Monday, February 13, 2012

Recap of 3rd Annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival

Written by  Staton Lorenz
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Recap of 3rd Annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival

The SOLD OUT 3rd Annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival Sat. Feb. 11, in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, was AWESOME! Originally the Fest was planned for Old Towne in TC but the return to the site of the summer Porterhouse event was a blessing and a perfect combo to the annual VASA ski weekend.
Recap of 3rd Annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music FestivalSeveral very large tents devoted half their space to breweries, cider houses, meaderies and wineries and the other half to a listening and dance area focused on continuous performances of live music on stage. The 4pm start commenced with the Grand Traverse Pipes & Drums leading the huge crowd through the gates…the only time anyone had to stand in line all night!

Having all the tents around a common Quad, where large bonfires kept the body warm and conversation lively, (it reached a low of 15 degrees) also allowed the various bands like; Function, Dragon Wagon, the Kielbasa Kings and Squeeze Box (Polka tent… a huge hit) to be heard without their sounds infecting one another. The Silent Disco tent made the uninitiated wonder if former residents of the Village had returned for the night.

Recap of 3rd Annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music FestivalSome didn’t dress for the weather but soon found the High Five Threads booth where hooded sweatshirts with the “Brewed in Michigan” logo leaped off the table along with their knit caps. The souvenir pint glasses lasted about an hour…the design was beautiful and a keeper. Good going Sam.

I started tasting with a pint of HOT Cinnamon Girl cider from Left Foot Charley and a bowl of chili from Mana…both businesses are housed at the Village. Bryan Ulbrich can’t keep Cinnamon Girl in stock it’s so popular and HOT it’s even better. Northern Naturals and VanderMill offered Michigan hard ciders as well.

Warm headwear was essential and a couple attendees, dressed in fur hats, were the envy of everyone. Lots of brewers, owners, vintners and knowledgeable people stayed with their booth to answer questions the volunteer-servers could not…isn’t that why we attend festivals?

Traverse City is now famous for two hops -growing regions…Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas but did you know Lavender is also being raised on the LP and used in craft beer? Tri-City Brewing’s lavender offering the Belgian Triple’s

Growler Collar Boothflowery bouquet & light mouth feel distinguished it. Bottoms UP to Chris Sprague and Paul Popa for also bringing the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale…my favorite of theirs. Which won the United States Beer Tasting Championships Midwest/Rockies regional award for the best Scottish style.

Had to sample New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk…every batch seems better than the last and OOOH so good! Cheboygan Brewing Co. brought Summer Cervesa (but forgot the limes) just to make us feel warm and fuzzy…Matt LaHaie opened the brewery last Memorial Day and is proud of the Mexican Bohemian style Pilsner with 5 hops and maize…at 4 ABV. Nice! Their signature offering is Light House Amber Altbeir at 5.25 ABV using Toasted (not roasted) malt netting a clean finish for a 30-day lager. Winter Marzen was a big hit, a 60-day Bavarian-style lager at 7.2 ABV…I preferred the LHA.

Mike Dewar at Dark Horse Brewery impressed me with their Reserve Special Black which is a touch hoppier than the norm for when a Porter meets a Stout as this does…a lively 6.5 ABV.

I missed Bruce at Acoustic Draft Mead but not his Cherry Bzzz which was so veeeery good, smooth and NOT cherry-centric. Bruce has the most unique tap handles of anyone and he’s just one of hundreds who have taken their passion for brewing or vinting to the business level…expanding when able and making fans at festivals and giving beer hounds reason to go every chance we get.

Special praise has to go to Sam Porter and wife Abby and Ray Minervini and all the volunteers who made this the best festival ever!