The time is upon us for another Winter Beer Festival. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Winter Beer Festival just north of Grand Rapids put on by Michigan's Brewers Guild. The 2015 Winter Beer Festival features over 100 Michigan Breweries with over 1000 different craft beers. Along with the amazing selection of craft beers there will also be live music from local bands and a selection of tasty food.
This will be my first Winter Beer Festival and only my second beer festival overall. I have tried many times in the past 4-5 years to get a ticket to the Winter Beer Festival but to no avail. This year my buddy Frisk was kind enough to buy me my ticket. The anticipation for this event has been building inside me for the past couple of months. They recently released the beer list and I have to say, its a bit intimidating. With over 1000 craft beers to choose from, how to you narrow down the list to your top 5 or 6 beers? The beer list can be found here.
Talking to some veteran WBF attendees, I have gathered some useful information that I will put to the test Saturday. Tip number 1, bring snacks. The festival runs from 1pm to 6pm, they do have food available there, but they are cash only. Packing a pretzel necklace or some beef jerky is highly recommended. Tip number 2, make sure your shoes are water proof. It being winter time in Michigan, the snow is on the ground. Air temperature is at a balmy 0 degrees, so I don't the snow will not be melting, but my buddy says last year it got pretty muddy. I am calling it right now, if it is slick and muddy my drunk ass will fall down. Tip number 3, alternate water with your beers. Staying hydrated is a good idea if you want to make it through the entire festival and into the night. The last tip is pace yourself. With the admission ticket you get 15 drink tickets. This is were strategy comes into play.
When selecting the beers you have to remember this is a marathon not a sprint. At least that is the attitude that I am entering the event with. I don't want to hit the high ABVs first and fast. I want to spread the selection out and get a solid mix of stouts, barrel aged beers, IPAs, and the like.
Since I do not travel to Grand Rapids often I am taking this last tip very seriously. I would like to go out with my buddies in Grand Rapids after the festival. There is a slight chance that I will also be doing a podcast after the festival with my friends. The goal is to record some audio before the the festival and then when we are done record our thoughts about the festival.
If you guys happen to be at the festival feel free to tweet at me @BillsBeerReport to say hi and we can meet up for a beer.