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the hideout

GRAND RAPIDS – Hidden down a side street, nestled amongst an apartment complex and a television station, the Hideout Brewing Company is aptly named — it is like a secret that everyone wants to hear. The inside speaks that of a secret society, drawing you in with their 32 tap handles that you may stop to sit right in front of. However, I do encourage you to take a closer look. What used to be a hot tub rental and spa in the 70s is now home to a 10 bbl brew system, an upstairs full of old school video game consoles, and horseshoes in the beer garden —and maybe it’s the place you’ll dare yourself to conquer the biggest flight in town.

“A lot of people say you can still smell chlorine from when the hot tubs were functioning, but really you just happen to have walked in when they were cleaning the kettles,” states Heather Vredevoogd, one of the head brewers at the Hideout.

With two brewers on staff, one male and one female, they balance the duties as a team and both answer to the title head brewer. Vredevoogd was surprised by how much respect she received as a female.

“I was expecting them not to (respect me) because of being female. I still do all the heavy lifting and (have been) doing this as my main job for a year and a half. I was coming in off the clock to watch and learn the brewing process. In Michigan there is such comradery. There is nothing like this beer community in other states. Being able to start up a brewery and not really know everything that goes into it and know there are people that you can say hey, I don’t know what I need for…I have yet (to) run into an owner that hasn’t been helpful,” states Vredevoogd.

the hideout

The Hideout, under the latest ownership by Nick Humphrey and Scott Colson, has participated at the Winter Beer Festival the past four years. This year the Hideout will bring their latest bourbon barrel aged beers – a chocolate imperial stout and a barleywine. Keeping the high ABV, but subtle in bourbon taste, the chocolate imperial stout is like a nice smooth chocolate dessert in a glass. An attendee can expect other winter style beers brought by the Hideout as well. Maybe check out the Hideout for your last go around at the festival to end the day off just perfect!

 

Photography: Bri Luginbill

GRAND RAPIDS — James Crank’s mission to spread his beer across Michigan is working.

His company, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Brewery, recently was honored by MLive.com as one of the top 10 breweries in Michigan.

Moving beyond Big Rapids, his beer is now available at his Crankers location south of Grand Rapids, with plans to expand to his Mount Pleasant location as well.

But the true test to his growth strategy — customer feedback — was confirmed Thursday night at the sixth annual Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival where he showcased four beers. Crank chatted with a steady crowd of visitors throughout the night while his pouring assistant tried to keep up.

“I love your coconut porter!” said Jane Lovett of Grand Rapids as she ran up to greet Crank. “Grand Rapids cannot have too many breweries.”

Crank joined about 40 other breweries in the Brewer’s Loft, a new third floor feature at the festival. The three-day event is expected to attract 17,000 visitors to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

In addition to tastings, the festival features beer seminars and how beer pairs with food seminars, according to organizers.

A notable beer at Cranker’s booth was Crankenstein (6.5% ABV), an amber lager made with German malts and German hops to offer the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.

Bay City-based Tri-City Brewing Company featured Giant Slayer (8.5 % ABV), a dark Russian Imperial Stout with strong flavor and a barrel-aged sibling in the works. Zachary Schultz, a sales representative for Tri-City, said word-of-mouth has helped push demand for the beer.

“This beer is exploding right now,” he said.

Finally, over at Grand Rapids-based Hideout Brewing Company was the most unique beer of the night: Mango Guava Pale Ale (6.5 % ABV). It started out with a sweet, smooth mango taste and finished with a light, hoppy flavor.

The festival also featured the new Michigan Blue Cider House, a dedicated space that featured more than a dozen cider producers.

Ada-based Sietsema Orchards showcased Orange Label (6.9% ABV), an American cider aged in an oak bourbon barrel that is easy to drink because it isn’t too dry or too sweet.

Bob Reusch of Grand Rapids was excited about the expanded hard cider section because he is learning more about how cider is made. He planned to attend a Cider 101 session that night.

“It’s a nice alternative,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival continues 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 at the door.

GRAND RAPIDS — James Crank’s mission to spread his beer across Michigan is working.

His company, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Brewery, recently was honored by MLive.com as one of the top 10 breweries in Michigan.

Moving beyond Big Rapids, his beer is now available at his Crankers location south of Grand Rapids, with plans to expand to his Mount Pleasant location as well.

But the true test to his growth strategy — customer feedback — was confirmed Thursday night at the sixth annual Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival where he showcased four beers. Crank chatted with a steady crowd of visitors throughout the night while his pouring assistant tried to keep up.

“I love your coconut porter!” said Jane Lovett of Grand Rapids as she ran up to greet Crank. “Grand Rapids cannot have too many breweries.”

Crank joined about 40 other breweries in the Brewer’s Loft, a new third floor feature at the festival. The three-day event is expected to attract 17,000 visitors to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

In addition to tastings, the festival features beer seminars and how beer pairs with food seminars, according to organizers.

A notable beer at Cranker’s booth was Crankenstein (6.5% ABV), an amber lager made with German malts and German hops to offer the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.

Bay City-based Tri-City Brewing Company featured Giant Slayer (8.5 % ABV), a dark Russian Imperial Stout with strong flavor and a barrel-aged sibling in the works. Zachary Schultz, a sales representative for Tri-City, said word-of-mouth has helped push demand for the beer.

“This beer is exploding right now,” he said.

Finally, over at Grand Rapids-based Hideout Brewing Company was the most unique beer of the night: Mango Guava Pale Ale (6.5 % ABV). It started out with a sweet, smooth mango taste and finished with a light, hoppy flavor.

The festival also featured the new Michigan Blue Cider House, a dedicated space that featured more than a dozen cider producers.

Ada-based Sietsema Orchards showcased Orange Label (6.9% ABV), an American cider aged in an oak bourbon barrel that is easy to drink because it isn’t too dry or too sweet.

Bob Reusch of Grand Rapids was excited about the expanded hard cider section because he is learning more about how cider is made. He planned to attend a Cider 101 session that night.

“It’s a nice alternative,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival continues 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 at the door.

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.

5.5% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Black with little to no head.
Aroma: Nutty smell with some roasted malt and caramel.
Taste: Lots of hazelnut flavor with some roasted-like qualities. Minor sweet caramel, chocolate and vanilla at the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with some moderate carbonation.

The Hideout’s Smugglers Hazelnut Stout puts a unique spin on a typical stout, with lots of nut and roasted qualities that carry through the finish. There’s a bit of caramel, chocolate and vanilla too, which adds a minor sweet flavor to what’s already there. Definitely one of my favorite stouts, and one that if you can find it, you should definitely try.

5.5% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Black with little to no head.
Aroma: Nutty smell with some roasted malt and caramel.
Taste: Lots of hazelnut flavor with some roasted-like qualities. Minor sweet caramel, chocolate and vanilla at the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with some moderate carbonation.
The Hideout’s Smugglers Hazelnut Stout puts a unique spin on a typical stout, with lots of nut and roasted qualities that carry through the finish. There’s a bit of caramel, chocolate and vanilla too, which adds a minor sweet flavor to what’s already there. Definitely one of my favorite stouts, and one that if you can find it, you should definitely try.

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.

Oktoberfest is hitting the streets of Grand Rapids in a whole new way. And it’s going to be “hopping.”

Together with HopCat and Barfly Events, several Grand Rapids-area brewers are bringing some of the best tastes of October to a new event called Hoptoberfest. The Oct. 15 festival closes Ionia Street SW between Weston and Oakes streets for an outdoor beer and blues celebration 2-11 p.m.

“The success of our St. Patrick’s Day event, Irish on Ionia, inspired the concept for a fun new beer festival downtown,” said BarFly Ventures owner Mark Sellers. “It’s the perfect opportunity to team with other local breweries and highlight the variety of choices this area offers in craft beer.”

Breweries slated to have brews on tap are HopCat, Founders Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, The Hideout Brewing Company, White Flame Brewing Company, Michigan Beer Cellar, Jaden James and Schmohz Brewing Company. In addition, HoptoberFest will feature a German beer garden, a HopCat food tent, local artists displaying artwork and a blues lineup featuring the legendary Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks as headliner. Other acts include Big James and the Chicago Playboys, Stacy Mitchhart and Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues.

BarFly Ventures operates downtown Grand Rapids bars HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, The Viceroy and McFadden’s, and is also part owner of The Pyramid Scheme, a live music venue. According to event organizer Shane Philipsen, a crowd of 3,000-5,000 is expected.

“This is the first year for Hopfest and it won’t be the last,” Philipsen said, adding that the event will piggyback off of the city’s ArtPrize event, which should “keep the ball rolling downtown” and give the feeling “Grand Rapids never sleeps.”

College football fans aren’t being left out either — there will be four 60-inch HDTVs showing the MSU vs. U of M game.

“Come out and watch the game and enjoy some good craft beer,” Philipsen said.

Tickets are available for $10 at TicketWeb.com and at participating local breweries and bars, including HopCat, Brewery Vivant, Stella’s, Viceroy, McFadden’s and Hideout. Tickets purchased on the day of the event are $15. By liking Hoptoberfest on Facebook, users are able to access an interactive application with plenty of extra information about the event.

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