2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival

The 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival was classic, from the Detroit bands to the beer enthusiasts relieved to finally be at Eastern Market enjoying beers from many of Michigan’s finest breweries.   

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The 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival

Our friend Amy Sherman published an insider’s guide to the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival, “Thousands to descend on Detroit for the fall beer fest,”  After reading it I said, “I wonder if I have the stamina to do ‘my very beer-fest-best’ and complete Amy’s beer list for the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival?” Chuck being the wise man that he is, didn’t say no and just agreed he thought it was a good idea to try. 

Wandering aimlessly, talking with friends, sampling beer randomly is my standard beer festival plan. This year it was like I had a treasure map with instructions for finding the buried treasure. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, like way out into the pumpkin patch. 

Pre Game

Amy’s tip about Bloody Mary’s at Vivio’s before the festival was an easy one to check off the list. We got there at 10:15 and there was plenty of seating but it was quickly filling up. 

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Burzurk Brewing 

Amy suggested 4 beers from Burzurk Brewing. Since Amy had a bunch of pumpkin beers on the list, I figured I better save my tokens and opted for just their Belgian Waffle Porter. Garry Boyd told Amy, “It contains over 20 pounds of actual Belgian waffles, coffee beans from a local roaster, vanilla bean, and maple syrup. It’s super balanced and you can taste every one of those flavors.” He was right. 

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Pumpkin Ales 

Well, friends, the wheels did fall off the bus towards the end of Amy’s very long pumpkin beer list. “Long live squash ales,” will not be carved into my gravestone but I do have a new appreciation for them. I rather enjoyed Great Baraboo’s Punkin Weizguy and Block Brewing’s Pumpkinhead. 

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One Well Brewing 

Midway through my squash ales binge, Chuck suggested I get some Wizard Potion from One Well. He thought it might clear my palate, plus it was on Amy’s list. 

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For context, I was wearing my OGMA Brewing sweatshirt. As I was approaching the table, the Wizard said are you involved with them, pointing to my chest. I looked down and had to think for a second to clear my head of the cobwebs left by the pumpkin beers. “No,” I said, “I’m involved with him” pointing over my shoulder at Chuck. My joke fell flat when I said it on Saturday too. 

After explaining what we knew about OGMA’s opening, we learned One Well is opening an arcade. I wanted to sing out, “He’s a pinball wizard, there has to be a twist. A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist.” I figured I’d used up all my attempts at being funny and should just keep that thought to myself. We thanked the Wizard for the delicious beer and moved on.  

Ellison Brewery and Spirits 

Amy recommended all the Gravity beers from Ellison Brewery and Spirits. I wasn’t sure if she meant we should try them all or you can’t go wrong with any of the Gravity beers. The 2018 Gravity Shift was my choice because they were pouring from the last keg in existence. I figured it was now or never. It’s a good thing I got the scoop from the source on the Gravity beers. 

Dragonmead Brewery  

Final Absolution, a killer Belgian Tripel, was Amy’s recommendation for closing out the beer festival. I’d just finished the 2018 Gravity Shift from Ellison and thought a 10% beer would not be in my best interest so picked the Belgian Orange Session at 5%. Amy was right, “Literally anything” from Dragonmead Brewery would be a perfect choice. 

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Amy had Supernatural Spirits & Brewing’s Paranormal Pilsner and Brewery Becker’s Entire Butt on her list but I’d gotten carried away with the pumpkin ales and lost track of time and tokens. 

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Archival Brewing 

Not on Amy’s list and new to us was Archival Brewing in Belmont. They specialize in historical-style beers, like Aegir’s Double – Sahit which they were pouring at the festival. We got a bit of a history lesson in addition to our sample. We are looking forward to visiting soon.  

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White Whale 

Like Amy predicted, “Then, a line for a whale beer you wanted to taste might just be too long and your glass too empty, so you’ll just hop on over to another brewery.”  My whale beer this year was the “smoothie” from the Ferndale Project. Several friends mentioned it and the line was always too long. When I eventually found my way to the front of the line I was told the “Triple Berry Marmalade” was gone. 

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Music is a key part of any good party, I mean a festival. What could be better than traditional Celtic-inspired rock music and some feisty outlaw country? The answer, not a thing. The Michigan Brewers Guild had us covered at the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival with our friends from Stone Clover and The Orbitsuns.

Stone Clover

Oh my, how we love the raucous Celtic rock of Stone Clover. Our last time seeing them live was at the Beat Goes On drive-in concert. We stood beside our cars hollering our heads off. This time around, we could be a bit more personable.

2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - Stone Clover
2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - Stone Clover

Pauly promised an afternoon of drinking music, and Stone Clover delivered. With the usual wink and a grin, the band cranked out such favorites as “Binge & Purge” and “One More Beer”. Pauly and the band were in excellent form and the new music which I believe will be on the forthcoming EP was amazing. Stone Clover never disappoints and I can’t wait to party with them again.

2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - Stone Clover
2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - Stone Clover
2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - Stone Clover

The Orbitsuns

If someone says to you that they don’t like country music, drag their ass out to a show by The Orbitsuns. This band is a swift kick in the ass of country music fun. But beware, they are not for the faint of heart.

2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - The Orbitsuns

The last time we had the pleasure of hearing them was back in 2018 for the Dark Horse Boil. Although, I still fondly remember seeing them for the first time at Kuhnhenn’s Winter Solstice. My lord, that was something else.

2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - The Orbitsuns
2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - The Orbitsuns

With the sun playing hide and seek as it settled into the west, The Orbitsuns hit the saddle hard with “And The Horse You Rode In On”. This crowd favorite had us all yelling along with its cherished chorus. 

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We danced and sang to “Tornado in my Pants”, “Hard Part of Town” and “I Love Girls That Swear”. Liz sang a stunning cover of “Your Cheatin Heart” by Hank Williams. Leroy ran around the crowd picking his guitar like a rooster on speed. However, my personal favorite was Vinnie singing “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash.

The Orbitsuns put on one hell of a show. Looking at the crowd, it was clear that we all were having a ball. They were a perfect way to close out a fantastic time at the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival.

2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - The Orbitsuns
2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival - The Orbitsuns

Fight Song and the Firkin 

A classic part of every Michigan Brewers Guild is the tapping of the firkin. Our delicious treat for the 2021 Detroit Fall Beer Festival was “Life of Tyto”, a dangerous barley wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing. Our firkin tapper was none other than Michigan Brewers Guild assistant director Sherry Kepsel. Surprisingly, this was the first firkin tapping for Sherry. But I suppose that makes sense as she along with the rest of the guild staff and volunteers are usually running crazy keeping our party running smoothly.

Sherry - Firkin
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Food after the beer festival

After the beer festival, we had dinner at a new restaurant stationed at the end of Depot Town in Ypsilanti – Thompson & Co.  We grabbed seats at the bar and soon we were chatting with the couple next to us. You know how those conversations go, you find common territory, people you both know. It’s not hard in a small town like Ypsi. Long story short, Hiawatha Bailey was sitting across from us. Chuck was giddy, smiling ear to ear. “Hiawatha was in the Cult Heroes!” Chuck exclaimed “He’s a legend!”. If you need to Google “Hiawatha Bailey,” it’s ok I did too. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. 

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Beer Enthusiasts Pictures

We’ve got a gallery full of photos from the 2021 Detroit Fal Beer Festival. Drop us a comment if you were there. What part of the festival did you enjoy most?

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