Sold-out Summer Beer Festival 'ideal' for many Michigan brewers
Beer brewers, connoisseurs and just plain drinkers are gathered at Ypsilanti's Riverside Park in Depot Town for the 16th Annual Summer Beer Festival Saturday. The festival featured more than 600 different beers from more than 65 Michigan craft breweries, as well as food and live music on the last day of the two-day festival.
Beer enthusiasts were not dissuaded by the passing rainstorms and solved that by quickly taking cover under the tents.
"This is the biggest beer festival I've been to," said Elise Pawlowski from Rochester Hills. "There's so much space to move around and so many options."
The Dark Horse Brewing Company out of Marshall, Mich. has 99 options — more than twice as many as the brewery offered last year. Many of the participating brewers say the festival is an ideal place to experiment with new brews.
"I love making beer," said Bryan Wiggs, Dark Horse Brewery operations manager. "I get to do this because of all the people that drink our beer and support us. We're in 15 states, and Michigan is the best."
Both Friday and Saturday of the oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild's four annual festivals were sold out this year.
"I love this venue," said Joe Larno, a home-brewer who came with his wife from the Chicago area to attend the festival.
Larno said the trip was well worth it because the people are so friendly and the lines are never very long,
"His beer is very good," said his wife Mary Larno, who added, "You guys know how to throw a party in Michigan."
At the American Homebrewers Association booth, volunteers explained what's sold at the festival are craft brews and the festival did not offer any home brews.
"We travel all over because we like microbreweries," said Diane Montie, who came from Lansing and was scoping out the festival for her friends who own EagleMonk Pub and Brewery in Lansing.
Owner of the Paw Paw Brewing Company Ben Fleckenstain said, "I love the energy in this part of Michigan."
Brewer Trevor Klimek, who works for the Paw Paw as well, said, "Our beer is easy drinking, and it's clean and crisp. We're starting to distribute our beer more on the east side of this state because this is where it's at."
The festival offers the services of several cab companies as well as the option to stop by the Party Safe tent, where imbibers can "Blow before you go" and find out the results of an alcohol breath test.
"This is my third year here because it is so much fun," said Trisha Briedenbaker, an Ypsilanti resident . "It's a time to get a break from our kids and be adults."