After two days of drinking, then thinking, at the annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival, I managed to weed out the best of the best of the more than 900 beers available. Disclaimer: I did not try them all! I tried to seek out beers new to me, although some were from favorite brewers.
Some themes emerged over the two-day event: Sours rule. Fruit and beer is a thing. Ginger is the hot new flavor, and it mixes amazingly well with beer. I am predisposed to love ginger, so I'm willing to entertain alternate viewpoints.
My favorite 5 from Michigan Summer Beer Festival:
* Gilligan's Crush Ginger Pale, White Flame Brewing Co. In addition to the clever name, it had the perfect balance of ginger with a nice hoppiness that surprised me in a pale ale. It outscored the two other ginger-flavored beers I tried, Schmohz Brewing's Ginger IPA and Dark Horse's GingerPA. This is a road trip-worthy beer.
* Summer Wonder Imperial Helles Bock with peaches, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. My partner in drinking for the festival, Tom Gromak, liked this so much he had two in a row. I liked his so much I got my own.
* Juicy Imperial IPA, Perrin Brewing Co. Perrin, in Comstock Park, home of the Whitecaps, produces one of my all-time favorite IPAs, a Grapefruit IPA. Juicy tops it.
* Cucumber Lime Wheat, Grand River Brewing Co.
* Apripa, one of Dark Horse Brewing Co.'s fruit-infused IPAs. Creamy, sweet but with the hoppiness you expect from an IPA.
I only wish I had two more days to try more beers -- so many breweries, so little time! -- but I don't think my liver could take a 4-day festival. As luck would have it, the Detroit Fall Beer Festival is just around the corner.