FIRST DRAFT

Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival returns to Ypsilanti after 2-year COVID hiatus

Tom Gromak
The Detroit News

The Michigan Brewers Guild kicked off its first Summer Beer Festival weekend in two years Friday with a steamy, but packed Riverside Park in Ypsilanti. Exact ticket sales were not released, and publicist Diana Stampfler said some remained unsold for both the Friday and Saturday sessions.

Also down: The number of breweries. The festival typically draws in excess of 150-175 breweries for its flagship event. This year, that number dropped to 111 listed in the event program.

"Numbers in general are down," publicist Stampfler said. "People are still trying to get back into event mode. And because events are back all over, people are out and their time is limited. We're hoping people are going to look at the forecast and decide it's a great time to drink beer."

The numbers didn't stop craft beer enthusiasts from enjoying the hundreds of ales, lagers, pilsners, stouts, IPAs, and more. The event fielded a smaller, but still festive and typically mellow Friday night crowd.

In addition to being the first summer fest since 2019, this one is also part of the Michigan Brewers Guild's 25th anniversary celebration season. Technically, Stampfler said, the true anniversary date is closer to the time of the fall festival at Eastern Market. But why not start the party now?

"It's good to be back in the sweltering heat here in Ypsi," Stampfler said. "It's super exciting this year because it's our 25th anniversary. It's a great culmination of this hiatus we've had to have everybody back to celebrate our 25th year at the festival where it all started."

The guild's roots can be traced to October 25, 1997, when, at a meeting of 49 people representing 30 of the state's early craft breweries, it was decided to ally to create an organization to promote and market Michigan-made beer. The group made it official, incorporating the Brewers Guild that December. They held their first summer beer festival at Livonia’s Greenmead Historic Park in July of 1998, where it remained until moving to its present location at Ypsilanti's Riverside Park in 2001. They now host five beer festivals around the state each year.

In addition to the wide array of Michigan-produced beer, this year's festival features local entertainment, including Saturday night’s headliner Laith Al Saadi, who also performed at this event in 2006 and 2013, before his 2016 semi-finalist appearance on NBC’s The Voice.

Still thinking of going? Check the status of tickets, or buy them in advance at https://www.mibeer.com/Events/summer-beer-festival