The concentrated power of several thousand beer drinkers banished the rain to rejoice in a beautiful afternoon of beer and music at the Burning Foot Beer Fest 2018.
Burning Foot Beer Fest 2018
We had such a great time last year at Burning Foot Beer Fest that we decided to do it again. This was the fourth running of this unique music festival within a beer fest on beautiful Pere Marquette beach. We drove up on Friday to check out some local history at the Hackley and Hume homes in Muskegon. Then checked in for the evening at a home we rented for the weekend which was right across the street from the festival. Burning Foot Beer Fest offers up tent camping right on the beach, but we are old folks. We would probably be a mess after a night trying to sleep on the sand.
Saturday morning arrived wrapped in a veil of misty rain and wind. The surf on Lake Michigan was roiling with dangerous rip tides. It was not looking good as we enjoyed breakfast at the Lakeside Café. Yet as we approached the gates for early entry to the festival, the sun was making a valiant effort to break free of the clouds. I’m pretty sure the combined will of all of us beer and music fans was the reason.
The layout for Burning Foot Beer Fest was nearly the same as last year. There were a few new editions. The number of breweries participating was up to 70. Combined with added food vendors, the ring of tents to explore was huge. A new beachfront stage near the tent camping was set up for acoustic performers giving you non-stop music to enjoy.
As in previous years, Burning Foot Beer Fest supported local charities who offered up services to festival goers. Habitat For Humanity ran a bike valet. The Noah Project ran the shoe check-in. The Kid’s Food Basket made pretzel necklaces because you definitely get the munchies after a few tasty beers.
Playing in the Sandbox
We sprung for the VIP Sandbox tickets again this year. Both general admission and the VIP tickets are a nice deal. Typically, at a beer fest, the music is an after-thought. This is not the case at Burning Foot. They put as much attention into the music as they do the beers. If you go to a concert and have a couple of swill national beers, you are at nearly the same price point as the general admission ticket. Burning Foot Beer Fest tickets are a sweet deal as you get 15 beer samples (of a decent size) and top quality music. Plus, you can’t beat the location.
The VIP section once again had a selection of comfy chairs with added deck table and stools to get a little closer to the side stage action. The included water and Gatorade were key to staying hydrated. The preview beers included Dark Horse Rain in Blood Orange pale ale and Founders CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) which were great.
Last year was a bit of a blur. I don’t remember if they had food beyond the tasty snacks in the VIP sandbox last year. This year your VIP ticket included a Hawaiian cook-out from Rad Dads with Korean BBQ steak, Hawaiian Chicken, jerked mushrooms and zucchini, rice, and macaroni salad. The jerked veggies were super spicy. The rice and macaroni were essential for cooling down the fire from those veggies.
The real hit in the VIP section were the s’mores. We loved them last year and they were once again delicious and fun.
Obviously, the reason to go to a beer fest is to try new beers and breweries. Burning Foot Beer Fest offered 70 breweries with most being from Michigan. The Westside of the state came ready to play with a bunch of tasty beers that really hit the spot.
The hometown kids at Pigeon Hill had a wild dayglow Saturday Night Fever thing going on. The Renny Double IPA definitely jingled the clock weights.
White Flame Brewing was sporting their tricked out beer jeep that was pumping out some delicious beer. The Mo ‘Peez session IPA was a great beach beer. If you were looking to build up courage to shake your booty while enjoying a hoppy monster beer, then the Passed Out Willy double IPA is your pony to ride.
Crankers Brewery is always up for a party. Their Not Your Kids Trix triple IPA actually tasted like the cereal milk after you’ve enjoyed your sixth bowl of Trix. Wild, sweet, and dripping with insanity.
For one fantastic IPA, you must try out Brewery 4 Two 4. Their West Coast Will was just the way we love our IPA’s; crisp, hoppy, and lip-smacking. The Juicy Weasel wasn’t too bad either, even though I’m not a huge fan of the juice craze.
Finally, for refreshing summer beers, we loved OpenRoad’s Session 150 IPA which had great hop character that you could enjoy all day long. The other wonderful find was the Lime Gose from our friends at One Well. The lime just shouted out in true Spicoli fashion “hey bud, let’s party!”
Burning Foot Beer Fest puts as much into the selection of fine beers as they do music for each festival. They tend to stick to a beach theme. While I was hoping for a bit more rock jams, they still did a great job of including some great acts for this year’s festival.
Putting a big “F” in funky was Flexidecibel. This hometown Muskegon band got the party started with bright horns and popping bass and drums. Mix in some swinging grooves amped up with tasty guitar and keys for some beach blanket bingo. Flexidecibel looked like they were having a great time on stage and that translated into a happy audience soaking up the good vibrations.
On the beachfront acoustic stage was singer/songwriter Brent Dame. His clear and soulful voice reminded me of artists such as Matt Nathanson and Jon McLaughlin. His evocative songs quickly drew a crowd who savored the music set to the surf of Lake Michigan.
If you love ska-punk, then you love Mustard Plug. This band is a Michigan treasure. For 27 years, they have been creating sunshine powered ska that tastes great on a hotdog. As the band was bopping around the stage, you couldn’t help but get caught up in the action. They played a set full of favorites including “Aye, Aye, Aye” and “Throw A Bomb”. There was even a bit of fun in the sand with a few dancers moshing it up.
The pop love of Brotha James had people dancing and enjoying the afternoon sun as it peeked in and out of the clouds. The happy up-tempo music drew in a number of folks. They even did a little sing along with Brotha James.
Long Beach Dub Allstars
Some folks think of the Long Beach Dub Allstars as the band that came after Sublime. Sure, they have members who were in the legendary Sublime, but LBDA is its own righteous element. These guys make music that recalls reggae legends Jacob Miller (Inner Circle), The Wailers, and Burning Spear while adding in elements of ska, soul, and rock. As they played, you could scan the crowd and see the impact of the music on the fans. The connection between the band and the audience resonated with a vibrant glow.
Beers were held high and everyone was ready to rock when Eve 6 took the stage. The hook riddle anthems of the late 90’s soared into the evening. The fans ate it up as they sang along to “Leech” or “Enemy”. It was a beach ball frenzy as they popped around the crowd and up on to the stage. The guys in Eve 6 rocked steady without missing a beat. The power punk rock of Eve 6 capped off a fantastic Burning Foot Beer Fest
What really makes Burning Foot Fun
The common theme at every Michigan beer festival is a great crowd of people from all over the state gathering to share their love of beer. Burning Foot Beer Fest 2018 shines because of the great people who organize the party and all the smiling folks that come out to have a fantastic time.
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