What is this madness? Life is stirring at thisweekinbeer.com.  We couldn’t stay down forever, and the perfect time to re-emerge from the shadows presented itself in the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival.  So we got our warm clothes together and stuffed hand warmers into our gloves and made our way to Grand Rapids.  There we got a taste of some great beers from around the state, one of which (also one of my favorites from the festival) came from The Livery.  Here is my cryptic review of their Belgian Dark Trippel. Continue reading

Beer and government, what’s the connection? We’ve all heard the media and lawmakers crying for small business owners to step up and create jobs. To create jobs you must make a product that the consumers want and oh boy do the consumers want craft beer. Craft beer is the fastest growing segment in alcohol sales in the United States and as so the breweries that make the beer are some of the fast growing small businesses.

During the mid-90’s regulations against small breweries were lifted and breweries started popping up throughout Michigan. Now we are entering two decades of brewing in our state and these 80+ small business owners and legislators are working together to further grow this industry. But it’s still young and the laws on the books are somewhat out of date and need tweaking to facilitate a climate that keeps this business steaming forward. We are also running into issues that we didn’t have before because these businesses didn’t exist.

Right now one entity can only own a certain number of breweries. Only have a minimal number of offshoot pubs. The tax bracket for brewpubs (don’t distribute) and microbreweries (do distribute) are different and can those tax amounts change to promote more growth. Also at what point does a microbrewery grow beyond its tax bracket?

Meeting with legislators in Lansing, the brewery owners found themselves being warmly welcomed by both the House of Representatives and Senate. With both honoring the industry by declaring the month of July “Michigan Craft Beer Month” for the fourth year in a row. This symbolizes the attention and admiration that our legislature has for these trailblazers and former home brewers turned dreamers turned businessmen and women.

Most of the breweries in Michigan are expanding in physical size, staffing and reach throughout the rest of the country. Creating more jobs in brewing beer, selling beer and giving the consumer an enjoyable and tasty way of supporting local Michigan made products. More restaurants are seeing the potential of serving Michigan made beer. Even seeing customers asking for Michigan beer. There are a few, and hopefully more on the way, restaurants that offer multiple Michigan beers on tap and/or in the bottle.

1 in 10 Michiganders work in the restaurant industry and this industry supports our tourism industry and a growing part of that tourism industry is… visiting our now over 80 different breweries. See the cycle? There are a rumored 20 more breweries to open in Michigan within the next year. Adding those breweries in might move Michigan from 5th in number of breweries per state to 3rd or 4th. With that growth comes jobs, comes more tourism, comes more tax revenue and a new industry that all Michiganders can stand behind and proud of.

With all of this growth there is still room to grow. In Michigan craft beer sales only make up around 2% of total beer sold, while in Oregon craft beer is at 28% and growing. So help your local and state economy, grab a Michigan brewed beer, visit www.michiganbrewersguild.org to find out where the breweries are and go on a brewery tour, and please every time you’re out having a beer ask “What Michigan beer do you have?”

Short's Ski BoothBrewers Guild Summer Beer Festival
Ypsilanti, MI Paul Stewart

Mother Nature was the first one there and the last one to leave. The Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival is a two-day celebration of beer and the love of beer. It was a beautiful weekend in the middle of July in which it rained really hard just before the gates opened on Friday the 22nd. Then cleared up and turned into a great weekend until about 2 minutes before the end on Saturday when the heavens opened again and baptized the event’s good times. And I for one thought it was amazing, every minute of it.
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Michigan does not suffer from a lack of breweries.  Living in the Lansing are, I am about a.5 hours away from more than a dozen great breweries.  Unfortunatly, not everyone is so lucky, especially our friends from north of the Mackinaw Bridge.  But just because they don’t have the concentration of great breweries we enjoy down here, does not mean that they are out of luck for getting great beers.  In fact they get to play host to one of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals.

On September 10th, in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park MBG will be holding its 3rd annual U.P. Fall Beer Fest.  The festival starts at 1PM (noon for Guild Enthusiast members) and runs until 6pm.  Hopefully enough time to samplesome of the more than 200 different local beers that will be available.  So if you live up north and couldn’t make the trek down to any of the other festivals, or live under the bridge and want to make a journey northward, I recommend you check it out.

More information and full press release after the break

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I’m glad you asked, because I didn’t know either.  But a quick look at the wikipedia page tells me two things, first, that “Kombuchais a is an effervescent tea-based beverage that is often drunk for its health benefits or medicinal purposes,” and second, that the Image they choose is downright frightening.  Why am I talking about this strange and intriguing beverage?  Because Michigan’s own Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea has created a Kombucha Beer.  And if that isn’t exciting enough, it will be available at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beerfest in Ypsilanti this coming weekend.  I will tell you this, I am very excited to give this a try.  If you’d like some more information, I have the full Press Release after the break.

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I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacation.  I know we are here.  I just wanted to drop in to let everyone know that we will be returning next week with more great videos from everyone here.  I also wanted to note one minor update. If you still haven’t registered for a thisweekinbeer account, you can now log in using your facebook profile.  No password to remember and you can still comment and participate in all of the groups.


So keep enjoying the season and all of the beers that go with it.  I know I will be looking for a fine Belgian Wheat, or maybe some kind of Farmhouse.  There are too many to choose just one, I will have to try them all.  What is your favorite summer beer?

Good news, beer exists and is delicious.  Bad news, my computer suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure and have lost everything relevant to This Week in Beer.  So, I am going to be spending some time rebuilding  the visuals and recording new episodes for you all.  Oh, and I guess some more good news, we are adding a new host.  Now you will be hearing some style-specific reviews using big pretentious words that you’ve probably never heard before from our new pint-sized reviewer, The Hopster.  So look forward to that next week, and wish me luck trying to save _anything_ from this hard drive.

I know I said that I was going to try to upload more videos last week in order to get the winter beerfest content all online, but you may have noticed that I didn’t get around to that.  No, what I got instead last week was “Surprise Appendicitis!” followed immediately by “Bonus Emergency Surgery!” (it sounds much more exciting when I say it like that).  Soooo, many appologie and I will really try to get all of the beerfest videos up in the next week.  I’m looking forward to getting to a new feature soon too, Beer Gadgets! (we are suckers for gadgets here).  But before I get too far ahead of myself, the real reason you are here is for the beer.  which is a wonderful coincidence because that is why we are here too.  So speaking of beer, here is Paul’s review of the Collababiere from Jolly Pumpkin Continue reading

Clean Beer? You “clean” a fish and wash your vegetables, but how clean is the draft beer you drink?

In the words of Brian Wiggs, Dark Horse Brewing Co. Marshall, MI, “Brewing is 10% chemistry and 90% janitorial”. This statement will ring true for any brewer whether they are a homebrewer or Brewmaster. Keeping your equipment and brewing space clean is the first thing you learn. If you’ve ever taken a brewery tour you’ll notice how amazingly clean and tidy the brew house is. Gary S. Nicholas, Quality Assurance & Control with Bell’s Brewery, Inc Kalamazoo, MI spoke about what the kegs at Bell’s are in store for when they make it to the brewery: “They go through a multi-step cleaning & sanitizing process prior to each fill. We also conduct additional pre-cleaning for kegs that have been out in the market for unusually long periods. We go one step further, slowly cycling through our entire keg inventory and completely disassembling the keg spear valve assemblies, replacing worn parts, and visually inspecting the interior….any kegs that fail a cleaning/filling cycle are set aside for detailed inspection.” What needs to be cleaned out of these kegs? “Typically, you’ll see infiltration of a wide variety of aerobic microorganisms (acetic acid-producing bacteria, wild yeasts, etc.) and anaerobes(A type of bacterium that does not require air or oxygen to live). Over time, these will form a bio-film, a mass of slime that is very resistant to simple flushing techniques.”: said Nicholas.

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