By K.D. Norris
Everybody who enjoys a good pint of pale ale, and many who wouldn’t know a lager from a stout, knows West Michigan has some of the best craft beer brewing in the country — they do not call Grand Rapids a “Beer City” for no reason.
But you probably have to be a pretty connected cocktail drinker to know that the state’s craft distilleries are also rapidly becoming known as a source for some of the best distilled liquors anywhere.
“Michigan distilleries are absolutely becoming recognized as one of the country’s best regions for distilled spirits,” said Brad Kamphuis, director of distillery operations at New Holland Spirits, a sister company to New Holland Brewing. “We have a great customer base in Michigan that wants to know what they are drinking and who made it. It has really driven creativity and authenticity into the distilling process.”
Anybody familiar with the taste of West Michigan small-batch gin in their summer gin and tonics knows exactly what Kamphuis is talking about when he says “authenticity” in the process.
Anybody who is not familiar will get a chance this Friday, Sept. 15, when the Michigan Craft Distillers Association hosts the inaugural Michigan Distilled festival, featuring craft spirits and cocktails made around the state — alongs with food and music.
The event will run from 6-10 p.m., under the pavilion at Fulton Street Farmers Market, 1145 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids.
Among the nearly two dozen distilleries from across the state expected to be present include local Grand Rapids area companies Bier Distillery, Grey Skies Distilling Co., and Long Road Distillers. Food will be provided by Slows Bar BQ, New Holland’s The Knickerbocker, Journeyman Distillery and Long Road Distillers.
Music to be provided include local favorites Megan Dooley, The Bootstrap Boys, Cønrad Shøck + the Nøise.
And Kyle Van Strien of Long Road also sees the “local focus” of West Michigan distillers as being more than just where the distilling takes place.
While “our spirits are gaining national and international attention,” Van Strien said. “We have an abundance of high quality, local agriculture that we can use to create world-class spirits right at home.”
General admission tickets are $40 and include five 3-ounce batch cocktails or ¼-ounce samples of spirits available from each distillery.
A special VIP Hour will be offered from 5-6 p.m. when guests will be offered “an enhanced experience with handcrafted cocktails and a chance to meet with local bartenders and mixologists,” according to supplied material. VIP tickets are $75 — and include a swag bag and commemorative logo cup to prove your are “experienced”.
Designated driver tickets will be sold at the gate for $5 each. Attendees must be 21 and valid photo ID is required for entry.
For more information and tickets visit MiDistilled.com.