Monday, August 22, 2011

3rd Annual Suds on the Shore

The 3rd annual Suds on the Shore Micro Brew Festival and Home Brew Competition is in the books and the weather couldn't have been nicer for a late summer's afternoon. The warm, clear sunny day saw a lineup of a wide variety of beer, wine, and cider arranged throughout the outdoor park-turned-beer garden.

The milder temperatures made the experience of drinking 4-oz samples of beer much more palatable than it could have been had the weather been in the mid-90 degree range as we've seen in recent weeks in Michigan. Trust me, I've been to beer festivals in the middle of the summer, on an asphalt parking lot ... it doesn't take long until you're ready to trade your beer glass in for a cup of water and a place to sit in the shade. Thankfully, though, the weather was kind and the beer (and wine and cider) was plentiful.

We poured beer for Arbor Brewing for the first half of the festival.

This year's event saw record attendance of about 900 people, which helped raise about $15,000 for the United Way of Mason County. The money raised will be distributed to local programs that are working with families to be financially stable, teaching people to have a healthy lifestyle and helping children to be successful. Drinking for charity -- what a beautiful concept.

One thing I really like about the smaller festivals like this one is that the atmosphere is so laid back.  When you're only competing against 900 people for samples instead of 9,000 like at the Summer Beer Fest in Ypsilanti, lines are pretty much non-existent, and may only grow to about three deep at their worst. So, if you left without attaining your preferred level of beer happiness, it was no one's fault but your own. 

No line at the Short's table? You don't see that at the Summer Beer Fest
The downside of a smaller beer festival: the beer lineup was extensive, but by no means exotic.  The three large white beer tents had mostly the mainstays from a lot of the bigger Michigan breweries, but for those that may just be getting into the craft beer scene or aren't able to travel to a lot of different breweries and festivals, it's a perfect opportunity to get acquainted with some brews you've never tried before. 

Saugatuck's Singapore IPA

I shouldn't complain. Sometimes it's nice to just sip on what you know and love all day long on a perfect August afternoon. The atmosphere was as laid back as could be. The brewery folks were amiable and happy to chat.  We enjoyed live music by C-Spin, followed by Zeek & Wally, and then finished the evening with Who's Jason.  When the hunger set in after all the furious beer sampling, there was plenty of grilled food being offered up by the Pour Souls homebrewers.  The Pour Souls also did live homebrewing demonstrations throughout the afternoon and were on hand to answer any homebrew queries festival-goers may have had. 

Homebrew demonstration

Oh, and did I mention I met two pirates?

Kudos to all of the sponsors and volunteers for making this event happen. We had even more fun this year than last year, and we know it'll be even bigger and better next year, and we're already looking forward to it. Mark your calendar for next year, Saturday, August 18, 2012.  You know we'll be there.

For more photos from this event, please visit our Facebook Page.

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