This weekend is an important one, friends. It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, which means two things—it’s the last weekend of peace and quiet before family chaos, and it’s the last weekend to pre-stretch your stomach for upcoming turkey feasts. The Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival falls at a perfect time, when you think about it.
I promise you, from the lips of a lady who roamed DeVos Place at last year’s fest in a warm wine haze with a full belly, this is worth attending. I did a little pre-fest celebrating (and if we’re honest, some stomach stretching too) at the media dinner hosted by the festival, Spinnaker Restaurant & Lounge and Schmohz Brewery.
The dinner was an early taste of the Spinnaker/Schmohz pairing menu that will be offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the festival.
I must say, if there’s anything better than Grand Rapids beer, it’s awesome Grand Rapids cooked grub paired with Grand Rapids beer. Each plate we tried was sourced with local food—from the cheese and olive oil to the Brussels sprouts and pork belly—and served right next to a perfectly cold glass of beer.
We ate through chocolate waffles topped with BBQ turkey, walleye ravioli with cauliflower cream, cherry sauced beef tenderloin with cattle beans and a beer smashed sundae with a beer sorbet, apple compote and chocolate torte. And we drank a gingery ale, wheat-fueled Oktoberfest, boozy IPA and chocolaty stout.
The creativity Spinnaker Executive Chef William Read and Schmohz Brewery Beer Engineer Chas Thompson put into this menu was outstanding—and thankfully not uncommon. More and more West Michigan chefs have embraced creating meals that play off beverage notes; which is exactly what the Wine, Beer & Food Festival is all about.
If Grand Rapids is Beer City, the Wine, Beer & Food Festival is our homecoming dance. It’s a big old celebration for what we’re all about—from the local produce and dangerously passionate chefs to the award winning, barley brewing, bubbly and beer spewing out of this city.
Snag yourself a ticket to this weekend’s event and experience Grand Rapids through a little plastic mug—you won’t be disappointed.
–Dana Blinder, Contributing Writer