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Craft Beer & Wine Fest to feature Niles native’s company

Published 8:44am Thursday, July 24, 2014

There is something special on tap for this weekend’s Craft Beer and Wine Festival.

Niles native Bill White is returning to his hometown.

And while he will almost certainly be sampling some of the barley pop — that is not his main purpose for coming.

The 41-year-old owner of White Flame Brewing Co. will be one of 20 area breweries or wineries represented at the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce event, which takes place from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Amphitheater at Riverfront Park in Niles.

“I am really excited about the festival and I hope that the community is excited too,” said White, a 1991 Niles High grad who opened the brewery with his wife, Jenn, in Hudsonville in 2012. “I’m encouraging people to come out and try something different — something other than what you’ve been drinking for the last 20 years.”

White is advising people to look past the craft beer myths. They aren’t all expansive and they aren’t all dark.

“It’s about changing things up a bit and being adventurous,” he said. “You’ll find something you’ll like.”

Tickets purchased on the day of the event are $25, which includes a souvenir glass and 10 tasting tickets. Each tasting ticket is good for one two-ounce glass of beer or one one-ounce glass of wine.

Pre-sale tickets are less expensive at $15 a person. People can purchase pre-sale tickets until 6 p.m. today. They can be purchased at nilesmi.com, nilesbrewfest.com, Martin’s Supermarket in Niles, Leader Publications, Trailhead Mercantile and the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce.

Once entry is gained, additional taste tickets will be available for $1 each. A glass of beer is $4 and a glass of wine $5. Drinks must be purchased with tickets.

The event will happen rain or shine. It will be partially tented. While chairs will be available, patrons can bring their own chairs if they choose.

Four Flags Chamber President Tyanna Weller said she wants to see a large crowd.

“We are hoping to showcase Niles and let people see all the great things that can happen here,” she said. “We’d love to attract someone to open a tasting room in the Niles community.”

White thinks it could happen.

“Absolutely I do. I don’t see why not,” he said. “Until there is one (brewery) in every town and everyone has their fix I think the popularity of craft brews will keep going.”

In White’s case, he cashed out his 401Ks to start a brewery after losing his job in construction management around 2009/10. He did so in city that he said did not allow the sale of alcohol until 2008.

Now he is having a blast creating and selling beer.

“We are enjoying what we are doing, meeting lots of people and having fun doing it,” he said.

Food vendors at Friday’s event include The Prized Pig, Olfactory Hue Bistro and Katharos Catering.

Live music will be provided by 45 to Argos (3 to 3:30 p.m.), Elephant Rescue (4 to 6 p.m.) and Slim Gypsy Baggage (6:30 to 9 p.m.).

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