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Ben Darcie at Gravel Bottom Brewery and Homebrew Supply in Ada, Michigan, believes that all of us should have the opportunity to brew a 100% Michigan made beer. Even the homebrewers.

As the locavore movement continues to gain popularity in our area, it only makes sense our craft beer follow suit.

But what makes a Michigan beer a Michigan beer? Is it local brewers, utilizing Michigan’s agricultural bounty? Or is it using only locally grown hops and collaborating with Michigan Maltsters? Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things, and more.

“For the first time in Michigan homebrewing history, people can actually make a 100% Michigan beer at home,” Darcie states with a touch of excitement in his voice—and why not? This is huge.

homebrew

 

Think, for a moment, what goes into a beer. Water, hops, malt and yeast. Michigan water is wonderful and plentiful, easily sourced for all. Michigan hop farms have exploded over the last ten years or so, with a wide range of varietals to meet most of your brewing needs. The focus on malt has been huge in the last three to four years, with four start up malt houses opening between 2015-2016 alone. But yeast? Yeast is a new one, and finally we have a Michigan company, Craft Cultures, located in the UP, that completes the Michigan ingredient circle.

While Craft Cultures has offered its product to many of our local breweries (for example, 57 Brew Pub and New Holland’s Pub Only offerings), Gravel Bottom is one of the first homebrew store to approach them to create packaging specifically for smaller batch brews. “We are the only [store] in West Michigan, possibly the lower peninsula, that has 5 gallon pitches of Michigan propagated yeast,” Darcie shares.

homebrew

One of the goals Darcie had when coming aboard at Gravel Bottom was for home brewers to have the opportunity to make Michigan beer, and he took it upon himself to contact Craft Cultures and request specialized packaging for carrying their product within the shop. All the yeast from Craft Cultures is captured and propagated in state, and they even carry two indigenous strains of yeast as well—Keweenaw Ale I and Eagle River Ale II, with more available soon.

“For the first time we can make a beer  at home that is 100 percent reflective of our state. Which is really really awesome… It’s all about our air, it’s all about our soil, it’s all about our sun. it’s all about our elevation and our water. It is all us, 100 percent our state and I think that’s what makes it so cool.” Darcie’s commitment to this concept is palpable.

So visit Gravel Bottom Homebrewing Supply and see their extensive selection of Michigan grown product for yourself. “The biggest thing that separates us is our extensive hop selection. We carry between 60-75 different options. With the addition of Michigan malts and Michigan yeast, it definitely sets us apart in the entirety of West Michigan. We are very, very excited to offer this.”

From the very beginning, embracing the homebrewing community was a part of Gravel Bottom’s existence, and meeting homebrewers where they are, from novice to expert, is part of the experience of the shop. Darcie and crew are there to help.

In addition to the knowledgeable staff and a plethora of Michigan grown product, a free homebrewing class is offered the first Saturday of every month, and a hands-on brewing class is offered every 3rd Saturday, alternating between extract and all grain brewing. Classes are $20 or $40, and include the class session, a pint of beer and $20 off at the homebrewing shop if you spend $100 or more.

Darcie was kind enough to offer some recipes for your experimentation. Check them out following this article.

MITTENBREW MICHIGAN WHEAT IPA

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.015
ABV: 6.1%
IBUs: 66
SRM: 5.3

All Grain Recipe
Target Batch Size: 5.5g
Target Boil Size: 6.75g
Efficiency: 70%
Boil time: 60m

Mash Time: 60m @ 152*f
Fly Sparge @ 170*f

8.5lbs Pilot 2-row Brewer’s Malt
4.5lbs Pilot White Wheat
1.0lbs Pilot Munich Malt

1oz MHA Centennial (12.1%aa) @ 60min
1oz MHA Cascade (9%aa)          @ 15m
1oz MHA Centennial (12.1%aa) @ 10m
1oz MHA Chinook (12.1%aa)     @ 5m

Yeast: Craft Cultures Yeast Lab CCYL110 California Ale Yeast
Temperature: 60-65*f

MHA = Michigan Hop Alliance


MITTENBREW MICHIGAN ENGLISH RYE PALE ALE

OG: 1.055
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 42
SRM: 6.7

All Grain Recipe
Target Batch Size: 5.5g
Target Boil Size: 6.75g
Efficiency: 70%
Boil time: 60m

Mash Time: 60m @ 152*f
Fly Sparge @ 170*f

8.0lbs Pilot 2-row Brewer’s Malt
3.0lbs Pilot Munich Malt
2.0lbs Pilot Rye Malt
0.5lbs Pilot PB Toast

1oz MHA Chinook (12.1%aa) @ 60min
1oz BCH Crystal (3.2%aa)      @ 10m
1oz BCH Crystal (3.2%aa)      @ 5m

Yeast: Craft Cultures Yeast Lab CCY123 Dry English Yeast
Temperature: 60-65*f

MHA = Michigan Hop Alliance
BCH = Black Creek Hops


MITTENBREW MICHIGAN HONEY BROWN

OG: 1.058
FG: 1.015
ABV: 5.9%
IBUs: 23
SRM: 18

All Grain Recipe
Target Batch Size: 5.5g
Target Boil Size: 6.75g
Efficiency: 70%
Boil time: 60m

Mash Time: 60m @ 156*f
Fly Sparge @ 170*f

6.0lbs Pilot 2-row Brewer’s Malt
5.0lbs Pilot Munich Malt
2.5lbs Pilot Toasted Brown Malt
1.0lbs Pilot PB Toast
1.0lbs Michigan Honey (Added with 5m remaining in boil)

1.5oz BCH Hallertau (4.5%aa)      @ 60min
1oz    BCH Fuggle (4.5%aa)          @ 5m
0.5oz BCH Hallertau (4.5%aa)      @ 0m

Yeast: Craft Cultures Yeast Lab CCY123 Dry English Yeast
Temperature: 60-65*f

BCH = Black Creek Hops

 

For more information about Gravel Bottom and specific classes offered, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.

We are so excited for the upcoming HopStock Beer Festival in downtown Grand Rapids! All of the Grand Rapids Area Breweries in one place, for one day only? Yes, please!

Mittenbrew had a chance to sit down with Ben Darcie, local beer expert and educator at Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada to pick out some notable beers from the upcoming festival. We’ve collected some must-taste brews, ciders and spirits from every location attending, and are presented here in no particular order. Enjoy and we’ll see you at Calder Plaza!

Buy tickets here!

*Find this selection at IPA ISLAND

57 Brew Pub
Norse Raider, Smoked Baltic Porter 8.1%
*OneOhAte, MI Imperial Session IPA 6.5%, Collaboration of Pike 51 and 57 Brewpub

Atwater GR
Aphrodite’s Harvest – Chai Amber Ale, 5.2%
Barrel Aged Salvation Cypher – Bourbon barrel aged Oatmeal Stout, 10%

BOB’s Brewery
Hoptics, Prickly Pear Hibiscus Gose 4%
Mango Chipotle Wit, 4.8%

Brewery Vivant
*Grand Army Spelt IPA 6%
Harvest Breed, bretta wild ale 5.9%

Cascade Winery/Jaden James
Blueberry Hard Cider, 6.5%
Blueberry Merlot, 7%
Peanut Butter Porter, 5.2%

Cedar Springs Brewing
*CSIPA  American IP\A
Kusterer Original Wesissbier (Antique Bavarian Wheat)

Cellar Brewing
Tartan Apey, Apricot English Pale 5.3%
Jax Attax BBA Quadrupel 12.8%

Cranker’s Brewery
Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout 8.5%
*Ill Connect DIPA 9.5%

ELK Brewing
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ale, 5%
Rowster Coffee Porter, 7.2%

Founders Brewing
PC Pils
*Red’s Rye

Grand Rapids Brewing Co
*Lil’ Danky, Session IPA brewed with Simcoe and Citra hops 4.3%
Polish Eagle BB imperial porter 9.5%

Gravel Bottom
*Hopinger IPA
T’rye Me Tripple Rye IPA

Grey Skies Distillery
Barrel Finished Hopped Gin 40%
Spiced Rum 40%

Harmony Brewing
*Lovely Day IPA, Lavender, Chamomile, Fresh Orange, IPA 6.5%
Red Wattle, Barrel Aged Flanders Red (Sour Beer) 6.4%

The Hideout
TBA

HopCat
Manson’s Chocolate Factory, Barrel Aged Sour Stout with cacao nibs.
Naughty Nicodemus, cucumber, juniper, lime zested Pale Ale. 5.2%

Hudsonville Winery/Pike 51
*Ain’t Nothin But A Brett Thang – Collaboration with Speciation and Pike 51
YAY, S’mores! Graham Cracker-ish Stout

Long Road Distillers
Long Road Aquavit (45% abv, 90 proof)
The Polish Falcon: Long Road Vodka, house ginger beer, lime.
*Weizer With Whisky: Long Road Wheat Whisky, hops, lemon, ginger, orange bitters

Mitten Brewing
Chick Chick Gose, ancient, sour and saline tasting ale with strawberries.
Triple Crown Brown Ale, World Cup Silver Medalist English brown 4.2%

New Holland
El Nuevo Record – Weizen Bock
Incorrigible Reserve – White Sour with MI Blueberries & Blackberries

Osgood Brewing
Sol Seeker, American Wheat 6.3%

Peoples Cider Co
2015 PCCO. No. 1, Bourbon Barrel Aged Draft Cider, 7.4%
Jonny 3-LandLords, American Scrumpy, 6.5%
Jonny ELO, Dry Hopped Cider, 6.7%

Rockford Brewing
Erdbier, Strawberry Weisse 5.6%
*Little George, Imperial IPA 10%

Railtown Brewing
*Citra Warrior Imperial IPA, 9.2%
Javatose 4.9%

Sietsema Cider Mill
KBS Barrel Aged 8.5%
Lemmon Grass 6.9%

VanderMill GR
Apple Razz
Ginger Peach

White Flame
BLOOD: BBA Mild Red Ale aged with fruit 5%
SUGAR: BBA Imperial Stout 10%
SEX: BBA Rye PA with chipotle spice 7%
MAGIK: BBA Double IPA 10%
Kentucky Kiss: BBA Scotch Ale 11%

 

We are so excited for the upcoming HopStock Beer Festival in downtown Grand Rapids! All of the Grand Rapids Area Breweries in one place, for one day only? Yes, please!
Mittenbrew had a chance to sit down with Ben Darcie, local beer expert and educator at Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada to pick out some notable beers from the upcoming festival. We’ve collected some must-taste brews, ciders and spirits from every location attending, and are presented here in no particular order. Enjoy and we’ll see you at Calder Plaza!

Buy tickets here!
*Find this selection at IPA ISLAND
57 Brew Pub
Norse Raider, Smoked Baltic Porter 8.1%
*OneOhAte, MI Imperial Session IPA 6.5%, Collaboration of Pike 51 and 57 Brewpub
Atwater GR
Aphrodite’s Harvest – Chai Amber Ale, 5.2%
Barrel Aged Salvation Cypher – Bourbon barrel aged Oatmeal Stout, 10%
BOB’s Brewery
Hoptics, Prickly Pear Hibiscus Gose 4%
Mango Chipotle Wit, 4.8%
Brewery Vivant
*Grand Army Spelt IPA 6%
Harvest Breed, bretta wild ale 5.9%
Cascade Winery/Jaden James
Blueberry Hard Cider, 6.5%
Blueberry Merlot, 7%
Peanut Butter Porter, 5.2%
Cedar Springs Brewing
*CSIPA  American IP\A
Kusterer Original Wesissbier (Antique Bavarian Wheat)
Cellar Brewing
Tartan Apey, Apricot English Pale 5.3%
Jax Attax BBA Quadrupel 12.8%
Cranker’s Brewery
Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout 8.5%
*Ill Connect DIPA 9.5%
ELK Brewing
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ale, 5%
Rowster Coffee Porter, 7.2%
Founders Brewing
PC Pils
*Red’s Rye
Grand Rapids Brewing Co
*Lil’ Danky, Session IPA brewed with Simcoe and Citra hops 4.3%
Polish Eagle BB imperial porter 9.5%
Gravel Bottom
*Hopinger IPA
T’rye Me Tripple Rye IPA
Grey Skies Distillery
Barrel Finished Hopped Gin 40%
Spiced Rum 40%
Harmony Brewing
*Lovely Day IPA, Lavender, Chamomile, Fresh Orange, IPA 6.5%
Red Wattle, Barrel Aged Flanders Red (Sour Beer) 6.4%
The Hideout
TBA
HopCat
Manson’s Chocolate Factory, Barrel Aged Sour Stout with cacao nibs.
Naughty Nicodemus, cucumber, juniper, lime zested Pale Ale. 5.2%
Hudsonville Winery/Pike 51
*Ain’t Nothin But A Brett Thang – Collaboration with Speciation and Pike 51
YAY, S’mores! Graham Cracker-ish Stout
Long Road Distillers
Long Road Aquavit (45% abv, 90 proof)
The Polish Falcon: Long Road Vodka, house ginger beer, lime.
*Weizer With Whisky: Long Road Wheat Whisky, hops, lemon, ginger, orange bitters
Mitten Brewing
Chick Chick Gose, ancient, sour and saline tasting ale with strawberries.
Triple Crown Brown Ale, World Cup Silver Medalist English brown 4.2%
New Holland
El Nuevo Record – Weizen Bock
Incorrigible Reserve – White Sour with MI Blueberries & Blackberries
Osgood Brewing
Sol Seeker, American Wheat 6.3%
Peoples Cider Co
2015 PCCO. No. 1, Bourbon Barrel Aged Draft Cider, 7.4%
Jonny 3-LandLords, American Scrumpy, 6.5%
Jonny ELO, Dry Hopped Cider, 6.7%
Rockford Brewing
Erdbier, Strawberry Weisse 5.6%
*Little George, Imperial IPA 10%
Railtown Brewing
*Citra Warrior Imperial IPA, 9.2%
Javatose 4.9%
Sietsema Cider Mill
KBS Barrel Aged 8.5%
Lemmon Grass 6.9%
VanderMill GR
Apple Razz
Ginger Peach
White Flame
BLOOD: BBA Mild Red Ale aged with fruit 5%
SUGAR: BBA Imperial Stout 10%
SEX: BBA Rye PA with chipotle spice 7%
MAGIK: BBA Double IPA 10%
Kentucky Kiss: BBA Scotch Ale 11%

 

the force awakens

In a brewery far far away…

As winter nights grow colder and more ominous, and seasonal releases are barrel aged and darker than a Sith Lord’s heart, our greed for craft beer surfaces. Let the beer flow through you and come over to the dark side just in time for the release of the much anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“This is the time for dark beer to shine,” says Bobby Vedder, certified cicerone (and Star Wars geek) from Powers Distributing Co.

Darker styles—think stouts and porters—are known for bold flavors, longer finishes and lingering notes. The beers’ deeper color comes from its roasted malts, which contribute to the espresso flavors and bitterness.

“These beers are warming, with hints of subtle dark fruit note,” Vedder said.

Vedder’s recommendations for those looking to explore the dark side include:

Right Brain CEO Stout: Made with chocolate, espresso and oatmeal, this beer is lighter in alcohol and full of great layers of flavor.

Saugatuck Brewing Co. Neapolitan Milk Stout, a seasonal stout that uses lactose, or milk sugar, giving it a creamy texture. Its dark roasted notes are accented by flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

Latitude 42 Powerline Porter – A Portage, Michigan-based brewery, this porter boasts caramel, coffee and chocolate flavors combine in a crisp finish. It is 5.5 percent ABV.

North Peak Dubious Black Chocolate Stout – Made in Traverse City, Michigan, this dark chocolate stout offers a perfect combination of chocolate, roast and black malts resulting in a smooth, rich beer. It is 5.3 percent ABV.

And finally, what Vedder calls ‘the Darth Vader’ of beers:

Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy: Clocking in at 10.5 percent ABV, you don’t know the power of this dark beer. Ten Fidy is an Imperial Stout loaded with chocolate, caramel and coffee, using plenty of malt, roasted barley and flaked oats.

“The true dark side of beer isn’t about style, it is a mentality where people hoard beer for underground trades, or pay off their friends to mule for them at special releases” said Ben Darcie, brewery representative and sales manager for Brewery Vivant and founder and lead instructor of Experience Beer, a public and private beer education organization based in Grand Rapids, MI.

For a big, intense beer that is sure to lure you to the dark side, Darcie recommends:

Brewery Vivant Plow Horse: This heavily bodied Belgian Imperial Stout begins with biscuit and caramel notes, and finishes with lots of thick coffee, chocolate and a residual sweetness. Clocking in at 9.5%, this beer drinks like 5%, Darcie said. He compares this beer to an unsuspecting villain like Emperor Palpatine, whose underlying power isn’t apparent until you go into battle against him. Plow Horse is only available this month, and won’t return until November 2017.

the force awakens

Founders Breakfast Stout: Brewed with flaked oats, plenty of chocolate and two types of coffee, this Imperial Coffee Stout is aggressive in its own way without being overpowering.

Founders KBS: Always two, there are; a master and an apprentice. If Breakfast Stout is the apprentice, then KBS is the Dark Lord of the Sith. This Imperial Stout brewed with tons of coffee is cave-aged for an entire year. The rebel forces will be out en masse when this beer is released in 2016.

Darcie and Vedder recommend resisting the temptation of the dark side by opening your cellar and cracking a good bottle to share with family and friends this holiday season.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens in theaters December 18th.

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