Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spinnaker Lounge + Schmohz Beer Pairing Dinner

The Michigan Beer Blog had the privilege of attending a beer and food pairing dinner last night hosted by the Spinnaker Lounge. This beer-infused culinary experience was presented by Spinnaker’s head chef Bill Read and Schmohz Brewing’s Chas Thompson.  Both Spinnaker and Schmohz have featured events and products at this week's Grand Rapids Wine, Beer, and Food Festival, and you surely won't want to miss out on this pairing dinner. 


“Beer” Beets & Blue Cheese
Roasted Red & Yellow Beets, Vertical Paradise Farms Greens, Reny Picot Blue Cheese and Crispy Shallots with a Pilsner Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette paired with Schmohz John T. Pilsner


S&S Duck Spaetzle
Dancing Goat Creamy Chevre Spaetzle, S&S Duck Ragout, Pail Ale Braised Kale & Cranberries with an Old World Olive Press Cranberry Pear Reduction paired with Schmohz Pail Ale


Creswick Farms Flank Steak
Creswick Farms BBQ Smoked Flank Steak, Jalapeno Salsa Verde, Sweet Potato & Apple Slaw with Treasure Chest Honey BBQ paired with Schmohz Treasure Chest ESB


Beer Lovers Trio

  • New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Michigan Blueberry Compote
  • Michigan Apple Cider Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle & Bonecrusher Caramel Sauce
  • Bonecrusher Stout Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, Sweet Michigan Apple Compote and a Razzmanian Devil Chocolate Sorbet Float
Paired with Schmohz Bonecrusher Stout


Purchase tickets for Thursday: 5:30pm, 7:30pm

Purchase tickets for Friday:  5pm, 7pm, 9pm*

Purchase tickets for Saturday:  1pm*, 3pm*, 5pm, 7pm, 9pm*

PRICE: $45 per person
*$40 per person (Fri. 9pmSat. 1pm3pm & 9pm)

Guests will have a Michigan wine option with each course.

Photo credits: Katy Batdorff

Monday, September 8, 2014

6th Annual UP Fall Beer Fest

In ways that no other state has, Michiganders have the privilege of traveling to a completely different environment without ever leaving their own state.  The upper Peninsula is as fierce and rugged as the people are polite and generous, with a culture and climate wholly different than the lower peninsula. That culture was fully on display during the Fall UP Beer Fest, where the wealth of Upper Peninsula Michigan Beers showed off their wares alongside the southern breweries willing to make the trip to Marquette.

Like the expansive sky smiling down on the Lake Superior Town, the mood was light and airy.  People did not rush from tent to tent to gorge themselves on the highest alcohol beers. They took their time; they discussed the nuance of the plethora of gentle summer beers punctuated with assertive fall beers. Fruited, spiced, and traditional saisons danced with Oktoberfests.

The double edged sword of Guild sponsored festivals is that they showcase beers you’ll probably never drink again – which makes lists of the best beers I tried largely useless, since neither the reader nor I will ever taste them.  So think of this as less of a list of recommendations and more of a nostalgic memory.

Blackrocks Brewery finally made a raspberry beer worth talking about.  With a market saturated with the functional equivalent of cough syrup and lollipops, Blackrocks’s Razzle Rabbits did something no other brewery has accomplished.  Their light summer ale toured the entire experience of raspberry, from the initial sweet burst of fresh juice to the sharp bitterness of the seeds which left you pining for another sip. 

Griffin Claw brought a stable of sours well worth the time and abv.  Their Sour Apricot ale – an amber brewed and aged with apricots and let to sit and sour in oaken casks – lent a definite apricot fruit flavor to the traditional sour profile.  This beer is not a gateway to sours; it’s a strong and tart sour ale that cuts through the heat and the tastebuds with equal aplomb.

Short’s Brewing Company always excels at festivals.  While making experimental ales is always a gamble, things usually turn out well for Short’s.  The Gitchy Gitchy Ooh La La (trust me, it’s as awkward to type that as it is to read it) cucumber lilac lemon kolsch style beer practically redefines what it means to be a refreshing summer ale.

Brewery Vivant teamed up with Tory O’Haire of Propaganda Donuts to bring us arguably the best donut beer our species has ever created. Stop thinking about sickly sweet, sugary beers that generally reflect what a glazed donut tastes like.  This dark Belgian style ale poured a deep, royal purple. Aromatic notes included vanilla and rose, with a heady sense of freshly fried plain donut. Tasting it revealed none of the cloying disaster you’d find in other donut beers.  Rather, the gentle breadiness gave way to deep vanilla notes accentuated by roses and berries. For those of you worried that “roses” means that old-lady perfume smell synonymous with rose water, fear not; there is no old lady in this beer. Instead, Agent รก Deux develops biscuity, lightly fruited, vanilla and rose flavor with a deep, purple haze.

Whether it’s for eating the whitefish that was swimming in the lake earlier the same day, or the plethora of Michigan beers that people downstate have never had, the incredible natural scenery, or the legendary hospitality of the Yooper culture, you owe it to yourself to visit the Upper Peninsula, and doing it during the Fall Beer Fest will reward you with one of the most memorable experiences of the year. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan Hosts Fourth Annual BRU Fest Fundraiser in Royal Oak

The fourth annual BRU FEST Michigan fundraiser will pair local craft beer with delicious food and entertainment with proceeds to benefit the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

The event will take place on Saturday, June 14 from 7 p.m. to 11p.m. at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market. General admission tickets are $39, and VIP tickets are $60. VIP tickets include 6 p.m. early entrance, private beer tapings with exclusive food pairings, a larger mug and moreWith each ticket purchase, attendees receive 10 tokens for one half-pour of beer each and four tickets for burgers and wings. Tokens and tickets for additional beers and food can be purchased for $1 each.

BRU Fest fundraisers bring together aficionados of great craft beer and delicious food, with microbrews provided by Bell’s Brewery and food provided by Buffalo Wild Wings and Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern. The event has sold out in previous years, with beer lovers enjoying the casual, fun environment to raise money to support a worthy cause.

Event sponsors include:

  • Culinary partners: Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger TavernBuffalo Wild Wings 
  • Exclusive Microbrew Brand: Bells Brewery, Inc. Bells will provide 22 craft beers, six of which are rarely available to the public
  • Exclusive Microbrewery Distributor: Rave Associates
  • Exclusive Dealership Sponsor: Mike Savoie Chevrolet

  • The Hype Syndicate will provide the musical entertainment for the event.

    The Beer List For BRU Fest:  

    • Oberon Ale
    • Two Hearted Ale
    • Amber Ale
    • Lager of the Lakes
    • Quinannan Falls Special Lager
    • Third Coast Beer
    • Midwestern Pale Ale
    • Double Cream Stout
    • Expedition Stout
    • Cherry Stout
    • Java Stout
    • Porter
    • Kalamazoo Stout
    • Oatmeal Stout
    • Bull in A China Shop
    • Sweet Potato Stout
    • Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout
    • Berry Ale
    • Mercurial Belgian Style Ale
    • Wheat Love Ale
    • Roundhouse IRA

    First-Ever BRU Pong Tournament
    For the first time ever, BRU Fest 2014 will feature a fundraising “BRU Pong Tournament.” The tournament will allow teams of two to enter a single-elimination tournament and represent a CLF patient family in their quest for the grand prize, with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Leukemia Foundation’s The WALK fundraiser on July 21stThe individual donation to participate in the BRU Pong Tournament is an additional $5 to a regular BRU Fest ticket.

    “An event doesn’t have to be black-tie to make an impact,” said Bill Seklar, president and CEO of Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. “We created this first-of-its-kind food and craft beer event four years ago to reach a younger, broader audience through an affordable experience. Royal Oak has been a perfect home for this event that raises awareness and funds for our patients and families based in Michigan affected by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases. “

    For more information or to register for the event, visit

    About Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan
    Headquartered in Troy, Mich., Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is a statewide nonprofit organization helping families cope with leukemia, lymphoma and related disorders by providing information, financial assistance and emotional support. In addition, CLF has provided more than $6.5 million in research dollars to Michigan’s comprehensive cancer institutes. For more information about Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, please call 
    248.530.3000 or visit

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    The Black Heron

    Our posts have dwindled slightly in the last three months.  While it’s true that we haven’t been able to travel to as many Michigan breweries as we would like, our time has not been spent in vain.  The truth is that the pair that runs the Michigan Beer Blog – Laura and Seth Porter – are opening a kitchen and bar dedicated celebrating Michigan’s vast array of food and beverages! The Black Heron will provide:

    ·        Rare and popular beer from all over the state
    ·        an unprecedented gluten free cider collection
    ·        the largest collection of Michigan Spirits in the world
    ·        a menu inspired by Michigan’s agricultural bounty

    As you may have noticed from our last article, we are Grand Rapidians who have fallen in love with the West Side of the city.  The Black Heron will be located at 428 Bridge St NW, close to the Grand River and within walking distance to the Devos Performance Hall.

    WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We are not some mega corporation opening another chain; we will rely on every ounce of good will and friendship and loyalty we have with our readers and our suppliers to make this work.  So how can you help?

    •        “Like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. That is where the majority of our renovations updates will be until we open.  After that, that will be our primary method of communication for menu specials, drink special, employment opportunities, etc.
    •       Tell your friends!
    •       Stop by for a drink after we’re open! (mid November)

    For now, that’s it! We will continue to write about breweries in our (vanishing) spare time here.  Yes, I stockpiled some outlines of some Upper Peninsula breweries for you.

    Thank you for your years of support!

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    The Mitten Brewing Company

    The Michigan Beer Blog has had the privilege of traveling the state visiting breweries, but we have a special place in our heart for our city and our neighborhood.  As proud West Siders, it’s with no small joy that we can write about a brewery that’s in our own neighborhood. Indeed, the Mitten is our neighborhood bar. Built inside a Fire House that dates back to 1891, the Mitten has tried at every turn to be a great fit with the existing community while simultaneously bringing their passion for beer and baseball to a local and dedicated audience. 

    The renovations to the interior keep the firehouse look while adding baseball themed elements; uncovered old brick walls and a refinished concrete floor reinforce that notion that half a century ago, this room was home to beefy red fire engines and the people who rode them. The seating has a simple, no frills design that nonetheless lends an elegance from the polished wood tables.  The bar, while small, echoes the craftwork on the table, giving those bellied up to it a comfortable and inviting experience.

    Brewer Robert “Wob” Wanhatalo heads up The Mitten’s brewing stable. The very popular Peanuts and Crackerjack Porter is a great mainstay and – like all their beers – riffs on the Mitten’s close connection to baseball.  Our favorite, however, has to be the Country Strong IPA – a simple, no fuss American IPA with light citrus notes that drinks well either at Comerica Park on a hot summer day or with two elbows propped at the bar during the winter-that-won’t-end.  We also enjoyed the Mitten’s session ale; the Triple Crown Brown brought plenty of sweet and roasted flavor for a soft-on-the-liver 4.2% abv.  If you want a low alcohol gateway beer for the “hops are too bitter!” crowd, this is my choice. That said, if you want to go big, the Rye Baby Double IPA amazed us, with a spicy rye note fleshing out the body of this booze-smooth beer.

    In case you weren't aware, The Mitten has pioneered an idea so perfect it’s a little dumbfounding we don’t see it more often: pizza flights. What else would go with the time honored tradition of sampling a half dozen beers at once than sampling a half dozen of The Mitten’s excellent pizza choices?  Bring a couple friends, though, as the flight easily feeds four…or one gluttonous Adam Richman impersonator. We tried six specialty pizzas, and frankly we couldn’t pick a winner.  This is truly a stellar pizza menu, blending original ideas with great takes on traditional pies.
    The Mitten was built with the vision of being a neighborhood brewery.  The owners and brewers are neighbors. I recently wrote an article detailing how this type of pub wasn’t in danger of being eclipse, but rather this type of pub was rolling full steam ahead through neighborhood watering holes that offering little other than domestic macros and popcorn.  The Mitten exemplifies that, providing a comfortable and popular neighborhood hangout. And for those of you still unconvinced: it only took the Mitten a year to begin an expansion.

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