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.

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founders beer garden 2015

$10 general admission was the price to get in to the Founders Taproom for their annual Black Party featuring a tap lineup of the the best, newest, and speciality releases of the brewery’s darkest offerings ranging from Black IPAs to barrel aged breakfast stouts. The price included commemorative pint glass, the first pint of any tier 1 beer and an evening of live music. Food is extra but specials included $4 Dirty Bastard Bratwurst and other special offerings featured just for the day.

beer fest ballpark article john

A beautiful Spring day awaited those attending this year’s 2nd Annual Beerfest at the Ballpark at Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium. VIP entry began at 2 PM with general admission at 3 PM which included a commemorative glass along with tasting tickets for 50 different breweries and cideries setup both inside and outside the park and over 200 beers, ciders, and spirits to choose from. Live music was also featured outside the park with many food options to be found inside.

57 brew pub aricle

57 Brew Pub & Bistro is located on M-57 in Greenville which is northeast of Grand Rapids and was first established in 2012. Other breweries in close proximity include Perrin Brewing in Comstock Park and Rockford Brewing Company. As the name would suggest, 57 Brew Pub & Bistro is a full scale restaurant which is complemented by 12+ craft taps brewed in house including mainstays and seasonals. I recently paid my first visit to the brewery and was impressed with both the beer and the food and will be happy to add this place to my stops when making future rounds in the area.


April 7th is National Beer Day in honor of the day back in 1933 that the brewing and sale of beer first became legal again in the United States following the prohibition which began in 1920. April 7th also turned out to be a very fitting day for Rockford Brewing Company to make their first ever bottled releases after 2 years of draft only releases. Rockford Brewing also chose a very fitting beer for their bottled releases, both the 2013 & 2014 editions of their popular Anniversary Ale AKA the Belgian Multigrain which has only been brewed three times so far by the brewery and being one of original recipes released as part of Rockford’s 2012 pre-opening downtown pub crawl.

 oberon release article

This year Bell’s Brewery unleashed the popular slice-of-orange (optional) Oberon the week of March 23rd with a series of brewery sponsored tappings and events. And once again this year if you could be one of the first to try what is described on Bell’s Taproom menu as “wheat malt & bright, citrusy, spicy hop” by staying up late on Sunday, March 22nd for one of the midnight Oberon tappings. This year the Grand Rapids based Uccellos was on the list for official midnight tap releases an I attended the Standale location for my first Oberon of the year.

kbs blushing monk release 2015

Founders Brewing Co. is continuing to make 2015 a year for fans of craft beer to remember, most recently with their weeklong KBS release fresh on the heels of the Backstage Series return of the Blushing Monk Belgian raspberry ale. Blushing Monk makes a welcome return being the beer to first launch the series back in 2011 and one that fans have been clamoring for in the four years that have passed since Founders last brewed it. In making my rounds this year, I enjoyed my first snifter of Blushing Monk in Holland at Hops at 84.

 pigeon hill anniversary bash 15

For Muskegon’s Pigeon Hill Brewing Company’s 1-year anniversary celebration, the brewery brought the party out onto the street with a tent extending out onto Western Avenue for 2 days of pizza, beer, and bands. The weekend featured a series of timed barrel aged beer releases including some exclusives, as well as a variety of styles of music to enjoy. I made sure to attend both days to fully appreciate the brewery’s anniversary experience.

unruly st patricks day event 15

Unruly Brewing Co. in Muskegon celebrated St. Patrick’s Day weekend once again in style for 2015 with new beer releases accompanied with Irish-themed music and food options. The Tosspints from Saginaw returned again on Friday to perform their intoxicating brand of Irish Punk Rock and this year also featured an opening set of folk punk from the band Whiskey Drunk of Grand Rapids. I was fortunate to be able to join some friends and enjoy the performances from Unruly’s VIP section at stage side.

recap barrel aged saugatuck brewery 15

Saugatuck Brewing Co. recently opened up their brew house for their sold out Inaugural Barrel Aged Bootleg Bash. Tickets were $15 and included 10 drink tokens good for sample pours and a special event sampling glass. I was fortunate to be able to attend with some friends. Being able to hang out in the brew house was an enjoyable and unique opportunity. The Banquet Hall also featured a casual environment including live music.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Recap of 2015 Winter Beer Festival

dan winter beer fest recap 2015

This year’s Winter Beer Fest featured the debut of an expanded two day festival. Whereas previous festivals have sold-out quickly, the additional day guaranteed everyone wanting to go was able to get in this year. I took a bus from Muskegon with a group of friends for the well attended (but not sold out) first day of the festivities. This year’s event included 1000+ beers from over 100 breweries as Michigan’s craft beer scene continues to grow at almost seemingly exponential proportions. New breweries I visited this year included (but were certainly not limited to) new local favorites such as Pigeon Hill and Fetch Brewing Company of Muskegon and Railtown Brewing Company of Dutton.
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