Momma’s Guide to the Michigan Winter Beer Fest

Do you have tickets to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival here in Grand Rapids, MI? Congrats!! The MI Winter Beer Fest tickets sold out in record time this year: If you have a ticket, consider yourself very smart… and lucky. 

You are even luckier, because I have attended the Winter Beer Fest the last few years and can hold your hand, and maybe even share a toast with you there… aren’t you excited?! 

  • First step of preparation?
    Hangover prevention.

    I highly recommend revisiting my post on 11 Ways To Avoid A Hangover. Yes, there are many ways you can avoid hangovers. Do your best to drink plenty of water at least 24 hours before you catch a ride to the beer fest.
  • Transportation. There is alcohol-breath testing available at Winter Beer Fest, but… parking’s a bitch, and who really wants to drive after drinking 15 “samples” of beer? The Michigan Winter Beer Fest welcomes designated drivers for a $5 entrance fee. DDs will not receive tokens, so no beer, but the food, entertainment & general feeling of community makes it so fun, I do believe I’d attend as a DD if I was pregnant (which probably won’t be happening again in this lifetime, so I can empty-promise such things).
  • If you do not have a designated driver yet, I have other options for you:
  • What do I wear? 
    Whether you’re a guy or gal — this is a crucial step in the preparation process. One rule to always keep in mind:
    This is an outdoor event in the dead of winter.
     The guys typically outnumber the girls 5:1. Therefore, Winter Beer Fest is not much of a fashion show. Sorry to break it to ya fellas: we don’t dress for you, we dress for each other. Secret’s out! If you have an adorable coat you love, but isn’t very warm, keep it home. On the other hand, if you have an adorable, but warm hat — wear it!! With that in mind… 
    • Dress like you’re going skiing. Snowpants, boots, maybe even long-underwear. Waterproof ski-gloves or mittens make excellent beer-koozies! Waterproof is the key-word here. It may snow, it may be slushy, you may spill your beer… or take a spill on the ice or snow. Waterproof your body, and feel free to thank me in beer for saving you from frost-bite. 
    • Dress for the porta-jons. You will be drinking about 15 “tastes” of beer. You’ll need to use the porta-jons at some point during the day. Bibs may not be the best idea (unless you’re a dude) three pair of long underwear may also be an idea that blows up in your pants. Snowpants or fleece-lined jeans that are easy to pull on & off are ideal. 
    • Comfort is key, from head to toe. Like I said, this isn’t a fashion show. Just like that adorable coat you’ll be trading in for your ski-jacket, make sure your boots are waterproof and comfortable. Certain boots just aren’t made for standing in for long periods of time. You’ll generally be standing in line after line for beer, standing around a fire, standing in line to use the porta-jon, and likely standing while you eat as well. Keep that in mind when you choose your footwear. 
  • What will I drink?

    • There is an incredible beer list with new brews popping up daily on the Michigan Brewers Guild Blog.
    • Print out that beer list, note it into your smart-phone, or at least have a priority list of beers you absolutely MUST try and hit up that brewery first. The good beer will run out fast. 6,000 Beer enthusiasts. 700 Different beers. You do the math. I have been disappointed to have missed out on certain beers over the years. Trust me, a plan of attack is important. Some breweries are slating particular tapping times to encourage planning. There is a reason they release the beer list early. 
    • You will receive 15 tokens & a cup after your ID & tickets are validated. Most of the 3oz samples will cost you a token. 
    • There is something for everyone. If you’re not *gasp* a big beer drinker, there are ciders as well as a variety of sour & fruit-infused beer. But if you love chocolate or coffee, for example, try a few different stouts. Yes, stouts are dark and can feel intimidating when you’re used to drinking wine or… Miller Lite, but stouts are a yummy place to start… and Michigan Breweries produce a wide-array of delicious options! 

    • This is a good opportunity to expand your pallat. If you’re not a big hop-lover, but a particular IPA is a favorite of others, try it! Embrace & enjoy experimenting! I was a little nervous to try the Red Hot Shocker… but I was SO glad I did. 
  • OK — it’s Saturday — WINTER BEER FEST TIME!!
    What do I bring with me?

    • ID. They need to know you’re 21, and, ya know, legally allowed to drink beer. 
    • Ticket. This Festival has been sold out since the day the tickets went on sale. If you don’t bring your ticket, you will not get in.
    • Tokens. If you have been to a Michigan Beer Festival and have tokens left over, you can use them here. You will receive 15 tokens with a cup when you arrive. Each token will get you a 3oz sample. You can purchase more tokens for $0.50 each if you desire. 
    • Folding chairsThis is much different from the Summer Beer Fest, but chairs are welcome. There will be several firepits & heaters to gather your chairs around. 
    • Food, if desired. There is winter-friendly food available from vendors, like turkey-legs, pasties, brats, etc. But you can bring in your own food if you wish. 
    • Plastic-storage bag(s). Yes, I’m a Momma, so this is a total Mom-thing, but, placing your smart-phone in a plastic-bag = smart — especially if it snows. 
  • Miscellaneous… 
    • Pretzel Necklaces. Yes, this deserves a bullet-point all it’s own. If you are in line after line, drinking, talking, toasting, drinking, drinking… you’re going to need something to munch on.
      • String a few pretzels and/or funyons, donuts, life-savers, seriously, anything with a hole in it. And Voila! Pretzel necklace aka: hangover savior. 
      • Here’s the downside to Pretzel necklaces at the Winter Beer Fest: If it snows, your pretzels will turn into a soggy mess. You may not give a shit by the end of the festival, but… If you would like to make a pretzel necklace, keep that in mind and wear it on the inside of your jacket. Or toss it into that plastic-storage bag I mentioned earlier.
        You’re welcome. 
    • The Line.
      • The line to get into the festival will be long for the first hour or two after the festival opens at 1p. It moves fast. Just be patient. Have your ID handy because they will likely check it before you get to the front of the line. 
      • Check in with your smart-phone. If you tweet, the hashtag will be #WinterBeerFest or #MIWBF. 
      • If you’re an Enthusiast Member like me, you can skip the line and enter Winter Beer Fest at noon! Which… is about the same time the mile-long line forms, if not before. 
    • Water. 
      • Bring it. 
    • Kids. 
      • Leave them with a sitter. 
    • Sex. 
      • Good luck. 
I think that about covers it! 

If you have any questions about the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest, please feel free to shoot me out an email or tweet

If you’re attending the Winter Beer Fest this year — FIND ME! I am going to attempt to tweet where I am and what I’m enjoying this year. If it’s cold, my hands usually don’t allow me to use my iPhone, but I have goals to connect with you guys this year. I’ll even have some Momma Needs a Beer merch that’s easy to slip into your pocket if you find me. So find me! Toast me! Hug me! Beer me! 

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