World Expo of Beer - Frankenmuth Michigan

Frankenmuth's Jaycees put on a great beer festival with over 60 breweries present. A two night event, there was plenty of beer to be tried!

I was excited to return to Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” and the World Expo Beer event sponsored by the Frankenmuth Jaycees on May 20-21 gave me the perfect excuse.

The event kicked off on Friday evening and ran from 5 to 10 PM and also Saturday from 3 to 10 PM. Admission was $7 which got you a 2 ounce tasting glass. After that, you had to buy tickets for $1.25 for each taste. With over 60 breweries represented, there was plenty to pick from since each brewery brought along a wide selection of their beer.

The festival grounds make the perfect venue for such an event. The main Festhalle is a large metal building with a white and blue roof and concrete floors. The bathroom facilities are nice and modern which reduced the need for portable toilets. Next to the main hall there was also a large tent set up. This was all natural grass and thankfully it didn’t rain, otherwise this might have gotten pretty messy. Outside the tent there were a number of picnic tables set up, making for a nice little beer garden atmosphere.

Friday night was had a nice crowd and things ran at a smooth tempo. There was lots of time to talk to the brewery representatives and the volunteers. It was easy to taste several beers from one brewery and discuss them. Saturday afternoon it took a few hours to get everyone into the event from the enormous lines outside. Once they were in things were pretty busy. Some lines were 50 people deep for the most well-known breweries. It’s hard to understand why, since you could go to a lesser known brewery and not even wait 5 minutes to try something you’ve never had before. Since I was warned about this, I went to all my “old friends” on Friday and saved the littler guys for Saturday.

Since BayernTrips was a sponsor, Vonia and I had access to the VIP area which was well worth it. In the back there was a rotating stock of 5 taps and you were welcome to try a healthy portion of the beer. There was also food set-up for the vendors. This area was reserved for the brewery people to relax and sit down during breaks from the main floor. It was a welcome respite from time to time.  From a business stand-point, we had our banners and posters hung up and we tried to pass out our coasters as well. The coasters were a huge hit and we couldn’t keep them on the tables! Plus, Vonia and I walked around in our Tracht and posed for lots of pictures. It was really a lot of fun!

The Jaycees really did a great job with the event. It was well organized and, most importantly a safe event. There were shuttle organized to local hotels and the Frankenmuth Police were patrolling the grounds regularly. Everyone was a really friendly and all the participants really got into the spirit of things. The Bavarian Inn was running a Masskrugstemme contest every few minutes and Saturday features a Beer Pong competition.

We were also happy to meet up with several old friends and meet several new ones. Our buddies from Keweenaw Brewing were there, so it was fun to hang out with the Yoopers for a while. We also meet up with the people from Bell’s, Sam Adams, and Dragonmead. Plus we finally met the fellow from Hofbräu USA and had a great time getting to know Andreas from Bavarian Specialties and Dave who is representing Unertl .  We also found out more about the upcoming Bavarian Fest in Frankenmuth on June 9-11 and are signed up to sponsor that event as well.

Frankenmuth is worth a visit at any time, but be ready for a heavily Americanized version of German Culture. We stayed at the Bavarian Inn which is decorated really cool and is famous for their chicken dinners. They have a great little beer list and I was very happy with my rouladen, especially paired with a Schlenkerla smoked beer. But, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a proper Weissbier glass to be found in the whole place. Vonia wasn’t so impressed with her meal either.  We did also visit the Frankenmuth Brewery. This is a large modern building in downtown Frankenmuth with a ton of outdoor seating. I had three of their beers and all were good, but the Dunkles was quite impressive. I’d highly recommend that if you’re in the area.  

Frankenmuth has an interesting history and it was just written about in a 3 page spread in the spring edition of German Life Magazine. Check it out!