Leelanau Pale Ale

6% ABV  •  “An ongoing exploration of local hops from the Leelanau Peninsula. Currently hopped with Empire Orchards Vojvodina hops.”

Oooh! Utilizing the local hops, eh? Glad to see that trend popping up. Granted, Michigan won’t provide all of our hop needs, but it’s quite some fun to assess the local flair when possible.

This is a clear and dark amber beer with a resistant tan head. I detect some subtle banana and bubblegum notes with a touch of pepper, the obvious byproducts of a Belgian-inspired brewery.

From there I pick up on notes of honey that latch onto a light nuttiness. The hops remind me of the German noble varieties in that they are a touch spice forward. The malt lends bread crust and granola flavors.

The brew then moves into a fluffy mouthfeel just before the hop bitterness swiftly cuts in to coat my tongue and hold on. All throughout are full notes of bread crust-like malt, spice-like hops and brisk hop bitterness.

It’s lovely to suck down beer while eating food, but for this particular case I am happy to drink the beverage on its own. I find it’s a wonderful way to pull apart those particular Michigan hop notes and observe what this environment has to offer our prized little cones.

Fun Guv’nr Black IPA

7.3% ABV

It’s an opaque black brew with a light brown head. Dipping my nose down into my glass, I get whiffs of pine, green leaves, burnt toast and ash.

Continuing further and I take a swallow. My mouth is now awash with strong ash and burnt toast notes that linger far into the finish. Personally, I am a huge smoke and char flavor fan, so these traits make me quite happy. The green leaf-like hop flavor trails behind and is not nearly as abrasive as my char notes. I also sense a touch of citrus as well from our lovely hops. I should mention, too, that the burnt toast quality is not the only thing that takes over. I am also sensing a sweet bread flavor underneath it all.

As I finish it and my mouth is left with lingering char flavor, I feel the hop bitterness sneaking in to work with the roasty bitterness while I daydream about eating corn chowder and smoked brisket.

While sitting here drinking and looking over the Stormcloud menu, I am left with some perhaps unusual questions for this kind of article, but I implore you all to weigh in on them.

Stormcloud has been ever so clever with naming their brews (B., Sirius! Ha! I am patting myself on the back for remembering cloud types from elementary school), and finding a common theme that ties into the brewery name. I mean, come on! The Farthest Shore? Updraft? Silver Lining Saison? It may sound trivial, but I know that creating unifying themes can truly help solidify an identity, which Stormcloud appears to have figured out. Let’s take what they’ve done and now question the power of words in the beverage industry. I’m always excited when a brewery gives me pause, and Stormcloud certainly has.

Please, tell us your thoughts in the comment section! We’d love to strike up a conversation using the questions below as a starting point.

  • Have the names of beers helped you determine whether or not you will purchase the beer?
  • Can you remember a distinct time when you bought a beer because of the name?
  • How about a time when you didn’t choose a beer because of the name?
  • Is it strong advertising or the quality of the product that holds the real selling power?
  • Are humorous or interesting names more appealing than names that help categorize or define what you’re about to taste?
  • Most importantly, do the names of beers really matter and why?