It's that time of year again! The 2015 Winter Beer Fest kicks off this afternoon, and some tickets are still available. It is sold out tomorrow, so get there tonight if you can! - Katie
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Now in its 10th year, the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark still has expanded to two days: 3-7 p.m. today in addition to a sold out Saturday. This popular gathering of Michigan breweries and their faithful followers doesn't show signs of slowing with regulars returning and bringing their newly converted craft beer friends.
If you are headed out to brave the cold and sample some of the more than 1,000 beers available, here are five tips in a T-O-A-S-T to help you get the most out your time there.
T is for Turkey
State fairs aren't the only place to bring out your inner Flintstone. Shun the puny necklace of pretzels and cheese and head straight for the giant turkey legs. There isn't much middle ground when it comes to this meaty treat -- you either love them or hate them. But something about a few barrel-aged craft beer samples seems to heighten the flavor while lowering the embarrassment that should come with looking like a caveman.
O is for Observation
This is a chance for some quality people watching. This festival has become known for guests attending in some pretty strange attire (think giant chicken suit or Viking).
Selfies on smartphones are taken to a new level when joined by Where's Waldo or the Human Hops. High ABV's are the common scapegoat for those who actually just want to play dress up. But if that's you, God bless and go crazy. Free entertainment.
A is for Anniversary
Looking for a bonus reason to make a toast? The Michigan Brewers Guild is celebrating 10 years of the Winter Beer Festival. It has grown from 1,500 patrons meeting on Turner Street in Lansing to a brouhaha that will draw around 10,000 to sample more than 1,000 craft beers at Fifth Third Ballpark. This is the first year it has expanded to two days.
To the continued strength of the microbrew ... proost!
S is for Samples
Both rookies and veterans of this festival can make the mistake of only partaking of beers they already know and love. I wouldn't begrudge anyone the chance at a Founders KBS or other limited releases or one-offs. But if you squander all of those precious tokens (which should be protected by Gollum) on lagers and ales well-traveled, you may have missed the point.
Short story: Make some adventurous choices, Bilbo.
T is for Taxi
This is an annual reminder that if you're going to tip a few back, sit in the back. Make sure you have a sober designated driver in the form of a friend, cabbie or Uber driver.
Organizers suggest carpooling. Once again, GR Hopper will provide a shuttle service ($10 in advance) that will bring festival goers to and from the ballpark and downtown hotels.
Find more at mibeer.com.
Written by Todd Chance. Todd is the West Michigan Entertainment Concierge for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, Google Plus