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2013 Michigan Winter Beer Festival celebrates Michigan craft beer, community

The Annual Michigan Winter Beer Festival, put on by the Michigan Brewers Guild, exposes attendees to craft beers and Michigan craft beer culture.
2013 Michigan Winter Beer Festival attendees sport their pretzel necklaces

2013 Michigan Winter Beer Festival attendees sport their pretzel necklaces /Alex Beaton

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Additional Michigan Winter Beer Festival Information

Michigan Brewers Guild

Arcadia Ales Kegs and Eggs breakfast

Arcadia Ales Kegs and Eggs breakfast /Renato Delos Reyes

Michigan Beer Cellar booth at Michigan Winter Beer Festival.

Michigan Beer Cellar booth at Michigan Winter Beer Festival. /Ben Darcie

Wearing a pretzel necklace has become a tradition at the annual Michigan Winter Beer Festival, a day that celebrates Michigan craft beer at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, MI.

The pretzel necklace has become quite ubiquitous, and for good reason. They are both stylish and practical. Attendees wear and nibble on the necklaces to help keep their stomachs full during the marathon of craft brew consumption.

The festival was a beer-loving Michigander’s dream: drinking high alcohol content craft beers outside, while staying warm by an open fire.

The most striking thing about the festival should have been the most obvious. The main focus was drinking beer. At most music and film festivals, beer and other spirits are definitely served, yet are mostly viewed as a supplementary component to the festival. Beer serves as a catalyst for increased enjoyment of the music, bands and films.

At Michigan Winter Beer Festival, the beer was most certainly the star of the festival. Popular local band The Crane Wives played at the festival, however their role was noticeably inverted. Their music was a supplement to help the attendees enjoy drinking beer more.

Not that they needed much help.

The sense of community is also quite striking. While it may be true of every other kind of festival, it is especially apparent at Winter Beer Festival. At the 7th annual Kegs and Eggs Breakfast put on by Arcadia Ales and West Side Beer Distributing the morning of the festival, representatives from Arcadia Ales and West Side served breakfast, gave away samples of beer and talked to beer lovers at every table.

Breakfast attendees sampled Arcadia's new batch of their wheat ale, Whitsun. On a particularly frigid day, it was a welcomingly refreshing sip, reminiscent of summers spent on Lake Michigan.

Throughout the breakfast, handshakes, hugs and laughter flowed as freely as the craft beer.

“It’s an event to communicate the upcoming brewing schedule and talk about Arcadia's role in the culture and market health of the Michigan beer scene,” says Onawa Gardiner, Craft Specialist at West Side Beer Distributing.

“It's also a way for Arcadia to thank [attendees] for their retail support,” she says.

The Michigan Brewers Guild hosted 70 of Michigan’s breweries at the Michigan Winter Beer Festival. Even for beer lovers, seeing the long rows of breweries can be a bit daunting.

The guild did a great job of organizing this year’s festival. Unlike the long lines from last year, this year saw very few overly lengthy lines for sampling craft brews. The larger and more well-known breweries were spread out among the tents and were balanced by the presence of the smaller breweries and brewpubs.

The Michigan Winter Beer Festival is a great event to experience the depth and breadth of quality breweries in Michigan. The festival shows off the wide variety and creativity of our breweries and is a wonderful venue for sampling the small brewpubs with very limited, and in some cases no, distribution.

Paw Paw Brewing is one of those smaller breweries, when compared to Founder’s Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery, and brought their Coconut Porter to the festival. The mixture of chocolate, coffee and coconut combined to form a well balanced brew.

Small breweries and brewpubs like Liberty Street Brewing Company, Walldorff Brewpub and Greenbush Brewing Company had a chance to expand their clientele, celebrate craft beer and bask in the communal nature of Michigan beer enthusiasts.

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