Cheers to Michigan Winter Beer Fest ’12!

I had the luxury of attending Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Fest this past weekend. I wish I could summarize the entire day in a sentence or two, but you know me, I’m a long-winded fool who loves her beer. Hopefully by the end of my recap of the Michigan Winter Beer Fest, you will be set to purchase tickets for next year’s Winter Beer Fest the day they go on sale. 
No, really, you totally should. 
This year, Winter Beer Fest tickets sold out in a matter of days — less than 2 weeks. 
Over 6,000 people gathered at this year’s Winter Beer Fest, and I definitely felt the large crowd at capacity, especially compared to last year. Last year was awesome, but there seemed to be more energy surrounding this year’s Winter Beer Fest. 
I wish I could’ve bottled that energy — it was infectious! 
I did manage to snag some fun pictures, both physically & mentally. Well, my cousin-in-law managed to snap more physical pictures (thanks, Mark!!) than me. Hey, you try balancing a beer, a phone or camera, and tokens while standing… try eating while you’re at it! 
Being surrounded by fellow beer-lovers may sound like a drunken mess… but it wasn’t. This is a more mature crowd than you will find at college tailgates not that there’s anything wrong with a good college tailgate, but I’m sure you follow
This crowd loves & respects Michigan craft-beer! 
I’m not one for big crowds, but for some reason, the crowd this year made me so excited & giddy. I soaked in every minute and enjoyed every single beer I tasted this year. 
So let’s start at the very beginning… where the hubs & I stood in line for about 45 min waiting to get in.
Do you see the line forming behind us? I hear it stretched for nearly a mile at one point. It did move very fast though. They checked our IDs in line and stamped our hands. They only had to scan our tickets and hand us tokens and we were through the gate by 1:10p.
We managed to practically run into my cousins (who were lucky enthusiast members and got in an hour early — we’ll be doing that next year) Toni & Mark urged the hubs to run to taste one particular beer from Original Gravity before it ran out: 440 Pepper-Smoker Amber.
While the boys were off — my cousin Toni & I hit up Shorts for my first round. I tried the Woodmaster, because holy cow, the smell of all the campfires burning within the ballpark was overwhelming. I love the smell of a campfire in the snow. Woodmaster was a pretty good pour. Not my favorite though. My cousin had the Wintertime Fun Ale — which I think I enjoyed a little more than the Woodmaster.
Honestly, being the organized-dork I am, I had a full list of beers I wanted to try on Saturday, but I never looked at the list. I had intentions to tweet out some favorites to my lovely followers who couldn’t join in on the fun, but I didn’t want to miss something because my nose was in my phone.
I was just so happy to be there. 
Somewhat unrelated side-note: At one point, one random person offered me $150 for my owl-hat. I love that thing… but I asked if they had actually brought in $150 cash, and they said no. Bummer.
We met up with several people over the course of the day — had a great campfire meeting spot by the Bell’s booth. Worked out so well. 

But my big surprise of the day was discovering my favorite brewery at Winter Beer Fest…
Yes — I love going to the HopCat because they have an incredible beer selection. Usually takes the hubs & I awhile to actually choose what we want to drink because of the vast array of breweries they have on tap. But I rarely drink HopCat beer. In fact, I never drank a HopCat pour at the HopCat. But after stopping by the Founders booth for some KBS, the HopCat was a couple tables down, so we hit it up. Between 6 or 7 of us we pretty much tried them all. The Ginger-Slap was one of my favorites of the day, with a little spice, but a nice carmelly finish without being overwhelmingly sweet. But the Heavenly Hedgehog, Oil Rigger and Black Russian were all so good too, I could’ve hung out at HopCat’s table all day and been one happy pussycat. 
 But what fun would staying in one place be at Winter Beer Fest? So many brews to try, so little time! 
Honorable mentions: Dark Horse Winter Warmer (a little spicy and exploding with flavor), 
Bell’s Sweet Potato Stout (really, as good as it sounds)
VanderMill’s Totally Roasted AND Ginger Peach Ciders (yes, you can drink hard-cider at the beer fest too!)
And… from my hometown, Tri-City Brewing’s DragonSlayer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout & the Brownhoist Nut Brown.
Those are just the brews the hubs & I managed to highlight so we’d remember. 
I went through all of my tokens, and brought extra I had from the last beer fest… I have a few left, but I know I tasted more than 15. 
Did I mention there was music — because dancing off some of the beer, brats & pasties was super fun this year!
But by the time the 5 o’clock hour hit, Momma looked a little like this… 
And when I plopped my butt down for the first time in about 6ish hours into our designated driver’s car, cozied up next to the hubs, my body immediately crashed. I thankfully did not get sick… between the chill in the air, standing for that long, the energy of the day + really good/strong beer, I was probably lucky I only passed out. 
I’d do it all over in a heartbeat… and I will next year. 
Cheers to all of you who joined in on the fun, and to those of you who were there in spirit! 

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