Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Inaugural Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival Coming Up April 18-19 at Adado Riverfront Park

Craft brew, music and culinary lovers will gather at Adado Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing for the inaugural Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19.

The festival will feature 50+ carefully selected Michigan, national and international craft breweries, 250+ craft beers, ciders, meads and wines as well as more than 100 musicians, marching bands, Homebrewer’s Challenge, food and brew pairings, rare and sour beer tours, and local food vendors.

Rockville, Maryland, band O.A.R. and reggae and hip hop musicians Dirty Heads will headline the Lansing Microbrew & Music Festival, festival producers announced today. Dirty Heads will play on Friday, April 18, and O.A.R. will perform on Saturday, April 19.

To celebrate the eleventh Microbrew and Music Festival, the popular regional event will tour to Lansing to host the event on the banks of the scenic Grand River. VIP and GA tickets include five 8oz. pours and custom tasting glass and feature 50+ carefully selected Michigan, national, and international craft breweries, rare beers including a unique festival edition, representatives and brewers from each brewery, 250+ flavors of beers, wines, ciders and meads, live musical acts, including headliners O.A.R. and Dirty Heads, marching bands, a silent disco DJ dance tent, and local food vendors. Festivities are scheduled to take place from 5-11 p.m. daily. In addition, VIP ticket buyers will gain early admittance and have access to entertaining lawn games, a heated VIP area, private restrooms, a dining area, hydration station, and custom food and beer pairings.

Microbrew & Music Festival will be working in conjunction with the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Xero Waste Events to bring you a wonderful event. 100% of proceeds from alcohol sales will benefit both of these non-profits. GLFB provides emergency food to individuals and families in need in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Shiawassee, Clare, Isabella and Gratiot counties. Food is distributed through an extensive network of food pantries and community kitchens located throughout the region. The Food Bank annually serves tens of thousands of people, many of them seniors and children. Our recipients also include the “working poor,” those individuals who are employed but don’t earn enough to meet housing, health, transportation and food needs. Xero Waste Events, is a Michigan non-profit organization providing comprehensive recycling services and educating communities on sustainable event practices. With the help of XWE, the 2013 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival helped raise over $20,000 for Traverse City non-profit CherryT Ball which directly supports local food banks and Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. We are proud to partner with Xero Waste, as they also contribute an annual portion of its revenues to local charities.

Sam Porter, founder of the Microbrew & Music Festival, anticipates the festival will provide a burst of energy to the central Michigan region. “We’re excited to launch our eleventh festival as the first annual Lansing Microbrew and Music Festival. We have welcomed over 50,000 ticket buyers to ten [Traverse City] Microbrew and Music festivals over the past five years to experience the craft brew culture and great music of Michigan. Our goal is to have another sold-out festival and help drive thousands of residents and visitors into area businesses, bars and restaurants during an otherwise slower week in April,” he says. Porter adds that after-parties at downtown establishments will further connect festival attendees with the retailers.

The Microbrew & Music Festival at Adado Riverfront Park will take place under a 4,000 capacity mobile tent – the first of its kind in the US. It will house the main stage and provide cover and protection from the elements, if needed. Previous patrons have compared this spectacular structure’s appearance to the Sydney Opera House. Visit Tent Venue’s Facebook page for more information.

The Microbrew & Music Festival educates, celebrates, and inspires community collaboration through the joy of craft brew and great music while raising funds for non-profits.

Tickets and festival details are available at www.microbrewandmusic.com/lansing-tickets. Festival announcements, giveaways, and other information can be found at www.facebook.com/microbrewandmusic. Attendees are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as the festival has sold out in past years.

Ticket buyers must be 21 years old.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beer City Springfest Welcomes Area Brewers to Hudsonville Fairgrounds – Saturday, May 3

More than 25 Area brewers are bringing hundreds of beers to the Hudsonville Fairgrounds this spring, including several special offerings during the inaugural Beer City Springfest on Saturday, May 3.

An exorbitant number of talented and creative breweries in West Michigan and surrounding communities, has prompted the American Legion Neal E. Fonger Post 179 to celebrate the long awaited coming of spring with a Michigan beer festival. Thousands of beer enthusiasts weren't able to get tickets to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Winter Beer Festival in February at Fifth Third Ball Park, so Springfest will offer them another opportunity.

“The discerning palates of the real beer lovers in this area are wonderful, and is the fuel driving us to be great brewers.” said Bill White, owner of White Flame Brewing, “Many of the incredible beers being made around Greater Grand Rapids are becoming sought after country wide.”

Tickets for Springfest go on sale Thursday, March 27 at Noon and online at www.beercityfestivals.com. Only 2,500 tickets will be available, for $30 each, and include 15-three ounce sample tickets.

There will be an option to upgrade to VIP, and a limited number of bus tickets will be available for a $15 ticket upgrade. Busses will transport hundreds of guests from locations throughout downtown Grand Rapids to the fairgrounds and back downtown.

Gates will open at 12:00 Noon for VIP guests and 1:00pm for the general public. Food trucks will be on hand for those bringing an appetite along with a thirst. Springfest will be a full day of live music, and beer tasting for the craft beer lovers.

Follow the Springfest Facebook page (www.facebook.com/beercityspringfest) to get updates on VIP ticket releases and giveaways.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. Julian Named Riesling Champion at 2014 International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Competition

Vineyard & Winery Management combined two of its oldest and most established wine competitions into one by creating the first International "East Meets West" Wine Challenge, February 19-20, 2014 in Sonoma County, CA. The 2012 Reserve Riesling from Michigan-based St. Julian Winery was named “Riesling Champion” – and received one of 964 medals presented during the competition.

Along with this award, the Riesling also took home the “Best of Show” white wine and “Best of Class” – the latter requiring unanimous agreement among judges. In addition, St. Julian also brought home a “Best of Class” for Red Heron and a “Double Gold” for the Braganini Reserve Traminette.

“We are more than proud and honored to be the first Riesling Champions of the International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Challenge,” says Head Winemaker Nancie Corum-Oxley. “Michigan Riesling continues to prove that they are world-class wines. Grown in Southwest Michigan, our 2012 St. Julian Reserve Riesling is a classic semi-dry style that will impress even the most sophisticated palate.”

The Wine
The winemaking technique used to produce this wine begins in the vineyard – specifically, the Burgoyne Ridge Vineyard. With farming roots coming from Germany, the Nitz family started growing juice grapes in Southwest Michigan in the 1940s as a grower for Welch’s and home winemakers. In 1971, the farm started planting wine grape varietals. Dan Nitz, the fourth generation grower in the family, currently manages over 250 acres of juice grapes and 260 acres of wine grapes, while employing more than 20 year-round staff. As the farm continues to focus on wine grape varietals, Dan’s passion for grape growing is evident in the wines that St. Julian produces.

The grapes for the 2012 Reserve Riesling are harvested in the early morning hours, so the fruit is cool when it reaches the winery. After harvesting, the fruit is crushed and destemmed. The juice is pressed to a tank, chilled and settled for 48 hours. The juice is then racked to the jacketed fermenter tank, where the wine underwent a long, cool fermentation at 58 to 62 degrees, Fahrenheit. This process extends the fermentation, which contributions to preserving Riesling’s fresh and fruity character. A special strain of yeast was used in order to “arrest” the fermentation, meaning that cold temperatures were used to inactivate the yeast, giving the wine retained natural residual sugar.

According to Oxley, St. Julian’s 2012 Reserve Riesling is “absolutely pure in flavor, harmonious and well-proportioned in its architecture, this Riesling seems crisp and light, yet packs intense flavors of super-ripe peach, mango, lemon zest and mineral. Its vivid acidity jammed with fruit leaves a wonderful sensation on the palate creating a luscious, food-friendly style. Literally, like liquid fruit.”

This is a bright, clean wine designed to be consumed shortly after release. There is no oak aging to weigh it down. All the aging that took place in chilled stainless steel tanks before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.

The Competition
Since 1982, the West Coast Wine Competition has annually recognized wines produced and bottled in the West. The International Eastern Wine Competition, started in 1975, is one of the oldest and longest-running wine competitions in the nation. This year, the competitions merged into one large event.

Wines were simultaneously judged in two established regional divisions: International Eastern Wine Competition and the West Coast Wine Competition. Traditional awards were given in each division. “Best of Show” winners moved on to compete in the “East Meets West Taste Off” to see which wine was best overall. This afforded each entrant two chances to win medals: one in its own division and one in the Taste Off. A Riesling Championship was also held for Eastern wines.

“This challenge allows eastern and western wines to compete in their own right while allowing each to contend on a national scale. We've gotten great feedback from everyone involved,” said event producer and Vineyard & Winery Management magazine publisher Robert Merletti.

According to Director of Wine Competitions Debra Del Fiorentino “Keeping these established brands intact and adding a twist like the East Meets West Taste Off put an exciting spin on the challenge.”

The International Eastern division garnered 34 best of class, 25 double gold, 94 gold, 285 silver and 151 bronze medals. The West Coast division collected 18 best of class, 7 double gold, 38 gold, 179 silver and 133 bronze medals.

For over 93 years, St. Julian Wine Co. has produced award-winning products. From the first shoots of the Michigan spring through the harvest and barrel tasting of late fall, the family tradition that has flourished transforms grapes to wine, fruit to nectar, as passion and science converge bottle after bottle, case after case. St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s largest, oldest and the Midwest’s most awarded winery.

St. Julian Winery
716 S Kalamazoo Street
Paw Paw, Michigan

Valentine Distilling’s Liberator Old Tom Named World’s Best Cask Gin

Michigan-based Valentine Distilling has added another accolade to its growing trophy case with the recent announcement that its Liberator Old Tom had been named “World’s Best Cask Gin” by the World Gin Awards. This follows on the heels of the traditional Liberator Gin winning “Best in Class” and “Best in Category” – “Best American Gin” – by the American Distilling Institute in 2013.

According to the World Gin Awards website, Liberator Old Tom Gin is perfect for mixing. “The oak provides this gin with added notes of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, these combine nicely with the juniper making it a good, complex spirit with a touch of balancing sweetness.”

Aged in American oak barrels for two years, Liberator Old Tom Gin has an aroma of juniper and pine, with hints of oak, woody spices and citrus peel. The initial bursts of juniper berries are mellow and tame, and are followed by touches of vanilla, citrus, cardamom and cinnamon.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to return to the times that America led the world in the manufacturing of quality products,” says Owner/Distiller Rifino Valentine. “What made our economy great was that the highest grade products in the world came from here in the United States. If we are going to make an impact on the US economy in today’s marketplace, we need products that not only compete on a state and national level, but ones that stand up internationally as well. Our philosophy has always been ‘don’t drink Valentine spirits just because they are local – drink them because they are better.’”

“Old Tom Gin” (or “Tom Gin” or “Old Tom”) is a gin recipe popular in 18-century England. In modern times, it became rare but has experienced a resurgence in the craft cocktail movement. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry, but slightly drier than Dutch Jenever, thus is sometimes called “the missing link.” Unlike many gins which are produced in a column still today, Old Tom Gin is provided in a pot still.

Liberator Gin is named in honor of the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Early in World War II, Ford Motor Company built the Willow Run plant near Detroit to produce the B-24 Liberator – cementing Detroit’s nickname as the “arsenal of democracy.” Carefully hand-crafted, this delightfully-unique gin salutes Rosie the Riveter and all the American workers who helped secure victory.

The World Gin Awards are part of the prestigious London-based World Drinks Awards program, launched in 2007 with the World Whiskies Awards and World Beer Awards. Presented by TheDrinksReport.com, the world’s No. 1 online resource for drinks professionals. The World Gin Awards select, reward and promote the best Gin Taste and Design to consumers and trade across the globe.

Valentine Distilling launched into the Michigan market in early 2009 and has since been ranked one of the top-rated craft distilleries in the country. Operating out of a 5000-square-foot facility in Ferndale, Valentine Distilling proudly produces its original spirits in two world-class Christian Carl Stills. Valentine Distilling products can currently be found in more than 3000 locations throughout Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC.

161 Vester Street
Ferndale, Michigan


March Means Meat Month Madness at Food Dance

We love meat at Food Dance! It is something to share and savor. From the winter stews, roasts and braises to the summer grilled chops, steaks, burgers or ribs the traditional Midwest plate is anchored by meat.

“True to our vision, we care what we put in our bodies and yours”, says Food Dance Owner, Julie Stanley. ”We chose to serve meat and we look for producers that share our same passion for creating great tasting products, produced with care and integrity in all they do.”

Food Dance proudly sources its animals from farms that practice sustainable, humane animal husbandry – free of hormones, antibiotics or animal-by-products, that are pasture-raised and full of flavor.

“We practice whole animal butchery respecting the life of the animal in all we do,” say Stanley. “Our beef is dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days, which produces more intense flavor resulting in lower yields. We buy local grass-fed beef when available and our pork, lamb and chickens are locally-raised following the same standards.”

Pasture meats are lower in total fat – with more “good” fats and fewer “bad” fats, and are higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and higher in B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin.

Meet the Butcher!
Former pastry chef, Michael Wegrzyn’s interest in whole animal butchery and charcuterie, began while working as Sous Chef at Haven Gastropub in Orange, California and continued as Chef de Cuisine at Haven Gastropub and Brewery in Pasadena, California. Upon returning to his home town of Kalamazoo, he took the position of House Butcher at Food Dance – with fellow Butchers Guild member Chef Robb Hammond. Working with Robb, Michael has helped to develop their old-world style charcuterie program. Together, they create a variety of fresh and fermented sausages, bacon, and cured-pork products. These items, along with cuts from their whole animal butchering program, are available in the newly redesigned Food Dance market.

Throughout the month, Mike will be doing demos in the market. This Friday, March 7 he will showcase the art of butchering by breaking down a porch shoulder during the monthly Art Hop. Throughout the month, specials will also be offered in the meat market with 20% off special cuts. This week, its pork – followed by chicken, beef and house-cured or made sausages and charcuterie.

To further help your personal meat celebration, Food Dance is offering special events: a knife class, a butchering class, and a sausage making class.

Butchering Class
Wednesday March 12 (6:30-8:30pm)
$75.00 (includes tax & gratuity) * Each guest will also take home a delicious goodie bag.
Join Chef Robb and butcher Michael Wegrzyn, Butcher's Guild members, as they demonstrate butchering techniques with chicken, whole hog, beef and limited hands on sausage making.

Sausage Making Class
Thursday March 20 (6:30-8:30pm)
$65.00 (includes tax & gratuity)
The saying goes “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” That’s for shifty politicians and big time weiner companies. When working with whole meat pieces, there’s nothing to fear. Chef Robb will teach the techniques of processing, grinding, stuffing, casing, cooking and, of course, eating.

March Meat Madness Barnyard Dinner
Thursday, March 27 (6:30-8:30pm)
$49.00 per person (includes tax & gratuity)
Gather together with us in celebration of meat month with our in our 4 course dinner. Chef Robb will feature the four basic food groups - pork, beef, chicken and lamb. A great way to wrap up March Meat Month!

Food Dance classes, events and dinners are prepaid, non refundable, transferable up to 48 hours prior. Each has limited availability and reservations are required by calling 269-382-1888.

Check out the Market!
The newly redesigned Food Dance market offers sustainable, humanely-raised meats such as house-made sausages, cured meats, fresh ground beef, beef cuts, pork cuts and more (their very own little butcher shop)... and even more breads and savory baked goods, along with the same great pastries from their talented bakers. You’ll also find more prized-ingredients like olive oil, Anson Mill’s polenta, vinegars, condiments, fresh ground spices and pastas, as well as a selection of wines and local beers. The market is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday through Thursday; 8am to 9pm Friday and Saturday; and 8am to 3pm Sunday.

For those interested, the Food Dance friendly and knowledgeable market staff is also available to handle carry-out orders, help customers put together American cheese and meat boards, or help gusts find the perfect gift for all the foodie friends, no matter the occasion.

Food Dance creates opportunities for people to come together and connect through the experience of food. We passionately cook with the freshest locally produced ingredients and believe in giving great, caring service, and providing great experiences for everyone we come in contact with.

401 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49007


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Inaugural Beerfest at the Ballpark Tickets On Sale Now - Event Planned for April 5 in Lansing

The tickets went on sale Monday at 10am for the inaugural Beerfest at the Ballpark scheduled for Saturday, April 5th at Cooley Law School Stadium. Festival hours are scheduled from 1pm-6pm with a special VIP entry starting at noon.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and include entry, a logoed tasting glass, and 10 tasting tickets. Special VIP Tickets may be purchased for $35 in advance and include early entry to the festival at noon, a logoed tasting glass, and 15 tasting tickets. Tickets are available at BeerfestAtTheBallpark.net, lansinglugnuts.com or by visiting the Cooley Law School Stadium Box Office.

“There’s been a great deal of excitement about this event since we announced it last month.” said, Nick Grueser, General Manager of the Lansing Lugnuts. “I would encourage everyone to get their tickets immediately.”

Beerfest at the Ballpark is the result of a joint effort between the Lansing Lugnuts and I’m A Beer Hound. It will be a unique experience providing attendees the opportunity to sample over 100 craft beers, ciders and meads from over 32 Michigan Breweries while enjoying the ballpark’s atmosphere.

“The level of interest in Beerfest at the Ballpark is unprecedented for a first time event. We’ve added eight brewers in the past three weeks and doubled the number of beer, cider and mead selections we initially planned.” said Paul Starr, creator of I’m A Beer Hound.

You must be 21 years of age to attend. Ground transportation will be readily available from iCab Taxi Service and a $5 Designated Driver ticket will be offered on the day of the event. Area hotel accommodations can also be found at Lansing.org.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit Old Newsboys, a local charity that provides shoes for deserving school children.

For more information including a full list of the attending brewers, visit BeerfestAtTheBallpark.net

About the Lansing Lugnuts
The Lansing Lugnuts, Class-A Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, 'Go Nuts' as they enter their 19th season in Michigan's Capital City . Featured in USA Today and on CNN for their successes, the Lugnuts make their home at beautiful Cooley Law School Stadium. Built in 1996, Cooley Law School Stadium continues to be a key component in revitalizing Lansing's downtown while providing fun, affordable, family entertainment to fans in Mid-Michigan and beyond. Find them online: lansinglugnuts.com

About I’m a Beer Hound
I'm a Beer Hound is a Michigan Beer News Website, App, Event Promotion Group & Membership Card featuring discounts at over 90 Beer Bars, Breweries, and Restaurants statewide. Find them online: ImaBeerHound.com or Facebook.com/ImaBeerHound

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Salt of the Earth Presents 2014 Michigan 'Surprise' Dinner Series

Southwest Michigan’s premier farm-to-fork eatery Salt of the Earth announces its 2014 Michigan ‘Surprise’ Dinner Series. “We love ‘playing with our food’ and beverage. Come out and have some fun with us!” says proprietor Mark Schrock. “At Salt of the Earth we are always ‘cooking in the moment’, so we thought we’d have some fun and introduce the element of the “unexpected” into these three dinners. We really enjoy working outside of the box, and we intend to push the envelope of the food and beverage experience. ” adds Executive Chef Matthew Pietsch. Space is limited and reservations are required by calling 269.561.7258.

The three events planned for winter/ spring 2014 include:

Thursday February 20- The ‘Not-Your- Average’ Wine Dinner- featuring the award winning wines and celebrated winemaker Coenraad Stassen from Brys Estate. Enjoy these sought after wines in a creative five course dinner from Chef Matthew Pietsch and the SotE culinary team. Expect the unexpected! 6:30PM $75 per person + tax and gratuity.

Thursday March 27- ‘Shorts Brewery Beer Dinner and ‘Roast’ Reunion!’ Shorts Brewing Company's mission and culture pairs perfectly with everything we love about food and hospitality! We will celebrate the best that Shorts has to offer with seasonal and perfectly crafted brews. Join our friends from Shorts, along with a Mid-West cast of guest chef alumni from Michael Symon’s ‘Roast’! 6:30PM $75 per person, plus tax & gratuity.

Thursday April 24- ‘Bubbles and Booze- a Michigan Cocktail Party’- join in the fun with Mike Laing from Mawby and M. Lawrence sparkling wine, and the good folks from Coppercraft Distillery in Holland. Enjoy imaginative cocktails, sparkling wines, and an evening full of creative bites, unexpected flavors, and lively execution from Chef Matthew and guest Chef Jesse Hahn from ‘Fork in the Road’. PLUS dueling pianos by Hugh Little and David Raffenaud!!! $60.00 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Salt of the Earth- rustic American eatery and bakery is located in a historic building in downtown Fennville, in the heart of southwest Michigan farm and orchard country. A meal at the restaurant is an authentic Midwest American rustic food experience, built from a foundation of fresh high quality seasonal ingredients from growers within a fifty-mile radius of Allegan County. Under the direction of Chef Matthew Pietsch, the SotE kitchen cooks from scratch to create dinner entrees, wood oven fired pizzas, creative soups, fresh salads, desserts, and artisan breads.

A full-service bar proudly serves Michigan craft beers, hard ciders, spirits, and wines alongside other domestic and international products. Salt of the Earth is also a popular entertainment destination presenting the finest roots musicians on the scene at weekly house concerts.

Expect a high quality destination dining experience in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Please call 269.561.7258 or visit www.saltoftheearthfennville.com for menus, current hours of operation, house concert, and event schedules.

Salt of the Earth
114 East Main Street
Fennville MI 49408
269.561.SALT (7258)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Michigan Maple Weekends Celebrate Sweet Agricultural Heritage

The Michigan Maple Syrup Association is planning three weekends of celebrations focused on the state’s oldest agricultural activity during the 2nd Annual Michigan Maple Weekend. Overall, more than 25 sugar makers are participating in the festivities; a list is available here.

Due to the state’s diverse weather and geographical elements, events are first held in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula (south of US10), March 15-16, followed by events in the upper half of the Lower Peninsula (north of US10), March 22-23 and throughout the Upper Peninsula, March 29-30.

“The weekend provides the people of Michigan and surrounding states a chance to see how our oldest crop is produced,” says Joe Woods, event coordinator. “For many people it is a chance for them to experience firsthand where their food comes from and the work and expense that goes into bringing a crop to market. For the producer it is a chance to meet new customers, educate consumers and display the workings of a sugar bush. Together this brings awareness of the maple syrup industry to the public.”

The family-friendly events held around the state are a great time for people to get out and get a firsthand look at how maple sap is collected, boiled down and turned into sweet maple syrup and other maple treats. Many of the farms will offer tours of their operation including tree tapping demonstrations, samples of their products, recipes for the use of maple syrup and local maple syrup products available to purchase.

Visitors to a local farm will have a chance to meet the farmers and their families that produce maple syrup and to get outside and enjoy Michigan’s early spring weather. Attendees are reminded to wear boots as mud and snow will still be abundant at this time of the year.

Michigan Maple Syrup Facts:
• Michigan ranks 5th in maple syrup production in the United States.
• Average maple syrup production in Michigan is about 90,000 gallons per year.
• Economic contributions of the pure maple syrup industry to Michigan are nearly $2.5 million annually.
• Maple syrup is a Michigan tourist benefit. It is a "thing" to buy.
• Maple syrup, as an agricultural commodity, benefits Michigan farm markets.
• There are an estimated 500 commercial maple syrup producers in Michigan with some 2,000 additional hobby or home use producers.
• Michigan law requires that processor of maple syrup must be licensed.
• The production of pure maple syrup is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States.
• Maple syrup is one of the few agricultural crops in which demand exceeds supply.
• Only about 1 percent of Michigan’s maple forest resource is used in maple syrup production.
• In an average year, each tap-hole will produce about 10 gallons of maple sap, enough for about a quart of pure Michigan maple syrup.
• Maple sap is a slightly sweet, colorless liquid.
• It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
• A gallon of standard maple syrup weighs 11 pounds and has a sugar content of 66 percent.
• Maple syrup is the first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan each year.
• Maple syrup is not the recipient of any crop support or subsidy programs.
• A maple tree needs to be about 40 years old and have a diameter of 10 inches before tapping is recommended.
• The maple season in Michigan starts in February in the southern counties and runs well into April in the Upper Peninsula.
• Warm sunny days and freezing nights determine the length of the maple season.
• The budding of maple trees makes the maple syrup taste bitter. Thus, production ceases.
• Freezing and thawing temperatures create pressure and force the sap out of the tree.
• A very rapid rise in temperature (25 to 45 degrees) will enhance the sap flow.
• While the sugaring season may last 6 to 10 weeks, but during this period, the heavy sap may run only 10-20 days.
• Average sugar concentration of maple sap is about 2.5 percent.
• Maple sap is boiled to remove the water and concentrate the sugars in a process called evaporation.
• In a conventional evaporator one cord of hard wood is required for every 25 gallons of syrup produced.
• Tubing collection systems with vacuum can increase average sap yields approximately 50 percent.
• Maple sap becomes maple syrup when boiled to 219 degrees Fahrenheit, or 7 degrees above the boiling point of water.
• Pure Michigan maple syrup has 50 calories per tablespoon and is fat-free. It has no additives, no added coloring and no preservatives.
• Maple syrup has many minerals per tablespoon: 20 milligrams of calcium, 2 milligrams of phosphorus, 0.2 milligrams of iron, 2 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium.
• Maple syrup is classified as one of nature's most healthful foods.
• Michigan has a Maple Syrup Week held in March of each year.
• March 22 is Michigan Maple Syrup Day at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling and Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula.
• Michigan is noted for having two maple syrup festivals – the 74th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, April 25-27 and the 56th Annual Shepard Maple Sugar Festival, April 24-27. Several Michigan State Parks also offer maple sugaring activities during the spring months.

Information about the farms participating in the Michigan Maple Weekend can be found on the Michigan Maple Syrup Association web site www.Mi-MapleSyrup.com (Michigan Maple Syrup Association Facebook) or by contacting members of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. Information can also be found at Michigan Welcome Centers.

Founded in 1962, the Michigan Maple Syrup Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of maple sugaring in Michigan and the promotion of Michigan pure maple products. If you have more than just a passing interest in the science, industry, commerce, or enjoyment of maple products anywhere in the world, please consider becoming a member of our organization.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Distilling...Bringing Sexy Back


When you’re born with the suave Italian name Rifino Valentine, you’re destined to do one of three things – rock the screen as a star in the adult entertainment industry, rule the neighborhood as a gangster or take on the beverage industry as an award-winning, hand-crafted distiller.

It was option three that this Michigan-born-and-raised entrepreneur opted for in 2009 when he returned from an 11-year stint on Wall Street to launch Valentine Distilling Co. Drawing inspiration from the 1920s-era, the Valentine Vodka brand exudes sex – complete with a pin-up girl dressed in a tight red corset and fishnet stockings, holding a dirty martini – as a salute to Detroit’s pre-prohibition history.

But Valentine isn’t just a pretty face!

Today, Rifino utilizes a world-class Christian Carl Still to craft his traditional vodka, an elderflower infusion called White Blossom and the newly-released Liberator Gin.

The brand has accumulated a handful of prestigious awards over the past few years, most recently a 94-point ranking from Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel magazine – proudly placing higher than noted international brands like Belvedere, Ketel One, Grey Goose and Absolut.

“Returning to Michigan to start this venture, my goal was to craft a product that competes with the elite imported brands,” Rifino says. “With this latest ranking from the most well-respected wine and spirits reviewer, it really is satisfying that we were able to do just that! Now, we can truly say that you’re not just buying local, you’re buying better!”

In 2012, Valentine Vodka was also awarded a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. TheFiftyBest.com graced Valentine with a Double Gold Medal in the “Best Domestic Vodka” category in 2011. The Beverage Tasting Institute also awarded Valentine Vodka with a Gold Medal “Exceptional” in both 2010 and 2011.

Valentine products are currently found at more than 1800 retail stores, restaurants and bars throughout Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee. For the full experience, be sure to visit the “speak-easy” style martini bar and production facility at 161 Vester Street in downtown Ferndale. Hours: Wed-Thurs, 4:30-11pm; Fri-Sat, 4:30-Midnight.


Photo: Glen Arbor Sun

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association Recognizes Proos Manufacturing as West Michigan Automotive Supplier

(L-R) Blair Sharpe, GRNCDA President; Amy Proos, CEO/Owner – Proos Manufacturing; John Irwin, President-West Michigan Region at Huntington National Bank. (Photo By Marty Dunham)

The Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association (GRNCDA) is pleased to announce Proos Manufacturing as the recipient of its 2014 “Celebration of Innovation: Automotive Supplier of the Year” award. The award was presented to CEO Amy Proos during the February 5 VIP Reception, held prior to the Charity Spectacular Preview for the 2014 Michigan International Auto Show.

“It is an honor to recognize a brilliant company like Proos Manufacturing during this incredible event,” says Blair Sharpe, GRNCDA President. “In its 50 years serving the automotive market, Proos has proven it has the knowledge and experience to be flexible in its ability to develop processes and products to meet the challenges of the automobile industry.”

Companies throughout Kent, Ottawa, Ionia, Allegan and Muskegon counties were invited to submit nominations for the award. A selection committee from GRNCDA then met to review the nominees.

“You don’t often hear about the incredible ingenuity of West Michigan suppliers when talking about the impressive vehicles in our showrooms today,” said Mr. Sharpe, who presented the award. “But it is companies like Proos that help improve the quality and safety of the cars and trucks on roads throughout Michigan and the United States. The Celebration of Innovation award allows us to recognize the importance of local companies competing in the international automotive industry.”

Amy Proos is the third generation, and first woman, CEO and owner of her family’s manufacturing company. For almost 95 years, Proos Manufacturing has excelled in the art of metal stampings, metal forming and value-added assemblies. Today, Proos is a leading provider of manufacturing and engineering solutions for the automotive, industrial, furniture, medical, defense and energy application industries.

Proos prides herself on having an open line of communication with her employees and focusing on the individual needs of her customers to consistently provide solutions with ingenuity. She states, “Being candid about details of the business has earned me the trust and respect of my 83 employees and our customers.”

Established by Neal Proos as a manufacturer of casket hardware and cookie die stamps in 1919, Proos Manufacturing evolved into metal stampings and partnered closely with the automotive industry. Throughout the history of the company, customer support, problem resolution and providing solutions with ingenuity and innovation have been cornerstones of the Proos family business. In 2012 Proos Manufacturing was named one of the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch”. For more information about Proos Manufacturing please visit http://www.proos.com.

The 16th Annual Michigan International Auto Show is presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association and is one of 16 consumer expositions produced by ShowSpan Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Michigan International Auto Show: February 6-9, 2014

Thursday, February 6 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday, February 7 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday, February 8 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sunday, February 9 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Admission: $10 adults, $4 children aged 6 to 14. Kids 5 and under are admitted free.

www.GRAutoShow.com | www.facebook.com/GRAutoShow | www.twitter.com/GRAutoShow

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rare 1938 Mercedes – Hidden Away During WWII in a German Bunker and Found 60 Year Later – Featured at Michigan International Auto Show

An ultra-rare 1938 Mercedes 540K Sport Tourer, which had been hidden away in a World War II-era basement-bunker in Germany and discovered nearly 60 years later, will be featured this year at the Michigan International Auto Show.

This magnificent automobile will be part of the Gilmore Car Museum’s showcase of a dozen historic vehicles during the 16th annual show, February 6-9, 2014, at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

Only two 540K Sport Tourer models were ever built, with this car being the sole survivor.

“It’s amazing to think that an automobile of this caliber and historical importance survived WWII,” remarked Jay Follis, Marketing Director for the Gilmore Car Museum. “In a war that cost 65 million lives, devastated much of Europe, and saw so many works of art and cultural treasures destroyed or stolen and lost forever, it’s simply astounding.”

Discovering this ultra-rare automobile, hidden in a WWII-era basement-bunker after 60 years, sounds like a story right out of an Indian Jones movie. The car’s original owner lived in Dresden, Germany, and shortly after receiving it, World War II broke out with Germany being the epicenter. In an effort to protect his car from the ravages of war and conceal it from enemy troops, he knocked out a portion of his basement, drove the car in and concealed it by bricking up the doors and windows to make a kind of bunker. It remained there, remarkably surviving the 1945 bombing of Dresden, for nearly 6 decades.

Prior to World War II, Mercedes-Benz was arguably one of the world's most prestigious European automakers and the choice of the cars of kings, captains of industry, and the rich and famous alike. Built between 1936 and 1939, the supercharged Mercedes 540K has become legendary for its exquisite beauty and breath-taking performance, and is coveted by collectors worldwide. In all only 406 in 12 different body styles were crafted before war halted production, yet only two 540K Sport Tourers were ever produced.

With the fall of the Nazi regime and the end of WWII, Germany was divided by the Allies with Dresden becoming part of Soviet-controlled East Germany. This remarkable auto remained hidden until after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when it was finally discovered. The vehicle was complete and in its original condition, only showing the typical deterioration from age and neglect. Given the rarity and importance of the car, the decision was made to have it completely restored, which was finished in 2005. That same year, it debuted at the world-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it was awarded a Best in Class award.

This custom-built Mercedes features a Mother-of-Pearl dash, V-windshield, disappearing convertible top, and could reach speeds well over 100 mph. In 1938, it sold new for an estimated $12,000. While that may not seem to be a high dollar amount today, it was a substantial price compared to Chevrolet’s convertible at $755 or the Ford Deluxe convertible sedan at $900.

Today, being the only remaining example of the two 540K Sport Tourer models made and for its incredible story of survival, this magnificent automobile is considered one of the rarest Mercedes-Benz in existence.

When asked what the car’s current value is, Follis simply stated, “It’s a question we’re often asked. But how do you attach a number to something with such significant historic value? How do you put a price on that or to something which is the only one in the world?”

Those attending the International Auto Show in Grand Rapids will have the exclusive opportunity of viewing this automotive treasure as part of the Gilmore Car Museum display, in the Grand Gallery.

The 16th Annual Michigan International Auto Show is presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association and is one of 14 consumer expositions produced by ShowSpan Inc., in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1945, ShowSpan – a John D. Loeks Company – has grown to be one of the largest producers of consumer shows in the Midwest.

Michigan International Auto Show: February 6-9, 2014

Thursday, February 6 3:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday, February 7 11:00am – 10:00pm
Saturday, February 8 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday, February 9 10:00am – 6:00pm

Admission: $10 adults, $4 children aged 6 to 14. Kids 5 and under are admitted free.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kent County Lodging Assoc Announces 2014 Board

(KCLA Executive Board (l-r) Jenifer Cutter, Secretary; Brian Behler, President; Nick Fischioni, Vice President; Suzanne Nichols, Treasurer)

The Kent County Lodging Association (KCLA) voted in its 2014 Executive Board of Directors at its annual meeting on January 16 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.

The executive board includes:

• Brian Behler, Assistant General Manager for the JW Marriott, was elected to his sixth one-year term as President after previously two years as the organization’s Vice President and one year as its Secretary.
• Nick Fischioni, General Manager of the Hyatt Hotel, was elected to his first term as Vice President.
• Jenifer Cutter, General Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown, was elected to her first term as Secretary;
• Suzanne Nichols, Assistant General Manager at the Hyatt Hotel, was elected to her second term Treasurer.

Committee chairs, which make up the extended Board of Directors, include:

• Nick Fischioni, Hyatt Hotel – Membership Committee (Interim)
• Dan Hunt, SpringHill Suites North – Events Committee
• Renae Hesselink Nichols – Green Team Committee
• Ryan Slusarzyk, Amway Hotel Corp – Charity Relations Committee
• Megan Hill, SpringHill Suites North & Travis Mix, Susan G Komen – Experience Pink Committee
• Mike Donnelley, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel – Student Relations Committee
• Dianna Stampfler, Promote Michigan & KCLA – Scholarship Committee
• Emily Capron, Experience Grand Rapids – WAVE Awards Committee
• Rick Winn, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel – Communications/Political Committee

KCLA meets at 3pm on the third Thursday of each month at select venues throughout Kent County, including member hotels, restaurants and attractions. Two special events are open to the public, including a golf outing to be held on Wednesday, June 25 at the Stonewater Country Club, in conjunction with the Hospitality Department at GVSU and benefitting scholarship programs; and the WAVE Awards Recognition Ceremony held during the Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival on Thursday, November 20.

Re-established in the summer of 2005, KCLA is a non-profit, membership based organization made up of lodging properties and other hospitality businesses which service and compliment this industry. The organization meets monthly at hotels and destination properties throughout Kent County and also hosts educational training seminars, social activities and fundraisers for its hospitality scholarship fund.

KCLA serves to promote practical and fair cooperation with local, state and the United States governmental agencies on behalf of the Association members. It also works to advance and promote the fair exchange of information necessary in the public interest, or for the welfare of the lodging business as well as practical public relations in the interest of the lodging business; and encourages the spirit of friendly cooperation and the exchange of business among the members of the Association thus enabling the lodging businesses in the Kent County Area to better serve the public.