Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mashing in Michigan: Grand Rapids hosts 36th National Homebrewers Conference

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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“Mashing in Michigan” was the theme of this year’s National Homebrewers conference which took place in downtown Grand Rapids at the DeVos Place on Thursday, June 12th through Saturday June 14th. A welcoming reception and toast on Thursday included two special commemorative beer releases; an Oak Aged Rye IPA from Founders and Beer Michigan Barleywine from Bell’s. Founders own Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens were also on hand as the guest keynote speakers on Friday.
Friday also featured “club night” - an opportunity for homebrew clubs from all across the nation to show off their recipes for a full evening of beer sampling. Over 80 different clubs participated from west coast to east and north and south. I joined up with my own local homebrew club the Muskegon Ottawa Brewers (MOB) for the event and also sampled a variety from several of the other clubs present. Michigan was of course well represented and highlights for me included Ann Arbor Brewers Guild and Primetime Brewers of Grand Rapids which featured several collaborations with local breweries including a B.O.B.’s Brewery Saison made with over 50 loaves of rye bread.

A who’s who of authors and beer celebrities were in attendance including Charlie Papazian, one of the founding fathers of the American current homebrew movement. Over 50 seminars were featured as well as book signings. Adam Mills of Cranker’s collaborated with Nathan Smith and Mike McDole of the Brewing Network for the BNA9 Session IPA which was tapped especially for this year’s event. Many of the clubs also participated in brewing a “KBS Clone” recipe which could be sampled on club night. The convention concluded on Saturday with a grand banquet and award ceremony. Next year’s conference is scheduled to be held in San Diego, California on Thursday, June 11th through Saturday June 13th in 2015.

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.