57 Brewpub and Bistro is a family restaurant kind of establishment that may not be right in the beer mecca of Grand Rapids, but provides yet another fun excursion for the nearby city dweller or curious local to come in and see that craft beer is perfect for any town.   

Thomas Payne, the head brewer at 57 Brewpub and Bistro, seems to have locked down the establishment with his American Ale and German Lager-forward brewing program and array of well balanced beers. Understanding the importance of balance, in my book, is crucial to running a beer program in a town that is adjusting itself to the wide world of craft beer.

 

Yellow Jacket Honey Ale

7.3% ABV

31 IBU

Pale and Munich malts combined with local Honey, Cascade Hops from Hopyards of Kent and German Tettnang Hops round out this Hometown Favorite.

I’ve got a light amber colored beer that is clear as day in front of me. I pull it up to my nose to sniff and get strong sweet malt/sweet bread notes. A touch of honey and leafy hops waft up to me as well.

I finally pull it to my lips. After sipping a few times, I notice that I just keep being reminded of chewing on base malt grains, which in this case are pale and pilot malt. The finish has a light tannic quality that latches itself next to the very mild hop bitterness that evens out the whole ensemble.

Mind you, I wouldn’t call this beer “sweet”, but it’s just a simple malt-loving brew with a touch of bready-like sweetness and a reminder of the little bit of honey that was left behind because it’s not a fully fermentable sugar.

Balanced and simple. It’s hard to go wrong with an approach like that.

 

Morrison ESB

5.5% ABV

26 IBU

Malt & hops equally balanced. Copper colored and flavors of toffee & toast with a clean hop finish.

The Morrison is mostly clear but has just a touch of haziness. It’s a gorgeous amber color with burnt orange highlights and an off-white head that just circles around the edges of the glass.

Immediately, I get an earthy hop-forward aroma and flavor. The malt swoops in after and gives me aromatics and flavors of toast and a bit of honey on a biscuit. My flavor assessment leads me to believe that the water was “burtonized” for the style as well.

The finish is a touch tannic and has a balancing bitterness that eventually leaves you with nothing but a prickle from those hops.

Once again, this beer exudes a simple and balancing quality that is sometimes all too hard to find  in this beer world of extremes.

 

Eclipse Schwarzbier

5.2% ABV

17 IBU

Mild malt flavor with light roasted & bitter chocolate undertones w/ a nice dry finish. 100% Cascade hops from Hopyards of Kent. Exceptionally clean due to extended cold conditioning without the burnt coffee flavor typically associated with Black Beers.

As expected, this schwarzbier is opaque and black in color. A light brown colored head is swirling about on top.

My initial assessment tells me that I’ve found a briefly savory character that bursts into a pop of smoke notes before the beer finally settles into its traditional burnt toast flavors and roasty bitterness that lingers into the finish.

A pleasant, light musty-like character creeps around the flavors of burnt toast and oh-so-subtle baking chocolate flavor.

This is a solid example of the traditional German lager. Black with burnt notes and a roasty bitterness. A great beer to have on a menu, especially with the food options that they offer. Use this brew to make your meat-based dishes shine by attaching roastiness to savory meat. The weekend rib special they feature would be a great start.

 

57 Chevy MIPA

6.5% ABV

65 IBU

This Beauty just got back from the shop after a hop overhaul. Greenville MIPA generously hopped with Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and dry hopped with Amarillo.

A very hazy, light amber and orange colored beer sits in front of me. It almost looks like a wheat beer because of the cloudiness. The head didn’t linger but what was leftover was white in color.

Strong green tea as well as pine and cannabis notes make up the aroma. I sip and find numerous flavors of orange peel, green tea, pine, cannabis, and a lingering note of lemon. It’s a dry-hopped brew, and you can taste it.

This beer, I must admit, has a bit of a difficult time with strong tannic sensations. Especially with all that hop bitterness. My preference is to have more of a crisp bitterness in my beers, and after the consistent balancing effect of the other brews, I was expecting that to be the case. However, the aromatics and flavor is quite punchy and displays a great use of Michigan grown hops.

57 Brewpub and Bistro creates an easy-going atmosphere for the locals and provides them with the nourishment of locally made beer. Thomas Payne is delivering a sensible beer program that also leaves plenty of pairing options for the pub’s large meal selection.

Above all, Payne is showcasing the simple, yet wonderful ingredients that make up this beverage that we love in quite an approachable manner. For that, I cheers you.