Winter Microbrew Fest provides "cultural medicine" to Northerners

During a time of year when the skies are grey and the temperatures are sub-zero, the Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival provides the reprieve so many need. The sixth rendition of this winter festival was held on Saturday and recreated the fun, vibrant and supportive atmosphere that Traverse City has become known for.
While similar to the Summer Microbrew & Music Festival also hosted by Porterhouse Productions, the winter version carries a different connotation, atmosphere and character.
“Winter has a different soul. Folks come out of hibernation and it is a much needed community-energizing cultural medicine for all,” said Sam Porter, owner of Porterhouse Productions.
This “cultural medicine” is light-hearted, energetic and inspiring. It contains more “up north” spirit and spunk. Over 50 breweries were present at the festival, most of which were Michigan based; a majority of the wide range of musical acts also come from Michigan.
Four tents were set up, each containing a different set of breweries and performers. Festival goers could also enjoy food from local food trucks on site, follow the rare brew tour and participate in a homebrewing contest.
“Education is at the front of the craft beer movement and we aim to specialize in building a diverse audience with the different genres of music and market that gathers and grows the market. Craft beer fans are intelligent, curious and ready to learn more about something they love,” said Porter.
Opportunities to learn more and experience something new were aplenty at the festival.The rare brew tour, for instance, created an excitement for new experimental brews. A new brew was tapped each half hour, which led to lines and “tap that keg” chants. And many of the rare beers — including a coffee infused Dragon’s Milk from New Holland — were gone in about 15 minutes.
Breweries large and small were present, which gave festival-goers a chance to find their favorite breweries, while also learning about newer breweries that are also doing amazing things. Short’s once again created their fun ski-bar and brought a wide range brews, including a bourbon-aged Evil Urges and Smugglin’ Plums, a dark stout with a surprisingly tart-fruit twist.
Northport Brewing, which opened less than a year ago, found the festival to be a great opportunity to bring its brews to a wider audience.
“We’ve had a long line all night. It’s been nonstop!” said co-owner Pamela Cain.
Brewery Ferment, another small brewery in the area, had festival goers excited about its unique brews. One of the only breweries in the area known for its sour beers, Ferment featured TC Black, a sour black cherry brew that was tart and refreshing. For those with a sweeter palate, they also had Fluffer Nutter, a stout brewed with marshmallows and peanuts.
While education about and experiencing the craft beer market may be at the forefront of the festival, this event also raises money for the local community. 100 percent of all alcohol net proceeds are donated to the festival’s partner non-profits. The Porterhouse team holds multiple events throughout the state each year, all of which help our state in numerous ways.
“It is a great pairing behind the celebration. We have hosted over 35 festivals in Michigan, including 14 Microbrew & Music Festivals, and raised over $100,000 for nonprofits,” said Porter.
Porter hopes to continue to expand the Porterhouse Production team as well at the Microbrew & Music Festivals, creating new and dynamic experiences along the way. The next brewfest will be the Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, a two-day event held in late August.
Follow Microbrew & Music Festival on Facebook for updates on future festivals.

Kaitlyn Rickman

Kaitlyn Rickman

A Northern Michigan native, Kaitlyn is passionate about all the region has to offer: food, festivals, untouched lakeshore and craft beer. With homebrews continuously rotating through her household and new small town breweries opening regularly, she loves to discover new twists on old favorites. In addition to writing for MittenBrew, Kaitlyn also recently became part of a beer podcast, Behind the Hops, and lives a separate life as a teacher.

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