COMSTOCK PARK, Mich.–Michiganders are used to the cold and snow, but many could agree one thing really brought out the crowds this weekend. Thousands enjoyed locally made brews at the Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ball Park. Some people believe Michigan-made beer is putting the state back on the map.
“To see people enjoying craft beer to this level is pretty intense,” said Jason Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant. Spaulding said he could not get over the excitement.
“Only in Michigan can you have a festival in the middle of winter,” he said. “Kind of a winter protest, but everyone loves it. People from Indiana, New York. They come from all over to drink Michigan beer.”
“Our niece came here from West Virginia and she said this was the best outdoor experience she’s ever had in her life,” said attendee, Mark Belrose. “That tells you something.”
A line an hour and a half long couldn’t keep Belrose from sampling some of his favorites.
“I like the heavy stout beers.”
Belrose came prepared, wearing a necklace made of pretzels and cheese.
“It’s like overkill,” he admitted. “We decided we made them too big. Little bit of sausage and cheese, most of the sausage and cheese is gone.”
From the look of the response, it seemed evident that Michigan-made craft beer attracts the crowds. In fact, Kathy Eucker is turning her love of beer into a business, growing her own hops in Delton.
“This is a growing industry in Michigan and its going to help bring Michigan back,” she said. “It gives us more things to come to Michigan for.”
The Rockford Brewing Company and the Grand Rapids Brewing Company are some of the newest breweries to open their doors in West Michigan. Founder’s also recently announced a $26 million expansion.