Monday, August 22, 2011

Friends, Beer, and Food!

I just got back from the Michigan Homebrew Festival and had an amazing time! The organizers of the event are to be congratulated. The festival is in it's second year and really beginning to define itself as a must for craft beer drinkers and foodies alike. Despite some rough weather the entire event was a success. This year the festival doubled in size, filling up 50 campsites for the duration of the multiday festival.

The addition of the Friday Feast was perfect. Participants created a wide range of foods incorporating beer. There were excellent chili (shoutout to Shawn Richardson), gumbo (kudos to Lee, Kim, and the Cass crew), smoked salmon, pizzas, rabbit stew, pasta salads, and more. It was interesting that there seemed to be no dish done twice; there is a tremendous amount of creativity in the homebrewing community. Of Friday, Redwood Lodge generously donated some of the Mild they brewed with Lee Cruppenink. This beer will also be entered into the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) as a Pro-Am beer. I would not be surprised to see it medal.

However, Saturday still remains the heart of the festival. The Homebrew Festival serves as the host of the Michigan Beer Cup's awards ceremony. The rain whipped up something fierce but brewers are a hearty sort. As it poured down buckets, a member of the homebrew club I belong to, The Brewing Network, took home the highest honor. My buddy Nelson Gomoll hauled in Best of Show for his american pale ale! This is even a greater accomplishment considering the other 706 beers he was up against!

Saturday also features the various Michigan clubs pouring their beers. Several clubs set up booths of varying levels of sophistication. The Cass River Homebrewers took the People's Choice award for their efforts. The BN booth that we had was decidedly less complex, but beer came out of our taps nonetheless. We had beer donations from several homebrewers and it is much appreciated as we spread the word of the Brewing Network.

I was excited to pilot the beers that I have planned for Cranker's Brewery. I poured our Bulldog Red, our American Pale Ale (as of know un-named), and our Munich Helles. The beers were received well with many people asking for beers that others told them about and had many people returning for specific beers. I was able to pour my beers for some pro brewers, homebrewers, and judges that I have a lot of respect for. I am thankful for their honest and thorough feedback. I was actually pretty nervous pouring this year because a lot of people knew about the brewery and I wanted to impress with my beers. Overall it was a blast! A big thanks to Shawn, Nelson, Pat H, Ray, Raybeard, Phil, Jason, Isaac, Mrs. T, Pat C, Lee, Mike, Rachael, and Rockne!

Even when I am pro, I am going to commit to turn out some homebrew and keep pouring at future MI Homebrew Festivals. As always, the best thing about the festival was drinking good beer with good people!


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