This week the Michigan Brewer’s Guild announced that they are moving the Winter Beer Festival to Grand Rapids from Lansing. This is the actual announcement from the MBG web-site as posted on the Mash.
November 16th, 2007
“The 3rd Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival is scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd, 2008. Due to the success of the event we have outgrown the location in Old Town Lansing where the Festival was held in 2006 and 2007. After much deliberation we decided that we would move the event to the Grand Rapids market. There was some reluctance to move from Lansing but we believe that it will be a positive move and we are excited to be taking this event to the west side of the state. The actual location will be the Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. We will not be on the playing field but will be utilizing some of the surrounding areas inside the park which leaves the event outdoors. Plan to wear long johns, hat and mittens and mark your calendar for February 23rd.”
I admit I do not feel passionate about having the festival at either site. I can see both sides of the argument and it is a long drive for us either way. The event would help build a MI craft beer community in Lansing but I do agree that the event has outgrown the Old Town location. It was really too crowded to take notes on the beer I was tasting. I don’t know if they tried to get a new site in Lansing and failed to secure a new site. That is just speculation though. The biggest argument that I will make is that the west side of Michigan has been very supportive of MI beers and that side of the state should be rewarded for their support. It also helps that Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan. I would like to hear the opinions of people who feel strongly about the move to Grand Rapids so if you do please post a response.
Jane: Would you rather have beer, or complete and utter contemptment?
Homer: What kind of beer?
— The Simpsons
The big event in MI brewing this week is the Founders Grand Opening in Grand Rapids on Saturday November 17th starting at 4pm. Founders was started in October of 1997 by Mike Stevens and Dave Enbers and since then they have become one of the most popular Microbreweries in the state. The new location will more than double their capacity from 4000 to 10000 barrels. Their beers include Centennial, Dirty Bastard(their flagship beer)), Red & Black Rye and, for you hop heads, Devil Dancer. They also try to use MI products(e.g. cherries or honey) in there beers when ever possible. You can recognize their beers by the stubby style bottles. For those of you who have not tried one of their beers you really should but if you are new to craft beer I recommend you try one of the Ryes first. (Their Breakfast stout is also one of their best).
Sarah and I made the trip to Founders in July and had a great time. If you are in Grand Rapids this weekend stop by a celebrate their Grand Opening. We can’t wait until we can get to the new facility and take a tour. Since we can’t make the event Saturday please post a comment and let us know how it went.
“Beer does not make itself properly by itself. It takes an element of mystery and of things that no one can understand.”— Fritz Maytag, American brewer
My wife got to brew her first batch of beer last week. Usually I brew and she is my assistant. She decided to make a Pumpkin Beer for Thanksgiving and thanks to Adventures in Home-brewing she was set up and ready to go. Since this was her first solo brewing experience there was more on the line. If it goes bad it will discourage her from future brewing. Well of course there were problems and the first one was because she had me helping her. As I was cleaning our 6 gallon carboy it slipped out of my hands and into our sink. Crash, one of our cats ran to the scene and the other hide under our bed. I had broken our fermentation vessel. It is somewhat impressive to see a 6 gallon glass container break into a million pieces. As I bent over to pick it up a piece of glass actually fell out of my hair. Luckily I had a plan b in the form of a plastic bucket.
Then the next thing happened, the boiler in our house was going to be replaced and it meant a whole day without heat and naturally it ended up being the coldest day of the week. I use the furnace to nest the wort in the winter. She was using California Ale Yeast and it needs to be at between 70-75 degrees. The basement will definitely get down to50 degrees and possibly kill off the yeast. I know, I can put it in our bedroom where our only space heater will be and that is what I did.
The solution to the problem has now led to an addiction. We love hearing the bubbler going. When you hear that bubbler perculating you know all is well with your beer. It is a sign that your yeast and the wort are making a baby that will become beer. The sound is soothing with a tinge of accomplishment. I want this symphony of fermentation to be the soundtrack to our bedtime every-night. The problem is we can’t keep fermenting beer in our bedroom. Different yeast works at different temperatures and I can control the temperature of my wort by where I sit it in the basement. I could only use one of two solutions. Invent a white noise machine that makes the beautiful sound of wort turning into a beer or a baby monitor so I don’t have to sleep in the basement. Of course the best solution is a baby monitor. I could even set it up so that I could watch the bubbler work it’s magic. Imagine how easy it would be to get to sleep if every-night you can lay there in the comfort of your bed watching and hearing the plup plup of your bubbler. Because when your bubbler is bubbling all is right with the world. So if anyone reading this post is buying me a Christmas gift hint hint a baby monitor would be a great gift idea! Of course The Simpsons movie is coming out before christmas so you have options.
“Some people drink beer to get drunk, though it is an inefficient means of doing so…Beer’s greatest use is as a sociable relaxant” Michael Jackson from “The Beer Companion”
I wanted to start off my first post with the above quote because one it is one from one of the greatest promoters of beer and two it is how I feel about beer. In the last few decades a lot has happened in the beer business because of the boom in craft brewing. The stereotype of beer being a simplistic drink that was wine’s slack toothed cousin should have been long gone by now, but much like that cousin it has over stayed it’s welcome. The diversity of styles now available to the American consumer is the greatest in the world and some of the best beer in the world is brewed right here in the U.S.. Yes, even Michigan breweries beers are producing some of the best beers you can drink. Whenever I hear anyone say “American beers suck” I shed a single tear.
I have met some great people in the last few years through craft beer events. Some have become good friends and others are just people with whom we get together with every once and awhile. There is always the ice breaker of craft beers to start us off on what will become a myriad of subjects. Some conversations go to politics and some debate whether Robbie the Robot could beat Robot from Lost in Space in the Battle-bot Arena and the conversation always ends with us discussing when will be the next we will get together. My wife and I recently went on a tour of Michigan breweries and we met some of the most interesting people on that trip. I will remember the Grand Rapids crew that we hung out with for two nights, the people willing to take us in at Jamesport Brewing Company when a report of a big storm was coming in(we were camping), the merchant marine at Keweenaw Brewing Co., or the people from Red Jacket in Calumet more than I will ever remember the beers I drank. These times are the greatest joy I receive from beer.
I hope that with this blog and along with the help of you the reader that we can promote craft breweries (specificallyMichigan breweries) and maybe even have a brewery in Monroe of our own someday. We can only hope.