GRAND RAPIDS — In a warm up for February’s Winter Beer Festival held in nearby Comstock Park, the DeltaPlex invited crowds out to its fourth annual Great Fox Brew Ha Ha over the weekend, celebrating both comedy and beer from around the Great Lakes.
Breweries from across the Midwest showcased their beers for the public — many of which were from Michigan. While most breweries chose to bring bottled brews to the event, some (like Greenbush Brewing Co. and Hideout Brewing Company) brought specialty ales as well.
Not having tried Greenbush beers before, that was a good start for me. The brewery, which opened in June 2011, brewed about 1,300 barrels of beer in 2011, with expectations to get to 2,400 in 2011, according to Greenbush representative Justin Heckathorn.
The brewery’s Apathy Oatmeal Stout (6.7% ABV) contained minor hops in what was a heavily carbonated, but mighty tasty brew. The nearly black beer had some coffee and chocolate tones. Overall this was a very drinkable beer, and a great one to start the day with.
Arbor Brewing Company’s Olde Number 22 (5.5% ABV) continued along the dark trend of what I tried, featuring a minimal head with a dark brown color. Hops were more present here, but not over the top. The one flavor that stuck out the most was its nuttiness, and the brew’s light carbonation gave way to this amazing flavor. I could also taste a little vanilla. While the flavors might have been too over the top for some, this struck a chord with me.
But perhaps the two beers I remember the most were from Arcadia Ales and Hideout Brewing Company. Arcadia’s Loch Down Scotch Ale (8% ABV) was well-balanced. The alcohol wasn’t overpowering, and there was very little carbonation. The drink was very refreshing, pouring a brown color with minimal head and highlighting a malty flavor.
My favorite of the event? Hideout’s Spiced Chocolate Rye (5.5% ABV). Surprisingly well-balanced, this brew smelled like cinnamon throughout. It wasn’t over spiced – just enough for that “kick” — and contained hints of chocolate. And while I’m all one for sweets, the lack of chocolate dominance was very well received.
In addition to the beer tastings, the event featured a seminar stage, which brought local experts to discuss different aspects of beer, covering everything from home brewing to the history of beer. But overall, the fourth annual event just provided a great backdrop — music and comedy — to some great beers.