Five years ago, the AABG's meetings could fit around a kitchen counter. But Chris "Crispy" Frey, the guild's treasurer and only elected official, says membership has spiked in the past three years, from around fifty to more than 175 people. He and other members attribute the increased interest, which is echoed nationally, to the connected local food and DIY movements. "The slow food movement seeks authentic and local products, and you can't get anything more authentic than a beer you make yourself," Frey says.
New member Michael Ericksen says he came to AABG by way of the craft beer movement. "When I discovered the greatest beer in Michigan, from a local brewery, Wolverine, I got interested in beer other than the light lager I've grown up drinking."
Many members grow their own hops--Luis Vasquez, who brews with his son Simon, says the flowering vines have "taken over" his front yard--and brewers also often add local flavors, such as Michigan apples and tart cherries. "We've done things that a lot of people don't do," Frey says. "We've done a salsa and chips beer; we've put Easter Peeps into our beer. If it's not good, we don't serve it. But if it gives an interesting and good new twist, we share it."
[Originally published in August, 2012.]