TRAVERSE CITY — The 4th Annual Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival opens with a new venue and a new craft brew week.
Slated for Feb. 9, the festival moves to the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market parking lots B & T, just off Grandview Parkway between Cass and Union.
"This location is pretty ideal," said Sam Porter of Porterhouse Productions, organizer of the event and its summertime counterpart. "It's right in the heart of downtown, it's safe, it's central, it will support downtown businesses."
This year the event is preceded by Traverse City Craft Brew Week, a celebration of the craft brew culture in Traverse City. The week kicks off Feb. 2 with a community craft brew crawl and culminates Feb. 9 with the festival itself. In between it will feature food-and-beer pairings, "meet-and-greets" with brewers, and educational and other events involving about 20 area businesses.
Want to sample an ale with aromatic hops from the Pacific Northwest or a double-cream dairy-free stout? They're here, along with 185 other flavors of beer, cider, mead and wine with names like This One Goes To 11 and Hell Hath No Fury Ale.
Besides beers and brewers from around the region, the state and the country, the festival will feature offerings from as far away as Canada and Belgium.
Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo will bring nine craft brews including its popular Two Hearted Ale and its January-February release, Bell's Hopslam Ale.
"That's the one that has the most hype and excitement behind it," said Bell's marketing director Laura Bell, of the double IPA made with Michigan honey and seven hops varietals. "It's just starting to roll out to different markets. People may be trying it for the first time."
The festival's popular Hop 'N' Brew tasting shack and home brewers contest also will be back, with professional and amateur brewers.