now yet was confused by the description. It’s a light-colored beer that “pours like a pilsner”; has notes of coffee, vanilla, and butterscotch; and is 9%. I’m probably going to have to roll out of the festival after enjoying this one!
2. Neon Soul – Fetch Brewing Company (Tent 1)
My favorite beer from 2019’s Winter Beer Festival came from Fetch Brewing Company out of Whitehall. I have high hopes for them this year with their Neon Soul, which is a lavender sour. Sour beers and lavender beers have not been my favorite beer styles since I got into this hobby, but I think Fetch’s combination may be the one to settle both of their notes into the perfect balance.
Four Horsemen – Ellison Brewing Co (In Between Tents 3 & 4)
Ellison Brewing Co created Four Horsemen in a collaboration with Watkins Brewing and Barclay Brewing Co. It was originally a brewery-only release in bottles yet was available at the Indy Winterfest a few weeks ago. I was unable to get my hands on it there, so I will try it out in Grand Rapids. Four Horsemen was barrel-aged in four barrels between 26-30 months and will be one of the best and rarest beers to check out on Saturday!
Looking forward to the 15th Annual Winter Beer Festival this coming weekend!