Monday, June 17, 2013

BRU Fest 2013

We’ve reached the point in Michigan’s burgeoning relationship with craft beer that between Memorial Day and Labor day, it seems like there’s at least one festival every single weekend. Cities from Marquette to Monroe host Beer weeks in addition to the festivals held by microbreweries and municipalities alike. Few, however, have the three year pedigree of Royal Oak’s BRU Fest, and none can say that with every beer they serve, they help fight leukemia state-wide.

2013’s BRU fest shows that the planners can take a successful idea and improve upon it year after year. The food and beer sponsors for this event – Bell’s Beer, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bagger Dave’s, and Treat Dreams – provide all the food and beer as a donation to the event. This means that a much bigger portion of your 39 dollar ticket goes to help children. And the food sponsors did not disappoint!

For the four food tickets included in your purchase (that’s enough for way too much food by the way), you were able to sample from a collection of 4 delicious burgers courtesy of Bagger Dave’s, and six different types of boneless buffalo wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. After gorging yourself there, Treat Dreams had an ice cream sample area set up, where you could try two types of ice cream (both made with beer) topped with one of two types of topping (also both made with beer). We saw several savvy people add a scoop of salted caramel ice cream directly to their bourbon barrel stout, making an adult Beer Float, which is swiftly growing in popularity.

Bell’s provided all the beer for the event, and year after year they surprise and delight me with what they bring to BRU Fest. One of the consequences of so many beer festivals in Michigan is that invariably, breweries tend to preserve their rare, specialty, or sought after beers for either official Guild sponsored events or for their own breweries’ festivals. Bell’s treats BRU Fest with the respect it deserves, offering an astounding twenty one (21!) draft choices. They even had white wine available for those who are taking longer than normal to appreciate Michigan beer! I’ll post the list later, but I wanted to cover the biggest surprises on the list:

Bell’s Raspberry Ale: 2013 is certainly the year of the Raspberry. A huge number of Michigan breweries are trying new ideas in raspberry beer, with a few more dusting off old recipes. Finding Bell’s Raspberry Ale is relatively difficult for those not living close to their Kalamazoo taproom, and this effervescent, low alcohol fruit beer provides a subtle, natural raspberry flavor of a distinctly tart, almost Belgian-sour taste. Bell’s Raspberry cleverly avoids the risk of a candy sweet, cough syrup beer by playing on the raspberry’s tart characteristics. This beer is a fantastic summer beer (at 5% abv, it’s easy to drink), and the clear, ruby color gives an excellent impression.

Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9000: Feel free to correct me in the comments, but to my knowledge Batch 9000 was only brewed once, back in 2009. This is one of the highest rated beers in the world, especially after Bell’s lets it sit in bourbon barrels for months. At 15% abv, Bourbon Aged Batch 9000 is not something one should take lightly; in fact Laura and I split a taste of this rare beer. Unlike its competition (Black Note, KBS), the Bourbon Barrel batch 9000 does not run cloyingly sweet. The dominant aromatic and tasting notes trend toward raisin and prune, with a hazy hint of liquorice keeping the booze burn at bay. If you like your stouts incredibly complex, not too sweet, with a bit of anise flavor, this beer is something you should find.

Bell’s Quinannan Falls Special Lager: This ended up being my favorite beer offered at BRU Fest. Bell’s has dropped hopped a pale lager, resulting in a briskly refreshing beer that exhibits subtle notes of pine, citrus, bread, and a careful balance between bitter and sweet. If this was was macro lagers tasted like, we wouldn’t even have a craft beer market, because it’s the closest thing to a perfect lager I’ve ever had. There are two types of aftertaste; some beers literally linger inside your mouth and teeth, while others completely disappear once swallowed save for the pleasing aroma upon exhalation. Quinannan Falls performs in the second category, leaving your mouth refreshed and feeling slightly clean.

Here’s the list in its full glory:

Two Hearted
Lager of the Lakes
Third Coast Beer
Midwestern Pale Ale
Kalamazoo Stout
Porter, Amber
2011 Cherry Stout
Sparkling Ale
Black Note
Hell Hath No Fury
Roundhouse India Red Ale
Java Stout
Quinnanan Falls Special Lager
Sweet Potato Stout
Smoked Lager
Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9,000
Raspberry Ale
Special Double Cream Stout

Music was provided by an 80s tribute band from Detroit called the Square Pegz. And they killed it. The energy and skill and talent of the performers revved the crowd, got people dancing, and let everyone who remembers the 80s to relive more than a few childhood memories. 

Between the food, beer, music, and a sweet Hot Wheels edition Chevy Camaro to look at, the Children’s Leukemia Foundaiton has continued their streak of blending good deeds with great partners to create a superior festival. My compliments to the entire BRU Fest team, including President William Seklar, the sponsors of this fantastic event, and the patrons who make it a success, year after year!

To view the rest of our BRU Fest 2013 photos, please visit our Facebook page


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