by Bri Kilroy | photography by Two Eagles Marcus
February ignites fluttering hearts across the city with the presence of Valentine’s Day and every event description laced with “the perfect activity to share with your sweetie!” While what we give our hearts to varies, a love for beer inarguably is shared among every proud Beer City native. The 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival brings the chance to take your beer-lationship to the next level by filling Fifth Third Ballpark’s parking lot with over 120 Michigan-based brewery booths and inviting ages 21 and over to flirt with 1,000 different craft beers brewing in Michigan.
The Winter Beer Festival originally took place in Lansing before moving its location to Fifth Third Ballpark in order to accommodate the increasing number of attendees and breweries participating. The once one-day festival became so popular it expanded to two days in 2015, but that doesn’t stop what has now become an annual predicament of Saturday tickets selling out almost instantly.
The Festival takes over Fifth Third Ballpark’s northeast parking lot and showcases what’s brewing beyond GR city limits, with breweries coming from all over Michigan including the upper peninsula. It is hard to stop yourself from decamping your vehicle when making your way to the public parking area when you see the arrays of brewery tents beyond the entrance fence, but rest assured there is plenty of beer to go around and plenty of parking in the southwest parking lot near the ballpark and Park & Ride lot across West River Drive. In the event that your love for beer wins over your ability to drive, overnight parking is permitted but all cars must be out of the lot Sunday, Feb. 25 by 3 p.m.
Scheduled for the final Friday and Saturday of February, the Winter Beer Festival takes place eight days into Beer Month GR (Feb. 15-March 15), a phenomenon created by Experience Grand Rapids coinciding with their annual Cool Brews. Hot Eats. The culinary event that dishes an opportunity to chew your brews challenges local chefs to create beer-infused plates, adding new menu items to our favorite restaurants in Grand Rapids. Experience GR connects you to the festival by offering $10 round trip shuttle transportation from 12 area hotels. Save yourself the drive and schedule a ride by clicking the Shuttle to Winter Beer Festival link on the left side of BeerMonthGR.com’s homepage where you can also review restaurant menus, hotel packages, information on becoming a Beer City Brewsader and additional beer events tappening all over the city.
Top February off with the delight of experiencing the best craft beers Michigan has to offer, enjoying live music and entertainment, pacing yourself with eats from on-site food vendors and having a drink with the community at the 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival. Friday tickets are still available at Mibeer.com/winter-festival and each ticket comes with 15 tokens to exchange for samples. Additional tokens can be purchased at the festival for $0.50 each. Purchase your ticket, make sure you dress warm and join the cele-beer-tion of brews!
Plus, Grand Rapids, it’s “the perfect activity to share with your sweetie.”
What: 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival
Where: Fifth Third Ballpark, 4500 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday February 23 (tickets available), and 1-6 p.m. Saturday February 24 (sold out)
Cost: $45 at Mibeer.com/winter-festival in advance. $50 at the door (if available).