Four Michigan Microbreweries You Won’t Want to Miss in Jackson

A cold winter requires a lot of bundling up and settling indoors to keep warm. Escape cabin fever by planning a day filled with Michigan craft beer and good friends at the 4th Annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival! Today, guest blogger Rebecca Calkins from Experience Jackson describes four great Michigan microbreweries to check out during the event in Jackson, MI. 

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

On Saturday, March 8th, the Jackson County Fairgrounds will feature over 150 craft beers from Michigan and around the world during the 4th Annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival – you’re bound to find your new favorite! What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? Enjoying live music, good food, and great beer with your friends; maybe even making a few new friends.  You’ll hardly notice the cold at this indoor/outdoor event with campfires and warming stations, along with the warmth of good friends and great beers. Outside, the entertainment tent will feature live music from local and regional acts, a lively corn hole tournament as well as food vendors and more beer.

The event is sponsored by both Experience Jackson and Jackson’s newest microbrewery, Grand River Marketplace. This new Marketplace includes a brewery, winery, restaurant and deli all in one 12,000 square foot facility. This unique venue along the banks of the Grand River incorporates a funky steampunk theme. The walls feature a view into the steam-powered idealized future of Victorian-era minds. This vibe lends itself well to the types of hip roots-rock sound of the regional acts that perform on the indoor stage on Saturday nights.

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Recently, Grand River Marketplace won the Brick Award from the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce for the restorative work they have done to this historic downtown building. Come back in the summer, for a “Party on the Grand”, where you can enjoy your craft beer or wine with live music under the pavilion that also regularly houses the Grand River Farmer’s Market.  Sourcing local is important to the people at Grand River. New England trained Chef Corey Bieber is proudly sourcing local ingredients for his one of a kind dishes. Brewer Ben Tackett and Thomas Block, who man the state of the art 15-barrel brew system, get their hops from the Sleeping Bear area of Michigan. Finally, winemaker Blake Kownacki is using only Michigan fruit for his award-winning wine.

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Grand River isn’t the only micro-brewery in town; however micro might be too big to describe the next three locations that have opened in Jackson. For most home brewers just stepping out into the public, one barrel at a time is often the best way to brew. So spend the night in a warm Jackson hotel after the Beer Festival, follow our Beer Festival Weekend Itinerary, and spend your Sunday tasting some of the local pico-breweries latest offerings at Bifferhaus Brewing Company on Lansing Avenue, Tootsie’s Brewery at Lone Oak Vineyard Estate in Grass Lake, and Shed’s Brewing Company located off of US-127.

Get your tickets now for the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival. Tickets are $25 before the event or $30 at the gate (depending on availability) this includes 10 tasting tickets, admission and parking. Designated driver tickets will be available at the door for $5. Proceeds go to the Jackson County Fair Premium Program. You must be 21 years or older to attend.  Limited tickets are available so get your tickets early by either calling the fair box office at 517-788-4405 or Etix at 1-800-514-3849 or go online to www.Etix.com.

Have you visited any of these Jackson microbreweries? Where is your favorite place to try Michigan craft beer

Ann Arbor: A Clear Choice for Beer City USA 2013

We’ve heard from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids on why they should get your vote for Beer City USA 2013, and today Ann Arbor makes their case. Read from Maricat Eggenberger of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau below.

Ann Arbor is pleased to join our friends in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo as one of three Michigan cities in Charlie Papazian’s 2013 BeerCity USA poll. We’re thrilled other cities have discovered craft beer, but Ann Arbor – a town historically full of German immigrants – is unmatched in its long history of celebrating serious suds.

According to Papazian, BeerCity USA is about “[l]ocal support of the final sum, which is the enthusiasm for beer choice, diversity, flavor and accessibility. Most importantly it highlights ‘beer’ as the meeting place.” Ann Arbor excels in all these areas.

Local Support

Ann Arbor supports three brewpubs, two microbreweries (with a third on the way), and a plethora of multitap bars and restaurants committed to serving craft beer.

Although “supports” doesn’t really capture the enthusiasm. Grizzly Peak has been Michigan’s No. 1 selling brewpub for the past five years, according to Michigan Beer Guide. Arbor Brewing serves not only its own award-winning beers but has hosted often-sold-out monthly tastings of beers from around the world for more than 15 years. Both were among Michigan’s first brewpubs when they opened in 1995.

Enthusiasm for Beer Choice, Diversity, Flavor, and Accessibility

Ann Arbor is second to none in embracing beer diversity. For example:

  • For 30 years beer lovers have found a huge variety at the 72 taps of Ashley’s, recognized as one of America’s best beer bars by DRAFT magazine, Travel & Leisure, Men’s Health, and RateBeer.com.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery serves the coveted sour ales brewed just down the road in its newly expanded Dexter facility. Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro de Calabaza was ranked No. 1 in a 2010 New York Times Belgian-style ale tasting. The Ann Arbor café is one of the only places to get special releases, which always sell out in hours.
  • Wolverine State Brewing is one of the few craft breweries in America to specialize in lagers, and their efforts have resulted not just in medals in competitions like the World Expo of Beer but in multiple expansions since opening in late 2010.

Beer as A Meeting Place

Whether at a 50-year-old neighborhood joint like Fraser’s Pub or the city’s newest hotspot, Bill’s Beer Garden, meeting over beers is just what people do in Ann Arbor. In the summer, sidewalks and rooftops transform into oases of craft brew and lively conversation. Other examples:

  • The Ann Arbor Brewers Guild has been meeting to exchange homebrew and camaraderie since 1986.
  • Since 1948 the German Park Club has hosted picnics attracting thousands to its old-fashioned beer garden full of great German brew, music, and food.
  • The state’s oldest and largest beer fest, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival, brings more than 10,000 enthusiasts to the area every July.

Local beer writer David Bardallis sums up: “For a community atmosphere, people truly knowledgeable about beer, and a ‘beer ethic’ that views our favorite beverage as part of a life well lived, you can’t beat Ann Arbor.”

But don’t just believe me, Bardallis adds. Listen to one-time Ann Arbor resident Larry Bell, who founded his famous brewery with equipment purchased from another Ann Arbor area resident: “I’ve always thought Ann Arbor had a great beer scene.”

The choice is clear: Vote Ann Arbor for Beer City USA!

Maricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling and anything eco-friendly!

We’re proud to see these three Michigan cities in the running. Voting runs through 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Who’s your pick for Beer City USA?

Eight Reasons to Vote Kalamazoo as Beer City USA 2013

We’re thrilled to see three Michigan cities in the running for Beer City USA 2013 – Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Last week, we heard what makes Grand Rapids a great pick, and today Greg of Discover Kalamazoo makes the case for his city. Read his thoughts below and look out for a post from Ann Arbor later this week!

As you likely know, the annual competition to be named “Beer City USA” is underway.  Voting continues until 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. 

While there are many worthy destinations being considered for this annual recognition (including our friends in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), let me share with you eight reasons why Kalamazoo deserves your consideration (and vote) to be named Beer City USA 2013:

    • Kalamazoo is home to Bell’s – the oldest craft brewery east of Colorado. It’s the largest brewery in Michigan, the 7th largest craft brewery (and 14th largest brewery) in the nation, and home to three of the top 18 beers in the world for 2013 (ratebeer.com).
    • Kalamazoo was ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 Beer Cities (livability.com), one of the Top 10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers (The Street) and has one of the largest, and quite possibly the largest (in terms of number of events), Beer Week Celebrations in Michigan.
    • Imperial Beverage was named the 2010 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year by the National Wholesalers Association and the Brewers Association, and was the creator of Kalamazoo Beer Week (the 3rd annual event, held in January 2013, had 147 events over an eight-day period)
    • Kalamazoo Beer Exchange was ranked as the No. 1 Bar in Michigan (ratebeer.com).
    • Craft-Beer Centric locations such as Central City Tap House, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Old Burdick’s and Shakespeare’s Pub offer a significant number of craft beers at their establishments (with the Centre City Tap House opening later this year).
    • Restaurants producing their own craft beer include Bell’s Eccentric Café, Bilbo’s Pizza, Bravo! Restaurant and Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant.
    • Alamo Drafthouse has chosen Kalamazoo as the location for its first Michigan theatre. Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo will open in 2013 and offer 10 theatres, where you can enjoy food and craft beer while watching a mix of the latest releases and all-time favorites. “Kalamazoo reminds me a lot of our hometown of Austin with its strong economy, large university, great beer scene and solid arts community,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League said.  We are very excited about this opportunity and to become a part of the neighborhood.”
    • By the end of 2013, five new craft brewers will be opening in Kalamazoo (including Arcadia Brewing, Boatyard Brewing, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, Latitude 42 and Rupert’s Brew House).

    While all of these facts, figures, rankings and acknowledgments are great to have received and earned, it is really the culture of the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo which gives us tremendous community pride.

Please share with everyone you know one very simple domain: www.VoteKalamazoo.com.  If you decide to leave comments while you are voting, please keep them positive about why Kalamazoo should be selected as Beer City USA 2013.  One vote per IP address is permitted.  We invite you to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beer4kzoo), follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/beer4kzoo) and join us in raising a #Beer4Kzoo!

Greg Ayers is the President/CEO of Discover Kalamazoo, the official destination marketing organization representing Kalamazoo County.  More information about Discover Kalamazoo is available at www.discoverkalamazoo.com.

Who’s getting your vote for Beer City USA 2013? Read from Grand Rapids here and look out for a post from Ann Arbor in the coming days!