Certainly its name is not a misnomer. When it comes to the eccentric, strange or just plain odd, Grand Haven’s Odd Side Ales advertises itself accurately.
Since opening its taproom doors in March 2010 — on St. Patrick’s Day weekend — the brewery hasn’t been afraid to offer products on a wide range of the odd spectrum. Hot peppers may be added to the brew. Or maybe it’s aged in tequila or wine barrels. Better yet, maybe it’s coffee flavor in a blonde ale.
“You can go anywhere and get an IPA, or a pale ale, or an amber or a brown,” said Josh Gordon, operations manager and assistant brewer. “Obviously, we have those here, but it’s kind of cool a lot of the mainstays at Odd Side have weird stuff in them as well.”
The beckoning to the odd grew as part of the brewery’s reputation even after it was first named Odd Side. According to Gordon, the moniker was first chosen because the taproom is located at 41 Washington Avenue — situated on the “odd side” of the street.
“But then it also developed into the weird beers and stuff,” Gordon said. “And that’s kind of the niche in the market for us where people expect us to have at least a beer with a hot pepper in it or other weird stuff going on like coffee Hefeweizen or crazy names or loud artwork.”
The upcoming fall release of Hipster Brunch Stout — an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with cooked bacon, maple syrup and coffee added directly into the barrels after the first six months of aging — adds to that repertoire. Gordon also mentioned a mojito lager (fresh mint and fresh lime) and two brews aged in tequila barrels — a lager with lime and “Josh on the Beach,” a pineapple IPA — as some of the most notable odd brews in recent memory.
The branding of “odd” has taken roots in the artwork and overall market branding for Odd Side, which opened a separate production facility south of the downtown taproom on Hayes Street in Grand Haven Township in fall 2012 and began bottling. It was soon after that time when Gordon joined the company, aligning his passion and love for craft beer with his day job.
“I’ve been coming here since Odd Side opened, and definitely the beer has gotten better — much more consistent,” Gordon said. “I think a lot of the stuff at the production facility helped that out.”
“After having the bottles out there for a year and half, the branding is way more solid. The direction all the beer is going in is a bit more defined.”
Gordon works with head brewer Kyle Miller under the direction of owner Chris Michner. Beer is still brewed in-house at the taproom/brewery in addition to beer that is either bottled, distributed in kegs to bars and restaurants throughout the state or brought to fill 17 of the taproom’s 21 tap handles.
Inside the taproom, there are many brews not available in stores and patrons shouldn’t expect the typical bar — no blaring music, televisions or other distractions. Instead, beer drinkers are invited into the Odd Side community, with couches, a long bar and shareable tables accompanied with stacks of board games, a line of dart boards and plenty of conversation.
The taproom takes on more of a coffeehouse vibe with a décor of local art and kitschy light fixtures. Summers usually have less going on in the taproom, as Odd Side is in a prime location of a summer tourist city. But most of the year, something is happening each night.
Monday is Dart Club, Tuesday is trivia, Wednesday is mug club, Thursday is for steins (fill a 32-ounce for $5) and Friday and Saturday usually feature live music. Gordon called Sunday “recovery day,” but it’s not uncommon for patrons to partake in some euchre even so.