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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival - August 24 & 25

Porterhouse Productions has announced that chart-topping country superstar Dierks Bentley will headline the 2012 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, scheduled for August 24 & 25 at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Bentley has dominated the country charts since taking Nashville by storm in 2003 with the release of his self-titled debut album, which was certified platinum by the RIAA and produced three hit singles, including “What Was I Thinkin,’” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. Since then, the wildly popular performer has sold over five million albums, earned 10 Grammy nominations, and charted nine number one singles.

Bentley’s second album, “Modern Day Drifter,” was released in 2005 and spawned two number one singles, “Settle for a Slowdown” and “Come a Little Closer.” Shortly after its release, Bentley won the CMA Horizon Award (now Best New Artist) and was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest performer to do so after Carrie Underwood and Josh Turner. Subsequent albums “Long Trip Alone,” “Greatest Hits/Every Mile a Memory 2003-2008,” “Feel That Fire,” and “Up on the Ridge” cemented Bentley’s status as one of the biggest country stars in the country, with millions of fans flocking to his blockbuster tours with artists including Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, and Josh Thompson.

Earlier this year, in February 2012, Bentley once again skyrocketed up the charts with the release of his acclaimed seventh album, “Home.” To date, the album has generated three hit singles in tracks “Am I The Only One,” “Home” and “5-1-5-0.”

Bentley will kick off the 2012 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival with a headlining performance on Friday, August 24 on the Historic Front Lawn at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Friday will feature a “Pint Night”-themed evening from 5-10 p.m. including pint specials from a variety of renowned Michigan craft breweries, local food and merchandise vendors, a silent disco tent, and live opening musical acts including The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. The three-piece American country blues band has played such festivals as Austin City Limits, Telluride and Bonnaroo, opening for acts including Flogging Molly, Derek Trucks Band, Hot Buttered Rum, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. In 2008, their album “The Whole Fam Damily” reached #4 on the Billboard Blues Chart, and in 2010 they received the “Best Band of Warped Tour” award, voted by the crew, bands, and promoters.

The second day of the festival on Saturday, August 25, will feature an expanded brewery experience from 4-10 p.m. with over 50 breweries and 200+ flavors of beer, cider, mead, and wine, live local and national music acts, $1 tasting tokens (5 tokens are included with admission), a variety of local food vendors and brew-friendly pub grub, the festival’s popular Hop ‘N Brew tasting shack, a silent disco tent, and special partner activities and events. The complete musical lineup for the festival will be announced early this summer.

The Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival launched in August 2009, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees in its first year. The festival was so successful that organizers expanded the event to two days in 2010, drawing nearly 5,000 attendees in sold-out events in 2010 and 2011 and inspiring a spin-off winter festival. The event is billed as a "celebration of craft beer, local harvest and live music” and has raised over $30,000 for local non-profits through its summer and winter events to date. In May 2012, MyNorth/Traverse Magazine readers voted the event #3 on the list of Best Foodie & Drink festivals in Northern Michigan.

Tickets to the 2012 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival can be purchased at www.porterhouseproductions.com and local outlet sales (outlets TBA). Tickets are $45 in advance/$50 at the door for Friday and $35 in advance/$40 at the door for Saturday, with a special discounted weekend pass available for $75 (advance purchase only). The festival is open to attendees ages 21 and up.

For more information on the 2012 Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, visit www.porterhouseproductions.com.

Monday, June 18, 2012

2nd Annual BRU Fest

While I have written many glowing comments about Michigan's craft beer industry, I feel a special kind of pride when that industry becomes a part of something greater than itself. On Saturday, June 16th, Bell's Brewery along with Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern and Buffalo Wild Wings came together – with the help of many others – to help sponsor the second annual BRU Fest. This event raises money and awareness for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

For a scant 39 dollars per ticket, BRU Fest attendees were given a fantastic array of entertainment. Bell's Brewery provided a plethora of products, including the much sought after Black Note, the delightful but dangerous Sparkling Ale, and something I have never tried before: the Deb's Red. This dry hopped red ale was a good balance; it gave a good, malty amber base with enough bittering hops to keep it pleasant. All told, Bell's provided 15 different unique ales and lagers to sample.

William Seklar, the President and CEO of the Children's Leukemia Foundation – and driving force behind this event – did not stop at beer, however. Samples of delicious boneless wings were provided by Buffalo Wild Wings. Four different types of hamburgers were available from Bagger Dave's. Treat Dreams made samples of ice cream with beer. Their Oberon sorbet was delicious last year, but I'm convinced the Bell's Double Cream Stout with chocolate and toffee ice cream surpassed it.

Keeping the atmosphere light and providing entertainment for the evening was the band Green Collar, a very talented rock group. They played several covers of my guilty pleasure...Sublime.

The 2nd annual Royal Oak BRU Fest was a great party, but I need to bold this next part because it's the most important. Every dollar of the ticket sales goes to the fight against leukemia. Bell's does not sell their beer to this festival. Bagger Dave's does not sell their hamburgers, and Buffalo Wild Wings does not make a cent on their chicken. These corporations donate their products to the festival. The attendees are essentially making a donation to a great cause, and getting a thank you from corporate sponsors. It's one of those rare times when corporate stewardship works with local charities and -- through the help of consumers -- creates a perfect storm where everyone benefits, including kids. If you love kids and hate cancer, I can't think of a better place to spend your time or your dollars.

A huge thank you to all the sponsors who donated their money and products, to the volunteers working the festival, and to William Seklar and his staff for making all of this possible. Events like this make me proud of the community, the craft beer market, and the entire State of Michigan.

In America alone, one child or adult is diagnosed with leukemia every five minutes, and that rate of diagnosis is twice as much as compared to AIDS in the U.S.  Leukemia accounts for about a third of cancer cases in children 0-14 years old.  The Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is a statewide nonprofit foundation that helps families by providing financial assistance, information, and emotional support.  The foundation was formed in Detroit in 1952 by a group of parents who had been affected by the loss of a child due to leukemia.  Over the years it has helped thousands of families fight the life-threatening illness, and has provided over $6.5 million in research dollars to Michigan's comprehensive cancer institutes.  For more information or to find out how you can help support this great foundation, visit http://leukemiamichigan.org/

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Holland Hatter Days 2012

New Holland Brewing Company rang in its 15-year anniversary yesterday by closing down part of College Avenue to host the Hatter Days 2012 Street Party – the first time the city has ever allowed a street closure for a beer-based party. The event kicked off at noon and featured live music, street performers from Dare Devil Circus, food from four local restaurants, and a wide selection of beers.

The beer menu featured seven different versions of the Mad Hatter IPA – the beer credited with getting the company started – including the new addition of the White Hatter, a hybridization of a Belgian Witbier and a pale ale. This was my first encounter with the beer, and I found it to be a nice light-bodied beer with a dry finish and hints of lemon, coriander, and some slight peppery notes, making it a perfect beer for a hot summer day.

Paul Vander Heide from Vander Mill in Spring Lake was on hand alongside Chef Lucas Grille cooking up Banh Mi sandwiches – house smoked pork belly, pickled carrot, diced jalapeno, sliced cucumber, and sriracha aioli piled on a french baguette with donut chips (yes, you read that correctly!), and a delicious hard cider veggie slaw on the side. Vander Heide told us Vander Mill started serving food last fall, and this was a great way to introduce the public to their menu.

Chef Drew Turnipseed was manning the grill for Brewery Vivant, and his culinary creativity never ceases to amaze. He offered up a duck and Michigan cherry sausage on a spent grain bun from Wealthy Street Bakery which was slathered with homemade cognac mustard, and topped with locally grown savoy cabbage slaw.

New Holland Brewing Company surely knows how to throw a great party, and this year's incorporation of music, art, and food was certainly no exception. We're already looking forward to Hatter Days 2013!

For many more photos from the event, check out our Facebook page.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cranker's Brewery

As the Michigan craft beer market expands and accelerates, one notices that there are hubs of activity where the growth seems faster. Detroit has always had a deep and prosperous brewing community; even with the unfortunate closing of Webberville’s Michigan Brewing Company, every map of Michigan breweries has to have a breakout section because of the densely packed breweries around the Motor City.  Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and the southwest corner of the state all represent hubs, each area teeming with personality, variety, and flair as the market booms. The center of the state, however, has been light on local breweries, with only one place in Mount Pleasant offering product and a café in Big Rapids focusing more on food than beer. (this statement will probably be out of date before this even gets posted. –ed.) The students of Ferris State University -- as well as the citizens of Big Rapids -- needed a watering hole with locally made beer! Enter Cranker’s Brewery, a brand new and ambitious project offering something completely new to the craft brew market.

From left: Laura, Betsy, Jim, Adam, Seth. James, and Tony

The Crank family – Jim and Betsy, as well as sons James and Tony – are a delightful family and owners of the Cranker’s Coney Island in Big Rapids.  Jim saw great potential in the craft brewing industry: “I want to have a place for the people who live in big Rapids where they can drink fresh, expertly crafted beer that’s locally made,” he said to us.  Construction of the new brewery – which has capacity to produce more than 5,000 barrels annually, showing that Cranker’s was thinking ahead when it came to production – recently finished, and the “addition” to the Coney Island opened in early May. In case you missed the connection, let me be explicit; Cranker’s Brewery is a brewery that is in the same building as a 24 hour diner. When the beer stops flowing and you need a Detroit style coney dog before walking home, Cranker’s has you covered. The idea is so elegant, so brilliant, it’s a little dumbfounding that it took until 2012 for it to happen.

Despite being physically connected, Cranker’s has a completely different personality from the diner; a huge, open space filled with sunlight and family style seating gives a great hall style feel to the place, slightly reminiscent of the chapel area in Brewery Vivant. The artistry and décor keep to a sparse, industrial feel, with the metal work coming directly from members of Ferris State University and artwork created out of engine parts and other industrial elements. The bar has a modern yet old school feel, a glossy concrete top inset with gears, flywheels, and other industrial items. There are televisions present, but they are unobtrusive, so the Tigers fans can watch the game without it being the center of attention. Featured in one corner is the stage area, and the acoustically primed ceiling makes Cranker’s a concert venue in par with Founder’s.

Atmosphere is one thing, however. The beer has to match. Adam Mills, the head brewer for Cranker’s, is one of the most genuine and passionate gentlemen I’ve ever met in the Michigan brewing industry. A former Grand Rapids schoolteacher and Big Rapids native, Mills has been an avid home brewer for years, and his recipes are well known and decorated among many homebrew competitions. For Cranker’s Brewery, Mills focuses on a niche I've never seen done in Michigan: west coast style ales and lagers. His attention to detail and passion for the craft comes out in every beer we tried. “The biggest compliment anyone can give me,” he said over a pint of his Professor IPA, “is to order a second pint after finishing the first.”

Rest assured, we did; the IPA was an absolute gem, with sharp Cascade notes blending with herbal and piney Summit hops yielding a flavor that was bold and strong yet did not leave the mouth feeling bitter after swallowing. We paired the IPA with two items from the Cranker’s brewery menu (which is completely different from the diner menu, more upscale with a decidedly Greek flair to it), and each dish brought out completely different and equally pleasing flavors in the beer. The saganaki -- kasseri cheese set on fire with brandy and extinguished with lemon juice -- played higher on the palate, encouraging the apricot and citrus flavors of the hops show through, while the sweet steamed mussels
reminded you that the Professor IPA still has a complex malt profile. Side note: I am not sure there is anything cooler than saganaki. It’s flaming cheese that pairs perfectly with beer.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

We also sampled the Torchlight -- a crisp, delicate Munich Blonde ale that brings a great, refreshing beer in harmony with complex flavor. The Strong Arm Stout is another very solid mainstay, blending hints of espresso with a slight creaminess into a low (5.6%) alcohol sweet stout that is neither heavy nor bitter. Their best seller, the Bulldog Irish Red and personal favorite of many of the patrons, was unfortunately sold out when we arrived, but as we all know, that’s normal for a brewery that hasn’t even been open a month yet – and of course that just gives us another reason to visit.

It’s about time the center of the state began getting some more delicious, local craft beer. With expertly crafted beer from a passionate, dedicated, and extremely intelligent brewer, to a delicious and reasonably priced menu, all with the advantage of a 24 hour Coney Island literally through a gate, this place is the full package. Cranker’s Brewery, located just off 131, isn’t simply a stop on the way up to Traverse City; it’s a destination all its own.

For more pictures, please visit our Facebook page!

This website and its content is copyright of Seth and Laura Porter - Michigan Beer Blog - © Michigan Beer Blog 2010. All rights reserved.

Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:
1. You may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only.

2. You may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the material.

You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

Powered by Blogger