HUDSONVILLE — At a beer festival filled with new West Michigan breweries, Elk Brewing Company was as new as it gets.
The Grand Rapids-based brewery opened to the public on Friday and was serving three beers at the inaugural Beer City Spring Fest on Saturday.
Serving customers its Scotch Ale (9.8% ABV) beneath a giant Elk Brewing antler logo, head bartender Kris Oglesbe said he’d received positive feedback all day about their beers and the concept of the brewery. That made him feel even more confident about Elk Brewing’s future.
“It’s hard to open a brewery in Grand Rapids and be successful because there is so much competition,” Oglesbe said. “[The response] has been awesome.”
The response to the first beer festival in Hudsonville’s history was awesome as well. The city, which was dry up until 2007, now has two microbreweries to fuel its hunger for craft beer.
Special beers and ciders were everywhere — from the large party tent set up to inside the massive fairgrounds barn.
Muskegon-based Unruly Brewing Company, which opened in late 2013, featured Steam Punk (5.5% ABV), a California Common with hoppy amber flavor and a taste of mint on the back end.
Bridgman-based Tapistry Brewing featured a Beetown Brown (4.8% ABV) at the festival. It was a tasty Northern English Brown Ale made with Michigan honey, a flavor that grew on me with each sip.
On the cider front, Grand Rapids-based The People’s Cider offered Sally Brown (8.4% ABV), a sweet cider fermented with molasses and aged in a bourbon barrel. The cider was a fan favorite during my time at the booth.
Ada-based Sietsema Orchards provided a few new ciders, most notably the Lemon Grass Cider (6.9% ABV). The cider is dry, with a light, refreshing summer shandy taste.
“It’s not going to fill you up a lot,” said Owner Andy Sietsema, noting he hopes to be bottling it soon and expanding distribution throughout the Midwest.
Todd Huston of Dorr, who was sporting a killer pretzel necklace for the event, said he was soaking up the uniqueness of the day.
“I was amazed that Hudsonville had a beer festival,” he said with a smile.