Michigan's largest international beer sampling event, the World Expo of Beer (WEB), is just weeks away from returning to Frankenmuth (Friday & Saturday, May 15-16), and, lucky for you, we've got the inside scoop from a few of the festival's local brewmasters on what to expect. So, grab your fellow brew lovers and get ready to Go Great Lakes Bay, where you'll be able experience great craft beers from around the world: nearly 300 different beers from more than 60 breweries, including local brewers Frankenmuth Brewery, Tri-City Brewing Co., and Midland Brewing Co.
"There are a lot of people, there are a lot of craft beer enthusiasts, and there's a lot of energy at WEB," says Paul Popa, Head Brewer and part owner of Tri-City Brewing, based in Bay City, MI. One of the benefits of attending WEB, he says, is that you can sample so many different beers and find out what you like before buying it at a store. "It's like a big party where people get to try a lot of different beers from a lot of different breweries," he explains.
Tri-City Brewing typically brings 6 - 8 different beers to the festival. "We usually do a special release that we may or may not have in the taproom at the time," says Popa. You can look forward to sampling something special from Tri-City Brewing at WEB again this year. It's in the works, but Popa says they won't make a final decision about what to bring until closer to the date of the festival.
Midland Brewing Company will also bring some special beers to WEB. "We have a cream ale that we just recent put out that we'll have there," says Sam Oswald, Director of Brewing Operations at Midland Brewing Company, "and we'll probably have a Blackberry Hefeweizen and maybe a Munich Dunkel. We'll bring fresh beers that people haven't had yet or haven't had in a long time."
One of the big advantages for brewers who attend WEB is the opportunity to showcase their beers and brand to such a large audience. For Oswald, getting to meet the public is a highlight of the event. "We like to educate people on what craft beer is and what it can be," he says. Oswald explains that the eastern side of Michigan doesn't have as many breweries as the west side, so it's important to talk to people about their craft. "With an event this large in our backyard, we like to take the opportunity to talk to people about craft beer and why it's good for Michigan," he says. Oswald believes that Michigan is turning out craft beer that can stand up against some of the bigger national players. His take: "Support Michigan. Drink Michigan beer."
Another benefit for the brewers is the chance to network with other brewers at WEB. "Being able to bounce ideas off fellow brewers is really nice," says Oswald. "We're all friendly, we talk about recipes, share ideas, talk about mistakes we've made with certain recipes, and help each other out. We're very collaborative."
In addition to sampling the wares, you can learn more about craft beer by attending one of two special WEB events. On Friday night, you can enjoy a Fine Food and Craft Brew Pairing, hosted by the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Experts will lead you through the multi-course meal and explain how and why they chose each pairing.
If you like to mix your beer with other ingredients-including liquor-the Saturday night Beer Cocktails and Mixology event is for you! Learn the fundamentals of creating your own beer-based cocktails at this unique event. And while you're busy creating your signature beer-based cocktail, you won't go hungry-a delicious selection of appetizers will accompany the cocktail instruction.
Space is limited and early registration is strongly recommended.
If you're a newbie to the WEB, tap the knowledge of the brewers, owners, and volunteers at the booths. "Our owner is at our booth every year, training volunteers and talking to the public about beer," says Oswald. If you're used to drinking macro beers, he suggests asking a lot of questions, including which beer is at the lighter end of the scale. If you like chocolate, try a stout. "Stout can be a light, sweet beer, and just have a dark color," explains Oswald. "Don't be scared, be adventurous! You might find a couple you don't like and you might find a couple you really enjoy."
Still thirsty for more? Check out last year's post on the World Expo of Beer to learn the story behind how this international beer event was started on a cocktail napkin!
Location: Frankenmuth Heritage Park - 601 Weiss Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734 (just 500 feet from the Bavarian Inn Lodge)
Dates & Times: Friday, Friday May 15th from 5-10PM and Saturday May 16th from 3-10PM
Admission: $10 admission (includes a free collector beer sampling mug; beer sampling tickets sold separately). Proceeds will be donated to charitable causes; 21+ only.