Winter Beer Festival 2017
This past weekend my wife Jessica and I headed to the Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids at Fifth Third Ballpark, our first adventure to this festival. We had been told at the Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival in November that this was the festival to attend and that it sells out in literally minutes. Once the option to snag tickets came up, we were all over it. We live about one hour and fifteen minutes from Comstock Park, so it was a no brainer to plan on attending and see what all the fuss was about. The main difference between this festival versus any of the other beer events that we’ve attended is that this was outside --- in February. We had heard all sorts of attractions would be there - ice sculptures, ice mugs, random fire pits, so it sounded fun!
This Winter Beer Festival is a two day event, one Friday and one Saturday and with our current work schedules, we decided to go to the Saturday event. We waited in line 30 minutes in the balmy 21 degree weather before the line really got moving and once we were in it was a sight to be seen. There were 4 tents with only Michigan breweries lined up and waiting to take our tokens! We had reviewed the brewery list prior so we knew which tents we wanted to visit, most were locations we hadn’t been to yet. They gave us a small cup to use and a baggie full of tokens and away we went.
My wife is a Pigeon Hill OCP fan (Oatmeal Creme Pie) and they had a minimal line at the time of entering, so we decided to bypass that line to try other specialty brews even though they offered specialty tappings at 3 and 4pm. Boy was that a mistake, they not only sold out of OCP before she could get some, the line for the specialty tappings curved around the entrance of the 2nd tent and people were waiting for what seemed like forever to get their taste of whatever was there. We did not wait in the line, we can drive to Muskegon and visit Pigeon Hill anytime.
We found that once the light wind picked up, people went under the tents to get shelter, so we probably assumed they were in line for beer when they were not, so we missed a few that we probably would have tried otherwise.
We had quite a few new beers that were good, from breweries we had never heard of. We also had some that were not fantastic (mainly Jessica did not enjoy Perrin’s Poop Someone Else’s Pants). I enjoyed seeing breweries from Michigan I didn't know existed. White Flame was one of them and Black Flame was a good beer. If you happen to find it check it out. The biggest enjoyment was tasting beers that I can't get my hands on.
Jessica made it to the Short’s swag booth and we ended up with some Short’s gear for us and decor for the bar. (If you haven’t followed us for long, she is a Short’s Soft Parade fan). There was one small booth with beer festival gear, but we opted on settling with what she had bought at Short’s.
We are very happy we went; we learned that we did not layer well enough, but that’s what you get for first timers. We plan on going next year again, with a group to make it more social. We have shared various pictures on our social media pages, but if you haven’t seen them, here they are again.
Until next week, Happy Brewing.