The past few years I’ve been looking at the world through the lens of craft beer. Every trip is an excuse to explore the local scene, meet brewers and drinkers, bar tenders and shop owners. You can learn a lot about a culture through its beer.
But no place has called to me quite like Southwest Michigan. And judging by the sheer number of posts regarding the incredible rise of the area, it’s clear that this is more than a consistent boondongle for me — it’s a second home. With family in Grand Rapids, that’s quite literally the case. SW Michigan may be the most densely populated area in the states in terms of small breweries (is it?) — and their audiences are rabid for their product. And while the brewpubs might have an entirely local audience, Chicago remains the largest single market for many of these breweries that distribute. I’m happy to be a part of both.
This past year, I’ve captured my experiences at Greenbush, Arcadia, Dark Horse, Brewery Vivant, New Holland, Siciliano’s, and often many times over. So this year, I made my first trek to The Michigan Brewers’ Guild’s Winter Beer Festival to spend a little time with my northern bretheren (63 breweries!). And you’re about to see them in all their glory, in 32 degrees and snow outside of a minor league baseball stadium — having the time of their lives. From here on out, I’m going to let the pictures tell the story. Why? Because by the end of this, and 20+ pours, I consider myself an unreliable narrator. And the camera doesn’t lie, even when I’d like it to. Fair warning: get your scrolling finger ready.