Toast to beer all year in 'The Great Beer State'

Jul 5, 2023

While July is Beer Month in Michigan, this is a place that celebrates beer year-round. With over 300 breweries across the state, Michigan earns its self-claimed moniker as the “The Great Beer State.” 

The Michigan Brewers Guild makes it easy to toast to these craft beverages with festivals for every season in every corner of the state, where dozens of breweries will be pouring their latest and greatest. When in town, enjoy nearby sightseeing and hop around to tap rooms big and small, getting the stories behind the brews.

U.P. Fall Beer Festival

Here's a sampling of what festivals are on tap from the Michigan Brewers Guild. 

Summertime sipping at the one that started them all 

Regarded as the "granddaddy" of the Guild's festivals, the Summer Beer Festival is celebrating its 24th anniversary July 21-22. It's located in Ypsilanti (or "Ypsi," if you're local) at the aptly named Riverside Park, about 40 miles southwest of Detroit. Enjoy a beautiful Midwest summer weekend by sampling some of the 100-plus freshly poured local brews while vibing to live music from Michigan bands.

Tickets start at $50 and include 15 sampling tokens (additional tokens can be purchased at the festival for 50 cents each). Designated driver tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at the festival. All attendees at the Guild’s festivals must be age 21 and over.

Attendees at one of the Michigan Brewers Guild's festivals 

When in town for the festivities, you'll want to check out the area's sights and craft beer scene. The Ypsi Alehouse is located just minutes from the festival site in a former historical hotel. Today the brewpub is serving up rotating small-batch brews, like a Michigan blueberry honey wheat called the Blue Racer and Isle Royale, an amber ale. 

Just 20 minutes northwest of Ypsilanti, you’ll find Ann Arbor (or A2 to locals), home of the University of Michigan. A full day here includes lunch at Zingerman’s Delicatessen (order online to skip the line), a walking tour amid the murals in the Creative District and a stroll through the Gothic buildings in the Law Quad. Football fans will make the detour just to marvel at the Wolverines’ 107,601-seat football stadium, affectionately dubbed “the Big House.”

From there, head to the HOMES Brewery, named in part as an homage to the handy acronym every Michigander uses to remember the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior). Their brewpub offers up a unique on-tap menu, including Embed, a Midwest IPA, and a foeder lager called Soaker Kolsch. 

Find fall festivities in either peninsula  

The 14th annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival will take place on September 9 at the Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. Sip on fresh pours and soak in the views of Lake Superior that serve as the scenic backdrop. Advance tickets start at $50 and are on sale now.

Marquette is the largest city in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and is a great base when exploring the area's nature activities like hiking, kayaking or searching for fall foliage (which typically peaks in late September). After a day of adventure, head downtown to The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery, located in a historical building overlooking the water. They're serving up regionally inspired menu items like their Yooper Red Ale (a nickname for residents of the UP) and ingredients from local fisheries. 

Also in its 14th year is the Detroit Fall Beer Festival, happening on October 28. This festival is held in Detroit’s Eastern Market, one of the oldest farmers markets in the nation. It was founded in 1841 and has been in its current location since 1891. Tickets start at $55 and go on sale on August 3. Detroit-area restaurants will have food available for purchase, and local musicians will be setting the soundtrack as you spend the afternoon sipping and sampling. 

Detroit Fall Beer Festival 

Make it a weekend and spend some time seeing more of the Motor City, like visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts; touring the Motown Museum, where you can see Berry Gordy's former apartment; and strolling along the Detroit RiverWalk, where you can look up to view the buildings that form the city's skyline and see Canada from across the water.

Walk by downtown landmarks like the Spirit of Detroit, Campus Martius Park, and the Tigers' baseball and Lions' football stadiums. Top it off with a stop at one of the city’s breweries, such as Detroit Beer Company—located across the street from the Detroit Opera House and serving up a rotating lineup of house beers.

Winter in West Michigan, home to the Beer City, USA

The Michigan Brewers Guild leaves no season out of the festivities. Pack your hats, scarves and warmest mittens for the annual Winter Beer Festival in February. It's located at the LCMU Ballpark in Comstock Park, a town just north of Grand Rapids. See ice sculptures, enjoy live music and cozy up with some porter and stout samples (ideal wintertime brews). 

Winter Beer Festival

While Michigan claims the title of "The Great Beer State," Grand Rapids has taken on the title of Beer City, USA after winning an online poll about a decade ago, and most recently took first place as Best Beer City in USA Today's Readers' Choice 2022. 

One of the best parts of Michigan's brewers' community is the seemingly endless list of local breweries, and Beer City, USA does not disappoint. Brewery Vivant is the world’s first LEED certified microbrewery that focuses on Belgian and French beer styles. They serve a menu of pub grub and rotating beers in a very unique space—a refurbished funeral home chapel. City Built Brewing Co. is located a couple miles north of downtown along the river. They "believe beer brings people together," and their taproom does just that, offering a selection of light, hop-forward and dark beer, along with a delicious food menu to match.

A bit farther north and across the river, you'll find the Mitten Brewing Company, a cleverly named establishment located in a former firehouse with a vintage baseball theme, including memorabilia-lined walls and menu items like their "Field of Greens" pizza.

Spring north for some session sampling

To round out the year, the Michigan Brewers Guild introduced the Spring Beer Festival in 2022. It's held in May at the Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City, a northern Michigan getaway destination. Expect to find mostly lighter beers at this spring sampling, though with over 400 beers available, there will be options for any taste.

Stick around and try the local flavors downtown, like the Silver Spruce Brewing Company's Cherry Sour or Right Brain Brewery's Cherry Bomb, a cream ale made with local cherries (the town is known for its cherry production, after all).

About a 10-minute drive from downtown Traverse City, Brewery Terra Firma sits on 10 acres. Its taproom has scenic outdoor seating and offers pint options like their Wicked Garden Honey Rye Beet Wheat, made with honey produced right on the farm—it's hard to get more local than that.

Ready to go? Start planning your trip to one of the Michigan Brewers Guilds' festivals and learn more about all the member breweries

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