I’m seated in an industrial looking, high-ceiled venue that’s filled with long picnic tables, various flags gently waving in front of second story windows, fermentation vessels peeking out from high above the bar, and wooden sliding doors that divide the space into private room, main beer hall, and back of house operations. Upon closer inspection, I find little hints of artwork from the old Schnitzelbank restaurant, recommissioned kegs that serve as bathroom sinks, and I even note the cluster of Weissbier glasses drenched in light throughout the space.
I am, of course, in Cedar Springs Brewing Company, the newest addition to our family of craft breweries in Michigan. Located at 95 Main in downtown Cedar Springs, this gem of Germanic goodness opened its doors on November 13 this year to excited guests. I’m here almost a month later and I must say that I’m enjoying this Monday afternoon as compared to the boisterous nature of the opening. This time, I even get to sit and indulge in food as well as beer.
Within the hall, the almost non-existent acoustics allow for raucous laughter to roll off the walls and startle my senses. It’s obvious that patrons are merry with good beer and friends, and what better way to relish in that than by sitting at a long, inviting table? It’s been said plenty of times before that we Americans like to have our “space”, but adding new friends to your group can make for a great time. The idea of sharing a table is blasphemous to some, but here it’s encouraged; a nice nod to traditional standards from that sweet ol’ land of Germany.
What I noticed immediately about both the beer and the food menu is the obvious dichotomy between old world and new. German fare is designated on one side of the menu labeled Bavarian Menu. The standard American fare is on the opposite side. Though it can be an uncommon practice to visually separate food types, by doing so, Cedar Springs seems to beg the question, “Are you craving a traditional or a modern approach today?”
The divide is further pronounced with the beer offerings. At the tap handles behind the bar, German beers are labeled as “Küsterer” while the American style beers are given the Cedar Springs Brewing Company logo. The same structure is found on the actual menu.
Since I already had a German style Weissbier in front of me, I couldn’t help but choose the “traditional” route for my food.
Knoblauchsuppe, or rather, garlic soup is the first item on my list. Personally I usually steer away from anything directly garlicky because of the pungent flavors that will emanate and haunt me the rest of the night. However, this soup contains all the lovely flavors of garlic without the effective scent left behind. This mouth-watering, perfectly salted soup was so delicious that I ended up ordering another. My advice? Order this soup and wash it down with the Küsterer Original Weissbier. I found it to be a nice little pairing.
Up next was the Leberkäse, a seared Bavarian pork loaf that comes with a sunny side-up egg, greens, mustard, and bread. Salty and savory, it was just begging for a beer. I paired this dish with the Küsterer Salzburger Märzen so the lovely and subtle lager could wipe out the salt and fat and cleanse my palate.
Though I didn’t eat more from the menu that day, one item in particular called attention to itself. On the American fare portion of the menu was a sandwich that I believe is worth noting and bringing friends back in for. I’m talking about The Monstrosity Burger.
Coming in at $33.50 and recommended to be eaten by 2-4 people, this insane burger invites a great challenge that is likely to be met with wide eyes and cheers from fellow beer drinkers in the hall. The burger itself is a “Lumbertown burger with sloppy Shaun, pub pulled pork, wager smoked brisket, bacon, american cheese, smoked cheddar, gouda cheese, memphis class sauce, fried egg, crispy onions, and tomato on a classic bun. Comes with a ½ lb of flannel fries and two whole chicken wings”. Indeed!
Turning our focus toward the malty liquids, I’d like to leave you off with my brief impressions of a couple beers that were on tap for the day. Though the variety and amount of beer available is still on the lighter side due to the opening, I want to point out that the styles produced here just so happen to be beers you’d want to drink several glasses of anyway.
The Küsterer Original Weissbier is a pretty little weizen that is indeed quite hazy and a deep amber in color. A white head sits on top and takes its time disintegrating in my glass. Bread and lemon are the most prominent flavors and aroma. A hint of clove lingers in the background of this traditional and comforting beer.
Cedar Springs Yinzers Roundabout IPA was a collaboration beer with Roundabout Brewing from Pittsburgh. This clear and burnished gold colored IPA was quite well balanced and thirst-quenching for an American style IPA. It provided light floral and honey notes along with a layered bready character that binds it all together. It’s pleasantly and balancing-ly bitter throughout, though that’s not the defining feature of the brew. The malt provides a bread-like sweetness that balances the almost European-esque display of hops, though I know the varieties used actually originate from New Zealand and the United States. Overall it’s a pretty beer that lends plenty of opportunity for pairing in the future.
Cedar Springs is now home to a 15-barrel system brewery that is owned by David Ringler and hasbrewing operations run by head brewer, Matt Peterson, previously of Schlafly Beer of St. Louis. It appears to me that they have a long and wonderful road ahead of them, despite the normal hiccups of any new operation. I was delighted to make an appearance and I’m already parched sitting here thinking about that Weissbier. Should you see me in the brewery on my next visit, please join me at my table for a well deserved “Prost!” to Cedar Springs Brewing Company.