Friday, April 11, 2014

Recap of Sold-Out 2014 Beerfest at the Ballpark in Lansing

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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The sun came out early and decided to stay out all afternoon for this past weekend’s Beerfest at the Ballpark much to the welcoming of the thousands of attendees of the sold out festival. The event was put together in conjunction with I’m a Beer Hound’s own Paul Starr and the Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing, home of the Lansing Lugnuts. Over 30 breweries were spread out over 4 zones; with 2 zones being outside the entrance to the stadium and 2 zones inside the concourse.
A noon early V.I.P. entrance was granted for the those who took advantage of the advance ticket sales which also included additional tasting tickets. General admission was at 1 PM which included a complimentary logo tasting glass with 10 tastings tickets each good for a 3 oz pour of choice from the event’s 150 different available offerings. A handful of the stronger alcohol brews required a 2 tickets a pour. The event drew breweries from all over the State; big and small. Big names included the likes of Founders, Bells, and New Holland; also featured was Lansing’s own EagleMonk Pub and Brewery.

Breweries drawing long (but manageable) lines included the always popular Short’s, Bridgman’s Tapistry Brewing, and Hudsonville’s White Flame whose Red Shoes Habanero Pale sold out fast. Some of the more interesting beer selections included the Chocolate Covered Cherry Coffee Brown served from a firkin from Mason’s Bad Brewing Company, and Mountain Town Station’s Gruits. Other favorites for me included the Tripels from Griffin Claw, Dock’s No-No- DIPA from Mitten Brewing, Oblivion from Cellar Brewing and the Sustainer Dubbel Rye Beligan from Cranker’s. Rockford Brewing Company officially said “goodbye” to winter by tapping their last and final keg of Polar Coaster - Winter Rye for the event. Also on tap from Rockford was the Paradigm “MPA” Michigan Pale Ale brewed using exclusively Michigan-based ingredients.

The Hard Cider and Mead options also proved popular with Ferndale’s B. Nektar Meadery being one of the first to sell out; I was hoping to try the “Kill All The Golfers” Black Tea with Lemon mead but missed out. I did get to try Ledbury Cider from Virtue which I enjoyed; a collaboration with British cider-maker Tom Oliver. Also featured were ciders from Uncle John’s and Vander Mill which included Bon Chretien, a Perry made from all Michigan Pears. There were also booths at the event from Pilot Malt House, “#MichiganBeer,” and Hudsonville’s upcoming (May 3rd) Beer City Spring Fest among others.

The food available for the event included Lugnuts season-long favorite menu items like burgers, hot dogs and ribs along with a couple of exclusives that proved to be hits; a pulled pork parfait along with maple-glazed bacon on a stick. Veggie burgers were provided as an option for the less carnivorous. The front lawn included performances from several acoustic bands including a variety of styles including country and rock. iCab Taxi Service was on hand to provide transportation for those in need of a ride. A portion of proceeds from the event were donated to Lansing’s Old Newsboys charity which helps to provide footwear to children in need. Additionally, Hopcat - East Lansing also offered $1 off first drafts to ticket holders after the event.

Photos by Mark Warner

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.