Sometimes simple is good.
The ingredients listed in Schmohz Brewery’s Zingiberene Ale are water, malted barley, ginger root and yeast. While some beer enthusiasts might consider it bland, it’s one of the more refreshing craft brews around.
Zingiberene is incredibly crisp and the carbonation comes as a surprise. The simple ingredients do actually mean simple taste, which is perhaps why I find it so refreshing. The first time I tried it I had just finished two-plus hours of playing Ultimate Frisbee. So, for certain, I chose the right beer.
Since then, I’ve gone back to it several times. And now sitting at home sipping on a bottle of it, I still have it on my list of regulars. It’s kind of like a less sweet version of a ginger ale pop (pop means “soda” or “coke” in the Mitten — this is a Michigan website, right?) with some malty, beery undertones.
Schmohz does not pasteurize its brews, so they have a fresher and fuller taste (but it also means you have to keep them cold).
There is certainly a “Zing,” to the overall feel of Zingiberene on the tongue, making the name fitting. I highly recommend using this beer to introduce friends to craft beer. It’s ideal because it is light and the flavor is not too overpowering. And, if you know a friend who likes ginger ale, Zingiberene is sure to be a hit with them.
Another good reason to introduce it to craft beer neophytes is the unique process used to make this brew — ginger is used instead of hops. Hoppy beers tend to be overpowering to those who curl up their nose at certain craft brews, especially IPAs. Ginger is a little more familiar taste to most, so the bite doesn’t seem so overpowering.
For as light as it is, you wouldn’t guess it’s 5.3 percent ABU (even if it is a craft brew), but Schmohz has quite a few beers like this. Certainly, Schmohz is worth grab off the store shelf (my other favorites are Valley City Cream Ale and Pickle Tink Ale) or at any pub serving it.
You can find a retailer or restaurant/bar by going to Schmohz’s distribution index here, but the index is a bit impractical in that you need to wait for it to scroll through various locations on its own at a slow pace. You can also visit the Grand Rapids brewery, located at 2600 Patterson SE.
All in all, I am hooked on the simple taste and zing of Zingiberene Ale.

Sometimes simple is good.

The ingredients listed in Schmohz Brewery’s Zingiberene Ale are water, malted barley, ginger root and yeast. While some beer enthusiasts might consider it bland, it’s one of the more refreshing craft brews around.

Zingiberene is incredibly crisp and the carbonation comes as a surprise. The simple ingredients do actually mean simple taste, which is perhaps why I find it so refreshing. The first time I tried it I had just finished two-plus hours of playing Ultimate Frisbee. So, for certain, I chose the right beer.

Since then, I’ve gone back to it several times. And now sitting at home sipping on a bottle of it, I still have it on my list of regulars. It’s kind of like a less sweet version of a ginger ale pop (pop means “soda” or “coke” in the Mitten — this is a Michigan website, right?) with some malty, beery undertones.

Schmohz does not pasteurize its brews, so they have a fresher and fuller taste (but it also means you have to keep them cold).

There is certainly a “Zing,” to the overall feel of Zingiberene on the tongue, making the name fitting. I highly recommend using this beer to introduce friends to craft beer. It’s ideal because it is light and the flavor is not too overpowering. And, if you know a friend who likes ginger ale, Zingiberene is sure to be a hit with them.

Another good reason to introduce it to craft beer neophytes is the unique process used to make this brew — ginger is used instead of hops. Hoppy beers tend to be overpowering to those who curl up their nose at certain craft brews, especially IPAs. Ginger is a little more familiar taste to most, so the bite doesn’t seem so overpowering.

For as light as it is, you wouldn’t guess it’s 5.3 percent ABU (even if it is a craft brew), but Schmohz has quite a few beers like this. Certainly, Schmohz is worth grab off the store shelf (my other favorites are Valley City Cream Ale and Pickle Tink Ale) or at any pub serving it.

You can find a retailer or restaurant/bar by going to Schmohz’s distribution index here, but the index is a bit impractical in that you need to wait for it to scroll through various locations on its own at a slow pace. You can also visit the Grand Rapids brewery, located at 2600 Patterson SE.

All in all, I am hooked on the simple taste and zing of Zingiberene Ale.

Sometimes beer drinkers have a voice.
Founders Brewing Co. Vice President/Director of Marketing Dave Engbers announced this week that his Grand Rapids brewery will begin selling 750-milliliter bottles of specialty beers — dubbed the Backstage Series — this summer.
The Backstage Series gives drinkers a chance to uncap at home some of the brewery’s “more eclectic beers that have historically only been available on the tap” at Founders and bars where kegs are distributed, Engbers said.
“We’ve got some great customers that do a great job promoting not just Founders, but great beers from all over the world,” Engbers said.  “It’s a way to bring some of those more specialty beers not just on draft but to the retail sector.”
This summer, the brewery plans to release two or three Backstage brews, Engbers said. The special series is possible after an almost $7 million expansion to the brewery, which increased capacity from 28,000 barrels to nearly 50,000 barrels, and included a bottling line that allows the flexibility to bottle and package 12-ounce as well as large format 750-milliliter bottles (that’s just over 25 ounces).
“Using the 750-milliliter bottles is a way for us to bring some of our releases to retailers,” Engbers said.”We thought, ‘What a great opportunity to bring some of these rarities out and let other folks enjoy them.'”
The first Backstage Series release is a fan-favorite.
“We haven’t produced this product in over four years and people have been begging for it — so this is the perfect time to bring Blushing Monk back to market,” Engbers said. “We only released it one time a few years back. With a lot of brews, we will get emails asking when we’re going to brew it again.”
Blushing Monk is a decadent Belgian Raspberry Ale last produced in 2007 that is still highly sought after.
“There’s a bunch of beers that get a lot of attention,” Engbers said, mentioning the ever-popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which was finally released in six-packs after much fan support. “We listen to our customers.”
The series is dubbed “Backstage,” because the releases are limited and a response to the brewery’s die-hard fans.
“I think part of what people love about Founders, besides our beer, is that we listen to what they are saying,” President Mike Stevens said. “With our new line, now we can offer them more of what they’ve been asking for.”
The company is not revealing the entire lineup, but Engbers said it would consist of many of the “popular one-offs” that have been offered in the taproom over the years.
“To us, it’s kind of using the brewery as the stage,” Engbers said, making these special released “backstage.” Although Founders gets occasional calls for lesser-known brews from its distributors, even those limited releases are often finished within a few hours of being tapped, so the Backstage Series allows more Founders-connoisseurs to enjoy its specialty brews.
The new series, however, will not take precedence over the brewery’s most-popular beers.
“We’re kind of driven by the beers,” Engbers said. “When the beers are ready, the beers are ready. We have a commitment to our wholesalers and our customers to brew (the normal beers). Those are beers that pay the bills.”
Engbers would not divulge whether each season will bring a new Backstage Series or if it will return annually (or at all). Ultimately, it’s about the beer and loyal Founders enthusiasts.
“We try to push the envelop not just in recipes, but in brewing techniques,” Engbers said.
Lauded nationally and internationally as award winners in its respective categories, Founders Brewing Company opened in 1997. In 2009, it was ranked the second fastest growing brewery in the United States, and it is currently rated the second highest brewery in the world by ratebeer.com.
Founders Brewing Company is located 235 Grandville Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids.

Sometimes beer drinkers have a voice.

Founders Brewing Co. Vice President/Director of Marketing Dave Engbers announced this week that his Grand Rapids brewery will begin selling 750-milliliter bottles of specialty beers — dubbed the Backstage Series — this summer.

The Backstage Series gives drinkers a chance to uncap at home some of the brewery’s “more eclectic beers that have historically only been available on the tap” at Founders and bars where kegs are distributed, Engbers said.

“We’ve got some great customers that do a great job promoting not just Founders, but great beers from all over the world,” Engbers said.  “It’s a way to bring some of those more specialty beers not just on draft but to the retail sector.”

This summer, the brewery plans to release two or three Backstage brews, Engbers said. The special series is possible after an almost $7 million expansion to the brewery, which increased capacity from 28,000 barrels to nearly 50,000 barrels, and included a bottling line that allows the flexibility to bottle and package 12-ounce as well as large format 750-milliliter bottles (that’s just over 25 ounces).

“Using the 750-milliliter bottles is a way for us to bring some of our releases to retailers,” Engbers said.”We thought, ‘What a great opportunity to bring some of these rarities out and let other folks enjoy them.'”

The first Backstage Series release is a fan-favorite.

“We haven’t produced this product in over four years and people have been begging for it — so this is the perfect time to bring Blushing Monk back to market,” Engbers said. “We only released it one time a few years back. With a lot of brews, we will get emails asking when we’re going to brew it again.”

Blushing Monk is a decadent Belgian Raspberry Ale last produced in 2007 that is still highly sought after.

“There’s a bunch of beers that get a lot of attention,” Engbers said, mentioning the ever-popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which was finally released in six-packs after much fan support. “We listen to our customers.”

The series is dubbed “Backstage,” because the releases are limited and a response to the brewery’s die-hard fans.

“I think part of what people love about Founders, besides our beer, is that we listen to what they are saying,” President Mike Stevens said. “With our new line, now we can offer them more of what they’ve been asking for.”

The company is not revealing the entire lineup, but Engbers said it would consist of many of the “popular one-offs” that have been offered in the taproom over the years.

“To us, it’s kind of using the brewery as the stage,” Engbers said, making these special released “backstage.” Although Founders gets occasional calls for lesser-known brews from its distributors, even those limited releases are often finished within a few hours of being tapped, so the Backstage Series allows more Founders-connoisseurs to enjoy its specialty brews.

The new series, however, will not take precedence over the brewery’s most-popular beers.

“We’re kind of driven by the beers,” Engbers said. “When the beers are ready, the beers are ready. We have a commitment to our wholesalers and our customers to brew (the normal beers). Those are beers that pay the bills.”

Engbers would not divulge whether each season will bring a new Backstage Series or if it will return annually (or at all). Ultimately, it’s about the beer and loyal Founders enthusiasts.

“We try to push the envelop not just in recipes, but in brewing techniques,” Engbers said.

Lauded nationally and internationally as award winners in its respective categories, Founders Brewing Company opened in 1997. In 2009, it was ranked the second fastest growing brewery in the United States, and it is currently rated the second highest brewery in the world by ratebeer.com.

Founders Brewing Company is located 235 Grandville Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids.

With growing popularity in hard cider, a Spring Lake cider mill and winery continues to expand its distribution to meet demands.

Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St., is already self-distributing its ciders to 28 bars/restaurants and 40 store retailers across the state, mostly in West Michigan — with additional distribution to two Chicago establishments. And with two establishments on the state’s east side, Vander Mill is now furthering distribution to the Detroit area as well as Chicago.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of interest in hard cider,” owner Paul Vander Heide said. “We are continuing to bring it to the people.”

Vander Mill opened in September 2006 and first began distribution in June 2008 at Rosebud Bar & Grill in neighboring Grand Haven. Shortly after, its hard cider was on tap at HopCat in Grand Rapids.

Besides growing distribution, Vander Mill is also expanding its mill. By mid-June, the owner is set to open a 2,500-square foot serving area where pints of cider and glasses of wine will be served. Vander Heide said the mill may also serve lunch and dinner.

“We’ve got some exciting stuff going on,” he said, adding that Vander Mill was recently state-approved for a microbrewing license and is working on federal approval. The owner says Vander Mill will brew various fruit beers, “things that are kind of in our vein.”

Vander Mill today began operating with its summer hours, which are Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 7 p.m. To lure customers, the store is offering 25 percent off everything in its store today through Thursday.

Along with the new hours, the mill also began pressing its summer stock of ciders which will continue during the next few weeks, according to Vander Heide.

“We’re building up inventory for the next few months,” he said. “Since we use only Michigan apples, we work with a local grower to make sure we have access to enough apples for what we need.”

This week, Vander Mill introduces its latest concoction, Michigan Wit, a semi-dry apple cider spiced in the traditional Belgian wit style.  The cider was special-released at HopCat last week, with release on store shelves and bar taps this week.

To help keep cider enthusiasts aware of Vander Mill’s ever-expanding distribution,  the cider mill announced the launch of its Cider Finder, which uses Google Map technology to show retailers and restaurants/bars where its ciders are sold. The map shows green  icons indicating retailers and red icons where pints are sold. You can click here to see the map.

In preparation for its introduction into canning, Jason Spaulding, co-owner of Brewery Vivant, sat down with us and gave us a tour of its facility. The European pub, located in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood, opened in December 2010 and regularly features ten of its own unique brews on tap.

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There’s something almost sacred about walking into Brewery Vivant. And it’s not just because the Grand Rapids brewery is a former church.

Since opening in December 2010, the Belgian-style, European-influenced brewery is already attracting beer-goers in cult-like fashion — the 10 unique beers on tap are reason enough.

“People were ready for us,” co-owner Jason Spaulding said. “We got nicely welcomed by the neighborhood.”

Situated on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood, Brewery Vivant is the brainchild of Jason Spaulding and his wife Kris. The couple fell in love with the “personal, artistic interpretation” of French and Belgian brews during a soccer trip to Europe.

The Spauldings subsequently returned to brewing school in Munich for a short course at Doemens Academy. Afterward, they took a tour of Belgium.

“We liked the attitude — local ingredients dominated by yeast strains,” Spaulding said, adding they enjoyed the “controlled, wild character” of French- and Belgian-style beers.

During his time in Europe, Spaulding recalled visiting many barnyard and Trappist breweries, which inspired a number of Vivant’s brews. It was the same influence that made the building housing the pub the right choice. A former funeral chapel, it reminded Spaulding of a French monastery.

“It felt very European,” Spaulding said. “That’s one of the reasons I really like this building.”

Brewery Vivant is not Spaulding’s first trek into craft brewing sales. He previously started New Holland Brewing Company with Hope College classmate Brett VanderKamp in 1997. The Holland-based brewery has a favorable reputation in the microbrewery scene with much-loved concoctions like Mad Hatter IPA, Dragon’s Milk Ale, The Poet and Ichabod Ale.

“Anyone who home brews talks about opening their own brewery — it’s part of the equation,” Spaulding said. “We were young enough and excited enough to do it.”

Spaulding’s interest in the beer culture began during a ski trip to Colorado as a college student. Soon after, he and friends were homebrewing. The 39-year-old brewer fondly remembers some of New Holland’s early brews, such as Palooza and Courage. Such brews were discontinued because, as Spaulding says, the brewers were ahead of their time.

“At the time, dark beers just didn’t sell very well,” he said. “We had to explain to people what pale ale is. We were ahead of the curve. It took the market 10 years to catch up. The microbrewery business is still picking up steam.”

Spaulding remained with New Holland as co-owner until 2005 before selling his half.

Once again, Spaulding is taking a stab at brewing something unique in offering primarily Belgian- and French-influenced brews.

“There are a lot of breweries that make a Belgian-style beer — not a lot are doing it as their main beer,” he says. “It’s a smaller niche, but it makes it interesting.”

Ultimately, Spaulding credits Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo for the craft beer boom in Michigan.

“Michigan beer is very highly respected outside of Michigan. I think Larry Bell set the bar for that. He influenced the Midwest about what Michigan beer is like.”

As with each brewery MittenBrew visits, we sampled each beer on tap. Later this week, we will give you the full story about Vivant’s brews. We also have a video tour of the brewery, which you can visit here.

Brewery Vivant is located at 925 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids.