5 Lessons from the MI Beer Community

Wait, we can learn from the Michigan Beer community?
Yes, I’m serious… and sober.

Shocking, I know. 

Even before Grand Rapids won the Beer City, USA title last year, I have witnessed some pretty incredible lessons from this beer-loving community.

Family is Important.
It’s rare to go into a brewery with my kids for lunch or dinner and get the stink-eye anymore — because we’re not the only ones toting kids! Breweries offering high-chairs, kid’s meals and kid-friendly cups are becoming more common.

Families aren’t going to breweries to get drunk; we love savoring good beer, we love having the opportunity to share the experience with our kids. We’ve even taken our kids on tours! I’ve also noticed an influx of baby-pictures posted on brewery FB pages, such as “Help welcome the newest member of the Dark Horse family – brewer XYZ just had a baby girl!” Gone are the days where having a baby meant “Nice knowing ya, man.

Lesson: Life [in the brewery] doesn’t end when Parenthood begins. 

No Room for Envy.
Grand Rapids may hold the Beer City, USA title, but the entire state seems to celebrate with us. You may find brewers from Harmony, for example, hanging out at Shorts and other breweries across the state — enjoying a brew with new friends and old. When a new brewery pops up in a Michigan community, surrounding bars and breweries rally around their grand opening. Beer collaborations between breweries are becoming more popular as well as tap-takeovers. Being able to have access to a variety of limited Founders’ releases on tap in a random restaurant in Ann Arbor, for example, is another reason the Beer City, USA title goes beyond Grand Rapids.

Passion may be the driving force behind the 100+ breweries in Michigan, but I don’t necessarily sense a fierce level of competition between breweries.

Lesson: Respect and love thy [beer-loving] neighbor. 

Everyone is unique.
I have a difficult time choosing my favorite brewery, let alone my favorite beer. The Michigan beer community realizes that choosing a favorite is impossible, and embraces the vast variety of choices available. Just attend any Michigan Brewer’s Guild Festival. I don’t know any attendee that will park themselves at one solitary brewery for the entire festival. Everyone who attends, down to the brewers are excited to have access to so many options. This is another excellent example of the non-competitive spirit the Michigan beer community adopts.

This community also believes there’s a beer out there for everyone. You may not enjoy IPAs, but how about a bourbon-barrel aged beer, a fruit infused beer, a scotch-ale… need I go on? Beer lovers respect that every individual is an individual with different tastes. We may celebrate an IPA day, and a Stout Day, for example, but we don’t look down on you if you don’t enjoy a particular variety of beer.

Lesson: Celebrate each other, don’t segregate. 

Great Water = Great Beer. 
After living in Tucson for 3 years and wanting to vomit after tasting desert-city water… I moved to Grand Rapids and happily drank the tap-water like it was LIQUID GOLD.

Pop quiz: What’s the main ingredient in beer? Hops? Malt? What is Water for $2000, Alex?

That’s right. There are a slew of breweries participating in a Clean Water initiative, to protect our gorgeous Great Lakes, that are just as great as the name states. Knowing just how vital good, clean water is to the brewing process has led many breweries surrounding the Great Lakes (yes, this goes beyond Michigan!) to sign on. Yet another reason this community of beer lovers is pretty damn amazing.

Lesson: Don’t take for granted the amazing natural beauty that surrounds you.

Responsibility Matters. 
Let’s face it, delicious Michigan craft beer can come with very high alcohol price-tag. Many of us beer-lovers savor and sip our beloved double and triple IPAs… we’re not playing drinking games with these precious brews. But… there’s always that guy or girl that goes a little too far and has one too many. And yes, I have been that girl before. But, I don’t drive, I just puke. 

If you have had the pleasure of attending any of the Michigan beer festivals, you will find a “Blow Before You Go” tent where you can have your breath checked if you are considering driving home. They offer resources for local cab-companies right in the tent as well. Also noteworthy? The $5 Designated Driver ticket available at every beer festival. Call your favorite pregnant pal and get them on board! HA!

Lesson: Know your body and respect your limits.

So there you have it. 5 awesome lessons from the beautiful array of people that make up the Michigan Beer Community. Did I miss anything you’ve learned from your favorite craft beer lover? Let me know in the comments.


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  1. Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Excellent points all!!! The other nice thing about many brewery’s being more family friendly then you expect is that the noise level, while comfortable for a conversation at most places, is normally higher than a restaurant. Our little guy handles restaurant etiquette really well but that little bit of extra atmospheric white noise takes some of the pressure off me to make sure that is the case.

    • Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Valerie — you make SUCH a great point. My kids do love going to breweries, but I think an overlooked reason we all enjoy it so much is because that pressure to be a “perfectly happy, well-behaved family” is off. Noisy breweries FTW!

  2. Posted May 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I agree! I have taken my babies to brewpubs, enjoyed a pint while nursing (yes, yes, I have done a lot of research) and now I regularly take my slightly bigger offspring to brewpubs and ply them with crayons and cups of lemonade with lids and straws to keep them busy. I think the casual, and somewhat irreverent vibe of most places goes well with kids’ casual and somewhat irreverent behavior! Besides when *I* have a beer, I’m so much more tolerant of their behavior, that it ends up being a more pleasant experience for us all. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid kid-magnets like McDonalds, in favor of, oh, say Mackinaw City Brewing, where they enjoyed chocolate milk and chicken tenders that actually resembled chicken, and I had a pint and a burger (that actually resembled a burger!)

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  • By Michigan Craft Beer Gala! on July 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    […] Happy Craft Beer Month! What have you done to celebrate? Visiting a brewery, brew-pub or a tap-takeover is a fun way to celebrate, in my humble opinion. I’ve splurged a little this month, visiting MittenBrewing, Big Bob’s & attended a Perrin Takeover; I have been enjoying sampling delicious craft beer & chatting with the owners/brewers. I love how friendly & open the craft-beer community is here in Michigan. […]

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