7.6% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with a medium head.
Aroma: Hoppy and earthy.
Taste: Minor amount of spice with a hint of hazelnut.
Mouthfeel: Medium to strong.

Greenbush Anger, a black IPA by the brewery out of Sawyer, is a hoppy yet earthy brew with some roast. Anger is a relatively easy-drinking IPA, with the hop flavor only coming through towards the finish. The minor amount of spice, coupled with some roasted hazelnut qualities, makes for a tasty, well balanced brew.

7.5% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Orange hue with a high head.
Aroma: Citrusy.
Taste: Bready but full of flavor. Some fruit too; somewhat tart.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

A mix of fruit and bread is the game here — with everything from raspberries, cranberries and cherries coming together to create a wild ale with a bit of tartness and sweetness. While this isn’t a sour, it contains some qualities that you’d often find in a Jolly Pumpkin — primarily the tartness, but also a lower carbonation and balance that makes this brew pretty easy to drink.

7.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with medium creamy head.
Aroma: Vanilla with some coffee.
Taste: Vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Some bitterness at the end.
Mouthfeel: Strong bodied.

A collaboration with Chicago’s Small Bar, this black, smooth brew by Greenbush is a great example of a cream stout — creamy and full of rich flavors. Vanilla, chocolate and coffee lead the way at the start — with some bitterness coming through at the finish from the coffee. Lots of roasted qualities are present here, making it a cold weather beer.

8.3% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Dark hazelnut color with a high head.
Aroma: A bit sour and nutty.
Taste: Some dark fruit and hop bitterness, along with coffee, chocolate and some spice.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

Greenbush Brewing Co.’s Retribution, available in a bottle at Beer-a-Palooza, is a unique ale with dark fruit and coffee. The brew retains a refreshing bitterness in a relatively easy to drink formula. The mix of moderate hops and sweet flavors ends up giving a very well balanced feel to the beer. This beer is most often found on draft, but every so often you’ll find a bottle (which has a manual process to it, hence the high head).

GRAND RAPIDS — In a warm up for February’s Winter Beer Festival held in nearby Comstock Park, the DeltaPlex invited crowds out to its fourth annual Great Fox Brew Ha Ha over the weekend, celebrating both comedy and beer from around the Great Lakes.

Breweries from across the Midwest showcased their beers for the public — many of which were from Michigan. While most breweries chose to bring bottled brews to the event, some (like Greenbush Brewing Co. and Hideout Brewing Company) brought specialty ales as well.

Not having tried Greenbush beers before, that was a good start for me. The brewery, which opened in June 2011, brewed about 1,300 barrels of beer in 2011, with expectations to get to 2,400 in 2011, according to Greenbush representative Justin Heckathorn.

The brewery’s Apathy Oatmeal Stout (6.7% ABV) contained minor hops in what was a heavily carbonated, but mighty tasty brew. The nearly black beer had some coffee and chocolate tones. Overall this was a very drinkable beer, and a great one to start the day with.

Arbor Brewing Company’s Olde Number 22 (5.5% ABV) continued along the dark trend of what I tried, featuring a minimal head with a dark brown color. Hops were more present here, but not over the top. The one flavor that stuck out the most was its nuttiness, and the brew’s light carbonation gave way to this amazing flavor. I could also taste a little vanilla. While the flavors might have been too over the top for some, this struck a chord with me.

But perhaps the two beers I remember the most were from Arcadia Ales and Hideout Brewing Company. Arcadia’s Loch Down Scotch Ale (8% ABV) was well-balanced. The alcohol wasn’t overpowering, and there was very little carbonation. The drink was very refreshing, pouring a brown color with minimal head and highlighting a malty flavor.

My favorite of the event? Hideout’s Spiced Chocolate Rye (5.5% ABV). Surprisingly well-balanced, this brew smelled like cinnamon throughout. It wasn’t over spiced – just enough for that “kick” — and contained hints of chocolate. And while I’m all one for sweets, the lack of chocolate dominance was very well received.

In addition to the beer tastings, the event featured a seminar stage, which brought local experts to discuss different aspects of beer, covering everything from home brewing to the history of beer. But overall, the fourth annual event just provided a great backdrop — music and comedy — to some great beers.