5.5% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Amber, with a beautiful white head.
Aroma: A little citrusy.
Taste: Nice and hoppy. Crisp with a slight bite on the back end.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied.

The Hideout Beer City Pale Ale is one of ten pale ales created for the celebration of BeerCity USA. On a hot day, you can’t ask for much more than this crisp celebratory drink in the great beer city.

8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with a subtle tan head that lingers.
Aroma: Chocolate along with roasted malt-like qualities. A bit of coffee.
Taste: Very creamy, with a coffee bitterness. Some roasted malts, vanilla and chocolate present as well.
Mouthfeel: Medium to strong bodied.

Dark Horse Brewing Co.’s Too Cream Stout is a creamy, rich blend of chocolate, vanilla, malt and coffee — all wrapped up in a brew that is steadily becoming one of my standards. The creaminess of this brew gives way to a bit of a bitter coffee finish, but otherwise is very rich and appetizing, especially with it only having 8% ABV.

6.1% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Very dark brown, with virtually no head.
Aroma: Coffee and chocolate.
Taste: Perfectly balanced; chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a slight carbonation.

Old Boys’ specialty Magnum Breakfast Stout focuses on what most breakfast stouts do best — the coffee. Brewed with beans from Nunica’s Magnum Coffee Roastery, this brew is on the lighter side for a breakfast stout, and brings chocolate and vanilla to the coffee flavors that are experienced throughout. For those entering into the stout realm for the first time, this is a good entry beer, as it’s doesn’t contain a super heavy flavor or mouthfeel.

6.1% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Very dark brown, with virtually no head.
Aroma: Coffee and chocolate.
Taste: Perfectly balanced; chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a slight carbonation.
Old Boys’ specialty Magnum Breakfast Stout focuses on what most breakfast stouts do best — the coffee. Brewed with beans from Nunica’s Magnum Coffee Roastery, this brew is on the lighter side for a breakfast stout, and brings chocolate and vanilla to the coffee flavors that are experienced throughout. For those entering into the stout realm for the first time, this is a good entry beer, as it’s doesn’t contain a super heavy flavor or mouthfeel.

4.5% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Small head with a light caramel color. Lots of bubbles.
Aroma: Lemon, lime and maybe some ginger?
Taste: Lime is the most dominating flavor, but to me this beer tastes more like a bowl of fruity pebbles, or perhaps lime kool-aid. Good amount of flavor, but a bit sweet.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied with moderate carbonation.

Detroit Brewing’s Radler is what I’d describe as an amped-up version of Corona. It’s got the same summertime flavors, featuring lemon and lime, but I more or less compare it to a box of fruity kid’s cereal than anything else. It’s sweet, but at the same time light and refreshing — making for a good summer drink on the patio.

7.2% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Clear copper color with a generous off-white head that lingers.
Aroma: Resin and pine hop smells dominate over sweet, caramel notes.
Taste: Follows the nose, with bitter, resinous hop flavors mix easily with a strong, sweet malt finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied, slick on the tongue.

A wise Jedi seeks balance, so Master Yoda would be all about Founders Centennial IPA, which marries an intensely bitter hop presence with the sweet, malty strains of biscuit and caramel for about as well balanced an IPA as you’re likely to find in this galaxy. Perhaps a touch on the sweet side, this beer nevertheless delivers the goods, though at 7.2%, the Padawan is encouraged to exercise caution with this otherwise too drinkable brew. For non-Star Wars dorks, that means it’s tasty but it will quickly sneak up on the unsuspecting drinker. Limit two per customer if you know what’s good for you.

YPSILANTI — What a difference 15 years make. Some out there may not be old enough to remember, but there was a time not long ago when it wasn’t possible to choose from a vast bounty of beers from 100+ brewing establishments in Michigan like we can today. Back in the dark days of 1997, choices were much more limited. More often than not, the seeker of fine beer had to look beyond the borders of the Great Lakes State to satisfy his thirst.

But that was to change with the founding of the Michigan Brewers Guild and the advent of the Michigan Summer Beer Festival, which once upon a time attracted only a few hundred people to a smattering of breweries representing at the fairgrounds of the less-than-enthusiastic city of Livonia. Last Friday and Saturday, all the hard work the Guild has put into helping grow a thriving new domestic industry was on full display as thousands upon thousands flocked to Riverside Park in Ypsilanti to try around 550 beers from more than 60 Michigan breweries.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave — and not a beer cave — you’re probably familiar with this annual celebration of Mitten-made suds.  The tents, the lines, the loud music, the food, the fun, the dunk tank (OK, that was new this year), the wet and sticky weather — although, apart from a brief shower, the customary rainstorm was nowhere to be seen, and even the humidity held itself in check. It was a perfect day to enjoy some Michigan beers.

And what beers! Your correspondent tried something on the order of 25 of them over both days of the Festival (although I maintain that a true gentleman never counts), or less than 5% of what was available. Even the best of us fall short. Below are a few highlights.

Best of Fest

Saison St. Clair, Big Rock Brewery. Mildly sour and tart with a dry finish and a slight funky, “barnyard” aroma. Crisp, complex and delicious. Watch for brewer Dan Rogers’s Griffin Claw Brewing Co., coming to Birmingham in the near future.

Frenchiest Name

Barrel Aged Maillot Jaune, The Livery. Before you say “not another barrel aged beer,” you should know we’re talking about a merlot barrel, which imparted some acidic, vinous complexity to the underlying Biere de Garde style. At 8%, it was about the lowest alcohol offering from the Benton Harbor brewery yet still deceptively drinkable.

Beyond Plain Vanilla

Bean Flicker Blonde Ale, Odd Side Ales. Referred to as a “coffee blonde,” this beer was dominated by beans of the vanilla variety, which suited my coffee-averse self just fine. An interesting concept and cheaper than Starbucks to boot.

Most Thoughtful

Contemplation Belgian Golden Ale, Brewery Vivant. A sweet aroma of honey, cloves and grassy hops previews the complex but light and drinkable flavors of this excellent summer brew. Vivant strikes again.

Most Violent and Longest Name

The Massacre Rye Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Dark Lager, Wolverine State Brewing. Anticipation is building for the October release of this year-aged beer. If the preview is any indication, lovers of the bourbon barrel will be pleased, while those who are a little burnt out on the whole trend will enjoy the novel concept of a bourbon-aged lager over just another stout or porter.

Anniversariest Ale

15th Anniversary Ale, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. To celebrate the Michigan Brewers Guild’s 15th anniversary, a number of breweries created versions of a 15th Anniversary Ale, which had an official recipe (a strong IPA) that was apparently mostly ignored. By my count, there were 26 versions of said beer at the Festival, and they were all over the map. The best of those I tried was Jolly Pumpkin’s, a wheat IPA with a more “delicate” floral hop presence over a slightly sweet flavor.

That’s all I got. Bring on the U.P. and Detroit Fall Beer Festivals!

LANSING — The first annual Lansing Beer Week will take place from August 19 to August 25. This week-long celebration will feature Michigan craft beer themed events throughout the greater Lansing area. The goal of Lansing Beer Week is to raise awareness of the Michigan craft beer industry while promoting patronage to local establishments and stimulating the greater Lansing area’s retail economy and Michigan made products.

Lansing Beer Week was established by I’m a Beer Hound founder Paul Starr, and Motor City Tour Company founder Steve Johnson. Building on the successes of other city’s beer weeks, organizers are planning events to include a bar themed bike ride, retail store beer tasting, tap takeover bar events, beer and food pairing dinner, bar crawl, beer tasting boat cruise and a brewery bus tour. All of these events will feature Michigan-made beers.

Schedule of Events – August 19-25:

  • Aug 19 – Sunday: Reno’s East-2-West / West-2-East – Bike Ride
  • Aug 20 – Monday: Retail Store Michigan Beer Sampling Day
  • Aug 21 – Tuesday: Michigan Tap Takeover Bar Event Day
  • Aug 22 – Wednesday: Michigan Beer & Chocolate Pairing
  • Aug 23 – Thursday: Michigan Craft Beer Bar Crawl – Stadium District Lansing
  • Aug 24 – Friday: Michigan Beer Tasting Boat Cruise – Michigan Princess
  • Aug 25 – Saturday: Michigan Brewery Bus Tour – 3 Breweries in Greater Lansing


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