Highlighting the craft beer family outside of Michigan. Learn about breweries and their offerings in other states within the US.

craft draft 2 go
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are aware of the situation surrounding Craft Draft 2 Go and its co-owner Aaron VanArsdale. Due to the turbulent nature of the story, we are closing comments on this article, which originally published on July 14, 2016. However, we are happy to get feedback from our readers and invite them to email us at news@mittenbrew.com.

 

Being the first to do anything craft beer related in Kalamazoo these days is a tough proposition, but Aaron VanArsdale is pioneering an untapped market in the city with Craft Draft 2 Go, a tap room focused on packaging beer to go in either 64-ounce glass growlers or 32-ounce aluminum Crowlers.

Taking home a growler has long been a staple part of microbreweries, but prior to a state law passed in 2013 it wasn’t legal for bars in Michigan to fill growlers. When the law changed, many venues throughout the state started offering draft beer to-go, but Craft Draft 2 Go will be the first in Kalamazoo to offer a wide variety of craft beer on draft with to-go sales being the cornerstone when it opens the first week of August.

craft draft 2 go

Aaron VanArsdale

“In Cincinnati you can get a growler filled at a gas station,” said VanArsdale, who owns the bar with his business partner Shayne Sherman. “In Oregon it’s booming. In Arizona it’s booming. You can get a growler filled just about anywhere. So Kalamazoo, why not? Why has nobody done this?”

Craft Draft 2 Go will serve craft beer with a side of some serious technology. The bar uses a digital pour system so people can see in real time how much is left of each keg on their website and Facebook page. If your favorite is in the red, you should probably ask the boss to leave early that day. New tappings are announced on their Twitter feed as well.

Another innovation Craft Draft 2 Go will focus on is Crowlers, a 32-ounce can that is filled directly from the tap and sealed right at the bar, introduced by Oscar Blues Brewery in late 2013. A CO2 nozzle purges the can of oxygen immediately prior to filling and the seal prevents air penetration, keeping the beer inside fresh for longer. Currently, Rupert’s Brew House is the only other Kalamazoo establishment offering Crowlers.

“To me it was a no brainer,” VanArsdale said. “The convenience of the can is you don’t have to remember to bring it back with you and it’s recyclable. It’s up to you to recycle it, but the can is convenient to take to the golf course, take it on the boat, take it to the race track. And then when you’re done with it you don’t have to worry about breaking it.”

craftdraft2go

 

VanArsdale said he’s been working on the idea for Craft Draft 2 Go for about three years, but it started becoming reality last October when he took possession of the space at 4520 Stadium Drive in the University Commons retail center formerly housing a Radio Shack.

Inside, it’s impossible to tell Craft Draft 2 Go was a defunct electronics store less than a year ago. The black and red walls are broken up by expanses of reclaimed barnwood and sections of whiskey barrels form the bases of pendant light fixtures hanging above the bar. More reclaimed barn wood went into building the tap room’s tables, and Michigan-themed art is prevalent. Bottle caps from Michigan breweries even cover the screws securing the drink rail to the bar’s outer walls. VanArsdale, a Navy veteran, is especially proud of the prominently displayed U.S., Michigan, and Kalamazoo flags.

“You want to do it right and go big,” he said. “But sometimes when you go big you lose the little details. I wanted to focus on making sure we didn’t miss any of the little details.”

Craft Draft 2 Go seats about 50, but the bar stools stop about two-thirds of the way down the 36-foot, poured concrete-topped bar so patrons who come in for growler and Crowler fills have plenty of room and a clear view of the 50 taps, 35 to 40 of which featuring Michigan beer, VanArsdale said. He’s committed six taps to Bell’s Brewery and another four to Latitude 42 Brewing Company. Two taps are nitro capable, one of which is used to serve Michigan-sourced cold-brewed coffee, and another tap is dedicated to serving root beer from Tibbs Brewing Company.

“We’re going to have Tibbs and One Well,” VanArsdale said. “We’re always going to have some of the other proven breweries in the state of Michigan—Dark Horse, Founders, New Holland. Besides that there’s a lot of other great beer out there in different parts of America we want to bring in. People doing good beer that you don’t always see.”

While the tap room’s focus is on giving craft beer lovers the biggest selection of to-go craft beer in Kalamazoo, it also will feature some compelling reasons to stick around and sample a few brews before selecting a couple to take home. A staffed private suite with two additional dedicated taps, bringing the bar’s overall total to 52, is available. The bar will have Kill the Keg Mondays, offering discounts on tap room pours for kegs that have been going the longest, and New Tap Tuesdays celebrating whatever went on tap to replace the previous night’s casualties. They plan to spin records on monthly vinyl nights and also have a monthly Bells night.

“We want people to feel like this is their local watering hole,” VanArsdale said. “Somewhere they can come in and have a beer, have a decent conversation and forget about life for a while.”

 

Photography: Steph Harding

New Belgium

Ft. Collins, Colo. – New Belgium Brewing’s annual Clips Beer & Film Tour is coming to Grand Rapids on Friday, July 15. This free event, now in its seventh year, features short films and a selection of small-batch beers with 100 percent of the proceeds from beer sales going to Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. In total Clips has raised more than $659,000 for nonprofits, with close to $10,000 coming from Grand Rapids in 2015. The event kicks off at Ah-Nab-Awen Park at 8:00 p.m., with the films starting at 10:00 p.m.

“This year is actually New Belgium’s 25th anniversary, so we’re doing things a little differently,” said Christie Catania, Clips national special events manager. “We asked ten filmmakers to incorporate the year 1991 into their film, as a way to salute the year that New Belgium got its start. The films do a great job of bringing us back to the glory days of big hair, questionable fashion, and outdated technology!”

In addition to a night of films under the stars, Clips offers a venue where guests can try New Belgium’s most esoteric beer offerings. Many of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith beers can be hard to come by and Clips offers the best way to try them. Eleven varieties from Lips of Faith to brewery classics will be available in 3-ounce samples, 12-ounce pours, or cans. For a complete list of beers available at the Grand Rapids stop, click here. Food from local food trucks will be available for purchase: Gettin’ Fresh and A Moveable Feast.

New Belgium, promoters of environmental stewardship, encourages attendees to think twice about throwing away trash, with a significant amount of waste diverted from landfills at each stop. In addition, all locations will have bike valet, encouraging people to ride their bike to the showings.

Clips Beer & Film Tour – Grand Rapids Stop

When:
Friday, July 15

Time:
8:00 p.m., with films starting at 10 p.m.

Where:
Ah-Nab-Awen Park

Proceeds Benefit:
Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition advocates for safer and more accessible bicycling in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

Recycling By:
High Five Program

Cost:
Admission – free
3 oz. sample –  $1.50
12 oz. beer –  $6.00

Other tips:

  • You will be asked to prove that you are old enough to enjoy an adult beverage. Please bring your government issued ID. No ID means no beer!
  • Bring low chairs or blankets – or lounge on the grass! 
  • No outside alcohol – leave the libations to us.
  • Picnics are welcome, although you might want to check out our local food vendors before you bring your own!
  • Bring your water bottle. We give water away for free. Look for the tall blue signs and stay hydrated!
  • We LOVE dogs. If you choose to bring Fido, please come prepared to keep your dog under control, on a leash, curbed, and by your side.
  • Walk, ride your bike, carpool, take public transportation…please.  

For the latest information on Clips, go to NewBelgium.com/Clips. For more information on New Belgium Brewing, visit NewBelgium.com.

New Belgium
Ft. Collins, Colo. – New Belgium Brewing’s annual Clips Beer & Film Tour is coming to Grand Rapids on Friday, July 15. This free event, now in its seventh year, features short films and a selection of small-batch beers with 100 percent of the proceeds from beer sales going to Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. In total Clips has raised more than $659,000 for nonprofits, with close to $10,000 coming from Grand Rapids in 2015. The event kicks off at Ah-Nab-Awen Park at 8:00 p.m., with the films starting at 10:00 p.m.
“This year is actually New Belgium’s 25th anniversary, so we’re doing things a little differently,” said Christie Catania, Clips national special events manager. “We asked ten filmmakers to incorporate the year 1991 into their film, as a way to salute the year that New Belgium got its start. The films do a great job of bringing us back to the glory days of big hair, questionable fashion, and outdated technology!”
In addition to a night of films under the stars, Clips offers a venue where guests can try New Belgium’s most esoteric beer offerings. Many of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith beers can be hard to come by and Clips offers the best way to try them. Eleven varieties from Lips of Faith to brewery classics will be available in 3-ounce samples, 12-ounce pours, or cans. For a complete list of beers available at the Grand Rapids stop, click here. Food from local food trucks will be available for purchase: Gettin’ Fresh and A Moveable Feast.


New Belgium, promoters of environmental stewardship, encourages attendees to think twice about throwing away trash, with a significant amount of waste diverted from landfills at each stop. In addition, all locations will have bike valet, encouraging people to ride their bike to the showings.
Clips Beer & Film Tour – Grand Rapids Stop
When:
Friday, July 15
Time:
8:00 p.m., with films starting at 10 p.m.
Where:
Ah-Nab-Awen Park
Proceeds Benefit:
Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition advocates for safer and more accessible bicycling in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

Recycling By:
High Five Program
Cost:
Admission – free
3 oz. sample –  $1.50
12 oz. beer –  $6.00
Other tips:

  • You will be asked to prove that you are old enough to enjoy an adult beverage. Please bring your government issued ID. No ID means no beer!
  • Bring low chairs or blankets – or lounge on the grass! 
  • No outside alcohol – leave the libations to us.
  • Picnics are welcome, although you might want to check out our local food vendors before you bring your own!
  • Bring your water bottle. We give water away for free. Look for the tall blue signs and stay hydrated!
  • We LOVE dogs. If you choose to bring Fido, please come prepared to keep your dog under control, on a leash, curbed, and by your side.
  • Walk, ride your bike, carpool, take public transportation…please.  

For the latest information on Clips, go to NewBelgium.com/Clips. For more information on New Belgium Brewing, visit NewBelgium.com.

Perrin Cigar City

Perrin Brewing Company has been under the West Michigan craft beer microscope since Oskar Blues Brewery acquired them in early 2015. Perrin then raised eyebrows with their playful, controlled disruption instigated by their literal No Rules bottle release. Most recently, Oskar Blues made headlines by purchasing Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, earlier this year. The second acquisition in their “against the grain” expansion strategy could’ve easily created a potentially awkward extended family.

However, rather than step-brothers fighting for top bunk, both breweries are already playing nice with each other. Cigar City, please meet Perrin.

As soon as Cigar City’s acquisition was public, Keith Klopcic, President of Perrin, reached out to Cigar City to pitch the idea that the breweries should collaborate.

I sat down with John Stewart, Director of Brewing Operations at Perrin, alongside his guest, Wayne Wambles, Head Brewer at Cigar City, to talk about their collaboration—White Noise, an imperial white IPA.

MittenBrew: How did the conversation start between both breweries?

Wayne Wambles: I remember the first email from Keith, trying to gauge my interest. He gave me his number, so I called him while I was driving back home either from a trip back to where I’m from in southeast Alabama or after another beer event in Florida, and we talked for a while. I told him, “Yeah, this’ll be great.” Then, Keith put John and me in touch with each other right after.

John Stewart: As soon as we knew that the partnership with Oskar Blues was locked in, we were super eager to get Wayne out here. It was definitely pre-Craft Brewers Conference — late March, early April. [Aside to Wayne, chuckling] I think I shot you just a few emails out of excitement at the very beginning to see what we could do to help make the collaboration happen.

 

John, since this is the first time Perrin and Cigar City have worked together, what was it like opening your doors to a guest? And, Wayne, what was it like for you to brew on their system?

WW: For me, it’s really common. I know for a fact that I probably work on other people’s systems more than on our own. I do a lot of collaborations annually — I’m at home with it, and actually really enjoy it. I enjoy being able to look at different systems to see how they work, getting to walk away with new insight on technology, processes. I don’t mind walking into someone else’s house [Aside to John, laughing like new best friends] — as long as they don’t mind me being here.

JS: That’s the cool part. I’ve gotten to learn from Wayne, too — particularly with the formation of the recipe. The whole process is just very fresh, and a fun change of pace. And, with us partnering together, after I get to show Wayne our brewery, I get to take him around to have some beers and show off Beer City.

 

Let’s talk about the recipe. How’d you settle on an imperial White IPA, and how’d you each contribute to its ingredients?

JW: When we first started tossing ideas back-and-forth, it was clear that [Wayne is] usually asked to collaborate on a certain few styles, and we just wanted to not do that — and do something a little bit different.

WW: At first, we were considering doing a sour, but ended up changing our minds. I think your guys were talking, and thought it would be a good idea to do a white IPA. Since I’ve never done one before, I thought it would be a great idea — at least for the experience alone. We also wanted to put a unique spin on it as well.

 

How do you expect the Belgian yeast to play into it?

JS: Hopefully, with the spices and hops, it’s going to be all layered together nicely. Part of the creative process was using some of the spices that are a little different from a Wit or whiter beer — thinking about how the yeast, the spices, the hops will all layer together for a complex sensory combination.

 

What variety of hops are you using?

WW: In order to discuss the hops, I also want to discuss the spice because in the way we’re laying it all out we want to create layers between both. As John was saying, the nontraditional aspect of it is the fact that you don’t find juniper in a Belgian White. So, there’s juniper in there. Maybe you might find lemon peel and lemongrass, but I think that’s probably not as common. Traditionally, you’re going to see corriander and orange peel in those beers, but we’re playing to the hops.

One of the hops is Denali, a Hopsteiner hop. It has some mango elements, some tropical fruit elements. We’re also using a hop called Lemondrop, which comes across like Lemon Drops candy, literally. It’s super clean, super bright.

Then, Chinook ties the juniper berry to the beer because it has those piney notes.

So, then, with the lemon peel we’re using and the lemongrass, which both work well with the Denali, and, of course, the Lemondrop hops — we’re just trying to create complex layers. So, as you’re drinking it, you just get layers and layers and layers throughout every sip you take.

 

Wayne, did you bring any of the ingredients up with you from Florida?

WW: No… We did originally discuss a hop variety at first, but John had everything in house we needed.

 

I’ve got to ask about the beer’s name…

JS: Wayne told me he likes sleeping with a white noise machine.

Perrin Cigar CityJust as John says this, I stop hearing the noticeable shutter clicks from  Steph Harding, MittenBrew owner, and photographer for this interview. Laughing, she chimes in over my shoulder, “Oh, seriously?! That’s too funny — I do, too!” Then Wayne proceeds to show her the app on his phone he uses to help soothe him to sleep. His favorite is Tropical Storm. Steph has Ocean Waves on hers.

 

What’s your day been like so far, and how do you think you’ll wrap up?

JS: We came in at 6:00 a.m. to get the brew going. We’ll probably be done around 5 or so. Last night, we were able to sneak out and have a couple beers around town, so I think the game plan tonight is to do more of the same in GR.

WW: I actually wouldn’t mind seeing The American Horse [at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park].

Is this the first time you guys have met?

JS: We’ve been in the same room before, but yeah, this is the first time we’ve really gotten to know each other.

 

Has it been like Step Brothers [the movie]? Are you getting along? Is there room for activities in the brewery?

JS: For me, after having some beers and talking to Wayne — there are a lot of key brewing principles we click on — quality and consistency. When you have other guys in the industry who are like that… You know, after the first couple of beers you’re like, “Is this guy cool?” Yeah, it’s been awesome.

WW: There’s a lot of common ground, definitely.

 

You’re aiming for a July release for White Noise, with Perrin Pub and limited local distribution. Will any variation of it find its way down to Florida?

JS: Oh, yeah. Well… for Wayne to drink. [Laughing]

 

How much are you producing?

JS: For this brew, we’re doing a 150-barrel batch.

 

Can we expect a follow-up collaboration where John visits you in Florida?

WW: Absolutely.

JS: Yeah, hopefully during a cold month here. [Laughing]

 

After the formal interview wrapped, I asked both guys how much of this collaboration had to do with Oskar Blues acquiring both breweries. They both had creative freedom in the process, were not under any pressure to collaborate, and used their recent familial relationship to create a positive, independent dialogue between Perrin and Cigar City. They’ve used this opportunity to understand each other’s philosophies and stance on issues that now apply to both of them — all three when you include Oskar Blues. What it came down to was one brewery simply asking another if they wanted to make a beer together — the way it should be.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Perrin Cigar City

Perrin Brewing Company has been under the West Michigan craft beer microscope since Oskar Blues Brewery acquired them in early 2015. Perrin then raised eyebrows with their playful, controlled disruption instigated by their literal No Rules bottle release. Most recently, Oskar Blues made headlines by purchasing Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, earlier this year. The second acquisition in their “against the grain” expansion strategy could’ve easily created a potentially awkward extended family.
However, rather than step-brothers fighting for top bunk, both breweries are already playing nice with each other. Cigar City, please meet Perrin.
As soon as Cigar City’s acquisition was public, Keith Klopcic, President of Perrin, reached out to Cigar City to pitch the idea that the breweries should collaborate.
I sat down with John Stewart, Director of Brewing Operations at Perrin, alongside his guest, Wayne Wambles, Head Brewer at Cigar City, to talk about their collaboration—White Noise, an imperial white IPA.


MittenBrew: How did the conversation start between both breweries?
Wayne Wambles: I remember the first email from Keith, trying to gauge my interest. He gave me his number, so I called him while I was driving back home either from a trip back to where I’m from in southeast Alabama or after another beer event in Florida, and we talked for a while. I told him, “Yeah, this’ll be great.” Then, Keith put John and me in touch with each other right after.
John Stewart: As soon as we knew that the partnership with Oskar Blues was locked in, we were super eager to get Wayne out here. It was definitely pre-Craft Brewers Conference — late March, early April. [Aside to Wayne, chuckling] I think I shot you just a few emails out of excitement at the very beginning to see what we could do to help make the collaboration happen.
 
John, since this is the first time Perrin and Cigar City have worked together, what was it like opening your doors to a guest? And, Wayne, what was it like for you to brew on their system?
WW: For me, it’s really common. I know for a fact that I probably work on other people’s systems more than on our own. I do a lot of collaborations annually — I’m at home with it, and actually really enjoy it. I enjoy being able to look at different systems to see how they work, getting to walk away with new insight on technology, processes. I don’t mind walking into someone else’s house [Aside to John, laughing like new best friends] — as long as they don’t mind me being here.
JS: That’s the cool part. I’ve gotten to learn from Wayne, too — particularly with the formation of the recipe. The whole process is just very fresh, and a fun change of pace. And, with us partnering together, after I get to show Wayne our brewery, I get to take him around to have some beers and show off Beer City.
 
Let’s talk about the recipe. How’d you settle on an imperial White IPA, and how’d you each contribute to its ingredients?
JW: When we first started tossing ideas back-and-forth, it was clear that [Wayne is] usually asked to collaborate on a certain few styles, and we just wanted to not do that — and do something a little bit different.
WW: At first, we were considering doing a sour, but ended up changing our minds. I think your guys were talking, and thought it would be a good idea to do a white IPA. Since I’ve never done one before, I thought it would be a great idea — at least for the experience alone. We also wanted to put a unique spin on it as well.
 
How do you expect the Belgian yeast to play into it?
JS: Hopefully, with the spices and hops, it’s going to be all layered together nicely. Part of the creative process was using some of the spices that are a little different from a Wit or whiter beer — thinking about how the yeast, the spices, the hops will all layer together for a complex sensory combination.
 
What variety of hops are you using?
WW: In order to discuss the hops, I also want to discuss the spice because in the way we’re laying it all out we want to create layers between both. As John was saying, the nontraditional aspect of it is the fact that you don’t find juniper in a Belgian White. So, there’s juniper in there. Maybe you might find lemon peel and lemongrass, but I think that’s probably not as common. Traditionally, you’re going to see corriander and orange peel in those beers, but we’re playing to the hops.
One of the hops is Denali, a Hopsteiner hop. It has some mango elements, some tropical fruit elements. We’re also using a hop called Lemondrop, which comes across like Lemon Drops candy, literally. It’s super clean, super bright.
Then, Chinook ties the juniper berry to the beer because it has those piney notes.
So, then, with the lemon peel we’re using and the lemongrass, which both work well with the Denali, and, of course, the Lemondrop hops — we’re just trying to create complex layers. So, as you’re drinking it, you just get layers and layers and layers throughout every sip you take.
 
Wayne, did you bring any of the ingredients up with you from Florida?
WW: No… We did originally discuss a hop variety at first, but John had everything in house we needed.
 
I’ve got to ask about the beer’s name…
JS: Wayne told me he likes sleeping with a white noise machine.
Perrin Cigar CityJust as John says this, I stop hearing the noticeable shutter clicks from  Steph Harding, MittenBrew owner, and photographer for this interview. Laughing, she chimes in over my shoulder, “Oh, seriously?! That’s too funny — I do, too!” Then Wayne proceeds to show her the app on his phone he uses to help soothe him to sleep. His favorite is Tropical Storm. Steph has Ocean Waves on hers.
 
What’s your day been like so far, and how do you think you’ll wrap up?
JS: We came in at 6:00 a.m. to get the brew going. We’ll probably be done around 5 or so. Last night, we were able to sneak out and have a couple beers around town, so I think the game plan tonight is to do more of the same in GR.
WW: I actually wouldn’t mind seeing The American Horse [at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park].

Is this the first time you guys have met?
JS: We’ve been in the same room before, but yeah, this is the first time we’ve really gotten to know each other.
 
Has it been like Step Brothers [the movie]? Are you getting along? Is there room for activities in the brewery?
JS: For me, after having some beers and talking to Wayne — there are a lot of key brewing principles we click on — quality and consistency. When you have other guys in the industry who are like that… You know, after the first couple of beers you’re like, “Is this guy cool?” Yeah, it’s been awesome.
WW: There’s a lot of common ground, definitely.
 
You’re aiming for a July release for White Noise, with Perrin Pub and limited local distribution. Will any variation of it find its way down to Florida?
JS: Oh, yeah. Well… for Wayne to drink. [Laughing]
 
How much are you producing?
JS: For this brew, we’re doing a 150-barrel batch.
 
Can we expect a follow-up collaboration where John visits you in Florida?
WW: Absolutely.
JS: Yeah, hopefully during a cold month here. [Laughing]

 
After the formal interview wrapped, I asked both guys how much of this collaboration had to do with Oskar Blues acquiring both breweries. They both had creative freedom in the process, were not under any pressure to collaborate, and used their recent familial relationship to create a positive, independent dialogue between Perrin and Cigar City. They’ve used this opportunity to understand each other’s philosophies and stance on issues that now apply to both of them — all three when you include Oskar Blues. What it came down to was one brewery simply asking another if they wanted to make a beer together — the way it should be.
 
Photography: Steph Harding

american craft beer weekWHAT:  For the 11th year in a row, the Brewers Association has declared American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), the nationwide celebration of U.S. small and independent craft brewers. The week long tribute provides an opportunity for craft brewers to share their diversity, creativity and passion for the beverage they love with the greater craft beer community. From May 16-May 22, all 50 states will be holding events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to celebrate the ever-advancing beer culture in the United States.

WHEN:  Monday, May 16–Sunday, May 22, 2016

american craft beer weekWHERE:  In all 50 states. Visit the official American Craft Beer Week event calendar on CraftBeer.com for a full – and growing – list of local celebrations.

WHY:  ACBW has been celebrated for the past decade. Since 2006, craft beer fans have had a designated week to support their local brewery, and beer businesses have had the opportunity to connect with their customers and other beer lovers. Tens of thousands of beer beginners, beer enthusiasts and beer geeks toast the week each year.
In 2015, more than 60,000 beer lovers across all 50 states were also part of the ACBW Facebook Community. With over 4,100 craft breweries now open—an all-time high for our country—there’s even more to celebrate.

 

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSMGreat American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, AHA National Homebrewers Conference, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

brewers association

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

Puerto Rico

Michigan beer lovers vacationing in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico, can get their fix by visiting a former Michigander’s craft beer haven, La Taberna Lúpulo. Situated between two famous forts in the heart of the colonial section of the city, this oasis serves Founders and Bell’s goodness to local residents as well as tourists looking for refreshment. The building has an inviting open air atmosphere that allows for an occasional visit from one of the city’s many friendly wandering cats while you enjoy your beverage and the island breezes.

Puerto Rico

Getting there is easy, it’s accessible by foot from many sightseeing origins and destinations including the cruise ship port on the southern shore. If your timing is right, you may be able to save a few steps by catching one of the free local trolleys that circle the perimeter of the neighborhood and stops nearby.

La Taberna is partly owned by General Manager Milton Soto, who was born and raised in Royal Oak, Michigan and is now living in Puerto Rico.

“I came down to study and just stayed. Fell in love with Puerto Rico. Never thought in a million years I would be here almost twelve years later,” he said. “I think my friends thought I was insane. My dad is Puerto Rican and my mother is Cuban but I came on my own and figured it out on my own. Now everybody wants to move down here,” he said. Visit his part of paradise and you’ll begin to understand why.

Soto has been working diligently to develop the seven year old bar into a craft beer destination. They’ve carried Michigan brews for over five of those years. He says he has partially convinced brewery representatives to get on board with his ideas by escorting them around the main island and encouraging them to feel the pulse of the vibrant territory. There is much to love about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s varied topography of beaches, mountains, dry desert-like areas, and rainforests. Soto speaks highly of time spent showing folks from Founders around his adopted home. “Jeremy’s a hoot. We had a good time in the rainforest!” Soto said of Jeremy Kosmicki, Head Brewer at Founders, who visited to check out the scene. It paid off for both companies.

During this writer’s visit in December a good chunk of the Bartender Favorites board had Founders listed. “We don’t force anybody to like Founders, those bartender favorites are literally what they like — and people love Founders,” Soto said, accounting for the brewery’s presence on eleven of the fifty taps. “Our local brews are good but they’re still up and coming, they’re still starting,” he said. “Here in Puerto Rico the craft beer market is really only 6 or 7 years old. We were the ones that started this movement,” he added.

Puerto Rico

Of the many bars and restaurants competing for customer attention, La Taberna was “the first one to have a tap system in Puerto Rico, and we started as a small, hole in the wall bar”, Soto claims. It progressed rapidly to its current popular status and larger space. “People love good beer, and we get so many great people coming through here all the time.” Puerto Rico is “a small place but we know how to drink, we definitely know how to drink!” he laughed.

Puerto Rico“The Puerto Rican palate, in the last six years, has gone through an extreme array of changes. Traditionally we were used to pilsner lager type beers, going into more amber, pale ales, wheat beers then IPAs, then to the point where you have people drinking stouts in the middle of summer like it’s going out of business. It’s like ‘wow it’s kind of warm for that’ but they love it here. A lot of Puerto Ricans grew up with this drink called Malta which is a malt beverage and it almost tastes like a stout but it’s non-alcoholic,” Soto said. Malta is brewed with barley, hops, and water and resembles beer that hasn’t been fermented. Kids take it to school in their lunches and it is widely enjoyed in social gatherings. Soto thinks this could be a contributing factor to the immense popularity of Bell’s Kalamazoo and Expedition stouts and Founders Imperial Stout and Porter in the bar in spite of the tropical temperatures.

IPAs are also appreciated there, cans of Founders Centennial and All Day IPA are sold as fast they can be stocked. On tap you might find such gems as Devil Dancer when it’s in season. “Because we’re the main craft beer bar in Puerto Rico we get all the special releases allocated to us,” Soto said, including Bell’s Hopslam when it hit distribution recently.

The list of Michigan breweries Soto dreams he’ll eventually have on tap in the future is topped by Witch’s Hat, not only because he considers them one of the up and coming Michigan breweries to watch, but also due to his friendship with the company’s founders and owners Ryan and Erin Cottingim. “I moved out to South Lyon right after high school and that’s when I met both of them,” he said. “They’ve always been fucking amazing people and that’s what makes amazing beer,” he added.

“I think New Holland would be a contender. Shorts would be awesome, I would cry if I could get them,” Soto said frankly. Jolly Pumpkin previously had a presence in Puerto Rico some time ago but has since exited the market. Soto believes they may have a better reception now that consumers have opened their minds a little more to the idea of sour beer. “Every time I go home I’m in Ann Arbor drinking Jolly Pumpkin, I’d love to see it come back,” he said.

“Michigan is super important down here. We have a lot of people from the midwest that live here,” he added. Soto sees similarities in the cultural attitudes of midwestern mainland USA and the island territory, especially the willingness of people to go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant. The team at La Taberna Lúpulo takes care to exemplify those values. Perhaps our mutual love of Michigan beer has something to do with that joviality. Go visit them and experience it for yourself. Tell them MittenBrew.com sent you.

CANd Aid

FLINT– The need for safe clean drinking water in the city remains high and so does the dedication of Oskar Blues Brewing’s CAN’d Aid Foundation.

They were one of the first organizations to publicly act when the scope of the disaster became clear, and their commitment hasn’t stopped since their initial shipment. More canned water has been delivered to the troubled city. Additionally, benefits have been planned by the organization to raise cash for the Flint’s Got Grit community fund. The fund was created to help residents obtain health exams and follow-up care related to the lead contamination crisis.

The first event will take place on Thursday, January 28 from noon to 6 p.m. at Torch Bar and Grill in Flint. Oskar Blues representatives will be there grilling beer can chicken and serving root beer at no cost, although a cash donation will be accepted from those who wish to give back.

Taps will be flowing with many rare Oskar Blues beers brought in specially for the benefit. Cases of canned water will be given to residents on site.

Several bars and restaurants in surrounding cities from Lake Orion to Bay City have joined in to donate one dollar per pint of Oskar Blues Brewery beer sold during the event hours. A full list can be found here.

On Friday, February 5 the Tasty Weasel taprooms of Oskar Blues locations in Colorado and North Carolina will hold simultaneous throw-downs featuring live music and specialty brews. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Flint’s Got Grit fund.


Home     About     News     Services     Contact Us



Sign Up To Get The Latest Brews