with gallery: Michigan Summer Beer Festival draws craft-brew faithful to Ypsi's Riverside Park
The 15th annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti continued Saturday featuring more than 300 different beers from more than 60 Michigan breweries. Photographer Jeffrey Smith captured these images.
Hazel and Tony Stasik, who are originally from Manchester, England and currently reside in Kalamazoo, appreciate good beer. That's what brought them back for their third consecutive visit to the annual Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti's Riverside Park Saturday.
"I love this city and I love the beer," said Hazel Stasik. "Craft brewing is getting better in England but nothing like it is here."
"I like the wide variety of beers here," said Tony Stasik. "I like English-style beers, but a lot of the beers here are bolder and have more flavor than in England."
The 15th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival concluded Saturday and sold out both of its two-day run. There were 62 brewing companies represented and more than 500 different beers to sample.
"This is a great event to support Michigan beer and brewers, and a good opportunity to get current Bell's drinkers to try our new products," said Laura Bell, marketing director for Bell's Brewery, which her dad started in 1985 in Kalamazoo.
Bravo! Restaurant & Cafe, also out of Kalamazoo, was back for a second time at the Ypsilanti festival.
"Our chef brews our beer in the kitchen of the restaurant, and that keeps customers coming back," said employee Stephanie Burke.
Jeremy Snider, Steve Heilner, and Joe Owens, all from Howell, were carefully reading through the list of breweries in the guide.
"This is our first time coming to this event," said Owens. "We have no expectations. We just want to try good beer."
"We're here to taste test," added Heilner.
Alan and Kaileigh Bowen came from Toledo, Ohio to attend the festival.
"I like the atmosphere here," said Kaileigh Bowen. "It' laid back and you can discover new beers."
"It's a grand selection of beer," said Alan Bowen.
Jim Helka and Becky Jackson are new home brewers who came from Dearborn to learn more.
"We just bottled our first beer yesterday," said Jackson.
"We're anxiously awaiting the outcome, added Helka.
They visited the American Homebrewers Association booth, where Susan Rankert proclaimed the Association's goal is "A good beer in every glass." She explained that the difference between home brewing and craft brewing is that home brews cannot be sold.
"Home brewers can try new and crazy things since we're only making 5 or 10 gallons at a time," said Rankert.
She recently took part in Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery's "rat pad," where home brewers get to use the brewery's system on Wednesday nights and sell what they make.
"I came up with a pig roast porter with barbeque spices and smoked malts, which did well," said Rankert.
The first craft brewery in Michigan was the Frankenmuth Brewery, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and was represented at Saturday's event.
"We love being a part of the culture and the community, and this is a chance to debut a couple of beers like our Oktoberfest beer," said Chuck Osberger, Frankenmuth Brewery's beer sales manager for Michigan and Ohio.
For those debating how long to wait before driving home and for those just curious about the impact of their beer consumption, the Party Safe tent offered a $2 "Blow before you go" alcohol breath test.