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Saturday, September 15 at Brewery Vivant
$40 includes 10 tasting tokens and a collector’s edition tasting glass
Two sessions: 12:00-3:00pm and 5:00-8:00pm // Get Tickets!
Local First caught up with Brewery Vivant's Abbess of Beer, Kate Avery to chat about Wood Aged-Beer Fest. Get the back story and what's in store for this year's event.
Local First: What is Wood-Aged Beer Fest and who typically attends?
Kate Avery: This is our biggest party of the year, meant to celebrate the nuances and flavors from beer's oldest tradition: wood aging. Because we are focused on beer tasting, not simply beer drinking, this festival attracts a variety of people. We've seen folks come into town special for the event from across the state, from Ohio, Chicago, and as far away as Iowa and New England! We've got young professionals, moms & dads, and more "experienced" beer connoisseurs as well. The one thing they have in common is an interest in exploring with their taste buds!
LF: This the 8th year for WABF, right? Give us some backstory on this event. How did it come about and why?
KA: Yep, this is our 8th annual festival. It started back in 2011, outside in what is now the Walloon Room/Beer Garden with six beers offered (boy how things have changed!). We really had to sell it-- inside bartenders and servers would mention that this event was going on outside and guests should go check it out. Hah! Now, to include as many interested parties as we possibly can, we hold two Saturday sessions and we've moved to put tents up in our parking lot for the day!
LF: Is there significance to the time of year?
KA: Not really, other than September starts to usher the transition into Fall and there's something about sipping beers outside during this time in Michigan that we all seem to love here at the Brewery.
LF: If someone has never attended WABF, what should he/she/they expect?
KA: Expect a really good time with some really good people (and beers). Beer really brings folks together, and we see this as a community builder. Try a beer, think about what you like or don't like about it, ask someone else what they liked about it, start a conversation, a dialogue. Human connection!! This is a festival that you could go with a group of friends or come solo and you'll find a place. Everyone's welcoming and here for the beer! (the company line about what to expect is: 20+ wood aged beers, festival foods, and a heckuva good time)
LF: What if an attendee doesn’t know a lot about beer?
KA: I think festivals are a great place for this type of person. Your admission includes 10 tasting tokens (can also be used for foods) and a souvenir collector's glass which is 5oz. Just enough to taste, get your tastebuds acclimated, and then fully enjoy a few sips. The wood-aging adds layers of flavor and nuance to each beer. It's kind of a whole new experience than something you might be used to drinking a "regular" beer around the campfire or at the bar.
LF: What if someone does know a lot about beer?
KA: Then I guess you'll know which beers you'll want to try first! Seriously, if you want to unleash your inner nerd, this is a safe space. It's an all-staff-on-deck day so it's a great opportunity to chat with a brewer, a professional that knows beer inside and out.
LF: What is something new that BV’s trying this year?
KA: We've really dialed in this party to focus on these wood-aged beers. So, the newness really resides in the brewer's experimentation and different styles offered. Master of Wood, Brian Kuszynski, got his hands on some gin barrels, white wine barrels, and rum barrels, just to name a few. This is beyond bourbon barrel aging (which is also happening), it is exploring different woods and how they add different flavor profiles to beers. That's the tradition we're building on. Beer was originally stored in wooden vessels and the flavors that developed became part of the beer lore. We're doing that same thing and trying to push everyone's boundaries a little bit in the process.
LF: What’s your favorite part about WABF?
KA: My favorite part is the excitement in the air and the whole drinking beers outside thing. The atmosphere is really jovial and people are happy and... for all of us "behind the scenes" folks, we actually get to be out there with The People. It's heartwarmingly rewarding to see people enjoy something you've put your soul into.