57 Brew Pub & Bistro among 80 brewers at annual Michigan Winter Beer Festival

From left, Jared Edison, Doug Berndt, Brewmaster Vic Aellen and Chris Wersom kept the 57 Brew Pub & Bistro beers flowing during the 2014 Michigan Winter Beer Festival. At top right, Brian Roeters of Rockford Brewing Co. hands out a sample of their craft beer. — Daily News/Brad Klosner

By Brad Klosner, Daily News correspondent

COMSTOCK PARK — In the frigid shadows of the large white tent, Vic Aellen watched the people in front of his table drinking dark, foamy liquid from small plastic glasses. Smacking their lips and smiling as they finished, Aellen knew he had done his job and done it well.

“A brewer’s nightmare is to strike the balance in what’s a good flavor without going overboard on one side and lacking on the other,” he said. “We got good flavors and good beers.”

Aellen endured the freezing temperatures on Saturday while manning the 57 Brew Pub & Bistro booth at the 2014 Michigan Winter Beer Festival. An ninth annual beer tasting event hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild, the Winter Beer Festival hosts some of the best beers Michigan has to offer. This year’s event boasted more than 800 distinct Michigan beers from 80 unique Michigan breweries.

“The festival is always great,” Aellen said. “It’s just a tremendous place to be where you see so many people that are so wildly enthusiastic about wanting to find new flavors in the beer industry.”

Brian Roeters and Amy Sheehans were manning the Rockford Brewing Co. booth at the 2014 Michigan Winter Beer Festival. — Daily News/Brad Klosner

As the brewmaster at 57 Brew Pub & Bistro, Aellen was trying to get the word out the beer in Greenville is getting more sophisticated. Touting a smooth Vanilla Bean Porter, a Mayan Midnight Stout, a Red Shedman Imperial IPA, a Ginger Snap Ale and a Belgian Margarita, Aellen wanted every one of the nearly 8,000 people in attendance to try his beer.

“It’s always nice to have (flavors) which are little different than everybody else’s,” Aellen said. “The big thing about (people) is they are finding out there is more to beer than just Miller and Bud. They’ve been trying to get out of their element and see what craft beer is all about.”

For more information about 57 Brew Pub & Bistro, visit their website at www.57brewpub.com.

In a separate tent across the festival grounds, Rockford Brewing Co. Brewer Brian Roeters was doing the same thing. He was pouring a variety of beers from the Rockford casks, including Hoplust IPA, Sheehan’s Stout and Little George (IPA) among others.

However, Roeters was on a mission when it came to his favorite beer: the Paradigm MPA. Not quite a pale ale and not quite an India pale ale, the Paradigm is a Michigan Pale Ale, or an MPA.

“It’s an all Michigan product,” Roeters said. “That’s what we are focusing on, just doing a super local Michigan product.”

Made with grains from Michigan Malting Company and hops from Hopyards of Kent Co., the Paradigm MPA is a passion of the Rockford Brewing Co. Roeters said the Paradigm MPA is “like an ESB crossed with an IPA” and features “cotton candy sweetness” in the malt body with a crisp, hoppy finish.

“You’re getting all these flavors from Michigan products,” Roeters said. “This is our number one seller. If I’m getting off work or just coming in with my wife, I’m ordering a Paradigm.”

During the Winter Beer Festival, Roeters was hoping he could spread the word about using local products to make strictly Michigan beers. He said one day they hope to make the MPA its own category of beer across the nation.

“Our ultimate goal is to get as many Michigan brewers as we can to do a Michigan product like this,” Roeters said. “We want a Michigan Pale Ale. We want to be the people that say ‘Let’s make this happen.’”

For more about the Rockford Brewing Co., visit their website at www.rockfordbrewing.com.

For more information about the Michigan Beer Guild operations and festival, visit their website at www.mibeer.com.

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