Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Beer Fest Cheat Sheet: Ten Most Anticipated Beers

This Saturday marks the most breweries and most beers of any Winter Beer Fest ever: 17 more breweries than last year, with an astounding 792 beers to sample in one day. At this point only the most delusional of imbiber would even consider trying all of them, so it behooves us all to nail down a plan. Based on the list released by the always fantastic Mash, these are samples the Michigan Beer Blog is most excited to try:

(a note -- we realize a few of these are beers that can be had at the taproom of their respective establishment; in those cases, distance became a factor in our decision)

Brewery Ferment – Salted Caramel Stout

We wanted to put a list together that carried the best and brightest ideas without saddling anyone with too many high abv beers. Salted Caramel has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity recently, and ranks among my favorite balance of sweet and savory when it comes to dessert. Brewery Ferment has shown they know their way around a flavored stout, so we are very much anticipating this beer.

Brewery Vivant – Liam & Me – Wine Barrel aged Imperial Saison

It's difficult to just pick one of Brewery Vivant's impressive stable of aged beers; we chose the Imperial saison for its originality and as a gesture of encouragement. With so many whiskey aged stouts in attendance, we wanted to recognize alternate beers when we could.

Cranker's – The Merchant Belgian Ale with Black Lime and Orange Peel

While the description leaves a bit to the imagination (what kind of belgian ale, specifically), we've never been disappointed with Cranker's experimental ales. Many belgian styles lend themselves well to citrus infusions, and we hope this stands out as a refreshing winter choice.

Greenbush – Hipster Ketchup Sriracha Stout

I don't think I need to explain why this is on this list. When one of the top rated breweries in the country makes a stout flavored with every millenial's favorite condiment, you try it.

Griffin Claw –Sour Dough Sour Wheat Wine

Griffin Claw's stable this year has several very intriguing items, but my penchant for sours won out here.

Harmony Brewing – Capricorn Absinthe Chocolate Stout

In my off days I moonlight as a cocktail connoisseur, and the first thing you learn about absinthe is that it's practically impossible to incorporate absinthe into a cocktail successfully. Even the Sazerac, likely the world's most famous absinthe cocktail, uses not more than a few drops to impart that strong, herbal quality. So it is with a cautious optimism that this beer makes the list.

Rockford Brewing Company / New Holland Winter Rye

Rye ales have been growing in popularity, slowly supplanting the seemingly untouchable IPA market. I'm interested to see how the typically spicy grain plays in a winter white genre.

Short's Bourbon Carrot Cake

Either the person who writes the descriptions for Short's beer got lazy, or this beer (called “stupid good” on the list) really is worth the name.

The Livery – Grand Reserve Verchuosity Sour Belgian


I usually have one Livery beer on this list every year. I am always amazed at the tastes this brewery gets out of their sours. Questionable spelling aside, this rare selection should be worth the wait in line.   

These beers represent only a shade over 1% of the beers available! With the plethora of choices, we obviously left off your favorite.  Let us know which beer we slighted in the comments.

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