Beer lovers and people watchers are already getting cranked in anticipation of the annual Big Rapids Germanfest to be held Sept.19 under the big tent next to St. Peter Lutheran Church. This is one of the premiere events of the early fall and is a fundraiser for St. Peter's school. Now it may seem a bit early to be plugging Germanfest, and Germanfest isn't exactly a beer festival per se. It is a fundraising dinner that features some excellent beers. But ... the date is coming up fast, (faster than one might expect.) And tickets are always very limited. Germanfest at St. Peter was first held back in 2006. Lots of people showed up for the party. And then ... the event simply took off. Look, Gentle Reader. This is the place to be. The beer is great. The food is pretty dang spectacular. The company is just wonderful. Let's start with company. Germanfest is an opportunity to sit down with lots of people you may know, and lots of people you may not ever have chanced to meet under other circumstances. It is a great way to spend an evening with old friends, and to create some more "old friends" as well. The food is stunning in both quality and quantity. The Germanfest website says it best: "This is not a hot dog and domestic beer party like some supposed "German" parties. Rather, the intent is to have an enjoyable evening featuring a real German dinner buffet, real imported Bier and Wein, and dancing to real German music on our spacious wooden dance floor - all under 20,000 square feet of "Big Top" tents." The event was inaugurated to honor the history of St. Peter's early German Lutheran community and, as noted, as a fundraiser for the church school. It has hyper-succeeded on every count. And the beer ... Organizers early connected with the Hofbrauhaus Brewery in Munich to be the sole providers of classic German beers for the festival. They have done well. Most of the beers are very, Very, VERY good. Standard German fare, and that's OK - especially for this type of event. Those attending can choose from a classic lager, the year's Oktoberfest edition, and an exceptional Weissbier. In my humble opinion, however, the star of the show is the Dunkel - described by organizers as "a perennial favorite." The Hofbrauhaus Dunkel is a full-bodied, creamy, rich, dark beer. Absolutely delicious. Scrumptious and a great complement to the traditional German table. Hofbrauhaus is a brewery that has been around since 1589. Today they produce highest quality beers including the Hofbr\u00e4u Dark Beer, the Hofbr\u00e4u Original a fine mildly bitter brew., the M\u00fcnchner Weisse, light, sparkling, tingling, the Radler - a beer with lemonade not unlike a shandy, and a Dark Radler - dark beer with lemonade. The unique qualities of the beers behind the counter at St. Peter's event simply highlight the wonderful food. The music is great ...AND LOUD!!! Tickets are on sale now, and honestly don't last long. The 'party' is worth every penny - and it is all in support of a great cause. Don't miss out on the 9th Annual Germanfest. For tickets, call 231 796-2511. HopoThermia Alaskan Brewing Co. Juneau, Alaska I think this Imperial IPA may be one of the first beers I've had out of Alaska. How exciting! HopoThermia pours a rich amber color with a light, light beige head. It is a good looking brew in a nice clear glass. There is a lot of deep floral tones at first whiff. This promises to be a hoppy drink early on. There are strong-ish hints of citrus and some defined spiciness. At first sip, I found an interesting blast of floral fruitiness - some citrus and a touch of apricot. Well balanced and just fruity enough to be interesting without being too sweet or silly. Some might find this just a touch heavy. I found a hint of honey kept things a touch lighter than might be expected in later sips. Toward the end, there was a yeasty feel to the brew, it actually developed a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Overall I found it balanced and very well worth a revisit in the future. Well chilled, HopoThermia is a good summer out-on-the-deck brew. Again, please note that what starts out a bit flowery and sweet, ends up a touch bitter. Don't be turned off. Give it a try. Rubaeus Founders Grand\u00a0Rapids\u00a0 OK, team. Look at the bottle. Read the label. This is a fruity beer! Raspberry to be exact. It is good. It will satisfy the largest number of palates (especially on a hot summer day). Rubaeus is a dark, ruby red color with a sharp, crisp, fruity smell. There is a reasonable amount of head - what one might expect from what is a less than fizzy beer. The smell is of raspberries. It is a bit misleading because it is so much like some of the pop beers that are available in stores today. The Kool-Aid beers, if you please. It smells like one of those malt beverages with fruit syrup added. It's hyper-sweet smelling. The taste follows the nose - sweet, fruity, heavy on the raspberries. I can see how a lot of people will absolutely love this brew. I found it a bit too cloying. A bit too sweet. A bit too fruity. I'm sure Rubaeus is a popular Founders offering. I'm also sure that to say I didn't really like a Founder's brew is sacrilegious in Michigan, but ... It is simply not my cup of tea. It was kinda pricey. But ... if you're having a gathering and there are going to be folks who enjoy wine coolers - this could well be the beer for them.