Jason Archer from Tiki Sam’s Pizza serves it right out of the oven to a customer at the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV News.
By Jeff Steers
(May 1, 2021 3:22 PM) Jackson County Fair Manager Denise Owens was telling anyone who would listen, “Don’t get used to this (weather).”
The 10th annual Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival was held Saturday in 60-degree weather at the American 1 Events Center at the James J. Keeley Park (formerly the Jackson County Fairgrounds).
The event continues to grow despite COVID-19 restriction due to the larger building at Keeley Park. Last year the festival was canceled due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
The annual beer festival was moved from March until May this year hoping for a chance to have a larger crowd, according to Owens.
“We are doing everything within restrictions,” Owens said. “Without the restrictions, we could have sold a lot more tickets.
“The festival has grown every year.”
This year’s festival was sold out with approximately 1,000 tickets sold.
The event featured more than 150 craft beers, ciders, and meads. There were also food vendors, a disc jockey, and an ice carver.
Ice Creations out of the Detroit area still created a logo for the event and had some additional ice left over. He used the extra ice to create a beer mug.
But not everyone there had product for taste testing.
Andrew Volk from Ogma Brewing Company was hoping to meet future customers.
“We are expected to open at 129 E. Michigan (downtown Jackson) in July,” Volk said. “People are always asking for updates so we thought it would be a good idea to be here.”
Volk said he expects the company to brew eight to 10 beers – including IPAs, a stout, and a lager beer. He said Ogma has already has 250 mug club members.
“It will be an intimate spot for about 50 people with room outdoors,” Volk said.
Kelly Bracey from Barred Rock Hops LLC said there are more uses to hops than just beer. She showed hop-infused oils, scrubs, seasoned salt, and therapeutic products made near Grass Lake at the festival.
“We call hops the cousin to cannabis,” Bracey said. “All of our products are handmade using organic products.”
A representative from Oliver’s Beer Biscuits said the company uses non-alcoholic grains to make dog biscuits. The company’s website says they use “upcycling ingredients, such as spent grains from local breweries to create the biscuits.”
“No, your dog won’t get drunk,” she said.
Dozens of volunteers help distribute the beer products at the annual festival.
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