HOLLAND — Wonderland overtaken by the The Hatter?
Don’t fret, dear Alice, it’s all in the name of Michigan beer.
With several real-life depictions of the popular Alice in Wonderland character walking through its restaurant/pub and adjacent street block (College Avenue between 8th and 9th streets), New Holland Brewing Company celebrated 15 years of brewing Saturday with an ode to its anchor brew, Mad Hatter IPA.
“The event is really about our anniversary,” brewmaster and partner John Haggerty said. “Mad Hatter really being our flagship beer, it made sense (to call the event Hatter Day).”
Bringing the annual event into the street was a milestone for organizers, and allowed local chefs to offer various cookout items to folks. New Holland, Vander Mill, Salt & Pepper and Brewery Vivant kitchens were all represented.
“For now, this is the biggest event we’ve done,” Haggerty said. “It’s also big for the city of Holland.”
Hatter Day 2012 featured a variety of Hatter-esque IPAs, including the debut of White Hatter (a spiced-up Hatter) and several variations on the Hatter theme. They included: Mad Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Farmhouse Hatter, Black Hatter, Oak Aged Hatter, Rye Hatter and Full Circle (the last not so much part of the theme, but hard not to include at a New Holland anniversary party).
New Holland has never been afraid to try something new, Haggerty said. However, their biggest goal is balance — both in beer styles and within the beers themselves.
“When we think about making beer, we think about the notion of balance,” Haggerty said. “Really what we are saying is everything has to meld together in the flavors, alcohol content…What’s the appropriate amount? We try to shoot for that balance.”
That was the original concept behind Full Circle, which has become one of New Holland’s most-celebrated beers. As Haggerty says, when people first start brewing beer, they have the adage: “The more hops the better.”
“Then you kind of diversify to all these styles. Ingredients work together in harmony. Full Circle is kind of our version of Budweiser. Point is everything has its place and time. The point of being a beer connoisseur is to recognize this.”
Hatter Day 2012 was capped with music by national headlines The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker. Of course, the annual cake cutting took place inside the pub promptly at 10:06 p.m. — appropriately timed for the “In this style 10/6” depicted on the card on Hatter’s hat.
“For us we like to do things differently and be outside the box,” said Dave White, general manager and partner. “We live to push the envelope.”