Celebrating Michigan Winter with great beer

Ken & Laura of the Hideout BC & me (posing with a beer!)

The Michigan Brewers Guild’s fifth annual Winter Beer Festival was, by any measure, a rousing success. Held on February 27, this was the third appearance of the Festival in Comstock Park near Grand Rapids, the first two events occurring in Lansing’s Old Town. I was fortunate enough to attend all but the inaugural event, and they seem to get better and better.

The weather was decent, with snatches of blue sky and temperatures hovering in the low 30s. Once held near the infield and in the concourse of the Fifth Third Ballpark, the event is now staged completely in an enclosed area of parking lot. This location has several advantages: no wind whipping off the frozen infield, unlimited available space, no slippery stairs for pleasantly buzzed attendees to negotiate, and the potential for blazing bonfires. I loved the enormous central bonfire that kept beer-lovers warm last year; this year, they opted for several smaller fires, around which patrons happily mingled.

There was music, there was food, there were interesting winter get-ups and eclectic hats, there was of course the Michigan Beer Rallying Cheer, there was camaraderie in the cold. Sold-out at 5,000 tickets, the event is a true testament to the outstanding craft beer culture in the Great Lakes State.

I’m going to keep this entry short and sweet because I attended this Beer Festival, as I did the last one, without drinking beer. So basically I was a big poser: I enjoyed a sip of Short’s Turtle Stout, wet my lips with Founder’s Hand of Doom, and pined for mid-May when I tasted a few drops of Short’s Hangin Frank. But a few odd sips of beer do not a reveler make. (On the other hand, my husband Steve was quite the beneficiary of this situation.) Although being sober at a drinking event (and being seven months pregnant and waddling around in the cold for five hours) isn’t the most fun thing in the world I could imagine, I was happy to be part of the crowd and to drive my glowing husband and father home safely. I can only say that I’m certainly looking forward to the next MBG event, where I intend to fully enjoy all that the incredible Michigan craft brew community has to offer.

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