Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Recap of International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival in Grand Rapids

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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recap gr wine article

2014 marked the 7th year of the International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival with beer having just gained prominence in the festival over the last couple of years. Last year introduced the brewer’s loft on the 3rd level of the DeVos Place with long lines at the escalator to gain admittance and this year that trend continued with attendees seeking to try the over 200 beers available at this year’s fest. Some of the highlights for me this year include the draft selections from Cranker’s and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter from Arcadia. This year also featured another bonus: draft beer selections on the main level as well with Pike 51 Brewing and Jaden James (Peanut Butter Porter!) sharing joint booths with their respective Hudsonville and Cascade wineries.
While wine and food is still the focus with an emphasis on wine/food pairing dinners held over the course of the festival’s 3 days, Spinnaker and Schmohz teamed up again for a 3 course beer-focussed pairing dinner. For those not participating in one of the pairing dinners, a variety of restaurants and food vendors provide many additional options. These included six.one.six, Reds on the River, and Gilly’s among others. Whitehall’s Ice Box Brand was also on hand with a variety of their specialty hand-crafted Ice Cream Bars including the Belly Full of Hoppiness collaboration with Muskegon’s Pigeon HIll Brewing Company.

Seminars held during the festival also including presentations on wine, cider, and food and beer. Featured presenters included Fred Bueltmann from New Holland and Ben Darcie from Brewery Vivant. Craft Spirits and Mead were included among this year’s wine selections which included offerings from the new Akrtos Meadery in Grand Rapids and the Holland’s Coppercraft distillery’s Apple Jack collaboration with Virtue Cider. Cider was featured in their own Michigan BLUE Cider House and Sietsema and Uncle John’s were among the cideries I enjoyed. Breweries new to the area like Alaskan Brewing and Deschutes also were available up in the brewer’s loft which presented attendees a nice opportunity to try local favorites side by side with many world-class beers and beverages.

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.