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Congressmen and Staffers Get a Taste of Michigan

Ever wonder what beer that tastes like coffee would be like?  

Staffers and members of Congress found out Wednesday as they sampled Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery in Detroit at the 5th Annual Taste of Michigan.  

Dozens of staffers and a handful of congressmen gathered in the Gold Room in the Rayburn House Office Building for the event hosted by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.  

The event was an effort to raise awareness about Michigan craft beers, wine and spirits, and also to show appreciation for the members of Congress whom the MLBA lobbied for the past two days.  

“On both sides of the aisle, we were able to get out our biggest concern, which is tipped minimum wage,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis.  The MLBA represents around 1,700 businesses, including bars and taverns in Michigan.  

Ellis said they received “mixed reviews” from lawmakers regarding their argument against raising the tipped wage, which he feels would negatively affect business owners and the workers themselves.  

At least four members of the Michigan delegation attended the Taste of Michigan  eventWednesday evening, although the majority of attendees included congressional staffers.  

As they relaxed after a day’s work and mingled in the Gold Room and the balcony, the staffers and lawmakers could choose from the 30 craft beers on hand, all brewed in Michigan, as well as 10 different wines and a sampling of bourbon and vodka.  

Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., stood out on the balcony with other attendees, overlooking the Rayburn courtyard with the Washington Monument in the distance.  

“This is fabulous,” said Benishek. “I’m happy to stop in and say ‘hello’ to these guys and learn a little more about this great beer and wine, and now vodka, I find out,” he added, lifting the cup in his hand.

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