Thursday, July 24, 2014

Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Beer Festival Top 20 List for this weekend!

Written by  Ben Darcie
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It's that time of year again, where one of the four Michigan Brewer's Guild festivals pulls beer lovers from all over the region for a massive Summer celebration of Michigan beer -this time to Riverside Park in Ypsilanti for the Summer Beer Festival!
The Guild is welcoming nearly 90 breweries and over 800 Michigan Beers to the park this weekend for sessions on Friday night and all day Saturday. This is one of two festivals that feature two day sessions, with the other being Detroit Fall Beer Fest at Eastern Market on October 24th.

I've been asked back to make a top 20 list for this year's Summerfest, and it was difficult. This is truly a unique beer list, with so many specialties, sours, and barrel aged brews, it was really tough to hack down my starting list to 20.

On how this list is compiled: I've spent a lot of time at festivals, and with every beer list release, I'm looking for unique and interesting beer that peaks my attention as a beer lover. You won't find KBS and Black Note on this list (even though they are going to be at the festival and are highly anticipated), nor will you find the familiars like Short's Bellaire Brown, New Holland Sundog, or 'blah blah' IPA – I'm looking for the unique, interesting and eye catchers that I, personally, want to check out.

Another note: This is just my opinion! I'm just a beer lover like you, and everyone's tastes are different. This is just a top 20 list of a guy who is passionate about all kinds of beer, and is looking for new, invigorating brew to try!

To show you how difficult it was to trim this list down, I've included my complete Runner's Up list. Usually I keep it to a few for that category, but I wanted you all to see how many unique and interesting beers caught my eye out of the phenomenal beer list for this festival. These were just the ones that popped out more than others, and if I included the list in it's entirety, it would be massive!

That being said, off we go! Here's my top 20 list, presented in no particular order:

  • Bell's – Roundhouse India Red Ale, Mercurial Ale: Belgian Single, Raspberry Wild One Sour
  • Greenbush – BA Series, PAIN Imperial Cream Stout, LTD Old Fashioned Ale
  • Brewery Vivant – The Cheetah Belgian Strong, Paris Barrel Aged Sour, ESCOFFIER Bretta Ale
  • Chelsea Alehouse – Garden Gate Sour: Naturally Soured in Bourbon Barrels
  • Grizzly Peak – Burton-Brussels Express: Wood-Aged English IPA
  • Darkhorse – Single Hop Crooked Tree Series, Barracuda Blueberry Session Pale
  • Fort Street Brewery – Farmhouse IPA, Oat Smoker: Stout w/ Cottonwood Smoked Barley
  • Arbor Microbrewery – Eik Zon: Sour IPA, Flambouyant Wild Sour Red
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Co – Philanthropist Barleywine, Saturday
  • Arcadia – Roggenberry, Blueberry Rye
  • Dragonmead – Reverend Fred's Oatmeal Stout, Sir William's Extra Special Bitter
  • Griffin Claw Brewing – Flying Buffalo Russian Imperial Stout, Undertow Black Currant Saison
  • Perrin BC – Wood Aged Series – Hopwood (DIPA), Stoutwood (Imperial Stout), Redwood (Imperial Red Ale), Quadwood (Belgian Quad)
  • Kuhnhenn - “Pure Michigan” Series: India Pale Lager & Michigan Steam Beer
  • Bastone – Oak & Reisling Saison – FRI @ 6, SAT @ 2
  • Arbor Brewpub – Largebeat Wheat DIPA, Sours for Algernon
  • Ore Dock BC – Brett Bound and Down: Bretta Witbier
  • Rockford BC – Unholy Belgian Tripel, Hot Chuck Ghost Pepper DIPA (Fri @7, Sat @ 2)
  • Sherwood BC – Daily Grind Kona Porter, Pink Elephant Double Oaked Strong Ale (SAT@1) and 25th
  • *Traffic Jam & Snug – Dinkelbier: German Style Spelt Beer
  • Witch's Hat BC – Barrel Aged Night Fury Imperial Stout Series: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Espresso, Cookies N' Cream, DragonTrax, Chocolate Mint Chip, Smoke N' Fury
  • Wolverine State BC – Carnivora Belgian India Pale Lager
  • Royal Oak Brewery – Devil's Blood Schwartzbier
  • Olde Peninsula Brewpub – B4W, Barrel Aged Barleywine
  • Short's BC – Steely Danzig Belgian Brown Cream Ale
  • Oddside Ales – El Dankerino Imperial IPA
  • Gravel Bottom Brewery – Trippy, Belgian Triple IPA
  • *B. Nektar – Mango Black Pepper Saison
  • Cranker's Brewery – Black Wings Espresso Vanilla Stout
  • Saugatuck BC – Bonfire Brown w/ Vanilla Beans, FERMENTA Collab Honey IPA
  • The Mitten Bc – Country Strong IPA, The Stretch Cream Ale w/ Orange (SAT@3)
  • Pike 51 BC – Pulp Friction Hefeweizen Fresh Citrus Shandy, FERMENTA Collab Belgian Vanilla Bean Stout
  • Gonzo's Bigdogg Brewing – Melons on a Blonde, Blonde Ale w/ Melon Hops
  • *Cotton Brewing Co – Maple Bacon Porter
  • *Boatyard – Lucie's Lullaby, Belgian Blonde w/ MI Strawberries & Rhubarb
  • Mountain Town Brewing Co – Dandelion Kolsch, Mystery Brews #1, #2 & #3
  • New Holland BC – Incorrigable Sour, Solar Coaster – MI Hopped Black Rye Ale collab w/ Rockford Brewing Co
  • Tri-City BC – Valentine Slayer, Giant Slayer Russian Imperial Stout in Valentine barrels
  • Motor City Brewing Works – Trois Cent Treize Biere De Garde
  • Atwater – Uber Ursa Imperial Pilsner
  • Our BC – Cursed Kettle Quad

* first year representation

There we have it, so much amazing beer to check out this weekend. This unique list combined with all the other fantastic beer being brought for the fest ensures a fantastic weekend full of great beer, food, friends and music!

I encourage everyone to make their own list, see what interests you personally and design a game plan! It's going to be an amazing time, and as of today, Thursday, there are still tickets on sale for FRIDAY'S session!

You can find tickets for the Friday session at at, and you can find the complete beer listing at

Cheers, and see you at the park – let's raise a glass to MICHIGAN BEER!

Ben Darcie

Ben Darcie

Ben Darcie has been homebrewing since 2006 and is currently the Brewery Representative for Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, MI. He also provides public and private Beer Education and is a Beer Writer for BeerAdvocate, I'm a Beer Hound and three other Michigan publications. He is also the founder of Experience Beer WM and the 9wk Grand Rapids Beer Tasting Class (est. 2010).