big lake

Holland Brewery’s summer releases focus on Michigan outdoor pastimes 


HOLLAND, Mich. – Michigan summers are defined by outdoor adventuring, days spent in the woods or trips to the “Big Lake.” Big Lake Brewing, one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in Michigan, just announced two new IPAs for the summer months that capture the flavor of Michigan summertime activities—Lake King, an American IPA, and Camper, a New England IPA.

In a reference to reeling in that prized King Salmon on the Great Lakes, Lake King is an American IPA brewed with Columbus hops, which presents a clean, bright lemony flavor. Featuring a King Salmon on the label, Lake King is the perfect complement to take out on the boat during a fishing trip on Lake Michigan, or on one of Michigan’s many inland lakes.

big lakeCamping culture is the defining character of Michigan’s summer and autumn months. Whether you’re camping in a tent, trailer, RV, cabin or just under the stars, Big Lake celebrates getting out into nature with Camper, a bold, New England IPA. With its blast of citrus-forward hops and a hazy color, Camper is the perfect beer for summers around the campfire at our beautiful campgrounds throughout the state.

“We take our inspirations from Michigan’s amazing natural resources and outdoor activities, and combine what makes them great, with the beers we like to drink,” said Travis Prueter, co-founder of Big Lake Brewing. “We love the pride and the connection our customers feel when they drink a beer named after a favorite activity or place in our beautiful state.”

Big Lake recently announced a 50 percent brewing expansion with two new 30-barrel fermenters and a new brite tank, increasing the brewery’s overall output to 5,000 barrels per year. Since opening in 2013, Big Lake has grown more than 400 percent, and recently landed on the Brewers Association list of fastest-growing independent and craft breweries in the United States, one of only two Michigan breweries on the list.

Lake King and Camper are now in distribution across the entire state, in retail stores through Imperial Beverage, and on draft in bars and restaurants.


About Big Lake Brewing

Big Lake Brewing is a craft brewery located on 7th St. in downtown Holland, Mich. The taproom has more than 15 taps, always full of handcrafted beer in a variety of styles, made by a passionate team of brewers who love to experiment. The brewery also offers a full hand-crafted lunch and dinner menu in the taproom, focusing on pizzas, sandwiches, salads and more, all made from scratch with the same care and love as their beer.


crystal mountain

Memorial Day weekend: a weekend that boasts endless activities, events, and happenings under the hopeful curtain of a warm spring sun. Barbeques, boating, backyard hangouts, downtown strolls, outdoor festivals. So, how does one choose what to do?

The staff at Crystal Mountain think people shouldn’t have to choose—they’ll be there waiting with beer, brats, music, and a welcoming community that Saturday, May 27th, when their 12th annual Beer & Brat festival kicks off at four o’clock.



“What we found with our festival is that it’s a good time of day,” says Brian Lawson, Director of Public Relations.

“A lot of people might do an early BBQ or might be opening their cottage that morning, and by the time four o’clock rolls around, they’re ready for a little bit of fun. People can cap off their busy days with some fun and relaxation at our resort.”

The relaxation and fun are guaranteed! Crystal Mountain has hosted this event for going on 12 years, with attendance and activities growing every year. To make things extra special, the resort is celebrating their 60th anniversary. To the resort staff and surrounding community, this casts an even brighter light around everything in 2017.

The festival itself will offer its usual awesome array of Michigan craft—local brat vendors, breweries from all around the state, and local musicians.

Skarcasm, a power trio hailing Traverse City, will be returning this year with some original sounds and rock’n’roll covers. Joining them will be newcomers to the lineup, Lookin’ Back, a Bob Seger tribute band who consider themselves a forward-looking group united to perform Seger’s hits at their highest possible standard.

“This band makes it a point to invite Bob Seger to all of their gigs. And they play certain covers in the same key he would, so if he did happen to show up, there would be a smooth transition into him joining in,” says Lawson.

While enjoying the music, festival goers can enjoy the many smells and tastes offered under the food and beer tents. Honor Family Market, Buntings Cedar Market, Maxbauer Market, Ebel’s, Kaleva Meats, Sander’s Meats, and Mikowski’s Meat Market & Deli will be providing the traditional brat fare and sides, and all are local Michigan markets.

Like the Michigan craft industry in general, Crystal Mountain increases in number of breweries represented every year. And for this 12th year, the event boasts the highest number of first-time-in-attendance breweries, including: Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, Creston Brewery, Big Lake Brewing, Tapistry Brewing, Oddside Ales, Roak Brewing, and Latitude 42 Brewing Company.

“The combination of music, breweries, and the brats are a great way to start the summer. Having it all focused on Michigan makes it special, too,” says Lawson.

And what makes this event unique? It’s perhaps the small details that actually have a huge impact on atmosphere.

“We have a cool venue at the base of the mountain, which I guess is kind of obvious. But as a resort, we tend towards a different atmosphere than most. We’re very family friendly and are surrounded by a tight knit community that has grown up here alongside us. The sense of community—it feels very inclusive here. You can just kind of feel it,” says Lawson.

The event offers a child care camp if parents want to slip away for a bit and set up a blanket on the lawn with beers and brats in hand.

The annual Tesla car show will also happen again this year, but event attendees will now have the opportunity to talk to Tesla and Chevy representatives while test driving on-site the morning before the event.

And although the event happens Saturday, Crystal Mountain will extend the fun into Sunday this year. For the first time, the resort will be hosting Micros on Mountaintop, a Sunday afternoon mini-beerfest at the top of the mountain. The event caters to the 400+ North Mitten Race runners who will be completing their 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances early that morning—but anyone is welcome to buy admission to attend later that afternoon. Local brews, food, and music will greet attendees as soon as they step off the chairlift!

Memorial Day weekend traditionally launches all of the resort’s summer offerings. Mountain biking, golfing, rock climbing, archery (new!), chairlift rides, local craft tours to Iron Fish Distillery and St. Ambrose Cellars, guided rides on the Betsie Valley Trail into Frankfurt—where one can stop at Stormcloud Brewing Company—these are just some of the options available to resort guests.

When visiting, be sure to check out the newest addition to the resort—a brand new section dedicated not only to more rooms for guests, but also a market and restaurant.

“You won’t be able to miss it, [the new building], says Lawson. “It’s the new centerpiece of the village.”

The addition won’t be open for guest use until later in the summer, with the market and restaurant following in the fall, but Lawson says the plan is to have the Grand Opening coincide with their 60th Anniversary celebrations, a true culmination to a great year filled with new things.

In the meantime, kick off the summer in true Michigan style, by heading up north for barbeque, beer, and family at the Beer & Brat festival.

Tickets available on the Crystal Mountain website.


Sponsored by Crystal Mountain Resort


Pairing beer with a Thanksgiving day meal can be tougher than one may expect. As I think back to previous experiences of bringing bottles of English Brown Ales, Hefeweizens, and even a three-liter “Jéroboam” Chimay Grand Reserve, I remember how unmanageable it was to pair the beer with all of the dishes that were actually on the table. With so much variety in flavors and textures and styles, how can you choose what will work with your selection and what won’t?

I’d like to help you navigate those beers this upcoming Thanksgiving. I tested out five completely unique Michigan brewery beers that I know will pair well with all the components of your meal during different stages of the day.

Number One: The “I’m-ready-to-party-and-my-palate-is-fresh-as-a-newborn-baby” phase.

All right, you’ve just walked in the door and are greeted by family and friends, which means one thing: you need a drink. It’s going to be a very long day of consumption, so how about we start off with something subtle with lower alcohol content? I’d suggest popping open a bottle of Odd Side Ales Fig Brewton.

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The Fig Brewton is their version of an English Pale Ale brewed with figs. At 4% ABV this aromatic-forward brew is your ticket to beginning your light buzz on an empty stomach, because why would you eat something before the party? This dark amber and cloudy concoction is full of sweet fig aromatics, notes of brown sugar, light toffee and an earthy/dry fall leaf character. The flavor is very, very subtle. It contains a faint hint at fig and the earthiness with a balancing hop bitterness.

It’s happened. You’ve finally sucked down your first beer of the day and are probably feeling a tingly happiness in your belly. Ready to eat? Good, because we have a great beer for the first round.

Normally at this point there are a few lighter snacky dishes. Dishes such as layered salads, roasted pumpkin seeds, deviled eggs, polish roses, roast squash, and plenty of other food options are offered to the guests. You begin telling stories, gossiping with cousins, updating everyone about your kids, sharing photos and creating that base of food in your belly that you will regret later once you’re in a food coma.

At this pivotal point in the day, we are opening up our palate to various flavors. Pungent onion, bright salads, salty spreads, and so many other flavors are being introduced to our willing bellies. Because we’re in the initial phase of sharing, it’s time to break out a 750mL bottle of Rockford Brewing Company’s Country Ale. It’s a 7.3% ABV Saison that is hazy and a beautiful orange/honey color. The aroma is complex and layered with notes of lemon, white pepper, grape nuts cereal and just a touch of overripe strawberry. It tastes quite similar, but the flavor is more subtle than the robust bouquet. I found that this beer is all about aromatics and mouthfeel.

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The Country Ale is quite bright with balancing acidity and a touch of alcohol warmth and some spice-forward heat and bitterness. It has a soft feel on the tongue with a dry finish. The beer is excellent as it warms up and will be exceptional with all of the brighter but varied flavors of the first round of Thanksgiving food. Use the spritzy carbonation, the pungent spices, and the bright acidity to scrape and lift off fatty foods and sweet flavors. The peppery notes will resonate with spices on the various dishes, while the lemon notes will resonate with vinaigrettes on salads and contrast with fattier foods like egg. Above all, the beer will rinse away any light to medium food flavor so you won’t feel quite as palate fatigued. I mean, come on. You aren’t allowed to get full right away!

The table has finally been set, the children have been wrangled, and your family and friends are now gathered around the table to tuck into the best meal of the year. There are so many dishes on the table that you’re drooling into! Turkey, honey baked ham, green bean casserole, mashed and sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. For you vegetarians out there, perhaps there are delicious treats such as a mushroom and farro pie, pumpkin orzo with sage or perhaps a butternut squash, kale, and cheddar bread pudding. All in all, we have a literal feast in front of us that is just teeming with savory, salty and sweet flavors. Here comes the most important role for beer all day. We need beers to pair with everything that has been set before us.

My suggestion? Grab two completely different beers and pour them in separate glasses and drink them BOTH during the meal. This time around, I have chosen Pepper in the Rye from Brewery Vivant and the Leroy Brown from Big Lake Brewing.

Pepper in the Rye is a Rye Ale brewed with green peppercorns that comes in at 6.3% ABV. It’s a pretty amber brew that comes in a one-pint can. The aroma gives notes of strong orange peel, a light touch of lemon, some light barnyard funk, a big dose of those green peppercorns that actually make me feel heat in my nostrils, a bit of spicy rye, and bread crust or biscuit notes.

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The beer tastes pretty much the same as it smells. Bright spice notes of the green peppercorn are present, especially as it warms up. I detect cracker-like notes from the malt, and the earthy hops hang out way underneath the more robust characteristics. The Pepper in the Rye is a tart and brisk brew with spice forward bitterness to balance it all out. Alcohol warmth is present and smacks my tongue around just a little. Tartness ensues into the finish to create an overlapping effect to the other mouthfeel-oriented sensations.

It’s well balanced yet quite complex. The Pepper in the Rye is going to use its alcohol warmth, its tart character and its spice-forward bitterness to cut fat and sweet flavors just like what we experienced with the Country Ale. The tartness will balance out yet accentuate saltiness. Try pairing this beer specifically with your stuffing, vegetable casserole dishes like green bean casserole, and ANY of those vegetarian dishes I mentioned. Pumpkin orzo with sage paired with Pepper in the Rye? Forget about it!

We need some malt to sooth salt and resonate with savory meat flavors and sweeter dishes such as sweet potato casserole. Let’s keep it easy-going, malty and delicious with the Leroy Brown from Big Lake Brewing.

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The Leroy Brown is an almost clear and medium to light brown brew with pretty ruby highlights. It’s aromatics lend notes of chocolate, nutella, nuts, and soft breadiness. The flavor gives me notes of toasted biscuit, nuts, and milk chocolate, all on a layer of delicious bread notes. Mouthfeel with this beer is one of the best parts. Quite smooth, approachable, and simple. I feel that many Brown Ales these days tend to roam into porter category or have higher alcohol levels than I’d like, but this one hits the mark. Pair this lovely number with your turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, glazed carrots, gravy, or your mushroom and farro pie.

It’s that time. Your belly aches from too much food and so you’re sitting far away from everyone so you can groan and fart in peace. Perhaps you’ve taken a nap at this point and aren’t sure if you want to go home to finish passing out or keep up your buzz and drink more beer.

For those of you who are willing to rally and end your day with a bit of dessert, look no further than pairing your pumpkin pie with Griffin Claw Brewing Company’s Three Scrooges Winter Ale brewed with orange peel, honey, and spices.

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The Three Scrooges comes in at a manageable 6.5% ABV. It’s a hazy and dark amber beer with strong spice and orange peel aromatics. Get notes of sweet bread, caramel, nutella, cinnamon and raisin? Me too.

It seems to be a trend with the chosen beers, but the flavor is not as punchy as the aroma. It’s subtle but still quite pleasant. I pick out flavors of toast, milk chocolate, light marshmallow, orange peel, and a honey/toffee character.

The Winter Ale is smooth as hell with a tight and dry finish and a touch of alcohol warming. Pumpkin pie, for me, is too often paired with more pumpkin or sweet allspice forward beers. I’d wager that this traditional dessert will pair quite well with the Three Scrooges Winter Ale because of its subtle sweetness and little pop of bitterness and acidity from the orange peel. It’s subtle enough to highlight your pumpkin pie without sweetening the ensemble up too much that you can’t finish the last bite. Layered and lovely, I think these two will get along just fine.

So there you have it. A Thanksgiving meal and a few beers to help you along your journey of palate happiness. Should you feel the need, as I expect you will, to cap off the evening with one last beer, please grab yourself a snifter and pull out your big and bold brews. English Barleywines, Wee Heavys, Imperial Stouts and a variety of beers brewed with fruit truly shine in these moments.

GRAND RAPIDS — If you’re on a beer forum or two, you’ll find plenty of advice on which whales to slay during the Saturday session of the 10th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival.

For the first time in it’s history of celebrating in Grand Rapids, the Guild added a second day to the party.

Based on Friday’s experience and enhanced by previous tasting research, here are a few beers I suggest you seek out tomorrow in no particular order:

Big Lake Brewing Company “Dark Star” breakfast stout. Travis Prueter, brewer, told MittenBrew it’s brewed using “Kona and Sumatra coffee, Godiva dark baker’s chocolate, then aged on cacao nibs.”

The barrel aged version spends “at least three and a half months on the barrel.”

Big Lake also provided a mean Imperial Brown — BB Elroy, which was aged in bourbon barrels.

Jolly Pumpkin “Saison X” farmhouse saison. A nice refreshing, complex, saison to treat your palate to. Brewed with candied ginger, lemon peel, orange peel and a blend of pink, black and green peppercorns.

Pike 51 “Oud Bruin” sour brown. I didn’t get to enjoy it Friday; it’s only being tapped today. I’ve had it from the source and will be seeing you in line for it tomorrow. Probably more than once.

Chelsea Alehouse “Hollier 8” double brown ale. A beautiful, roasty, toasty brew.

Dark Horse “Black Bush” black IPA. This relatively new release does worthy battle with their more well-known beers.

Witch’s Hat “Night Fury” imperial stouts. This series of bourbon barrel beers provides everything from vanilla bean to espresso and cherry flavors. We tried the vanilla bean variation, and were blown away by its subtle sweetness an overall balance, especially with it being a bourbon barrel age brew.

The Saturday session of Winter Beer Festival opens to the public at 1 p.m. today, with early entry available for VIPs and Enthusiast members at Noon. We hope to see you there!