Monday, December 16, 2013

Recap of 2013 Grand Rapids Wine Beer and Food Festival

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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This year’s International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival featured, in addition to a wide variety of wine & spirits, a Brewer’s Loft with an abundance of beer options and a Cider House reflecting the growing popularity of Craft Hard Cider.
A who’s-who of presenters representing the whole gamut of the food and beverage industry were on hand for an impressive lineup of informative seminars, while local restaurants provided food options along with a series of pairing dinners.

The Brewer’s Loft turned out to be so successful a line was formed due to the capacity levels reached at the venue’s upper level. While a majority of options focussed on bottled options, I was happy to find some of my local favorites on draft including selections from Cranker’s and Perrin. New Holland Brewery and B.O.B.’s Brewery were also on hand to provide food. The Cider House proved to be equally popular including local favorites such as Vander Mill, Virtue, and Crow’s Hard Cider. B. Nektar Meadery was another welcome addition and I was surprised to find a wide variety of local distilleries including the Grand Rapids based Artesian Distillers. Ferris Coffee even offered up a non-alcoholic barrel-aged cold brewed coffee on Nitro!

While international in scope, the variety of Michigan-based food and beverage was astounding, whether it be wine, spirits, beer, cider or even locally-sourced food items. The Spinnaker beer dinner was an excellent example of this, pairing an abundance of locally-sourced ingredients (courtesy of Farmlink) with a selection of staple beers from the nearby Schmohz brewery. The Cascade Winery provided alternate pairing selections for those preferring wine with their meals. From the opening course of Turkey & Waffles to the Beer Smashed Sundae dessert paired with Schmohz Bonecrusher Stout, the dinner showcased local and fresh ingredients in a truly world-class fashion and to me that’s what the G.R. Wine, Beer, and Food Fest is all about.

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.