Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ten Years and Growing Strong! A Look Back at the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival

Written by  Paul Starr
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The Michigan Brewers Guild held its first Winter Beer Festival in Old Town Lansing on February 25, 2006 in Old Town Lansing, on Turner Street at Grand River. That first year, 40 breweries poured approximately 160 beers to 1200 thirsty Michigan craft beer drinkers.
This week, the Guild will celebrate its 10th Annual Winter Beer Festival where a record 103 breweries will pour 1035 beers to an expected crowd (over two days) of more than 10,000. The festival will be held Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28 at Fifth Third Ballpark, just north of downtown Grand Rapids. The impressive list of breweries and beers can be viewed here.

Earlier last summer, the Guild announced the expansion of its wildly popular Winter Beer Festival to a two-day event to accommodate growing demand for tickets. Tickets went on sale on December 4 and Saturday’s sold out in record time—6500 tickets sold in less than a half-hour. The growth in the festivals is on par with the growth of the craft beer industry in Michigan.
Here’s a look back at the last 10 years of the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival:
Year Location # Breweries # Beers Attendance
2006 Old Town Lansing  40  160  1200
2007 Old Town Lansing  45 180  1600
2008 Fifth Third Ballpark  50 200   2300
2009 Fifth Third Ballpark  50  300  3300
2010 Fifth Third Ballpark  55 400  4400
2011 Fifth Third Ballpark  60 500  5400
2012 Fifth Third Ballpark  65 600  6000
2013 Fifth Third Ballpark 75 700  6200
2014 Fifth Third Ballpark  85  800  6400
2015 Fifth Third Ballpark  103  1035  10,000+ (Expected over 2 days)

Tickets for this year’s Friday’s session, which will run from 3-7pm (2pm entry for Enthusiast Members), remain available for $45 each at MiBeer.com. Overall, 1000 fewer tickets are available for Friday meaning slightly smaller crowds and shorter lines. Friday will also feature special beer releases and tappings, a live ice carving demonstration by The Ice Guru Randy Finch, sideshow acts and street performers, musical entertainment and fireworks (weather permitting).

If the Friday session does not sell out prior to the event, tickets will be available at the gate for $50 the day of. There will NOT be tickets at the gate on Saturday.

The musical entertainment schedule for this year’s festival includes:
  • Friday, February 27
    • 2:00-3:00 DJ Snax
    • 3:00-4:30 The Concussions
    • 3:30 Live Demo – The Ice Guru Randy Finch
    • 4:30-5:30 DJ Snax
    • 5:00 Welcome and firkin tapping
    • 5:30-7:00 The Concussions
    • 7:00-7:30 DJ Snax
  • Saturday, February 28
    • 12:00-1:00 DJ Snax
    • 1:00-3:00 The Moxie Strings
    • 3:00-4:00 DJ Snax
    • 3:30 Welcome and firkin tapping
    • 4:00-6:00 Rick Chyme
    • 6:00-6:30 DJ Snax

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its more than 150 member breweries. The Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, we strive to achieve a 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption. Michigan ranks #5 in the nation for the number of craft breweries – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State”.
Paul Starr

Paul Starr

Paul Starr is the creator of the I'm a Beer Hound and one of the organizer and the driving force behind Art & Craft Beerfest, Lansing Beer Fest, Beerfest at the Ballpark Spring & Fall. When he's not working on Beer Hound he's probably watching the Lions, Tigers or Red Wings. Being a recent new Dad of twins, he doesn't have much extra time these days for mischief.