|I'd prefer a liter|
In my pre-festival blog post, “Winter Beer Festival Advice,” I recommended visitors stash a bottle of bourbon in their pockets to survive the cold weather, long waits, and small pours. Is it our Dutch roots that make us fear beers big enough to feel? I’m typically after only one or two specific beers at these festivals, and I’d prefer to drink them out of a liter mug while seated at a picnic table, enjoying the drunken spectacle over a good chat with friends.
For repeat visitors and craft beer enthusiast (who’ve likely already sampled and purchased most of the beers), the festival should offer an alternative modeled after German beer gardens. Instead of tiny 3 oz. samples, why not two giant liter mugs of beer? For a $35 ticket, festivalgoers could choose between 12 samples, or 2 mugs of beer. Everyone wins when we cut down on the chaos caused by combining lines and drunk people. If brewers have low-volume, high-demand varieties, they can choose to not fill liter mugs. I’m willing to compromise here.
Maybe I’ve just been to too many of these festivals and the novelty has worn off. But I don’t think so. I still love the general atmosphere, and I take personal pride in supporting the Michigan beer industry. The festivals are a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and meet brewers face-to-face. This year, the snow globe-like environment was especially beautiful. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than drinking a Michigan beer -- a giant beer -- mixed with snowflakes.
As a final thought, Mark DeKlein of DeKlein Chestnuts showed up with a backpack full of venison jerky, which pretty well made my day. This year we nicknamed the festival “beef rest.” Next time we’ll have to forgo the #beefrest hashtag in favor of #deerrest. Venison, beer, snow, Pure Michigan.