Vivant takes over Cherry Street for annual WABF

GRAND RAPIDS — Now in its fourth year, Brewery Vivant’s Wood-Aged Beer Fest (WABF) has expanded on its popularity and notoriety.

Growing from an event held in the brewery’s outdoor seating, to its parking lot, to closing down the entire street, WABF was well attended and looked forward to by Grand Rapidians and visitor alike. “It’s like Christmas,” said Megan Smith, Monk Clubber and long-time Vivant fan. “[It’s] one of the best days of the year!”

Monk Clubbers rejoiced. The ‘VIP’ noon hour entry allowed the few (by comparative standards) mug club members to call dibs on the short lines and barrel aged brews. Entry began for everyone else at 1 p.m., and the tents quickly filled up.

At least 1,000 people crowded Cherry Street in front of the brewery. Attendance was capped at 3,000 — double what it was last year — and online sales sold out the day before the event, but were available at the door.

The $12 ticket included a collector’s tasting glass, two beer tokens and entry. A general light-heartedness and good spirits dominated the day, despite the cold and rainy weather.

“We’re just really excited to have everyone here, it’s our yearly bash. It’s a great day for barrel aged beers,” said Ben Darcie, Wandering Monk for Vivant. “Nowhere else — except maybe a [Michigan Brewers] Guild festival — will you get to taste this many barrel aged beers in one place, let alone from one brewery.

“This is really something completely unique and different than anything else that happens in the state all year long.”

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With 24 different barrel aged beers on tap, WABF really is like no other. The brewery offered new and unique offerings — spinoffs from taproom favorites as well as new beers.

Cask conditioned ales included Tree Bucket — a 9.3% ABV brew aged on brandy conditioned cherry wood and double dry hopped with Citra hops — and a Belgian Amber — aged on bourbon conditioned maple wood with maple syrup and a lot of cinnamon. Some of the stand outs included the Sourtude — Solitude oak-aged w/ pediococcus — and the so-popular-it’s-been-resurrected Wizard Burial Ground — a powerhouse Bourbon barrel aged at 10.6% ABV, which will be available in cans in December.

The Vivant kitchen also provided protein-rich options like giant turkey legs, brats, pulled pork sandwiches and the perennial favorite duck nachos.

“This is a fantastic crowd of people, there’s tons of great beer on tap. It’s a really great atmosphere and it’s a really fun time for everyone,” said Chris Bates, Assistant Manager at Vivant.

“I can’t say too much [about the future]. But hopefully soon you will be seeing us in some more markets and more places. We are looking forward to more great times and great beers to be had.”

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