Royal Oak Raises Its Glass For Good Causes

By Shelby Clark Petkus

Royal Oak continued its dedication to parties for a cause with the Spring Beer Fest on April 26 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market.

Sponsored by the Spring Fever Beer club, the festival aimed to "promote craft beers and the brewers that create them." Like other Royal Oak Beer Fests at the city's farmers market, a portion of the proceeds went to local charities including Handy Hearts and Vista Maria.

Handy Hearts is a non-profit devoted to helping cover costs and services not covered by insurance for those battling cancer. Vista Maria bases its charitable mission on the goal of "delivering innovative care, support, treatment and education to vulnerable youth so that they heal, believe in their worth, and build the skills needed to succeed."

Unlike other Royal Oak Beer Fests, the charities being supported had little presence at the festival, though another nonprofit was referenced by some breweries: Lions Bear Lake Camp. The organization works to provide summer programs, recreational activities and more for youth with special needs.

The ever-increasing love for craft beer in Michigan, particularly local offerings, was even more noticeable at Royal Oak's Spring Beer Fest than its winter offering. There were empty pockets around the macrobreweries on site, including a consistently small presence around a corner hosting Blue Moon and Peroni - very conspicuous in a sold-out festival. Though Anheuser-Busch's Shock Top brand had a packed booth, primarily for its novelty "Pretzel Wheat," the longest, steadiest lines were for Bell's Brewing, Great Lakes Brewing and Birmingham's Griffin Claw Brewing Company.

Even breweries with more unique qualities had neverending lines, such as Jolly Pumpkin of Dexter, which brought two sour offerings: Saison Y and Biere de Mars. Saison Y sold out early in the night. Leelanau Brewing Company's "Good Harbor Golden Ale" continued the sour trend to the delight of many "sour" converts. Maryland brewery "collective," Stillwater Artisanal Ales, rounded out the sour/unique corner with its collection of saisons and farmhouse ales. Saisons and farmhouse ales are old styles making a comeback in the United States; traditionally brewed in the open, the mildly tart styles are made to be consumed in the spring and summer.

Like with other events, ciders, wines and even spirits were at the festival for those wanting to vary their palates. Sailor Jerry's Rum was the oft-asked about liquor throughout the night, while many went for Barefoot Wines, a respected sponsor of other LGBT events, including BTL's Same-Sex Wedding Expo in early April.

The night was rounded out with food, live entertainment, a DJ and the very popular "Giant Jenga" in the middle of the festival.

Royal Oak Summer Beer Fest will be June 20-21 at Campus Martius Park in Detroit. For more details on this and future beer fests, check out http://www.royaloakbeerfest.com.

Check out BTL's Calendar at http://www.pridesource.com/calendar.html for more LGBT events in Royal Oak.
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