Thursday, December 27, 2012

Beer City, USA to Host 2nd Annual GR Beer Week

Monday, February 18 – Saturday, February 23, 2013

In February 2012, Grand Rapids played host to the Inaugural GR Beer Week. In May 2012, Grand Rapids was named “Beer City USA.” One cannot deny that these two monumental events are unrelated.

Michigan's second largest city, whose metropolitan area is home to 13 craft breweries (17 if you include nearby Hudsonville and Holland into the mix), will again host GR Beer Week when the week-long celebration of all things craft beer returns to the city in the week leading up to the fourth Saturday in February.

This year's GR Beer Week coincides with Experience Grand Rapids' Cool Brews Hot Eats promotion, which takes place February 18 – March 2 at participating restaurants in the GR area. MIBeerWeeks, a subsidiary of Liquid Table Beverage Solutions, and producer of GR Beer Week, is partnering with with Experience Grand Rapids in the marketing and promotion of both efforts. Many of the same restaurants will participate in Beer Week, along with many bars and breweries, by hosting beer-centric events such as tap takeovers, beer dinners, rare beer releases, pubcrawls and more. Many “Beer Celebrities” will be in town throughout the week, participating in many of the events.

GR Beer Week is also being produced in cooperation with the Michigan Brewers Guild, whose 8th Annual Winter Beer Festival in Comstock Park on Saturday, February 23, is considered the “finish line” of the week's festivities.

“We are excited to be affiliated with GR Beer Week in its second year,” stated Eric Briggeman, President of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “The Winter Beer Festival sold out in record time this year, so a whole week of beer events leading up to the festival is not only great added value for festival attendees, but wonderful for our beer fans who were not able to get tickets this time. More focus on craft beer in Michigan is always a great thing.”

MIBeerWeeks and Liquid Table staff will host several signature events each night during the week, along with supporting additional events to be organized by breweries, wholesalers and the bars and restaurants themselves, dubbed Beer Destinations. Constant updates will be posted on Facebook and the GR Beer Week website.
More Information Online

About Liquid Table / MIBeerWeeks
Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is a privately-owned Detroit-based company. Formed in 2009 by Jon Piepenbrok, Liquid Table focuses on producing and marketing Experiential Beverage Events, including “Beer Weeks” in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids under the banner of MIBeerWeeks, focusing on craft beer, with an emphasis on local products, mead, wine, cider, and artisan spirits. Liquid Table also offers trade services, such as on- and off-premise consulting, education, marketing, and brand management. Our mission is to be the first and final word in educational, event, brand management and consultancy services to beverage industry professionals and consumers alike; growing market share and spreading knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the craft beer segment and beyond. Put simply, we promote better living through better drinking. For more information, please contact

About the Michigan Brewers Guild
The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state.
The Guild fully endorses and supports the efforts of Liquid Table and MIBeerWeeks in the production and marketing of such efforts as GR Beer Week, A2 Beer Week, and Detroit Beer Week.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation, with 129 current licenses – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” More information can be found at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Promote Michigan’s Top 12 Eats of 2012

It’s no secret that I LOVE to eat! It’s my favorite pastime...and fortunately, it’s also my job! As I travel around Michigan throughout the year, I’m always taking mental notes and posting photos on my social media channels to chronicle my culinary adventures (if you are fan/friend/follower of mine, you are well aware of this fact).

People often ask me, what my favorite restaurant is…and that just doesn’t seem fair (like a parent singling out a favorite child). I love many restaurants…but often there are specific dishes that stand out in my mind, that I crave for days and weeks (or sometimes months) after I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Here is my recap of my Top 12 Eats of 2012…a little trip down foodie memory lane!

#1 Catfish BLT — Chef Brian Brown at the now defunct London Grill in Plainwell. So good I had it twice within one week, just before the restaurant closed after 20 years of service to the community. This delicious summer dish featured heirloom tomatoes grown by Chef Brian himself…serving as the “bread” in between which breaded pieces of catfish and homemade mayo were sandwiched, topped with strips of crispy bacon. I still have a picture of this dish on my phone, and eagerly show others (including other chefs) the picture as I relive the moment, whenever possible.

#2 Gnocchi — Chef Matt Millar at Reserve Wine & Food in Grand Rapids. Served in the summer with heirloom tomatoes and in the fall with smoked rabbit, both featured the lightest, fluffiest, tastiest gnocchi I have ever tasted. As I sit and write this, I’m contemplating a “tie” with the Pork Belly Hash (boasting a beautifully fried egg) which was a popular item early in the year on the winter menu. Full of color and flavor (as most of Chef Matt’s dishes are) it was simply delectable! Last year, Chef Millar’s pierogies (with leeks and chestnuts) rated as my #1 eat. Of note, Chef Millar was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2012.

#3 Chilean Sea BassRed Ginger in Traverse City. I guess I never really believed people when they said this is among the most wonderful fish dishes – until I had it over the summer. This tiny filet had perfect caramelization and the texture was much like lobster – meaty and flaky all at the same time. A bit pricy, even by my standards, it is definitely a “treat” to be savored.

#4 Lamb RaguMichael Symon’s Roast in Detroit. Funny, when I went back to pick up the picture of my Facebook, I noticed that even then I referenced this would make my list of best eats for the year. Ironically, it wasn’t the dinner I ordered – but thankfully one of my friends let me try a bite…and it was incredible – rich, flavorful and filling. I tried, unsuccessfully, to trade my entrée for this one – but I did get to have a few more bites before it disappeared from the dish.

#5 Vitello Carciofini — Chef Jeffery "Hoffa" Hoffman at Café Cortina in Farmington Hills. Not typically one to order veal, I enlisted the recommendation of owner Adrian Tonon during my first visit to this amazing Italian restaurant in suburban Detroit. Mouth watering and dressed with artichokes (one of my favorites) in a white wine cream sauce, it was a delicious way to end a hot summer evening – dining under the twinkling lights on the elegant patio.

#6 Kale Salad — Chef Christopher Madsen at at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. So good, I had it every chance I could. Kale – a “super food” is super tasty as its cut coarsely in this salad, with juicy currants, crunchy pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese atop.

#7 Goat Cheese & Crab Ravioli — Chef Robb Hammond at Food Dance in Kalamazoo. I’m working my way through this menu, and have lots of favorites, but I’m a sucker for ravioli – especially when it encompasses goat cheese and crab! These little pasta pockets were packed with flavor. I also loved the tiny edible flowers that decorated the top.

#8 Porchetta — Chef Steven Grostick at Toasted Oak in Novi. Into every life, a little pork must be served…and that is certainly the case at this award-winning restaurant. Thankful I took a guest with me on my first visit, so that we could order and sample more. From a fine selection of charcuterie to one of the most amazing cornbread muffins I’ve ever tasted, to this beautifully rolled porchetta, it was a long and delightful evening of wining and dining.

#9 Shrimp & Grits — Chef Justin Dalenburg at Tavern 109 in Williamsburg. Admittedly, I hadn’t had grits since I was a kid and I honestly wasn’t thrilled about this dish but took it as a recommendation from my server. Always trust your server! It was full of flavor, textures and colors – perfect for the cold, rainy day that it was.

#10 Whitefish Grenoble — Chef Tom Rose at Four Roses in Plainwell. A tradition in my hometown of Plainwell – started at the former Aries Café (where Chef Tom earned his wings), this amazingly delicious entrée is one of my absolute favorites and has been since the first time I had it way back in high school. A flaky whitefish filet, topped with lemons, capers and tomatoes, with a side of Jasmine rice and veggies. Always a treat!

#11 Tabbouleh — Chef Kristin Karam of K2 Edibles in Traverse City. I found my liking for the fresh, Middle Eastern salad while visiting Jordan in 2005. Luckily, I’ve found a local source that is more than happy to supply me when a craving hits. A private chef and caterer, Kristin is a regular at Left Foot Charley Winery and also sells pre-packaged Lebanese foods at the Underground Cheesecake Company, both located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

#12 Wood Fired Toasted S’more — Chef Matthew Pietsch at Salt of the Earth in Fennville. With a restaurant widely renowned for its local produce and fabulous pork products, I expect you think it’s strange that I single them out for a dessert. But if you’ve ever had this monster s’more, you’ll know why it made the list. Big enough for a table of four, it’s baked in the wood-fired oven and boasts a decadent cake filled with chocolate and topped with a heap of marshmallow. Other online reviews call it “out of this world” and “masterpiece” and all are true. Definitely a fitting way to end an evening (and this list).

I look forward to visiting even more restaurants in 2013 – including some close to home and those spread out around the state of Michigan. Your recommendations are welcome!

Bon Appetit!

New Magazine – Flavor 616 – to Focus on West Michigan’s Hot Culinary Scene

West Michigan has garnered national attention in recent years for its thriving culinary, beverage and agricultural offerings – offering a prime foodie destination centrally located between Chicago and Detroit. Flavor 616 magazine is being introduced in January to celebrate this culture and share the stories behind the area’s top eateries and producers.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the support of some of the region’s top writers, photographers and designers who believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of something bigger,” says CEO/Publisher Rod Glupker – who honed his experience in the publishing and culinary worlds during 4 years as magazine manager at the now defunct Food For Thought magazine. “The energy that this group of individuals brings to the table is contagious and we are so excited to see what the coming issues may bring.”

Articles in the inaugural issue include a feature of Jarred Sper of Perrin Brewing Company in Walker by Tiffany Ewigleben; a focus on Mia & Grace restaurant in Muskegon by Marla Miller; “Getting Lucky” (Auspicious Foods for the New Year) by Michelle Swift; George Aquino’s “Foodienista” take on West Michigan eats and eateries; Allie Merrick’s “My Wine Words” column; “Spicing up those Tatas” by Cindy Krzykwa; Just Can It by Missy Black; the column “Beer and Food with The Beervangelist” by Fred Bueltmann and much more.

Flavor 616 will be distributed for free, monthly, and will launch with a circulation of 10,000 copies at locations throughout Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon and everywhere in between. It will also be available in PDF format online at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nation’s Leading Beer & Food Pairing Expert to Release “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy”

When it comes to the art of pairing food and beer, few are as knowledgeable or passionate as Fred Bueltmann – aka The Beervangelist. His ability to marry food and beer, combined with his flair for entertaining prose, make him one of the most impressive and charismatic individuals in the culinary world. As an industry leader and Certified Cicerone™., Fred has a keen sense of focusing on the local while spreading his message on an international scale – both in a verbal and written sense.

In 2013, Fred will take his message to the masses with the release of Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy – which is being published by Black Lake Press of Holland. Yet, unlike traditional publishing methods, Fred is taking a more personal approach to his project. Utilizing the online funding platform, anyone in the world can contribute to this exciting culinary project and in return receive everything from a limited-edition advanced autographed copy of the book to a VIP in-home four-course beer dinner for eight, prepared by Fred himself.

Essentially, this online system represents pre-orders for contributions of $25 to $1000. With a 30-day window, the project must accumulate $10,000 by Noon on January 18, 2013 in order to be fully funded. Given the return-on-investment, it’s a goal that should be easily accomplished. Once the funds are accounted for, the timeline takes a fast track with the book expected to be released via “print on demand” before the start of summer entertaining season.

“The Beervangelist’s Guide will connect readers to seasonal cooking, demonstrating that pairing begins with understanding when and where our food is coming from,” says Fred. “I’ll focus on sourcing, preserving and preparing food in a way that authentically connects us to our ingredients, making pairing opportunities abundant, rich and immensely enjoyable.”

Dispersed throughout the pages will be delicious and poignant photos from Jeff Hage of Green Frog Photo in Grand Rapids, who has helped chronicle Fred’s culinary contributions for the past several years.

“While readers will find numerous recipes and tips, this is as much of a book about entertaining and hosting as it is about food and beer pairing,” says Fred, who has been published in countless magazines over the years – including a column “Beer and Food with the Beervangelist” which has appeared in the no-longer-published Food For Thought and the newly introduced Flavor 616. His articles have also appeared in Women’s Lifestyle, Michigan: The Great Beer State and Michigan HOME & Lifestyle, among others.

As eloquent in person as he is with the written word, Fred has shared his beer knowledge to groups throughout the state and beyond, including the Michigan Brewers Guild; Michigan Restaurant Association; Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival; the former Epicurean Classic; and Siebel Institute of Technology. (Great American Beer Festival, Savor, Great Taste of the Midwest.)

In April, 2013, Fred will speak on a panel with others from the Michigan Brewers Guild at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, focusing on craft beer and its impact on the state’s thriving tourism industry. Fred has been an integral part of the Michigan Brewers Guild since it was formed in 1997, serving for eight years as the organization’s president.

When he’s not writing, speaking or judging at the Brewers Association’s, “Great American Beer Festival” each fall in Denver, Fred serves as a managing partner and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at New Holland Brewing Company, a post he's held since 2004. His beer career dates back to 1991, when as a hobbyist home brewer he started selling beer for a specialty beer distributor in his hometown of Chicago. He went on to manage the Midwest region for Warsteiner Importers before joining Bell’s Brewing in 1995, where he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for more than nine years.

The release of the “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy” is sure to be a well-used book for those who celebrate the culture of beer and food pairing, as well as those who seek to elevate their skills in the world of home entertaining.

I’ve known Fred Bueltmann, managing partner of the New Holland Brewing Company and past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, for more than a decade, and his skill as a home cook and expertise in pairing beer with food will certainly elevate and educate your palate! As the Beervangelist, Bueltmann brings the pleasures of chocolate, cheese and craft beer to their rightful place at the table. ~ Lucy Saunders, editor -

When you hear Fred Bueltmann speak about beer and food, it is difficult not to smile. His enthusiasm, passion, and detailed knowledge brings the very complex world of brewing to an understandable and approachable place that inspires those listening to take up the cause. The Beervangelist is also a walking professional resource. He understands how flavors connect and compliment, and explains it in a way that lacks pretentiousness and radiates welcomness. He makes learning about beer a pleasure and brings the world's most social beverage to a comfortable place in every home. ~ John Holl, journalist, contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and author of Craft Beer Kitchen

Fred is someone others follow. Not because he demands it or is a “natural leader”, but because he gives his life and the lives around him an almost inescapable inertia. His passion for food and drink swirl around him so enthusiastically that is is nearly impossible not to get caught up in it. Suddenly his opinions might become yours and something you never cared about might become your newest obsession simply after giving Fred five minutes to describe it. This is because he grounds his passions with real experience and knowledge. He understands that to be larger than life one must absorb as much life as possible, and share it with the world generously, honestly, and with integrity. Fred knows you can’t fake it and he never tries. Luckily, what springs from him – as naturally as breathing – is enough to keep you captivated. ~ Matthew Millar, Chef, Reserve Wine & Food, Grand Rapids, MI (James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist, Best Chef Great Lakes 2012)

Follow The Beervangelist on Facebook:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chestnuts Roasting over an Open Fire…A Christmas Eve Tradition at Café Cortina

Bring the family and spend Christmas Eve at Café Cortina. A prix fixe five-course menu will be offered (with a selection of six various entrees) on Monday, December 24 from 4-7pm. Chestnuts will also be roasted in the outdoor fireplace – a traditional ending to the yearly holiday dinner. The cost is $75 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are required by calling 248-474-3033.

The Tonon family opened Café Cortina in 1976 with a sense of family tradition and community responsibility, inspired by old word philosophies. Located in an Italian countryside vineyard setting in Farmington Hills, Café Cortina is one of Metro Detroit’s “best kept secrets”. Now regarded as a world-class culinary destination, Café Cortina proudly operates with a passion for people, memorably delicious food, genuine Italian hospitality, and an inspired philosophy of making a positive difference in their local community and beyond.

Café Cortina
30715 W. Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, Michigan

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Left Foot Charley Winery Earns Coveted Jefferson Cup for Riesling – Seventh Hill Farm (2011)

Left Foot Charley Winery in Traverse City has recently been awarded a prestigious Jefferson Cup for its 2011 Riesling – Seven Hill Farm, Old Mission Peninsula in the “White Vinifera Wine” category. It was the only Michigan wine to make the list this year.

The 30th Annual Jefferson Cup Invitational took place in mid November in Kansas City, MO. This noted competition features wines that are pre-selected to exemplify viticultural and winemaking in America. The invited wines have all proven their excellence in competitions and tastings throughout the year, and according to organizers, are extremely deserving of the nation’s attention.

From the original 700 invited wines, came 79 which were selected as nominees for the Jefferson Cup – and only 29 wines made that final list – including LFC’s Riesling.

"Earning a Jefferson Cup for Left Foot Charley has been on my radar for years,” says owner/winemaker Bryan Ulbrich. “This was the first time we had enough wine to enter into the invitational competition.”

The grapes for the 2011 Left Foot Charley Riesling were grown by Tom Scheuerman in a small, two-acre vineyard on the Old Mission Peninsula called Seventh Hill Farm. Only 310 cases of this medium sweet Riesling were produced, and fewer than 100 cases remain. It sells for $23.

“This is an excellent example of Riesling that will age gracefully over the next decade – truly one of the great vintages for this vineyard,” Ulbrich says. “I am so proud of Tom and our cellar staff's commitment to excellence – it has been a team effort 14 years in the making. Riesling loves Michigan!"

In all, LFC submitted five wines to be judged. The 2011 Missing Spire Riesling earned a Medal of Excellence (gold equivalent), while the Blaufrankisch 2011, Pinot Blanc 2011 and Pinot Gris 2011 each received a Medal of Merit (silver equivalent). Several other Michigan wines also showed well in this esteemed competition, receiving the equivalent of gold and silver medal status).

With more than a dozen years of winemaking to his credit at a handful of Northern Michigan wineries, Ulbrich launched his first 200 cases of Riesling under the LFC label in 2004. He and his wife, Jennifer, created Northern Michigan’s first urban winery in the center of the historic Northern Michigan Asylum – now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Ulbrich is quietly gathering the region’s top small vineyards and is showcasing them in the new LFC facility, which has been open since July 2007.

Left Foot Charley Winery & Tasting Room
806 Red Drive – Traverse City, MI 49684

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Café Cortina Carries On Family Tradition of Pairing Business with Local Philanthropy

When Café Cortina first opened the doors of its Italian eatery in the suburbs of Metro Detroit in 1976, it was with a sense of family tradition and community responsibility inspired by old world philosophies. Now, more than 35 years later, and under the direction of its second generation, Café Cortina retains its presence as one the country’s leading culinary destinations.

Located in an Italian countryside vineyard setting in Farmington Hills, Michigan and under the auspices of the Tonon family, Café Cortina started out as a “best kept secret” restaurant that has turned into a world-class foodie destination. This authentic Northern Italian eatery operates with a passion for people, memorably delicious food, genuine Italian hospitality, and an inspired philosophy of making a positive difference in their local community and beyond.

From the beginning, Café Cortina’s menu has reflected traditional hearty Northern Italian food from 150 years ago, presented in an exquisite and modern way. Although a popular restaurant trend today, this ‘true’ Italian gem is one of the first garden-to-table restaurants in the country. The café has always had their own onsite garden, producing about 70% of needed summer produce including herbs, tomatoes and peppers for roasting, creating a menu that is seasonally-influenced. Ingredients are mainly sourced in Italy, Michigan and California, with everything made in-house – including pasta and desserts.

In its nearly four decade long history as one of the more noteworthy metro Detroit “heart and soul” businesses making a difference, the locally- and nationally-acclaimed Café Cortina, has consistently strived to be more than just a restaurant.

“Breaking bread is one of the most powerful tools in life,” says Adrian Tonon, Director of Operations, third generation restaurateur, and son of co-founders, Rina Tonon and the late Adriano Tonon, “Food brings people together and, for us, it is a catalyst to making a positive difference in other people’s lives. Chefs, restaurateurs, and foodies need to create awareness that ‘we can help’ and we can change the world with food. When you’re in the hospitality industry, you touch one person at a time, but we all need to challenge ourselves to touch those outside the restaurant.”

From previously hosting a show intended for the Fine Living Network called “Culture Café” to his current venture, The Adrian Tonon Project, ( Tonon utilizes “philanthrotainment” to drive home his message that everyone has something to offer to make the world a better place.

The Adrian Tonon Project approaches nonprofit organizations and charities with one simple question, “What are three immediate nonmonetary needs you require assistance with in order to achieve your mission?” The Adrian Tonon Project then proceeds to prove that philanthropy is about more than money, services, and products by locating and working with other businesses in the quest to provide these specific needs. Tonon’s relentless pursuit to bring happiness and a helping hand to those around him is touching, inspiring and contagious.

In addition to his work at Café Cortina and The Adrian Tonon Project, Tonon, a father of four, also serves on the Board of Directors for Orchards Children’s Services, Founder of Food First Program of Michigan, a member of the International Visitors Council of Detroit, and an advocate for the Slow Food Movement, Children’s Center and Youthville.

Café Cortina is often seen as a place of special, meaningful celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, but other meaningful experiences occur at the café as well. Tonon often can be seen gathering community minded people together at a corner table in his family’s warm and welcoming “more than just a restaurant” to break bread while discussing solutions to area issues.

Between homemade courses of fresh salads and bread, scrumptious pasta, and savory main courses, bonds and alliances are formed, action plans are created, and people are united for a common purpose to do good work. From addressing neighborhood blight and crime, to providing education to children on the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits, to bringing people together to donate their time and talents, Tonon seeks to empower all individuals to join him in a movement to make a positive impact in other’s lives.

“I’m just following my passion, my dream and my family legacy of serving others,” he says, “and while I’m not sure where it’s going to take me and the restaurant – it’s just something I have to pursue.”

Café Cortina
30715 W. Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Café Cortina Facebook

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds-Michigan Names Lori Tews as New Executive Director

The Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) - Michigan has named Lori Tews as its new Executive Director. Tews has more than nine years professional experience, including more than six years in association management.

“As an association professional my focus has been in membership recruitment and retention, program and project management, governance, and budget development and forecasting,” says Tews.

Tews previously served as membership manager for the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), a 7,200 member dental specialty association. While in this role, she increased chapter participation in a dues collection program and managed the production of the annual directory. Prior to the AAE, she worked for CFA Society of Chicago, working closely with the CEO and leadership to enhance the usability of the member website, membership recruitment, and managed the logistics for more than 40 events per year. Her career in association management all began at the American Medical Association Foundation, where she worked with the Executive Director on governance issues and served as liaison between the AMA and the AMA Foundation.

A native of Bay City, MI, Tews holds a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Saginaw Valley State University and has completed eight graduate courses that will lead to a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from North Park University in Chicago, IL.

“As a child I spent numerous weekends camping, fishing and trail riding on ATV's,” says Tews. “I am so glad to be back in Michigan where I can experience all the beauty and wonders of this great state, but this time through adult eyes. I am very excited to be joining ARVC Michigan as the Executive Director. I look forward to meeting all of you and working with you to achieve the goals toward continued success of the association.”

ARVC-Michigan represents nearly 170 member campgrounds with more than 25,000 sites available throughout the state. These private campgrounds are promoted in an annual Michigan Campground Directory, available at various locations statewide, including all Welcome Centers. ARVC’s mission is to lead in the development of the RV Parks and Campground industry through education, communication and representation. ARVC-Michigan is a member of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Record Crowds Turn Out for 5th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival

6th annual festival returns to DeVos Place-Steelcase Ballroom: Thursday, November 21 thru Saturday, November 23, 2013

Organizers of the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival are reporting a record of more than 17,500 individuals for the 5th Annual event, which was held this past weekend in the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place – a 31% increase over 2011’s attendance of 12,000. Original projections for this year anticipated attendance at about 14,000.

“Grand Rapids is the perfect community for this event,” says Henri Boucher, Show Producer. “It is large enough to support it with interested people; it is an emerging dining and entertainment destination for the region; and yet small enough that most attendees run into friends in every aisle. We truly love working on an event that is so well received – and new ideas just keep on coming.”

According to Show Manager Dawn Baker, nearly every inch of exhibit space was utilized to offer festival-goers the best possible culinary experience. More than 1200 wines, beers and spirits; a dozen area restaurants; local producers of food products, accessories and home décor; and a dozen featured presenters made this year’s event bigger and better than ever before.

“The Convention Arena Authority is proud to co-host this event with Showspan,” says Steve Heacock, Chairman of Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority. “We thought that we had a good idea from the start but have been overwhelmed by the event’s success and how it has become part of the electric atmosphere that is downtown Grand Rapids. We look forward to the 2013 International Wine, Beer and Food Festival next November.”

Attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are all reporting back with positive feedback about this year’s festival.

Meijer – who has been an ongoing sponsor since the first year of the festival – plays an active role in the marketplace, as well as providing countless hours on the workshop and seminar stages.

“The show was a perfect place to showcase the many holiday solutions that Meijer has – food, wine and entertaining décor!” according to Shari Steinbach, Meijer’s Healthy Living Manger.

“This year was the best show and had the largest selection that would rival any wine and beer festival in the country,” says Ray Sierengowski, Meijer Corporate Research Chef.

Dates for 2013 have been announced for November 21-23.


We have been involved with this event since its inception and we feel that it is one of the premier events in West Michigan. Our customers appreciate that we are a part of such an upscale event in the community. Every year we see more and more of our customers at this annual event. – John M. Leese, President Harvey Automotive Group

The attendance was fantastic again this year. The Showspan staff was very helpful in meeting our needs. I would highly recommend the Grand Rapids Wine & Food Festival as an exceptional way to exhibit your company's products to the public. Congratulations on promoting another great event. – Greg Morano, Morano Foods, Inc.

The Wine, Beer and Food Festival is such a fun event for West Michigan - with all the great food and drink choices, it represented Grand Rapids well. And the complimentary vendors (like Old World Olive Press) made the event complete! – Shasta Fase, Old World Olive Press

The Grand Rapids Wine Beer and Food Festival is a great opportunity for us to connect with new customers as well as other business owners. – Lindsay Coonan - Lindsay Truffler, LLC

Once again, nice job to all for a fun, interesting and well organized event. – Bill Koski, Gilmore Collection Wine Club

We were delighted with the turnout for the show and also the wide range of attendees. In three days we met people from all over the Midwest, had them taste our delicious product and then gave them coupons for them to purchase at one of their local Meijer Stores. We were successful with the sales we had as well as the promotion we desired. We CAN'T wait to be back for next year! – Mike Freestone, Good Life Granola

This was our second time at the show and once again it was a great success for Great Lakes Pierogies! We were thrilled with the excitement from everyone to see us back again and all the positive feedback on how much people love our pierogies! – Theresa Arkesteyn, Great Lakes Pierogies

Best show yet…Great food with plenty of options for beer wine and even Jimmy Luv’s Bloody Mary’s, which the line never ended. Great job by both Show Span and SMG on truly professionally run event. – Tom Zuiderveen - Wine Brand Manager, Kent Beverage Company Inc.

One of the best opportunities we have every year to link to our existing customers and make new contacts in a fun and professional setting. Congratulations again to Show Span. – Don Coe - Managing Partner, Black Star Farms

Each year the Wine Festival gets bigger and better. This event also helps us learn more about what our Customers are looking for. – Tim Sanders, Henry A Fox Distributors

As a made-in-Michigan manufacturer, we were very excited to be a part of the Wine, Beer, & Food Festival. It was a great venue for spreading the word about our products and local dealers...and right in our own back yard! – Duane Gilbert, Marketing Manager - AGA Marvel

It has been great to watch the GR International Wine, Beer and Food Festival grow over the past few years. Like a good wine, the event just seems to get better and better with age! – Paul Stansbie, Grand Valley State University Department of Hospitality Education

This festival offers an incredible opportunity to meet true local foodies; to discuss food preparation, trends, and flavors; and to share stories and laughs with like minded people. It's an event we look forward to every year, and we are always energized and excited by the great people we've met, the tremendous foods we've eaten, and the fabulous drinks we've shared. – Drew McLean, Bear Boy Gourmet

Chateau Chantal experienced another great GR festival this year, providing us the opportunity to mingle with our fans, make new friends, and share our new release wines with an important market. – Marie-Chantal Dalese – Chateau Chantal

It was great to meet so many consumers enthusiastic about Michigan wines. People were excited to try our bubbly or to introduce friends to our brand which is what makes the festival so important to me. – Mike Laing Assistant Winemaker - M.Lawrence Sparkling Wines

For more information about the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival: or 800-328-6550.

Wine and Food Festival, LLC
2121 Celebration Dr NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
616-447-2860 • FAX: 616-447-2861

Food Dance Adds Bread Baking to Repertoire

Food Dance – West Michigan’s premier farm-to-table eatery – has added bread breaking to its impressive list of hand-made offerings, with the recent purchase of a German MIWE oven.

“I have always wanted Food Dance to produce as much of the food on each plate as possible,” says executive chef Robb Hammond – who has been with the restaurant for years. “Once we moved into our amazing new facility in 2007, we realized that the opportunity to create foods that could only be found here was immense. Whether it’s ketchup or bacon, sausage or bread, we pride ourselves on giving an experience unique to Food Dance.”

Chef Robb admits that changing a product from one used – successfully – for many years, comes with some trepidation. For years, Food Dance has sourced its various breads from the internationally-recognized Zingerman’s Bakery in Ann Arbor.

“For over a year, our pastry chef, Amber Burns, has been bringing us delicious bread she’s been baking at home. I knew with the right oven and her talent, we could bake great bread,” says Chef Robb. “I feel confident in our abilitly to take on this large undertaking and add to the overall experience for our guests here at Food Dance.”

According to Chef Robb, the process of baking bread is dependent on so many variables you can’t control. The weather on the day of baking or the day the flour was milled can have as much to do with the final product as the temperature of the oven or the correct kneading. It is a very intuitive craft that can only be learned through years of work, in various conditions.

“Why did we want to make our own bread? Because we are so passionately committed to making traditional artisan foods right here at Food Dance,” says owner Julie Stanley. “Besides, our bakers just LOVE to bake! With so much passion to be found under our own roof, we decided to push forward and try our hand at making bread. We are excited to share these new breads with you, and we plan to keep introducing new flavors as time goes on!”

This new MIWE oven will allow Food Dance to produce a variety of breads for its menu and marketplace, including sourdough, potato rosemary, ciabatta, whole wheat, focaccia, brioche and rye (on weekends).

Food Dance’s bakers will put hours into their breads – 18-24 hours for rising alone – to allow for the great flavors to develop. Other ingredients include naturally-fermented sourdough starters, yeast, unbleached spring patent flour, whole wheat berries, whole oats, local potatoes, free range eggs, fresh Wisconsin Grassland unsalted butter, Michigan honey, toasted caraway seeds, fresh rosemary, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil, resulting in a truly tasty loaf of bread.

As one of the original West Michigan farm-to-fork restaurants dedicated to using locally-produced food, the culinary team at Food Dance works to provide a positive environmental impact and educates its staff and guests on the importance that this mindset has to the culture and community in which we live. Food Dance also supports the belief that we are all mutually-accountable to obtain excellence, by providing opportunities that create community engagement through great food and great service.

401 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49007

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mixologist Rob Hanks of Reserve Wine & Food Named 2012 Winner of "Art of the Cocktail"

A creative cocktail called “Shipwreck Rum Punch” – crafted by mixologist Rob Hanks of Reserve Wine & Food – was named the winning recipe in the 2nd Annual Art of the Cocktail competition sponsored earlier this month by New Holland Artisan Spirits.

“I've always been inspired by the ‘old school,’ and thus was born the idea of a seasonal punch, the original of the mixed party beverages,” said Hanks, who has worked at Reserve for two years. “The idea of the punch was something to bring people closer together, so with this I keep the same tradition but by bringing West Michigan as a whole together through one beverage.”

Hank’s “Shipwreck Rum Punch” featured seasonal fruit (cranberries, grapes, raspberries and plums) macerated in New Holland Huron Rum, blended with more pure Huron rum, bourbon, house-infused cherry brandy, black tea, and lemon oleo saccharum. The drink was then topped with Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine from Michigan-based L. Mawby Vineyards and garnished with farm market green grapes.

Twelve bars and venues from the Grand Rapids community created cocktails using at least one of New Holland’s Michigan-made spirits and one fresh Michigan ingredient. The public voted on these cocktails, narrowing the field to the Top Five, which were judge by an esteemed panel of beverage experts on October 15 to come up with the winner.

In 2011, Reserve was named a winner of OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice Awards for Top Wine Lists in the United States – one of only two restaurants in Michigan to make the list. Earlier this year, Chef Matthew Millar was named a 2012 semifinalist in the James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes Region.”

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids at 201 Monroe Avenue NW, Reserve Wine & Food offers a world-class menu fully embracing the West Michigan farm-to-table philosophy in an elegant yet casual fine dining setting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Michigan Craft Beer “Enthusiasts” Offered Exclusive Fall & Winter Brewery Tours

One of the benefits of membership in the Michigan Brewers Guild “Enthusiast” program is special VIP tours and tastings at member breweries around the state. To participate in one of these special tours, one must be a current Enthusiast member – a group dedicated to celebrating the growing craft beer industry in the Great Lakes State. Enthusiast memberships are $45 each and are available online at MBG Enthusiast Membership. There is no additional charge for the tours, but reservations are recommended and attendees must show their Enthusiast card.

The Fall 2012 schedule includes nine (9) tours, beginning in early November and running through February.

Saturday, November 3 (1 pm)
Mt. Pleasant Brewing Co.
614 West Pickard St., Mt. Pleasant
989-400-4666 |

Join Head Brewer Kim Kowalski for a brewery tour in Mt. Pleasant. Contact Kim to make a reservation.

Saturday, November 10 (Noon)
Arcadia Brewing Co
103 West Michigan Ave., Battle Creek
269-963-9690 |

Offering a free brewery tour and $1 off beers. RSVP to Sean Kelley at

Saturday, November 17 (Noon)
Greenbush Brewing Co.
5885 Sawyer Rd., Sawyer
269-405-1085 |

Join the staff at Greenbush for an exclusive tour for Enthusiast Members. Spaces are limited.

Saturday, December 1 (11am)
Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids
616-776-2182 |

Join us on a fall tour of our newly expanded brewing facility, open exclusively to Enthusiast Members only. The tour has a limited number of spots, so respond early! RSVP:

Saturday, December 1 (11am)
Sherwood Brewing Co.
32411 Dequindre Rd., Madison Heights
583-532-9669 |

Sherwood will offer $2.99 lunch specials, $2 off pints and a tour with a brewer as well as free souvenirs for Enthusiast Members. Contact and RSVP: Lisa Sherwood –

Sunday, January 6 (Noon)
Arbor Brewing Co.
114 East Washington St., Ann Arbor
734-213-1393 |

Exclusive tour and tasting with Arbor Brewing Co. Spots are limited and you must RSVP in advance to by Friday, January 4.

Saturday, January 19 (1 pm)
Vander Mill
4921 Cleveland St., Spring Lake
616-842-4337 |

Join the Vander Mill crew for an exclusive tour. RSVP to Paul Vander Heide -

Sunday, January 30 (Noon)
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
5919 Chicago Rd., Warren
586-979-8361 |

Special tour open to MBG Enthusiast Members only. Samples and appetizers will be served. RSVP by January 17 to

Friday, February 22 (3pm)
New Holland Brewing Co.
684 Commerce Court, Holland, MI
616-510-2259 |

Beer Enthusiasts can sign-up online here: The password to get the free tour is Enthusiast 2012. Each participant will receive a 15% off coupon towards merchandise at the company store. Space is limited to 25. RSVP to or 616-510-2259.

At just $45, a Michigan Brewers Guild “Enthusiast” membership is a great value. Benefits include VIP status at our various festivals with early admission, discounts at participating member breweries, special VIP brewery tours, and a free MiBeer t-shirt. Purchase your Enthusiast Membership online at MBG Enthusiast Membership.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes well over $24 million in wages with a conservative economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Founded in 1997 and celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012, the Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, we strive to achieve a 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.

For more information, including a list of Michigan breweries, log on to ( |

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Michigan Brewers Guild Expands Staff; Shannon Kuchera Hired as Communications Manager

The Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG) – which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2012 – has expanded its staff to include a Communications Manager. Shannon Kuchera of Ann Arbor started in mid September and assists with many of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

“We are very excited about bringing Shannon on board,” says Executive Director Scott Graham. “Our organization and the overall industry are growing quickly and we need to be able to better serve them on multiple levels. Shannon’s addition to our team will allow us to do that.”

Kuchera, who also moonlights as a mosaic tile artist and owner of Mosaic Geek, worked for nearly four years as an online marketing coordinator and search engine optimization specialist at Fluency Media in Ann Arbor; was a national account coordinator for Warner/Elektra/Atlantic Corp at Borders in Ann Arbor; and remains active with the Chelsea Center for the Arts and Ann Arbor Art Center. She also taught English for two years in Moscow, Russia and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan.

“The enthusiasm around craft beer in our state is such an exciting, positive thing, and only promises to grow,” Kuchera says. “I'm thrilled to be joining the Michigan Brewers Guild and look forward to my role supporting the industry and spreading the love of great Michigan beer.”

In addition to its two staff members, the Guild operates with an active five-member board that is charged with developing the direction of the organization’s events, marketing, legislative initiatives and overall operation.

The Guild
Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes well over $24 million in wages with a economic contribution well over $133 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, the organization strives to achieve 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.


1997 – Creation of Michigan Brewers Guild
1998 – Inaugural Summer Beer Festival – July (Greenmead, Livonia)
2000 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates (Frog Island, Ypsilanti)
2004 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates & Expands to 2 Days (Riverside Park, Ypsilanti)
2005 – Inaugural Winter Beer Festival – February (Old Town, Lansing)
2007 – Winter Beer Festival Moves to Grand Rapids (Fifth-Third Ballpark, Comstock Park)
2008 – Inaugural UP Fall Beer Festival – September (Mattson Lower Harbor Park, Marquette)
2008 – Inaugural Detroit Fall Beer Festival – October (Eastern Market, Detroit)
2012 - Detroit Fall Beer Festival expands to 2 days

For more information, including a list of Michigan craft breweries, log on to

Friday, October 12, 2012

Atwater Brewery Celebrates its 15th Anniversary with Tashmoo “Bloktoberfest”

Atwater Brewery, Detroit’s hometown craft beer brewery, has joined forces with Tashmoo Biergarten to celebrate its 15th Anniversary, kick-off the 4th Annual Detroit Beer Week, and resurrect its legendary Bloktoberfest street scene.

On Saturday, October 20th, Detroit beer lovers can join the fun rain-or-shine inside and outside Atwater Brewery at 237 Joseph Campau in Detroit’s Historic Rivertown District (noon to 9:00 P.M.). In addition to its many award-winning styles of beer, Atwater will feature its Bloktoberfest, a Marzen style beer similar (but better!) than the famed German Octoberfest beers that have been enjoyed in German Rathskellars for centuries. Blocktoberfest guests can enjoy Detroit-based food vendors and live music throughout the day.

“Over the past 15 years, Atwater has become Detroit’s largest craft brewer,” said Mark Rieth, Atwater owner. “We decided to resurrect our popular Bloktoberfest as a way to celebrate and show our appreciation for our beer loving Atwater customers. Our friends at Tashmoo agreed to take their event on the road to join us.”

As a precursor to the Saturday festivities, on Friday evening, October 19, “Atwater Takes Over the Block” with its brews featured at neighboring Rattlesnake Club and Andrews on the Corner, both locations within a few hundred feet of Atwater Brewery’s historic 1919 warehouse. Both events are part of Detroit Beer Week, which runs from October 18 thru October 29.

Atwater’s Bloktoberfest brew is a traditionally styled “Marzen”. It is clean, with some light almond or walnut notes that come from the Munich malt. Then a touch of darker malt is added to bring in elusive raisin or fig notes. As is traditional in German brewing, the hop is balanced, with the slight, but perceptible flavor and nose of Hersbrucker hops. Atwaters other German brews, including D-Light, Atwater’s Lager, Voodoo Vator, Purple Gang Pilsner, Double Down and a special Dunkel will also be available.

For more information on Bloktoberfest (Saturday, October 20, noon to 9:00 P.M.) and other Beer Week activities, please visit:

Atwater Brewery (web) or Atwater Facebook
Detroit Beer Week

Did you know?

Marzen is the German word for March. The Marzen was the last brew of the year before the onset of summer, which made brewing impossible. A large quantity would be brewed and stored in Bavarian ice caves to be brought out during the summer. Once summer ended, the remainder would be tapped in bulk to be consumed at an annual festival which celebrated both the harvest and the beginning of the new brewing season. And, thus Octoberfest was born….

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Artist Studios, Galleries, Farms & Restaurants Featured in Arts & Eats

Dozens of West Michigan Arts & Foodie Destinations Spotlighted in this Self-Guided Agri-Cultural Driving Tour, October 20-21

More than 60 West Michigan artist studios, galleries, farms and restaurants – nearly double the number from last year – are participating in the 2nd Annual Arts & Eats weekend, Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, throughout portions of Allegan, Barry and surrounding counties. The tour is made possible with support from Hastings Mutual Insurance Company.

“With the addition of the Allegan County Tourist Council as a primary planning partner this year, along with the Barry County Tourism, Council, tour stops now extend from M66 west, all the way over to the Lake Michigan shoreline,” says Ginger Hentz, Barry County Tourism Co-Chair and Barry County MSU Extension Educator.

Arts & Eats is a free self-guided driving tour of artist studios, eateries featuring locally-grown food, and farms that feature the best in Michigan specialty farm products. Travelers are encouraged to explore the back roads to visit participating farms, art studios and central venues, which are open both days from 10am to 5pm. Restaurants are open during normal business hours; many will kick-off the tour the night before (October 19) serving especially prepared menu selections prepared with locally grown and purchased foods.

Art enthusiasts can visit more than two dozen different galleries, studios and central venues to view the works of local painters, potters, photographers, sculptors and other artisans. Artists welcome guests to their studios, while galleries feature some of the most talented local art for the tour. Those who do not have a public studio are displaying works at five different central venues spread out throughout the tour area.

New this year are two “Public Art” sites – one in Allegan at Baker Allegan Studios and the other at the old County Courthouse in downtown Hastings. This program, under the direction of Toby TenEyck, artist and professor with Michigan State University department of Sociology, will engage all travelers passing through the area to make their artistic mark on a common canvas.

Participants can also experience local foods both at the farms where the food is grown and area restaurants. Nine area farms that grow the food that we eat or that grow the fiber we wear are participating this year. This tour is a unique opportunity for people to visit farms that may not normally be open to the public.

Savor amazing seasonal fare at some 14 participating restaurants, where chefs use their creative culinary talents to pull together fabulous menu items – featuring local products – for tour-goers.

According to organizers, the tour has multiple purposes including raising awareness and appreciation of the region’s rural areas, and educating people about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of buying and consuming locally grown foods. Another purpose of the tour is to support Michigan artists as entrepreneurs and also to connect farmers with local restaurants which can provide locally grown foods.

“The idea driving Arts & Eats is to invite tourists to explore rural artists, agricultural venues and restaurants, all the while soaking in our beautiful fall scenic landscape,” Hentz says. “It also supports the area’s rich agricultural and arts communities, which are economic drivers to our local economy.”

Arts and Eats was introduced last fall by the Barry County Tourism Council and this year welcomes the Allegan County Tourist Council, along with other partner organizations, including the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, Hastings Public Library, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Promote Michigan, Thornapple Arts Council, and area artists, studios, and eateries. The premier sponsor is Hastings Mutual Insurance.

A listing of participants, as well as a PDF of the official tour map are online here. The tour guide/map are available at all the sites the days of the tour, as well as at participating venues throughout the month of October.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Valentine Vodka Adds 94-point Ranking from The Tasting Panel to Growing List of Accolades

Detroit-made Valentine Vodka has been recognized by Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel magazine as one of the top vodkas in the country with a 94-point ranking – 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,” says Owner/Distiller Rifino Valentine. “With these latest rankings 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!”

Blue, a recipient of a 2001 James Beard Foundation Award as well as the 1997 Communicator of the Year Award from the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, is one of the most influential food and wine personalities in the United States. In addition to being an owner and editor of The Tasting Panel, Blue is Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition – the nation’s largest and most prestigious judging events of its kind and is also the founding Director of its sister event, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Earlier this year, Valentine Vodka was awarded a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In 2011, this Michigan-made product received a Double Gold Medal in the “Best Domestic Vodka” category by The Beverage Tasting Institute also awarded Valentine Vodka with a Gold Medal “Exceptional” in both 2010 and 2011.

As Detroit’s first micro-distilled spirit since Prohibition, the award-winning Valentine Vodka continues to raise the bar for ultra-premium hand-crafted vodka with its clean, crisp and uniquely flavorful taste. As one of the first distilleries in the world to use a triple-grain recipe, Valentine Vodka is hand distilled from a blend of Red Michigan wheat, malted barley and corn, and is proud to use a 100% American supply chain.

After three years of intense research and study, Valentine Vodka reached the market in March, 2009. From Christmas 2009 to the same time 2010, sales for Valentine Vodka quadrupled. In April 2011, production moved to a 5000-square-foot facility in Ferndale and in February 2012 production once again expanded with the addition of a new world-class Christian Carl Still. Today, Valentine Vodka can be found in more than 1800 outlets throughout Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee.

Valentine Vodka is located at 161 Vester Street in Ferndale, Michigan. Online at ( |

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hop Harvest Scheduled for this Week for North Peak's Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA

Crafting rich IPAs is second-nature to the brewers at North Peak Brewing Company, and the new Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA is no exception. Brewed exclusively with fresh-from-the-farm Cascade and Nugget Michigan hops – grown and nurtured just a stone’s throw up the peninsula at the Old Mission Hop Exchange – Hoodoo proudly displays an unparalleled flavor just begging to be experienced. It registered a 99IBUs with a 9.0%ABV.

“Given its strong malt-backed spine, we gave this Hoodoo hops to run,” says brewer Ron Jeffries, who along with brewer Mike Hall bring a combined 40 years of brewing experience to their North Peak beer recipes. “It starts hoppy, ends hoppy and is nuthin’ but hops in the middle. Well, okay, a little malt in the middle – just enough to keep this Hoodoo from getting fussy. But, it’s pretty much nuthin’ but hops.”

The brewing team at North Peak has taken a different approach to Hoodoo, making it the first wet hopped beer in their repertoire. Wet hopping involves utilizing raw, unprocessed hops that are used straight from the vine within hours of harvesting. Due to the moisture content, one ounce of fresh hops is much less bitter than a comparable mass of dried hops.

Keeping it local is vital to brewing culture and as such should be recognized and celebrated. North Peak is openly dedicated to a circle of beer making on the peninsula. The hops are sourced locally for beer making…beer produces spent grain (rich in nutrients) which is fed to Angus and highland cattle at Leggitt Farms on the peninsula…cows make manure, which is turned into fertilizer that is sent to Marigold Farms and Old Mission Hop Exchange for their hopyards…which produces the quality hops.

Not to mention the cattle which finds its way on the menus at both Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin, part of the Northern United Brewing Company operation on Old Mission Peninsula. Imagine yourself sitting down for a juicy Leggitt burger (topped with local cheese, lettuce and tomatoes), paired with a cold North Peak brew. It doesn’t get much more local than that!

So where did the inspiration for Hoodoo originate? Hoodoo is a form of traditional folk magic that developed from the blending of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions. It incorporates practices from African and Native American customs, as well as some European magical practices. While the Hoodoo man is a trans-cultural phenomena, his roots run deep in Northern Michigan. He is often seen dancing and chanting, drinking up brew that bears his name, as if under some type of mystical spell.

Hoodoo will be available on draft and in the brand’s trademark 12-ounce stubby-bottle 6-packs starting late September through the harvest season. Find it throughout Michigan and Ohio, wherever your favorite North Peak beers are sold.

The North Peak is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales craft beer brands, as well as the Civilized line of spirits and Bonafide Wines. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either its 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table (former Bowers Harbor Inn) restaurant or at the original Jolly Pumpkin facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Salt of the Earth & New Holland Brewing Company Host 2nd Annual Harvest Dinner (Thurs Oct 18)

A five-course Harvest Dinner – showcasing the award-winning craft beers from New Holland Brewing Company and the region’s agricultural bounty – will grace the table at Salt of the Earth in downtown Fennville on Thursday, October 18 at 7pm.

In the days before the dinner, teams from Salt of the Earth and New Holland Brewing will visit local farms – walking fields, tasting produce, talking to farmers and gathering ingredients and inspiration for this special menu. These farms include Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery, Coachstop Farms, Cranes Orchard & Eaters Guild. The crafting of the menu and the meal itself will be a collaboration between Salt’s Executive Chef Matthew Pietsch and New Holland’s “Beervangelist” Fred Bueltmann.

Each course will be paired with beers from New Holland – likely to include Hopivore, a Harvest Ale wet-hopped with 100% Michigan hops; Ichabod Ale brewed with pumpkin; Grain of Salt - an ale with Michigan wheat and hops, collaboratively brewed earlier this summer to celebrate Salt of the Earth's 3rd Anniversary; and a barrel-aged Grain of Salt, with smoked blueberries.

New Holland’s “Harvest Series” is a collection of events running mid-September through mid-October that celebrate the local agriculture bounty. Through this series, guests are invited to learn about farms, artisan producers and more at various soirees designed to boost awareness of the incredible agricultural region in which we live. Events take place both in the Pub in Holland and out and about in the market.

Space for the dinner is limited to 50 people, and reservations are required. Call 269-561-SALT (7258). The cost for each dining experience is only $60 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Dinner starts at 7pm and is expected to last approximately two hours.

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 rising star 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 for menus, current hours of operation, house concert, and event schedules.

New Holland Brewing Company, established in 1997, has grown from a scrappy two-man start-up to a thriving regional craft brewery and craft distillery, recognized for its creativity and artistry. Their mission “to enhance customer’s quality of life by providing the most remarkable experience possible and empower an artistic approach in all aspects of our craft” shows up in our diverse, balanced collection of beer and spirits. New Holland brews and distills at two locations in Holland, Michigan (a production facility on the north side and the Pub & Restaurant, downtown). The restaurant welcomes guests seven days a week and production tours are on Saturday afternoons. In 2012, New Holland Brewing will ship more than 20,000 barrels of beer across 15 states and shipped several thousand cases of spirits to more than eight Midwestern states. For more information about this award-winning brewery, distillery and restaurant, visit

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Lord of the Gourd" Takes 2012 Show on the Road

Be awed and inspired this harvest season with the intricate artwork demonstrations by custom pumpkin carver Pat Harrison – the self-proclaimed “Lord of the Gourd.” Harrison, who hails from Allegan County and currently resides on the Leelanau Peninsula, showcases his creative carving skills at throughout the state in the coming months. The schedule is below.

“It all started more than a dozen years ago in Oakland County at Oakhaven Farm near Holly where Nick and Pam Nichols saw what I did and asked if I'd be interested in carving at their farm on weekends…it just grew from there,” Harrison says.

Harrison is making autumn rounds throughout Michigan, transforming pumpkins and gourds into intricate decorations, while also entertaining his crowd by providing musical entertainment via harmonica.

“Everything I carve, I do freehand…I prefer to make it up as I go along,” says Harrison. “If you try to make it look like something, sometimes you end up fighting the pumpkin instead of doing what feels naturally. I'll start with a pair of eyes and just take it from there.”

Much of his free time is spent driving around seeking the perfect pumpkin for sculpting. “The more unusual the shape, the better,” he says. ”Sometimes I can already see what the pumpkin has to be when I see the shape.”

During the course of the day, Harrison can create as many as 10 works of art, depending on the size of the pumpkin and the level of interaction with his audience. Sometimes he carves whole pumpkins and sometimes they are hollowed out, so that they can be illuminated. Each offers a very different overall look to the finished project.

Because of the sharp tools, he’s careful not to rush his projects. “Safety has to come first…I consider it a successful day if I still have 10 fingers at the end of the day!” Harrison says his tools are very basic and include an Exacto blade, penknife, paring knife and clay carving chisels used to clean up the edges. “I actually got my two favorite knives at garage sales!”

“People ask so many interesting questions and also the basics like ‘How long does it last?’ or ‘Where do you get your ideas,’” says Harrison, who jokes that his designs are not borrowed from Martha Stewart.

To read more about the Lord of the Gourd, check out this article by Promote Michigan’s Dianna Stampfler, which appeared in the fall 2011 issue of Michigan HOME & Lifestyle Magazine:


Sept 29-30 South Lyon Pumpkin Festival (11am-5pm)
Oct 2 Grand Traverse Pavilions (9am-4pm)
Oct 3 St. Mary's of Hannah in Kingsley (9am-3pm)
Oct 4 Nonna's at The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor (5-8pm)
Oct 5 12-4 the Fruit Dock in Traverse City (Noon-4pm)
Oct 6 Benzie Fall Fest in Beulah (10am-3pm)
Oct 7 Great Water Festival St. Ignace (11am-3pm)
Oct 11 Kingsley Library (3:30-6pm)
Oct 12 the Pathfinder School TC (Noon-1:30pm)
Oct 13 Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor (Noon-4pm)
Oct 14 the Jolly Pumpkin Pumpkinfest III on Old Mission Peninsula (Noon5pm)
Oct 15 Oshtemo Library (2-7pm)
Oct 16 Otsego Library (2-7pm)
Oct 17 Kalamazoo Library (2-7pm)
Oct 18 Allegan Library (1-5pm)
Oct 21 Robinette's Cider Mill in Grand Rapids (Noon-5pm)
Oct 22 Mattawan Library (2-7pm)
Oct 24 Bay Ridge Assisted Living (12:30-4:30pm)
Oct 25 Charlevoix Library (10:30am-4:30pm)
Oct 27 Jeep Creep in Gladwin (2-7pm)
Oct 30 Fife Lake Library (1-6pm)
Nov 3 Cherry Republic in Traverse City (1-3pm)

More dates/venues may be added.

To book the Lord of the Gourd, contact Pat Harrison:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hooligan Strikes Again! North Peak's Pumpkin Ale Bottle Form

The shenanigans continue as North Peak Brewing Company announces the return of Hooligan – a hoppy 5.5ABV/35IBU pumpkin beer, just in time for the fall harvest season. For the first time, Hooligan makes is arrival not only on draft but also in the brand’s trademark 12-ounce stubby-bottle 6-packs.

“It’s no trick. This brew delivers all the spicy pumpkin goodness one could ask for, along with a kick of hops,” says brewer Ron Jeffries, who along with brewer Mike Hall bring a combined 40 years of brewing experience to their North Peak beer recipes. “Hooligan is brewed with real pumpkin and fresh spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, oh my). And, did we mention…hops? Hooligan is brimming with locally-grown hops.”

So who is this Hooligan you may ask? He is a legendary and impish figure who appears but once a year on Devil’s Night, October 30 – the night before Halloween. He lurks through the darkness, traipsing in the shadows from house to house with a rogue gait and a devilish grin on his face. This scoundrel is more mischievous than wicked, yet his reputation for mayhem is wildly known. Anyone who has woken up on Halloween morning to find their pumpkins smashed or yard toilet-papered is familiar with the antics of the Northern Michigan Hooligan.

Hooligan is available now through October when the last pumpkin is smashed. Find it throughout Michigan and Ohio, wherever your favorite North Peak beer is sold.

The North Peak is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales craft beer brands, as well as the Civilized line of spirits and Bonafide Wines. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either its 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table (former Bowers Harbor Inn) restaurant or at the original Jolly Pumpkin facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

Northern United Brewing Company
Jolly Pumpkin Brewery | Mission Table at Bowers Harbor Inn
13512 Peninsula Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 223-4222

Monday, September 17, 2012

Saugatuck Brewing expands into Chicago market

Saugatuck Brewing Company has entered into a distribution agreement with Louis Glunz Beers, Inc. and will be offering product throughout metro Chicago beginning this month. This adds to the existing distribution of the full state of Michigan.

To celebrate the launch, SBC will be hosting promotions and “tap takeovers” in various Chicago craft beer pubs during the week of Sept. 24.

SBC recently underwent its third brewery expansion in less than 12 months, more than doubling their brewing capacity during this period.

Saugatuck Brewing Company is a microbrewery with a family friendly pub/restaurant, complete with outdoor seating and an upscale banquet room (“The Singapore Room”). Fifteen unique beer styles, all brewed in house, plus wine and hard cider are served daily in the Pub. “SBC” also distributes eight styles in 6 and 4-packs, plus kegs throughout Michigan and metro Chicago. The brewery features one of the only active brew-on-premise facility in Michigan, utilizing five copper kettles and an array of natural ingredients and recipes, for the public to become “Brewmaster for a Day.”

Saugatuck Brewing Company
2948 Blue Star Hwy. - Douglas, MI 49406
(269) 857-7222

The Brew Trail Starts In Michigan!

Great American Brew Trail Announces Launch of Television Series On ABC Affiliate WOTV4 Sponsored By Spartan Flagship Stores

Premiering Friday September 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM on WOTV 4.

The Great American Brew Trail is a Grand Rapids MI based, nationally produced program that captures the excitement and growth of the microbrewery industry.

“After three months of production throughout Michigan the 1st season will premier September 28,” says Executive Producer Matt Renner. The 13-episode season features talented Host, Home Brewer and Chef, Amy Sherman “Tasting her way across the USA one pint at a time.”

Traveling throughout Michigan in Season 1, the Great American Brew Trail spotlights breweries that are top shelf in craft beer creations. GABT is a journey into the growing culture of food, beer and fun.

Small breweries have been a staple of local communities throughout history and the resurgence of local craft beer is something sponsor Spartan Flagship Stores (D&W, Family Fare, VG’s and Glens) are excited to support – especially here in Michigan, where around 100 breweries now operate. The Great American Brew Trail program highlights the passions and creativity of the breweries in the TV style of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

In April, 2012, the Great American Brew Trail won the inaugural Eclipse Award for excellence in TV series production for its pilot episode. Presented by WKTV in Grand Rapids, with the West Michigan Film Video Alliance, the Eclipse Award honors the best original works in film, video, sound and television production. GABT Show Creator & Executive Producer, Matt Renner, and Host & Producer, Amy Sherman, accepted the award.

For up to date info on the Great American Brew Trail visit: |

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Homestead Plans 4-Day Oktoberfest Celebration (October 4-7)

In 1810, the Crown Prince Ludwig was married to Princess Therese of Bavaria. The party they held was so popular that they decided to repeat it every year. In celebration of this honored Oktoberfest tradition, The Homestead is planning a weekend gathering, October 4-7.

A series of events designed to pay tribute both to German traditions and Northern Michigan’s own local harvest will provide an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest, along with good company, good food and good beer.

The weekend’s activities include:

Thursday, October 4 (6-8pm) – Nonna’s Beer Tasting: guests will sample a variety of the best local and international beers, all carefully chosen and presented by The Homestead.

Friday, October 5 – Nonna’s Beer Dinner: featuring the microbrews from the award-winning Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, carefully matched to a variety of dishes by Executive Chef John Piombo. (Cost: $65 per person, plus gratuity and tax).

Saturday, October 6 – Charcuterie Demonstration: Chef Piombo – who trained in Germany as well as Italy, France, and the United States – will share information (and samples) about charcuterie (the craft of smoking, salting and curing meats). (Cost: $50 per person, plus gratuity and tax).

Sunday, October 7 – Car Show & Cookout: guests will round out the weekend with some traditional fare such as Weisswurst and soft pretzels, while admiring a variety of vintage cars on the lawn of The Inn. The car show and cook-out from 11am to 4pm. Show participants may register the day of the event for $10 per vehicle which includes lunch.

Weekend lodging packages available including lodging, breakfast buffet each morning, beer dinner and charcuterie demonstration.

The Homestead is Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an area voted by viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America as the “Most Beautiful Place in America”. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers guest pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; and shops, restaurants, meeting centers and the luxurious new Spa Amira throughout all four seasons.

For more information, visit or call 231.334.5100. “Like” The Homestead on Facebook: and follow on Twitter at @TheHomesteadMI.