Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Recap of 2015 Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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This year’s International Wine, Beer & Food Festival was held Thursday, November 19th through Saturday, November 21st and was located at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. This year featured over 1,500 varieties of beers and wines, as well as ciders, meads, and spirits. Over the past couple years, beer has played a more prominent role in the festival and with this year’s fest, the new “Beer City Station” shared main stage with the wine on the main floor which was expanded to double the size of prior year events to accommodate more options.
While the focus of the festival was international and some of the best breweries of the world and U.S. were represented, Ben Darcie’s Experience Beer was on hand to push local and especially Grand Rapid’s beers to the forefront for this year’s event. This included the 2nd Beer City Round Table which featured a Q & A with representatives from each and every Grand Rapid’s brewery, as well the XPB booth featuring specialty tap releases which included Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire, Rockford Brewing’s Michigan Chinook Harvest Ale, and Pigeon Hill’s Oatmeal Cream Pie (O.C.P.) among many other fantastic selections making for a true highlight at this year’s festival.

This year’s Cider Row complemented the Beer City Station on the main floor with hard cider from favorites including Vandermill and Uncle John’s joined by newcomers including Short’s Starcut and Ridge Cider. Other local breweries on hand included Cranker’s, Pike 51, and Unruly Brewing and Unruly’s co-owner and brewmaster Eric Hoffman joined Stephen Smith of Henry A. Fox Sales for a presentation on Sour Ales. This year’s food pairings included a collaborative beer dinner between Ganders Grand Rapids and Schmohz brewery as well as a beer pairing dinner from San Chez that included selections from Rockford Brewing, Odd Side Ales, Greenbush, and Elk Brewing. This year once again, the Wine, Beer, & Food Fest delivered providing multiple food and beverage options guaranteed to please even the most discriminating craft enthusiasts.

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.