Fall has arrived in Michigan and was ushered in at the Detroit Fall Beer Festival
The changing of seasons means one thing – it is time for another beer festival! The Michigan Brewers Guild held their 9th annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival this past Friday and Saturday at Detroit’s historic Eastern Market. Despite the cold and the rain, thousands of Michigan craft beer lovers turned out to sample over 800 beers offered by over 115 breweries. We did our best to sample a “reasonable amount” and bring you our favorites.
The Top 10:
10. Apple Pie Whole – Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City
Long a fan of Cherry Pie Whole (which was also on tap at the festival) Apple Pie Whole was suited for the cold and rainy weather. It was reminiscent of apple pie and soothing in a beer meets Michigan fall kind of way.
9. Kick Out the Jam – Arbor Brewing Company, Ann Arbor
Kick Out the Jam is a strawberry kettle sour brewed by the popular Arbor Brewing Company. We, perhaps, had not been paying enough attention to the hidden gem that is an ABC sour. This article originally stated that ABC was new to sours but, in fact, they are not! They were actually the first brewery in Michigan to implement a sour beer program back in 2002. Most of their sours can be found at the brewpub in downtown Ann Arbor, however the microbrewery in neighboring Ypsilanti usually has at least one on tap. ABC is now on our radar and we will paying closer attention to them in the future!
8. Erraticus 12 – Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire
Technically, Erraticus belongs to the Starcut Ciders branch of Short’s Brewing Company and may be some of the most delicious cider we have ever had. Erraticus is a wild cider series and is only available at the pub in Bellaire and at select events. If you make your way up to Bellaire, do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle – or five – you won’t be disappointed.
7. The Thompson Plum Gose – Ascension Brewing Company, Novi
We first tried Ascension at the Summer Beer Festival where we fell in love with the Raspberry Lemonade Gose and The Thompson Plum Gose did not disappoint. It wasn’t overly tart and the sweet plum was the star. The only disappointment we had was that Ascension didn’t bring more beers for us to try.
6. Bramble on Rose – Ore Dock Brewing Company, Marquette
Bramble on Rose is a raspberry golden strong ale and easily one of the prettier beers we tried. It’s soft mauve color is the perfect contrast to the 8.4% abv kick! It’s very smooth for being so strong and it is very raspberry forward without being overly tart. Ore Dock is a gem and I am so glad they make it down for the festivals.
5. Boss Tweed – Old Nation Brewing Company, Williamston
Boss Tweed, a double IPA, was definitely hoppy but still very smooth and drinkable. I say this as (gasp) a non-hop lover! Boss Tweed is a NEIPA similar to it’s breakout star cousin M-43, but a lot more “juicy” and “citrusy”. Both ales are part of Old Nation’s New Orthodox IPA Series and both must be tried.
4. L’Epouventail Noir – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter
L’Epouventail Noir is a spelt saison brewed with pumpkin and blackberry and translates to “the black scarecrow”. How do you get more autumn than that? The blackberry was more pronounced than the pumpkin making this an extremely refreshing beer and one of our recent favorites from Jolly Pumpkin.
3. Princess Peach Unicorn Fairy Glitter Sparkle Queen – Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Grand Rapids
Say that 3 times fast. This sour beer tastes exactly like it sounds; sweet, crisp, slightly tart and fun to say! Grand Rapids Brewing Company is always exceptional – especially when it comes to brunch – and this was no exception. Princess Peach (as we like to call it) has given us another reason to make a Grand Rapids trip soon and see what else they have brewing.
2. Straight Forward – One Well Brewing Company, Kalamazoo
Straight Forward takes everything you think you know about hard cider and flips it on its head. Only one word can describe this cider – AMAZING. Straight Forward is a cherry cider and, for just a minute, the rain vanished and it was summer in Northern Michigan. It was not overly sweet and sticky like ciders tend to be and I have to confess…I might have snuck back to get another.
1. Harvesting Beats – HOMES Brewery, Ann Arbor
Harvesting Beats is a kettle sour with orange peels and coriander aged on, you guessed it, beets. HOMES has been a go-to since they opened their doors and their venture into sours shows they don’t mess around! Harvesting Beats was refreshing with just a hint of sweetness and ample tartness. Hands down, Harvesting Beats and HOMES won our vote for best beer at the Detroit Fall Beer Festival.
The One That Got Away
Incipient with Sweet Cherries – Speciation Artisan Ales, Comstock Park
We were slow to make it to the back side of Shed 5 and, sadly, Speciation was out of this sour ale by the time we got there. Unfortunate in many ways as this area turned out to be the warmest and driest area of the festival.
The One That Never Was
Cabin Fever – New Holland Brewing, Grand Rapids
I wait all year for this brown ale to arrive. The best way to describe it is cozy. This is a seasonal beer for New Holland and usually arrives in November however, in years past, Cabin Fever made its way to the Detroit Fall Beer Festival. Fear not, Cabin Fever is now on shelves and will be in my fridge soon.
Now you want to go to a festival, right?
No worries! The 13th annual Winter Beer Festival will be held in Comstock Park on February 23rd and 24th, 2018. Tickets go on sale November 30th, 2017 at 10 am and can be purchased at www.mibeer.com/winter-festival. It may be cold (or not) – it is Michigan, after all. One thing is guaranteed though; the beer will be delicious!