Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cabin Fever French Onion Butternut Squash Soup


French onion soup gets not one, but two special twists in this recipe with the addition of roasted butternut squash and beer instead of red wine (and of course lots of stringy, Swiss Gruyere cheese broiled on top).

I love the way the rich, sweet flavor of the caramelized onions and the roasty brown ale pair with the mildly sweet butternut squash and the way their sweet and savory notes play off each other. The best part is poking your spoon through the molten layer of Swiss cheese to the thick soup below and breaking off the crackly pieces of cheese that melt down the sides of the bowl.

For this recipe, you will need:

4 tablespoons butter
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
pinch of brown sugar
3 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash (I use an immersion blender to make the squash extra smooth)
1 cup New Holland Cabin Fever Brown Ale
2-3 cups beef broth
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
2 - 3 cups shredded Gruyère or Emmental cheese

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and a pinch or two of brown sugar.

Cook the onions 25-35 minutes, stirring every few minutes until the onions are soft and caramelized. The onions should turn a deep brown color. If they begin to get burnt spots on them turn the heat down a little.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs (if using fresh). Stir in the squash, beer, and broth (start with 2 cups of broth, and add more depending on how thick or thin you want your soup). Cook on medium-low an additional 15 - 20 minutes, stirring often and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the broiler and place 4 oven-proof bowls or crocks onto a baking sheet. Ladle soup into each bowl, top each with 1-2 slices of bread, and then top with 1/2 - 3/4 cup of cheese.

Place the bowls under the broiler until the bread is toasted and the cheese is completely melted with bubbly, brown spots.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bell's Best Brown Tarte Flambée

In French, it’s known as tarte flambée; in Alsatian it’s flammekueche; in German: flammkuchen. Whatever you call it, it’s mouthwateringly good.

It's like a pizza, but made with lardons (strips of pork fat or bacon), onion, cream, and fromage blanc. In this twist on the classic version, I throw beer into the mix. Because beer makes everything better. Fromage blanc is usually pretty difficult to find in America, but ricotta cheese works as a great alternative.

So, if you're tired of always preparing the same side dishes and you're ready to mix up your traditional Thanksgiving meal a little bit this year, I would highly recommend adding this dish to your repertoire. It also works as a great brunch or main dish for lunch!

For this recipe, you will need:

1 pizza dough (you can use your favorite recipe -- I cheated and used about 1.5 16-ounce balls of frozen pizza dough)
1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into strips
1 large spanish onion, sliced thinly
3 russet potatoes, peeled
3/4 cup creme fraîche
2/3 cup shredded Emmentaler (or just Swiss Cheese)
2/3 cup ricotta
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces Bell's Best Brown Ale
1/4 cup chives, chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Cook the potatoes until they can be pierced easily with a knife. Remove from the water and let cool.

Place the bacon in a large cast iron skillet. Add a tablespoon of olive oil so the bacon doesn't stick. Cook over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve on paper towels.

Leave a small amount of bacon grease in the pan (enough to cook the onion), add the onions to the pan, and season with salt. Add the minced garlic. Turn the heat up and pour in the beer. Cook off the liquid and let the onions take on color. Once the onions are caramelized, add the bacon to the onions.

Slice the potatoes in 1/8-inch slices. Combine the creme fraîche, emmantaler, and ricotta. Add about 20 turns of cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Roll the dough out onto a greased medium-sized baking sheet (mine is 15.25"x10.25"). Dock the dough (poke it a few times with a fork so it doesn't bubble up) and parbake the crust for about 5 minutes. The crust needs to be slightly cooked on the bottom because the tarte is only going to be baked for a few more minutes at the end to caramelize the toppings and finish crisping up the crust.

Remove the dough from the oven. Smear the dough with the cheese mixture, and shingle the potatoes in a pinwheel pattern. Then, place an even layer of the caramelized onions and bacon on the potatoes. Top with a bit more grated Emmantaler.

Return the dough to the oven until the dough is crisp on the bottom and the toppings are bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

The smoky bacon adds just enough savoriness and saltiness to counter the rich crème fraîche and sweet sautéed onion. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Motor City Brew Tours Trip to Ohio

Let’s face it, there's a lot of breweries in Michigan. We’ve been visiting them for years and, at best, have made it to a little over half of them. At this point, too, the beer culture in Michigan has become such a phenomenon that I would classify it as a tourist-worthy destination; not just for beer geeks but for people interested in local Michigan destinations.

The problem becomes, then, one of logistics and quantity. You can’t visit all of them, and many of us may not have the fortitude required to plan a proper multi-stop brewery trip. Remember that visiting more than one brewery includes planning places generally close to each geographically, keeping one’s wits even (remember, we’re talking about driving from place to place here, so some temperance is mandatory), and keeping an eye to possibly available tours at each facility. Laura and I do this probably twice a month, and even with our experience it can be quite the investment of time.

Enter Motor City Brew Tours. The Tour company, which operates primarily out of Detroit (but with visions of expansion) takes care of all of that planning for you. It also alleviates the “who’s driving?” issue. Motor City brew Tours offers bus, walking, and bike excursions through the city and surrounding areas of Detroit, giving people an opportunity to learn about Michigan brewing culture and history from experts while enjoying some of the products created here.

Additionally, MCBT organizes day trips; the Michigan Beer Blog was fortunate enough to attend a North Ohio tour, allowing us to visit the Maumee Brewing Company, the Market Garden Brewery and Distillery, and Ohio’s gem – Great Lakes Brewing Company. The ticket price pays for the bus, personalized tours with the brewers, and water and snacks to and from each location.

The trip was a great way to visit areas we would not have historically visited! For those of you in the Detroit area interested in a safe and well planned adventure that incorporates history and culture with Michigan beer, I would recommend checking out Motor City Brew Tours.

More pictures of our tour can be found on our Facebook Page!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oval Beach Blonde Marshmallows

If you haven't ever tried making homemade marshmallows, it is a food DIY project that you simply must attempt.  Nothing compares to the sweet, vanilla scented airiness of homemade marshmallows. You will find that once you start making your own, there is no going back.

In this recipe, adapted from How Sweet It Is, I used beer instead of water to add just a hint of yeast and hops.  I then dipped every square-shaped little marshmallow into dark chocolate and rolled them in crushed pretzels for a perfectly sweet and salty little snack.  Heaven?  I think so, too.

For this recipe, you will need:

3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
1 cup cold, flat Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde, divided in two
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-4 cups dark chocolate morsels (melted, for dipping)
Hard sourdough pretzels, crushed

To flatten the beer, take the cap off the bottle and leave open overnight, or pour beer into a bowl and whisk vigorously to remove some carbonation. I did the second option and it worked perfectly! Just make sure it is cold.

Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle on powdered sugar to cover and coat. Set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer (a whisk attachment is best), pour 1/2 cup cold beer and 3 1/2 packs of gelatin. I gently mixed with a spoon once, then let sit while you make the sugar mixture.

In a medium pot combine sugar, remaining beer, syrup and salt. Heat over low heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and let sugar come to a boil. It will bubbly up so keep yours eye on it so it does not overflow. Let it boil for 8-12 minutes, until it reaches 240 degrees F (measure with a candy thermometer). The mixture will appear to be a lightish brown color depending on the beer you use – don’t worry, the marshmallows will still be white.

Once mixture is at 240 degrees F, turn off heat and gently pour it in the mixer over the gelatin with the mixer on low speed. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixer to high and beat for for 6-8 minutes. It should grow in size and be white and fluffy. About 3-4 minutes in, add the egg whites to a separate bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. I used a hand mixer to do this. If you don’t have a hand mixer, I assume you have to remove the whisk attachment, clean it (it will be a sticky mess), add a new bowl to the mixer, beat egg whites. Once stiff peaks are formed, add egg whites and vanilla extract to the sugar/gelatin mixture and beat until just combined.

Pour marshmallow mix into the 9 x 13 pan. It will impossibly sticky so be careful, and you will not be able to get it all out of the bowl. Get as much as you can, then spray a spatula with non-stick spray and smooth. Dust powdered sugar on top and let sit to firm up for 3-5 hours.

Once firm, turn the pan upside down on a cutting board to release marshmallow rectangle. Cut them into pieces of whatever size you like.

Melt dark chocolate chips (I melt in 30 second increments in the microwave and stir) in a bowl. Crush hard sourdough pretzels. Using a fork, toothpick or fondue pick, coat marshmallows in chocolate then sprinkle with or roll in pretzel crumbs. You can also drizzle with salted caramel. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate hardens. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks!

Makes one 9 x 13 pan of marshmallows, cut however you desire.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

4th Annual Detroit Beer Week to Span 11 Days

Showcasing the Craft Beer Scene in Metro-Detroit
Thursday, October 18 – Sunday, October 28, 2012

In the Motor City, the fall season has become synonymous with Detroit Beer Week. In its fourth year, this multi-day beer event has grown beyond its original concept, spanning 11 days and featuring a full spectrum of craft beer-centric happenings throughout the City of Detroit and the immediate surrounding suburbs.
The 2012 edition of Detroit Beer Week will feature individual events to showcase breweries from all over Michigan, plus out-of-state brewers from around the US that the organizers from Liquid Table cheekily refer to as “Friends of Michigan Beer.” This adds depth to the effort, as a whole, and creates a point of difference from the Michigan Brewers Guild Festivals that Liquid Table’s Michigan Beer Weeks build to and complement.
“While our primary focus will always remain on Michigan-brewed beer, it’s also important to recognize our brothers in other states who have fought so hard for the same ideals we are fighting for,” stated Barry Johnson, Regional Liaison for Liquid Table, and a highly-respected pioneer in the Michigan beer industry. “Many Michigan brewers got their start in other states, and many brewers in other states got their start here. Through our efforts we hope to promote Michigan beer, but with an understanding of the thought that ‘A rising tide lifts all ships.’”
Detroit-based Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is producing and marketing Detroit Beer Week. Liquid Table began Detroit Beer Week in 2009 in cooperation with the Michigan Brewers Guild, piggybacking the Detroit Fall Beer Festival. This concept continues in the fourth year of the effort, as the Fall Beer Festival also expands to 2 days.
“We’ve been witness to impressive growth over the last few years, and Liquid Table continues to offer innovative and creative event management and promotional concepts in the craft beer arena,” stated Eric Briggeman, President of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “We are proud to continue this partnership that helps to further The Guild’s mission of promoting a healthy beer culture in the State of Michigan.”
Detroit Beer Week events and information will be constantly updated on Facebook. Liquid Table is producing a minimum of one Signature Event each night during the week, in addition to the multitude of events hosted by participating Beer Destinations throughout the metro-Detroit area. All events will be marketed under the banner of Detroit Beer Week, with Real Detroit Weekly acting as the media partner, producing a Guide to Detroit Beer Week prior to the launch date.
Detroit Beer Week launches with a ceremonial tapping of 313ale, a collaboration of the Detroit Beer Barons, a group of local professional brewers, featuring primarily locally sourced ingredients. The beer will be available at select locations throughout DBW. The week continues with multiple events each night, including tap takeovers, beer dinners, contests, pubcrawls and educational events, culminating in the 4th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Fall Beer Festival and subsequent Brewers’ Brunch at Tashmoo Biergarten.
About Liquid Table
Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is a privately-owned Detroit-based company. Formed in 2009 by Jon Piepenbrok, Liquid Table focuses on producing and marketing beverage events, including Detroit Beer Week, with a focus on local craft beer, mead, and artisan spirits, as well as providing private beverage services on contract for in-home and private events. The company also offers trade services, such as on- and off-premise consulting, education, marketing, and brand management. For more information, contact
About the Michigan Brewers Guild
The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state.
The Guild fully endorses and supports the efforts of Liquid Table in the production and marketing of Michigan Beer Weeks (Detroit, GR and A2).
Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation, with 118 current licenses – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” More information can be found at


Jon Piepenbrok -- Founder and El Jefe --

Dianna Stampfler -- Media Consultant --                                                 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Boyne Mountain’s 4th Annual Skitoberfest Offers Festive Fun for All Ages

Boyne Mountain Resort is hosting the 4th annual Skitoberfest on Saturday, October 6.  The event kicks off the coming snow sports season with a summit featuring four-time Olympian, two-time U.S. National Downhill Champion, and World Cup winner, A.J. Kitt, and includes an on-snow rail jam, new Burton Riglet Park for the kids, and a ski swap.  Skitoberfest also celebrates the best of fall in an Oktoberfest style setting.  Highlights include great food, Michigan beer, wine, and spirits plus live music and performances, free scenic chairlift rides, parade, dancing in the streets, art, drama, and a party atmosphere making this day festive for the whole family!

The Snowsports Summit takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the resort’s Civic Center and admission is free.  The Summit is hosted by Olympian and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee, Cary Adgate, and features equipment, technique and physical conditioning tips, ski swap, and special guest speaker, A.J. Kitt.  Skitoberfest’s on-snow Rail Jam offers the opportunity to strap on skis or snowboard with a competition starting at 3:30 p.m.

From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. are live performances by local dancers, mimes, gymnasts, storytellers, and musicians, plus art, face painting, pony rides, petting zoo, laser tag, horse-drawn hayrides, bonfire sing-alongs, and more.  Skitoberfest also offers ways to enjoy the fall foliage including Twin Zip Rides, two excursions for $20, and free scenic chairlift rides. 

Also from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., enjoy tastes of more than 50 Michigan beers, plus wine, spirits, and eats from local restaurants and markets.  For $30, event goers receive a commemorative Skitoberfest pint glass and 12 tickets good towards food and beverage tasting.  Participating breweries include Arcadia Ales, Beards Brewery, Bell's Brewery, Jolly Pumpkin, Mount Pleasant Brewing Co., New Holland Brewing Co., Right Brain Brewery, Short's Brewing Co., and more.  Michigan wines are from Black Star Farms, Chateau Fontaine, Chateau Grand Traverse, Good Harbor, and Mackinaw Trail.   Local restaurants and markets serving up tastes and treats include 42nd & Broadway Deli, Alpine Chocolat Haus, Blue Harbor Grille, Boyne Highlands Resort, Lake Street Market, Morel’s Bistro, Red Mesa Grill, Shanahan’s Prime, Skitoberfest Sweets, Tannery Creek Meat Market, and The Thirsty Goat.  The fun continues well into the evening with a DJ, dancing, and cash bar from 7 p.m. to midnight.  Admission is free.

Nightly hotel lodging starts at just $110 with condo lodging from $145.  For complete Skitoberfest details and to reserve lodging at Boyne Mountain Resort, visit or call 800.GO.BOYNE (462-6963).

(Photo courtesy of Cary Adgate)

BOYNE is a collection of mountain and golf resorts, retail stores and real estate opportunities based in Michigan.  Each of the collection is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions and includes Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls; Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs and The Inn at Bay Harbor - A Renaissance Golf Resort in Bay Harbor as well as Bay Harbor Golf Club, Crooked Tree Golf Club, Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Boyne Country Sports and Boyne Realty.  With countless lodging and meeting facilities, eleven championship golf courses, premiere snowsports terrain, three spas, distinctive dining, spectacular events and Michigan's largest indoor waterpark.  What are you up for?  For more information on BOYNE, visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jolly Pumpkin’s De Viento Brew to Benefit Dexter Relief Fund and Victims of Spring Tornadoes

On March 15, 2012, a devastating tornado touched down in the small southeastern community of Dexter, Michigan – the hometown of one of the nation’s most noted craft breweries: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. While the brewery itself was not damaged in the storm, the compassionate owners and staff felt the immediate need to help out their neighbors who were affected by doing what they do best – make beer.

“Teaming up with co-conspirators Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, Schera’s Algerian Restaurant and The Abu Nawas Beverage Company, we’ve come up with a beer like none other,” says Brewer Ron Jeffries.

This dark and smoky-sour Saison is full of rich aromatic coffee and the spicy heat of Algerian spices – like grains of paradise, cinnamon, coriander and saffron – aged in oak barrels. Named “De Viento” – which in Spanish means “wind” – this beer is affectionately called “Tornado Relief Beer” by those at the brewery.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of this beer will be donated to the Dexter Area Tornado Relief Fund.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is dedicated to more than the traditions of old world craftsmanship. Everything they do is designed to create ales of outstanding art and flavor. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers brought to life through labor and love, Jolly Pumpkin strives to create beers to lighten the spirit and soothe the soul.

The Jolly Pumpkin is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and North Peak Beer Co. craft beer brands, as well as Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wine. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either the 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table restaurant (former Bowers Harbor Inn) or at the original Jolly Pumpkin brewing facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

Contact:           Dianna Stampfler, Publicist

                        269-330-4228 |

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fourth Annual Summer Microbrew and Music Festival

Last winter, the Michigan Beer Blog had the opportunity to cover the third annual Traverse City Microbrew and Music Festival.  This celebration, held on one of the few bitterly cold days of last winter's overall mildness, combined coats and hats with beer, food, music, and more for a delightful February event.  Last weekend, August 24th and 25th, Porterhouse Productions put on a similar event, and swapped out the frozen toes and falling snow for dazzling sunshine and sweaty tank tops for the Fourth Annual Summer Microbrew and Music Festival.

Admittedly, I have heard some rumors that Michiganders are beginning to feel the onset of festival fatigue.  I realize that every passing year, another festival pops up requesting our time and attention and while having too many craft beer oriented festivals in Michigan is a great problem to have, I strongly suggest not cutting the Traverse City Microbrew and Music festival out of your rotation, regardless of how far you need to drive.

While the Michigan Beer Blog only attended Saturday (missing the musical skills of Dierks Bentley and Rachel Holder), we were able to hear some excellent groups on Saturday; The Dirty Guv’nahs, The Holmes Brothers, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, The Duhks, The Ragbirds, Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys, Grand Traverse Pipes & Drums, and Deep Blue Water Samba were all performing. I was blown away by the stylings of the Holmes Brothers.  If live music isn't your bag, the silent disco made another appearance.  I admit confusion as to the appeal of the event, but it retains its popularity, so I'm clearly in the minority when it comes to judging silent discos.
Reverend Peyton

Wendell Holmes

The beer flowed fast and cool to combat the summer heat.  Odd Side Ales had the Mayan Mocha Stout available.  I've spoken before how much I love this beer, the spicy/chocolate/coffee smoothness that's perfect to drink regardless of how hot or cool it is outside. Ever a fan of specialty Belgian style ales, I was able to track down a very rare beer from Jolly Pumpkin; they had available something called De Viento, a dark, sour saison brewed with a secret, spicy coffee blend from their friends at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company.  This beer, created to raise money for those affected by the tornado that tore through Dexter, Michigan in March of 2012, was a spectacular find.  A new name to these festivals – and to Michigan breweries in general – was The Filling Station, located close by in Traverse City, which, among other offerings, presented a high alcohol (9.5%) farmhouse ale that was complex and delicious.

Delilah DeWylde enjoying a Delilah DeWylde Berry Wheat.  Apparently pictures like this happen often.
This festival does one more unique event that I always enjoy; they have a (hot, cramped) cabin called the Hop 'n Brew Shack where they will have brewers educate festival goers on the beer they brought to the festival.  We were able to attend Chas Thompson's class on Hopknocker, the double IPA available from Schmohz' Brewing.

With plenty of food available to soak up the beer – and plenty of non Michigan beer available as well – the Traverse City Summer Microbrew and Music festival is a celebration that should never be cut in the name of festival fatigue.  With music and sunshine and the Lake Michigan breeze complementing beer and cider and wine, how can one possibly go wrong?

More photographs are available at our Facebook Page!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Inaugural Toast on the Coast Beer Festival

Toast on the Coast takes over Fishbone’s in St. Clair Shores for a lakeside summer fete filled with brews, fish boils and bands.

Inaugural Toast on the Coast takes over Fishbone's (23722 Jefferson Avenue) in St. Clair Shores on Saturday, August 25, 2012.  The event, sponsored by Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace and powered by ShowClix, runs from 4 p.m. until midnight and features over 75 beers, with special emphasis on Michigan craft brews.  Tickets are only $25 with proceeds benefiting Camp Casey, a Michigan-based horseback riding program for kids with cancer. 

“We have been scouting the perfect location for an eastside event for a while now, and when the opportunity to work with Fishbone’s in St. Clair Shores came up, we jumped at the chance,” said Jason Dritsan, owner of Liquid Events Detroit, organizer of the event.  “The outdoor atmosphere is perfect for a summer beer fest, and the large footprint will allow us to grow this event in the years to come.”

While the beers are flowing and the crawfish and shrimp are boiling, guests can groove to the musical styling of the Brian Sheehan Duo, Acoustic After Party and DJ Erno the Inferno.

For the do-it-yourselfers, Toast on the Coast is hosting the Home Brewing Challenge, presented by Adventures in Homebrewing, Dragonmead Microbrewery, and Kuhnhenn's Brewing World.  Entries will be divided into six categories and judged by professional local brewers; winners will be announced at Toast on the Coast.  A prize pack valued at over $150 will be awarded to the winner of each category.   Entry is free but entrants must adhere to official rules detailed on the website. 

To purchase tickets or for more info:

Media contact:
Lauren Maiman - Midnight Oil PR - 248.514.2626

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rockford Brewing Company: Sneak Preview!

While we get excited about news of any new Michigan brewery opening, the Michigan Beer Blog is especially excited about the work being done in Rockford. Between the location overlooking the Rogue River dam/waterfall in Rockford, the experience of the brewer, and the vision the owners are pursuing, it's a place with a lot of potential.
Downtown Rockford can compete with many of Michigan's coastal towns for picturesque tranquility. Just a few city blocks of tiny shops close to the Rogue river and the White Pine trail, Rockford brings the shopping fun of small tourist towns right up to the outdoor lifestyle. One of the cornerstones to the dining and entertainment experience of Rockford can be found right as the water rushes over the dam; Reds on the River is one of most renowned and decorated restaurants in west Michigan. . and the Rockford brewing company sits across the parking lot from Reds On the River, sharing the view.

We had a chance to speak with the owners of the Rockford Brewing Company, and view the building while in its current (as of July 2012) state of construction. The first floor has an open and rustic atmosphere; eventually this area will be finished in old style wood frames made of Michigan pine and curly maple. RBC plans to replant a new tree for every single one they use in construction: a truly honorable goal.

The system they are brewing on is not the largest kettle system in Michigan, but it doesn't need to be. RBC's beautiful and functional system, viewable from the first floor, will make beer focused on the community first. Similar to the philosophy behind the Crankers Brewery, the Rockford Brewing Company wants to be careful to treat its local community with respect. “After all,” notes Seth Rivard, “they're the reason why we're here.”

Upstairs will harbor more pine work, with an acoustically treated ceiling such that local music can be a centerpoint of the upstairs facility. RBC will offer a limited draft selection upstairs as well, letting those enjoying the view of the Rogue River, the music of a local band, or just the conversation of new friends continue their relaxation without going downstairs.

In a couple weeks, this will transform into a brewpub!

While it's too early to tell, owner/brewer Jeff Sheehan promised a healthy blend of rock solid, traditional mainstays as well as more original beverages. His pedigree includes the small batch system at the New Holland Brewing company, so if you recognize him it may be from there. He would often brew batches on that system right in downtown Holland while the place was open, leading some people to wonder if he was an actor!

Jeff Sheehan and Seth Rivard
 With the Michigan beer industry booming, the lack of a local pub serving beverages brewed on site in Rockford was getting pretty obvious. The Rockford Brewing company solved that dilemma, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my excitement for their opening day.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Michigan Brewers Guild Celebrates 15 Years With Annual Summer Beer Festival, “15th Anniversary Ale” Collaborative Brew, and Craft Beer Month Designation


July, 2012 is a big month for craft brewers in the Great Beer State as the Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates its 15th anniversary with its annual Summer Beer Festival, the release of a “15th Anniversary Ale” Collaborative Brew, and the official designation of Michigan Craft Beer Month. 

The Proclamation

Earlier this month, Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced Senate Resolution No. 160 while 18 Michigan Representatives including Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) introduced House Resolution No. 102, both of which declare July as Craft Beer Month in the state of Michigan. Details of the joint resolutions are attached.

“It is always an honor to be able to recognize thriving, Michigan based businesses,” said Rep. MacGregor (R-Rockford). “It should be the role of government to get out of their way and support them when we can.  My resolution to recognize July as ‘Craft Beer Month’ was a small ‘pat on the back’ to a successful and growing industry of our state.”

“With summer upon us and Grand Rapids claiming the title of ‘Beer City USA,’ it is the perfect time to celebrate Craft Beer Month in Michigan,” said Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “We are excited about the opportunity to tout the benefits to our statewide tourism efforts and the investment in our local economy that craft beer represents.”

The Collaborative Brew

The 15th Anniversary Ale is a strong Pale Ale – more like a strong IPA or a Double IPA, coming in with an 8% ABV with 80 IBUs. These brews will be available at participating member breweries, as well as at the Summer Beer Festival.

“When you buy Michigan beer you are supporting local businesses and you are helping to provide local jobs,” says Eric Briggeman, Guild President. “And, with this 15th Anniversary Brew, we are also helping Michigan’s agriculture industry because we are asking brewers to use wheat that is grown and malted in Michigan, as well as Michigan-grown hops.”

The Festival

The 15th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival will be held July 27-28 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town District. More than 60 Michigan craft breweries will showcase 450-plus craft beers at the two-day festival, which runs from 5-9pm on Friday, July 27 and 1-6pm on Saturday, July 28.

Admission tickets are $30 for Friday (in advance - $35 at the gate, if any are available) and $35 for Saturday (in advance - $40 at the gate, if any are available. Each admission ticket includes 15 drink tokens, each redeemable for a 3-ounce sample. Additional drink tokens are available for 50 cents each. Advanced tickets for the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival may be purchased online at, at participating member breweries and limited retail locations around the state. Attendees must be 21 or older to attend. Designated driver tickets are available online and at the gate for $5 each.

This year’s entertainment lineup includes: DJ Rob Ericksen, Stone Clover, L'aith Al Saadi, and Jason Dennie on Friday the 27th and DJ Danny Boy Peron, Jason Waggoner Band, and Amy Gore & Her Valentine on Saturday the 28th.

The Guild

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes well over $24 million in wages with a economic contribution well over $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Founded in 1997 and celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012, the Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, the organization strives to achieve 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.


1997 – Creation of Michigan Brewers Guild
1998 – Inaugural Summer Beer Festival – July (Greenmead, Livonia)
2000 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates (Frog Island, Ypsilanti)
2004 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates & Expands to 2 Days (Riverside Park, Ypsilanti)
2005 – Inaugural Winter Beer Festival – February (Old Town, Lansing)
2007 – Winter Beer Festival Moves to Grand Rapids (Fifth-Third Ballpark, Comstock Park)
2008 – Inaugural UP Fall Beer Festival – September (Mattson Lower Harbor Park, Marquette)
2008 – Inaugural Detroit Fall Beer Festival – October (Eastern Market, Detroit)

For more information, including a list of Michigan craft breweries, log on to  (  |

Contact:  Scott Graham                                             Dianna Stampfler
                Executive Director                                     Media Consultant
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grand Rapids Area Breweries Create "Beer City Pale Ale"

CONTACT: Kate Wiltzer, Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids has yet another reason to toast the town. Ten area breweries have teamed to create Beer City Pale Ale, a new craft beer produced in celebration of both the city’s newest title and Craft Beer Month beginning July 1.

 “The breweries came together in a fun and fitting way to honor Grand Rapids’ newest claim to fame as ‘Beer City USA’ and July’s month‐long celebration of craft beer. Cheers to each of them for such a creative and collaborative approach to making the most of these well‐deserved accolades,” said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small.

The breweries collaborated on a recipe that resulted in a red pale ale, amply hopped with all Michigan grown cascade and nugget hops. Each brewery produced their own version of the beer, which they will offer on tap throughout July.

Participating breweries include Harmony Brewing Company, The Hideout Brewing Company, White Flame Brewing Company, Jaden James Brewing Company, Michigan Beer Cellar, Pike 51, The BOB, HopCat, Founders, and Schmohz.

According to Barry VanDyke of Harmony Brewing Company, a “few other bars lucky enough to get their hands on a keg will sell the beer as well.”

Last month, Grand Rapids was named “Beer City USA 2012” in a nationwide poll. The city shares the crown with Ashville, N.C. following a dead heat tie. In recognition of the burgeoning industry across the state, the Michigan State Legislature designated July as Craft Beer Month.

Experience Grand Rapids pays tribute to the area’s craft beer community with its newly created Beer City USA logo and the addition of a Cool City. Great Beer. page to its website, where visitors can easily find area breweries as well as navigate a craft beer tour throughout West Michigan.

Contacts are:

Barry VanDyke‐ Harmony Brewing Company‐ 616‐366‐1457

Rob Wanhatalo‐ Hideout Brewing Company‐616‐340‐0361

Bill White‐ White Flame Brewing Company‐ 616‐822‐8269

Chris Diemer‐ Jaden James Brewing Company‐ 616‐970‐0934

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