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Michigan Beer and Brat Festival: A Can't-Miss Memorial Day Celebration at Crystal Mountain

The Michigan Beer and Brat Festival has been a go-to Memorial Day event for thousands of people over the last 13 years, and it will take place May 26 at Crystal Mountain Resort. This year’s edition features 35 Michigan brewers and more than 100 beers for sampling. Some of the participating breweries include Founders, Right Brain Brewery, Perrin Brewing Company, and more. Attendees can also sample more than two dozen varieties of brats from local markets. Held at the base of the Crystal Mountain ski slopes, the event offers attendees ample room to relax and unique views of the lush surroundings. Drew Hale (3:00-5:00 pm) and The Rock Show Band (5:30-8:00 pm) will perform live music throughout the event. Each year there is a car show featuring a British Car Club and collection of unique electric vehicles. Purchase of a VIP ticket includes extended sampling hours, additional sampling tickets, a commemorative glass, and early access to on-site activities. Crystal Mountain Resort also offers a variety of activities ranging from Michigan’s only alpine slide to two championship golf courses. interviewed Director of Public Relations, Brian Lawson, to learn about this can't miss bash.


RAL: How long has the event been running? 

BL: We’ve been hosting the Michigan Beer & Brat Festival since 2005.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

BL: We had about 100 people the first year. Now it’s grown to where we actually serve over 100 different Michigan beers (from 35 brewers) to over 3,000 people.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

BL: It’s a beer festival, so it’s mainly an adult crowd. However, we’re also known as a family destination. Having the festival at the base of the ski slopes does give people the space to spread out and even though there isn’t a special “kid’s price” we do allow kids into the festival area. We've managed to create an atmosphere that works for everybody.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

BL: Having it at the base of the ski slopes provides a very distinct setting compared to other beer festivals. We were among the first in the state to hold a beer festival so we have a strong relationship with the brewers who come year after year and really look forward to the event. The Twin Bay British Car Club has made this a traditional stop and puts their cars on display for everyone to see. In more recent years we’ve also opened some spaces for Tesla and electric vehicle owners. There’s also a lot to do leading up the event – alpine slide, water park, two championship golf courses.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

BL: If you’re a VIP ticket holder the gates open at 3:00 pm and those 500 or so guests have an hour to themselves with our 35 brewers (VIP tickets can only be purchased in advance for $60 – includes 9oz glass and 10 tokens). General admission begins at 4:00 pm (Advance purchase is $30; $35 day-of-the-event – includes 9oz glass and five tokens). From 4-8pm it’s like a giant Memorial Day Weekend BBQ with great beer, brats, music and even some spirits from Iron Fish Distillery and wine from Brengman Brothers of Leelanau County.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

BL: Drew Hale is on the entertainment stage from 3-5pm and The Rock Show Band plays from 5:30-8 pm.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

BL: There will be a couple of dozen brat varieties including asparagus bacon parmesan, honey mustard, Hawaiian, steak & mushroom, blue cheese jalapeno, and bacon & cheddar. The Thistle Pub & Grille will also be open.


RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere.

BL: This is the unofficial start of summer and there really isn’t anything more fitting than beer and brats. I think it’s part of what’s made this event so popular. It’s 4-8pm so locals, guests staying at the resort and people who spent the day opening their summer cottages celebrate together. It feels a lot big cookout or block party.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

BL: We have a Michigan Beer & Brats Package starting from $112 per adult, per night. Follow the link for details. We have a great variety of accommodations. We just completed an $11 million expansion to our Inn at the Mountain. Each of these rooms is themed after an iconic attraction to northern Michigan – including Sleeping Bear Dunes, Point Betsie, Fishtown and Old Mission. Larger accommodations like the Cottages at Water’s Edge, Bungalows at Crystal Glen, Kinlochen or WinterGreen condos are just a short walk away from the festival and great for families or groups of friends getting together for the weekend.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

BL: Great beer and the people who brew it. Great food. Great music. Most of all, the great people who come to the festival year after year. It just gets the summer off to a great start.


When searching for the ideal spot for an “Up North” Michigan getaway, there is no better destination than Benzie County. The area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts featuring 25 miles of scenic Lake Michigan shoreline, 57 crystal clear inland lakes, and massive forests. At the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL), travelers will encounter one-of-a-kind natural scenery that was created by the receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age. From 400-foot tall bluffs to 65 miles of lakeshore, the SBDNL has something for everyone. Benzie County also features a rich history as well as a vibrant cultural and artisan scene. History buffs will love visiting the Benzie Area Historical Museum and Point Betsie Lighthouse, and art lovers can get a taste of the local scene at Michigan Legacy Art Park and Interlochen Center for the Arts.


For more information about the Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, please visit the event website.