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March 26th, 2012
You won’t find it marked on any official calendars, but today is a special day for many Michiganders. It’s Oberon day.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you are probably not a follower of MIchigan’s beer scene. But these are boom times for craft brewers in Michigan. The Kalamazoo Gazette reported last year that the state’s breweries invested more than $70 million in facilities upgrades. They hired workers. And the number of craft breweries in Michigan continues to grow (there’s even a fight song for Michigan craft beer).
Larry Bell was one of the early leaders of this new industry, and Bell’s Brewery has become one of the biggest players among the state’s small beer makers. Oberon, the golden-hued Summer brew from Bell’s, is distributed in 18 states. But in Michigan, Oberon has become more than just a beer. It’s an official symbol of the end of winter.
In northern states, Oberon is only available in Spring and Summer. Keeping Oberon off the shelves during the cold winter seems to make people love it more. When Oberon comes back, people in Michigan go nuts.
Every year, Bell’s hosts a big party to celebrate Oberon’s release. This year, the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe opened at 9 a.m. for the Oberon release. The party will go on well into the night. Bell’s also lists more than 60 other bars across Michigan that are hosting Oberon parties. There are also Oberon parties in other states, but no one else seems to celebrate the beer as much as Michiganders.
If you doubt that people in Michigan really care that much about a beer, all you have to do is search for “Oberon” on Twitter today. A new post has been coming just about every 30 seconds. Most people are just passing along the simple message, “Happy Oberon day.”
Or, as Twitter user Rachel Prior put it: “Happy Oberon Day! Spring has finally arrived for us MIchiganders.”
Of course, not everyone celebrates Oberon day in Michigan. Even plenty of people who love Michigan craft beer aren’t all that excited about it.
But for many Michiganders, Oberon day isn’t even really that much about the beer anymore. It’s about celebrating the arrival of Spring, with a Michigan-made product.
So, whatever your drink of choice, raise your glass today.