If you're in the market for an eclectic sampling of Michigan craft beers, mark your calendar for the 12th Annual Winter Beer Festival where you can taste about 1,000 beers from more than 100 breweries and brewpubs in the Mitten State.

Sponsored by Michigan Brewers Guild, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Winter Beer Festival is the premiere opportunity in West Michigan to enjoy some of your favorite brews, while also expanding your craft beer palate.

Grand Rapids Winter Beer Festival Crowd Shot
Photo by Marty Dunham, Michigan Brewers Guild

 

The Details

The 12th Annual Winter Beer Festival will take place at Fifth Third Ballpark, located in Comstock Park, on Friday, February 24, from 5PM-9PM and Saturday, February 25, from 1PM-6PM

Saturday is currently sold out, but tickets are still available to purchase for Friday. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the gate (if available), and they can be purchased in-person at Fifth Third Ballpark or online via Eventbrite.

(Note: Once online tickets are sold out, no additional tickets will be released. There is no guarantee of ticket availability at the gate the day of.)

Each guest ticket comes with 15 tasting tokens, which attendees can exchange for 3-oz. samples of almost 1,000 different craft beers. Additional tokens will be available for purchase for 50 cents each during the festival.

As a special perk, Michigan Brewers Guild Enthusiast members will be invited to enter the festival one hour early at 4PM on Friday and noon on Saturday. Memberships can be purchased online from the Michigan Brewers Guild web store.

A Toast at Grand Rapid Winter Beer Festival
Photo courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

 

Food & Entertainment

Festival attendees will be able to enjoy music from local artists, including Big Dude Roo and The Concussions on Friday, and Fauxgrass and The Mainstays on Saturday, while sipping some of the best brews Michigan has to offer. Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield, local members of Food Network's "Ice Brigade," will also be on hand crafting ice sculptures while brew drinkers relax by numerous fire pits to stay warm by.

Winter Beer Festival Ice Sculpture
Photo by Marty Dunham, Michigan Brewers Guild

While necklaces laced with pretzels, cheese sticks, beef jerky and Funyuns are allowed (and strongly encouraged if for no other reason than to make a bold fashion statement), a selection of food options will also be available for purchase at the festival.

Winter Beer Festival Pretzel Necklace
Photo by Marty Dunham, Michigan Brewers Guild

 

Parking & Transportation

Free guest parking will be available in the lots surrounding Fifth Third Ballpark, and in overflow parking across the street. If you are staying in a local hotel, transportation won't be an issue for you. Experience Grand Rapids has partnered with GR Hopper to provide a shuttle service to and from 13 nearby hotels. Be sure to reserve your shuttle in advance for only $10 per person. Cheers to safety!

Newbie Survival Guide

For first-timers, the Winter Beer Festival experience can prove to be a bit daunting. To make the event more enjoyable and stress-free, here are a few tricks of the trade:

  • Pace yourself; The Winter Beer Festival is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Download the official app, BeerFestList in iTunes or in the Google Play Store to see the full beer list, event map and special tapings.
  • Learn the layout of the event and where the key breweries are going to be stationed ahead of time so you can be sure to sample the brews you don't want to miss.
  • This festival takes place outdoors in the elements, so dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Arrive early to secure a parking space and jump in line before it gets too long.
  • Join the conversation on social media with the official event hashtag #MiWBF17, as well as #MiBeer and #MiBeer20Years.
  • Look for the Winter Beer Festival's official event geofilter on Snapchat.
Pouring beer at Winter Beer Fest in Grand Rapids
Photo by Marty Dunham, Michigan Brewers Guild

 

Beer Month GR

The Winter Beer Festival conveniently takes place during Experience Grand Rapids' inaugural Beer Month GR, February 15-March 15. The month-long celebration of Beer City USA invites people to "Savor the Craft" by sampling the exceptional craft beer scene around the city.

There are multiple beer-related events taking place during Beer Month GR, including Cool Brews. Hot Eats., Founder Brewing Co.'s KBS Week, and no shortage of beer dinners and tap takeovers. Check out our essential guide to getting the most out of Beer Month GR, and join the conversation on social media by following Beer Month GR on Facebook and using the hashtag #BeerMonthGR.