Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Clips Beer and Film Tour Coming to Grand Rapids

New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a wide variety of award-winning beers, is bringing its beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefiting show to your backyard. Clips Beer and Film Tour is making its debut in Grand Rapids on Friday, June 21 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. This is the fourth annual tour, which has raised more than $200,000 for nonprofit organizations. Our philanthropic partner for this show is the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition(www.bikegrandrapids.org).
Clips offers a venue where guests can try New Belgium’s most esoteric beer offerings while watching short films created by New Belgium fans. Up to 16 beer varieties will be on tap, including selections from the Lips of Faith series and brewery classics. The best part is that 100 percent of the proceeds from beer sales benefit local nonprofits working to improve communities nationwide.
New Belgium beers will be available in 3-ounce samples or a 12-ounce pour. Served up by local beneficiary volunteers, there's plenty of fun to be had alongside a host of traveling tricks and contests.
“Clips combines our love of hand-crafted beers with independent films while giving people a chance to enjoy an evening in the park,” said Christie Catania, Clips Manager-at-Large. “As for films, there's something for everyone from comedies to short documentaries, and the beautiful thing is you're drinking a beer under the stars, watching films and supporting your community.”

New Belgium selects approximately 20 short films for the tour each season. All chosen entries for the 2013 tour will receive a custom gift from New Belgium and screenings in 21 cities. This year, the chosen films include mastering the technique of dice rolling; the quest for the ultimate full moon shot; a duel to be the hippest hipster; and homebrewing in a small New York City apartment. It’s a diverse and highly entertaining line-up that can’t be missed!
Friday, June 21 
8:30 p.m.
Ah-Nab-Awen Park

Proceeds Benefit:  
Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition (www.bikegrandrapids.org)

Recycling By: 
The High Five Program (http://facebook.com/thehighfiveprogram)

Admission – free
3 oz. sample –  $1.25
12 oz. beer –  $5.00

Other tips:                            
-Food is welcome; alcohol is not (leave that to us)
-Bring low chairs or blankets – or lounge on the grass
-Entire families are welcome
Bring your I.D. if you plan to sample beers!
For the latest information on Clips, go to www.newbelgiumclips.com. For more information on New Belgium Brewing, visit www.newbelgium.com.

About New Belgium Brewing Company 
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews eight year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel. Learn more at www.newbelgium.com.

Jenny Foust
Communications Strategy Group
(w) 303-433-7020; (c) 720-244-4268

Monday, June 17, 2013

BRU Fest 2013

We’ve reached the point in Michigan’s burgeoning relationship with craft beer that between Memorial Day and Labor day, it seems like there’s at least one festival every single weekend. Cities from Marquette to Monroe host Beer weeks in addition to the festivals held by microbreweries and municipalities alike. Few, however, have the three year pedigree of Royal Oak’s BRU Fest, and none can say that with every beer they serve, they help fight leukemia state-wide.
2013’s BRU fest shows that the planners can take a successful idea and improve upon it year after year. The food and beer sponsors for this event – Bell’s Beer, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bagger Dave’s, and Treat Dreams – provide all the food and beer as a donation to the event. This means that a much bigger portion of your 39 dollar ticket goes to help children. And the food sponsors did not disappoint!

For the four food tickets included in your purchase (that’s enough for way too much food by the way), you were able to sample from a collection of 4 delicious burgers courtesy of Bagger Dave’s, and six different types of boneless buffalo wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. After gorging yourself there, Treat Dreams had an ice cream sample area set up, where you could try two types of ice cream (both made with beer) topped with one of two types of topping (also both made with beer). We saw several savvy people add a scoop of salted caramel ice cream directly to their bourbon barrel stout, making an adult Beer Float, which is swiftly growing in popularity.

Bell’s provided all the beer for the event, and year after year they surprise and delight me with what they bring to BRU Fest. One of the consequences of so many beer festivals in Michigan is that invariably, breweries tend to preserve their rare, specialty, or sought after beers for either official Guild sponsored events or for their own breweries’ festivals. Bell’s treats BRU Fest with the respect it deserves, offering an astounding twenty one (21!) draft choices. They even had white wine available for those who are taking longer than normal to appreciate Michigan beer! I’ll post the list later, but I wanted to cover the biggest surprises on the list:

Bell’s Raspberry Ale: 2013 is certainly the year of the Raspberry. A huge number of Michigan breweries are trying new ideas in raspberry beer, with a few more dusting off old recipes. Finding Bell’s Raspberry Ale is relatively difficult for those not living close to their Kalamazoo taproom, and this effervescent, low alcohol fruit beer provides a subtle, natural raspberry flavor of a distinctly tart, almost Belgian-sour taste. Bell’s Raspberry cleverly avoids the risk of a candy sweet, cough syrup beer by playing on the raspberry’s tart characteristics. This beer is a fantastic summer beer (at 5% abv, it’s easy to drink), and the clear, ruby color gives an excellent impression.

Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9000: Feel free to correct me in the comments, but to my knowledge Batch 9000 was only brewed once, back in 2009. This is one of the highest rated beers in the world, especially after Bell’s lets it sit in bourbon barrels for months. At 15% abv, Bourbon Aged Batch 9000 is not something one should take lightly; in fact Laura and I split a taste of this rare beer. Unlike its competition (Black Note, KBS), the Bourbon Barrel batch 9000 does not run cloyingly sweet. The dominant aromatic and tasting notes trend toward raisin and prune, with a hazy hint of liquorice keeping the booze burn at bay. If you like your stouts incredibly complex, not too sweet, with a bit of anise flavor, this beer is something you should find.

Bell’s Quinannan Falls Special Lager: This ended up being my favorite beer offered at BRU Fest. Bell’s has dropped hopped a pale lager, resulting in a briskly refreshing beer that exhibits subtle notes of pine, citrus, bread, and a careful balance between bitter and sweet. If this was was macro lagers tasted like, we wouldn’t even have a craft beer market, because it’s the closest thing to a perfect lager I’ve ever had. There are two types of aftertaste; some beers literally linger inside your mouth and teeth, while others completely disappear once swallowed save for the pleasing aroma upon exhalation. Quinannan Falls performs in the second category, leaving your mouth refreshed and feeling slightly clean.

Here’s the list in its full glory:

Two Hearted
Lager of the Lakes
Third Coast Beer
Midwestern Pale Ale
Kalamazoo Stout
Porter, Amber
2011 Cherry Stout
Sparkling Ale
Black Note
Hell Hath No Fury
Roundhouse India Red Ale
Java Stout
Quinnanan Falls Special Lager
Sweet Potato Stout
Smoked Lager
Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9,000
Raspberry Ale
Special Double Cream Stout

Music was provided by an 80s tribute band from Detroit called the Square Pegz. And they killed it. The energy and skill and talent of the performers revved the crowd, got people dancing, and let everyone who remembers the 80s to relive more than a few childhood memories. 

Between the food, beer, music, and a sweet Hot Wheels edition Chevy Camaro to look at, the Children’s Leukemia Foundaiton has continued their streak of blending good deeds with great partners to create a superior festival. My compliments to the entire BRU Fest team, including President William Seklar, the sponsors of this fantastic event, and the patrons who make it a success, year after year!

To view the rest of our BRU Fest 2013 photos, please visit our Facebook page

Friday, June 14, 2013

There’s Something New Brewing in Ishpeming’s Country Village

Brett Helzer, the new Head Brewer at the Jasper Ridge Brewery, is settling nicely into his job after taking over brewing operations at the popular restaurant and brewpub. Brett has been hard at work brewing a variety of craft beers new to the establishment, as well as several old favorites.

A Grand Rapids native, Brett attended college at Michigan Technological University in Houghton where he received a degree in engineering. After returning to Grand Rapids, Brett took up home brewing in his spare time as a hobby. “I didn’t expect to like home brewing as much as I did” Brett said. “I never really thought it would become a passion of mine.” But he soon found himself immersed in the art of home brewing. After several years of honing his skills he entered a home brewing competition in Grand Rapids where he took home a silver medal for his brown ale. Brett says “this was a turning point, taking brewing from a hobby into a full time career.” Four years after he began home brewing Brett landed a job at a small craft brewery, Harmony Brewing Company, where he learned how to commercially brew and the ins and outs of the craft beer industry. Eight months later, Brett applied for the open brewer position at the Jasper Ridge Brewery and soon after was hired as Head Brewer.

In Brett’s short time at the Jasper Ridge Brewery he has brewed an amber rye, stout, pale ale, IPA, several styles of wheat beer, and a brown, which is in fact very similar to his home brew he won the silver medal for in Grand Rapids. Brett’s newest brew, ‘Rye’d the Tiger’ is “An American amber ale with a generous portion of rye malt thrown in.” Brett is happy to say his ‘Rye’d the Tiger’ has “gotten a really good reception” from the customers and is a current favorite at the brewery.

As for the future of brewing at Jasper Ridge Brewery, Brett is eager to share his ideas and vision for what we can expect on tap from him, stating, “I have a lot of interesting things in mind that I think people in the area will be receptive to.” His long-term goals include an Imperial IPA and Imperial Stout, but for the immediate future Brett intends to create an Octoberfest beer, a Kolsch and a traditional Finnish style beer called a “Sahti.” Brett describes it as “an interesting amber beer that uses a lot of juniper branches and berries.”

When not in the brew house working on his self described “labor of love”, Brett can be found behind the bar where he enjoys conversing with the customers and receiving feedback on his brews.  “The highest compliment I can get as a brewer, better than medals or awards, is ‘can I get another’; it means I have something people enjoy.” Brett says his “goal is to get people out of their comfort zone and try something different.”  If Brett’s impressive track record thus far is any indication, the craft beer future at the Jasper Ridge Brewery will without a doubt be bursting with unique flavor, excitement, and innovation.

The Jasper Ridge Brewery is located in Ishpeming’s Country Village and is open for lunch and dinner daily at 11am, with happy hour 3:30-6pm, Monday –Friday. Check them out at www.facebook.com/JasperRidgeBrewery or www.jasperridgebrewery.com

Their current tap beer list includes, Rye’d the Tiger, JRB Nitro Stout, JRB Upside Down Brown, Ropes Golden Wheat, Blastin’ Blueberry Wheat, JRB Pale Ale, and JRB IPA.  Growlers are available to go anytime.

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