For more than a decade, downtown Grand Rapids has come alive mid-November with an unprecedented display of food, beverage and culinary entertainment presented by the area’s finest chefs, restaurants and purveyors of libations from around the globe. This year’s 11th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival returns to DeVos Place Thursday, November 15 through Saturday, November 17 and is sure to continue the tradition of providing a world-class experience in the heart of West Michigan.
Six restaurants are offering intimate Pairing menus throughout the festival, a chance to sit down with the chef and watch as they prepare an elegant multi-course meal table-side paired with the finest wine, beer or spirits. Advanced reservations are required for these unique dining options, which can be done online here (menus are also posted): Pairing RSVPs.
An additional 15 restaurants serve up small plate offerings such as Charcuterie, Bacon Wrapped Beef Medallions with Bourbon Glaze, Wagyu Sirloin Satay, Pork Belly Pastor Tacos and Barbecued Vegetable Bowl served over Crispy Wheat, among so many other options. The complete menus are online here: Featured Restaurants.
On the beverage side of things, highlights of this year’s annual celebration include:
- The Vineyard – featuring 1,200+ wines of all styles and colors;
- Hemingway Hall – showcasing craft spirits and cocktails from Michigan’s finest distilleries;
- Beer City Station – highlighting the many flavors and styles of the craft brewing world;
- Cider Row – focusing on the growing hard ciders made locally and beyond;
- RendezBREW – encompassing the cordials and coffees paired with desserts and other delicious nightcap offerings.
Some of the state’s leading culinary experts return to the Meijer stage to share their tricks of the trade when it comes to preparing mouth-watering menus at home. Among this year’s topics: Maple, Bourbon and Bacon: A Great Seasonal Twist with Chef David Olson; Food and Flames with Chef Angus Campbell; Cooking with Michigan Wine, Beer & Spirits with foodie entrepreneur Jenn Fillenworth; New Southern Cuisine and Wine: Hand in Hand with Chef & Culinary Institute of Michigan Instructor Damon Covington; and Acorns and Other Wild Edibles: Fall Foraging Across the Great Lakes with wild foods chef and author Lisa M. Rose. All of the stage workshops are complimentary with paid festival admission. View the schedule here: Meijer Stage Schedule.
Once again, a series of free educational tasting sessions are held during the festival, including sessions like Why Cider Loves Cheese – Cider Styles and Pairings; Not Your Grandma’s Rosé: A Tasting of Rosés; The Power of Sour: Who Can Wield It?; Getting Naked with Chardonnay: Unoaked vs Oaked; Wine Cocktails: See How We MIX Them Up! and Developing Your Tastebuds among others. The complete schedule is available online here: Tasting Seminar Schedule.
In Hemingway Hall, New Holland Artisan Spirits stirs things up with a series of cocktail demonstrations and tastings including Simple & Sour: The Power of Citrus in Cocktails, Bubble & Squeak: Beertails & Mules, Old Fashioned: The Original Cocktail and The French 75 Connection: Tabor Hill Grand Mark and New Holland Artisan Spirits. You can view the session times online here: Cocktail Workshop Schedule.
Throughout the weekend, musical entertainment can also be found at the Festival, including Melophobix in The Vineyard, Jake & Jimmy Band and Valentiger on the Beer City Station Music Stage and a variety of performers in the RendezBREW seating area in the Grand Gallery.
Advanced tickets for the Festival may be purchased online for $15 per person and are valid for a one-time use Thursday, Friday or Saturday. A 3-Day Pass (available online in advance for $40) allows admission each day of the Festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience. Online sales of the 3-Day Pass ends once the Festival opens on Thursday, November 15. Purchase tickets online here: Online Ticket Sales (Ticketmaster fees apply).
Once the festival opens, tickets may be purchased onsite at the Box Office: $15 for Thursday or $20 for either Friday or Saturday entrance. The 3-Day pass is also available for $40 but must be purchased at the Box Office by 9 pm on Thursday, November 15.
Once inside, Festivalgoers purchase tasting tickets for 50-cents each which are used for all food and beverage tastings (excluding Pairings), with each sample requiring a varied amount of sampling tickets. Admission to this Festival is for those 21 or older, and valid ID is required to purchase tickets and to enter.
The 11th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival in 2018 will open on Thursday, November 15 and run through Saturday, November 17. Hours are 6-9 pm on Thursday, 4-10 pm on Friday and 2-10 pm on Saturday.
A free Festival App is available in both the Android and Apple systems. This free app allows guests to peruse beverage lists (including notes, ratings and personalized lists), schedule workshops and seminars, view restaurant menus and also purchase admission and Pairing tickets. Download it now and plan your visit, as well as use it to navigate the Festival.