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Rain can’t keep Ypsilanti dry at the 15th Annual Summer Beer Festival

Short's Brewing is always a presence at local beer festivals.
Short's Brewing is always a presence at local beer festivals.Detroit Craft Beer Examiner

The annual two-day tasting event celebrating Michigan beer hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild sprung a leak this year as rain doused Riverside Park during Friday’s festivities. Despite the deluge, beer lovers far and wide stared down the weather through the bottom of a glass. The rain-drenched evening of Friday July 27th was followed by a storm of beer enthusiasts on Saturday the 28th, which enjoyed mild temperatures and sunny skies – perfect conditions to taste all the summer ales created by brewers across the Great Beer State.

15th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival
15th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer FestivalDetroit Craft Beer Examiner

The highlight of this year’s festival was the collaboration of brew masters across the state to brew the 15th Anniversary Ale - a strong ale weighing in at approximately 8% ABV and 80 IBU’s. The recipe was brewed by 28 participating breweries to be offered at tasting stations at the festival in celebration of the official anointing of July as Michigan Craft Beer Month by leaders such as Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) by pushing a senate and a house bill respectively.

The Michigan Brewers Guild cites Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), “With summer upon us and Grand Rapids claiming the title of ‘Beer City USA. We are excited about the opportunity to tout the benefits to our statewide tourism efforts and the investment in our local economy that craft beer represents.”

Some Detroit area brewers of the 15th Anniversary Ale include:

  • Lily’s Sea Food, Royal Oak
  • Wolverine State Brewing Company, Ann Arbor
  • Copper Canyon Brewery, Southfield
  • Traffic Jam & Snug, Detroit
  • Liberty Street Brewing Company, Plymouth
  • Rochester Mills Beer Company, Rochester
  • Atwater Brewery, Detroit
  • Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter
  • Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, Warren

Each and every one of these beers is a unique representation of the same recipe and demonstrates the diversity of the brewing styles of the State of Michigan. Try to catch a draft of the 15th Anniversary Ale at a participating Detroit area brewery before the well dries up!

One of the Detroit area’s most creative breweries, Kuhnhenn’s Brewing Company, ripped the creativity title from Dragonmeade this year with their Far Eastern-themed beer lineup and decorative presence. Among their standard brews, such as the gold medal-winning DRIPA and Loonie Pale Ale, were Asian flavors such as a Mandarin Wit, Ginger-Cinnamon IPA, General Tau Ginseng Ale, Chai Teaweizen, Asian Pear-suasion Pear Wheat Ale, Great Wall Ginger-Citrus Mead, Fist of Fury Five Spice Metheglin, and the Shao Lin Strawberry Lychee Pyment. Eric and Bret Kuhnhenn did a great job of bringing some flare and variety to a group of beer enthusiasts who are already familiar with the common taps across the state.

Ray Sherwood also brought his A-game with him along with a great new array of Shelby Township-based ales. Following the Asian-themed trend, Sherwood’s Brewing Company sported offerings such as Chai Tea Mild Ale, Sun King Black Tea Lemon Ale, and Kona Porter, which was one of four tappings throughout the weekend. A Sherwood’s ice cream cart could also be found traveling the park offering scoops of beer-based creamy confections, which were a great dose of sweetness on the hot summer weekend as well as a great original addition to the festival. For a brewery that has been classified as cautious, Sherwood’s took a walk on the wild side, instantly becoming a star attraction.

Speaking of star attractions, some breweries seem to know just how to please palates. The Short’s Brewing beer lineup was typically wild, New Holland Brewing had some newbies such as Zoomer Wit and Blue Sunday amidst its regular cast of high quality beers, and Bell’s laid their best kegs to rest offering tappings of Black Note Bourbon Barrel Stout and Hopsolution Double IPA. But the player of the weekend was Dark Horse out of Marshall. The uber-ambitious brewery sported 51…that’s right, fifty-one…taps, including a tasting table in a refrigerated truck with a couch and a chair allowing tasters to get off their feet and interact over a 4 ozer for a few minutes before heading back into the heat.

The line was long on Saturday, and, as usual, Friday is the day to go and really get to know the beer lineups and speak to brewers. No discussion of a Brewers Guild event would be complete without giving the organizers of the event their due credit. Becoming a Beer Enthusiast through the Michigan Brewers Guild website allows early entry into the event (and every other event for a year), and is the only way to do a large beer festival such as this. Visit the Michigan Brewers Guild Membership page to get more information before the Fall Beer Festival in October, which recently has been announced to be expanded to two days (October 26th and 27th).

Props to all the unique additions to the 15th Summer Beer Festival. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

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