Winter Beer Fest - The Awesome Mitten

Everything You Need to Know: GR Winter Beer Fest

Were you one of the lucky ones to snag a ticket to the 11th Annual Winter Beer Fest in Grand Rapids this weekend? Hosted by Michigan Brewers Guild at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park (just north of Grand Rapids), this festival is the perfect way to end Grand Rapids Beer Week. Whether you have gone every year or it’s your first time, here is everything you need to know before you embrace the February cold and samples of some of the best brews around.

The Beer:

This year’s festivities will feature over 100 different breweries and microbrews. This means that attendees will have the opportunity to sample over 800 craft beers! Each ticket comes with 15 tasting tokens that can be used for 3 oz. samples of any of these beers. With big name breweries like Founders, Short’s, Arcadia and local favorites like Grand Rapids Brewing Co.,HopCat and many more in attendance, there is sure to be no shortage of the best beer you’ve ever had.

Winter Beer Fest - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Terry Johnston/Stellafly

The Food:

There are vendors open at the event selling sausage, pastries and the ever-popular turkey leg. All of these cooked foods are a perfect option for keeping warm. One of the staples of Winter Beer Fest are various food accessories. As The Awesome Mitten’s own Jake Cagle witnessed, everyone had ’em, so don’t forget yours! Pretzelaces are the most common choice but if you really want to stand out, cookies, different meats, cheeses or crackers are good options and delicious, too.

Winter Beer Fest - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Terry Johnston/Stellafly

The Community:

Come one, come all. This is the only place that Michigan beer-lovers should be this weekend. With over 6,000 attendees in one day last year, the atmosphere is full of laughter and fun. Local breweries and live local music are not in short supply this weekend. A community entirely connected by the love of good beer, this is the perfect chance to meet the people that are making your beer (and experience their passion for it) and the people drinking it alongside you.

Winter Beer Fest - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Terry Johnston/Stellafly


The Chill:

The most important thing to remember is that this event takes place in Michigan. In the middle of the winter. The forecast for Friday and Saturday is looking up but only to the mid-40’s with a high chance of wind and clouds. Better than snow, to be sure, but it’s no warm sandy beach. Don’t be worried! The Michigan’s Brewers Guild has you covered with conveniently located fire pits around the event, which are great for warming your hands and getting a little more of that sense of community.

The Dress Code:

I know you’re thinking: ‘what do I wear?’ Don’t put away that North Face just yet and pull those flannel long-sleeves back out of the closet. Gloves and a scarf are still necessary for the Michigan February days and so you’ll definitely want to bundle up and wear comfortable shoes!
Another potential option are costumes! With an invention like pretzelaces, I’m not even surprised that costumes are just another part of the experience.

Winter Beer Fest - The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of

The Plan:

Some people work well with a game plan but others just like to wing it. Whatever is the case for you, pacing yourself is always the best option. With over four hours of beer, music and food each day, making sure you take your time at each tent and know the lay of the land will help you maximize your experience! Download the program here for a very handy map of the event and a list of all of the breweries.

What are some of your favorite memories from GR Winter Beer Fest? Let us know!

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