Celebrating 20 Years of Michigan Craft Beer

Jul 10, 2017

This blog was published in 2017, but still has great information about the annual Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti! For this year's event dates, visit our events page


Hey, everyone! Riverside Park here. Just wanted to give you all a heads up that the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival is coming up, on July 21-22. Although I host plenty of great events throughout the summer – including ElvisFest and the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival – I really look forward to this one. Are you as excited as I am? (Photo Credit: Marty Dunham - Michigan Brewers Guild)

This year is something special because it’s the 20th anniversary both of the Festival and of the Guild. I’ve only been the location of the Festival since 2004 (my dear brother, Frog Island Park, hosted it for three years before that), but I’ve had a front row seat for a lot of the Michigan craft beer industry’s growth in the years I’ve welcomed our state’s oldest and largest beer festival.

For example, back at the 2010 Summer Beer Festival, there were “only” about 300 different Michigan brews to try. This year there will be around 1,200 beers, from more than 100 different breweries. And I expect to welcome as many as 12,000 of you beer lovers to the two-day event (please be gentle on my grass!). Compare that to just 600 attendees at the first-ever Summer Beer Festival, back when it was held in Livonia. (Photo Credit: Marty Dunham - Michigan Brewers Guild)

Statewide, my friends at the Guild say they have more than 240 brewery members now. When they started in 1997, there were only about 30 breweries throughout Michigan, so I’d say that’s some pretty darn impressive progress. (Photo Credit: Marty Dunham - Michigan Brewers Guild)

I’m pleased to have played a role in the remarkable and continuing story of Michigan’s craft beer industry, but there are many, many people who make the whole thing work. From the farmers who grow the hops and grains to the folks who process and package them to the brewers themselves to those who deliver the beer to local retailers, Michigan beer involves a great cast of proud characters.

And speaking of local retailers, the fun isn’t all contained just within my borders: There are plenty of pre- and post-Festival events at area establishments to keep the party going throughout Depot Town and beyond. Let me mention just a few.

Sidetrack Bar and Grill is hosting a Beer Fest Kickoff Party Thursday, July 20, beginning at 5pm, where they promise to bust out some “super secret beers” from their cellar. Also on Thursday night, the Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery plans a sour beer event that includes discounts for Michigan Brewers Guild Enthusiast members and free tours conducted by head brewer Jon Wagner. And on Friday, July 21, following the first session of the Festival, Cultivate is throwing a party featuring beers from up-and-coming breweries like Ellison, Drafting Table, Batch, Speciation, River’s Edge, and Witch’s Hat.

I can’t wait to see a few thousand of my good friends at the Summer Beer Festival. Hope you’ll be among them! I’ll save a nice green patch for you.

Tickets remain available for both Friday and Saturday of The 20th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, Friday and Saturday, July 21-22, 2017, Riverside Park, Ypsilanti. Visit the Guild’s website, mibeer.com, for more information and to get your ticket.

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