Posts

5.3% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Slightly hazy amber-copper color, medium carbonation with good head retention.
Aroma: A medley of floral, pine and citrus hop notes over toasted malt.
Taste: Balance of toasty and sweet malt flavors with a smooth, lingering grassy, resiny and grapefruity bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied; slightly slick and creamy.

Along with Bell’s Two Hearted, Mad Hatter is one of the beers that really turned me on to IPAs. It’s well balanced, beginning with a taste of caramel sweetness followed by slightly toasted grain notes and finishing with an earthy cocktail of bitter hop flavors including pine, grass, grapefruit and sometimes a wee touch of metallic. At under 6% ABV and medium bodied, Mad Hatter is highly drinkable as well as deliciously flavorful.

7% ABV

Appearance: Clear amber color, with a small head.
Aroma: Fresh peaches with some grapefruit.
Taste: Fruity but well balanced; peach is the strongest flavor, with some orange, mango, pineapple and grapefruit present as well. Very citrusy. Guava is present on the backend.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with some bitterness.

Shorts’ collaboration brew with Half Acre Beer Company out of Chicago certainly brings flavor to the forefront of an IPA. Peach, grapefruit, mango, pineapple orange and other citrus flavors are present throughout, with guava coming more at the end as a lingering flavor.

At 7% ABV, Freedom of ’78 is a medium bodied brew, with some carbonation and bitterness present. The amber-colored beer is overwhelmingly fruity, but in a good way. All of the flavors work together — making the hops seem a bit more refreshing — and ultimately leading to the brew being very easy to drink, especially for an IPA.

7% ABV
Appearance: Clear amber color, with a small head.
Aroma: Fresh peaches with some grapefruit.
Taste: Fruity but well balanced; peach is the strongest flavor, with some orange, mango, pineapple and grapefruit present as well. Very citrusy. Guava is present on the backend.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with some bitterness.
Shorts’ collaboration brew with Half Acre Beer Company out of Chicago certainly brings flavor to the forefront of an IPA. Peach, grapefruit, mango, pineapple orange and other citrus flavors are present throughout, with guava coming more at the end as a lingering flavor.
At 7% ABV, Freedom of ’78 is a medium bodied brew, with some carbonation and bitterness present. The amber-colored beer is overwhelmingly fruity, but in a good way. All of the flavors work together — making the hops seem a bit more refreshing — and ultimately leading to the brew being very easy to drink, especially for an IPA.

TRAVERSE CITY —– Tired of having to choose between your favorite pumpkin beer and your favorite IPA when fall comes around?

Well, fret no more.

Enter the Hooligan —– the new hoppy pumpkin beer from North Peak Brewing Company. Coming in at 5.5 percent-ABV with 35 IBUs, Hooligan is a real treat for beer lovers —– just in time for the harvest season.

“It’s no trick. This brew delivers all the spicy pumpkin goodness one could ask for, along with a kick of hops,” brewer Ron Jeffries said. “Hooligan is brewed with real pumpkin and fresh spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice). And, did we mention…hops? Hooligan is brimming with locally-grown hops.”

So who is this Hooligan? He is a legendary and impish figure who appears but once a year on Devil’s Night —– the night before Halloween. He lurks through the darkness, traipsing in the shadows from house to house with a rogue gait and a devilish grin on his face.

This scoundrel is more mischievous than wicked, yet his reputation for mayhem is wildly known. Anyone who has woken up on Halloween morning to find their pumpkins smashed or yard toilet-papered is familiar with the antics of the Northern Michigan Hooligan.

Hooligan is available only on draft, now through October when the last pumpkin is smashed. Find it throughout Michigan and Ohio, wherever your favorite North Peak beers are sold.

TRAVERSE CITY — Crafting rich IPAs is second-nature to the brewers at North Peak Brewing Company, and the new Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA is no exception.

Brewed exclusively with fresh-from-the-farm Vanguard, Cascade and Centennial Michigan hops — grown and nurtured at the Old Mission Hop Exchange — Hoodoo displays an unparalleled flavor just begging to be experienced. It registered a 99 IBUs with a 9.0% ABV.

“Given its strong malt-backed spine, we gave this Hoodoo hops to run,” said brewer Ron Jeffries, who along with brewer Mike Hall bring a combined 40 years of brewing experience to their North Peak beer recipes. “It starts hoppy, ends hoppy and is nothing but hops in the middle.”

The brewing team at North Peak has taken a different approach to Hoodoo, making it the first wet hopped beer in their repertoire. Wet hopping involves utilizing raw, unprocessed hops that are used straight from the vine within hours of harvesting. Due to the moisture content, one ounce of fresh hops is much less bitter than a comparable mass of dried hops.

Founded in 2007 by local farmers who recognized the emerging need for locally-grown, sustainable hops to serve the craft brewing industry of Northern Michigan, the Old Mission Hop Exchange is the only full-scale hop-processing facility in the state.

Hoodoo will be available on draft and in six-pack bottles starting late September through the harvest season.

LEONI TOWNSHIP — With nearly 100 breweries in the state, chances are no matter where you live in the Mitten there’s at least one craft beermaker near you.

The recently opened Local Pub & Brewery — despite its name — may not be one of them, but if you’re traveling the I-94 corridor near Jackson, it’s a worthy addition to a brewery-rich route that already features potential stops at the likes of Arcadia, Dark Horse and Bell’s breweries.

The Local Pub’s roadside location should be familiar to longtime Michigan beer mavens. It once housed the Jackson Brewing Co. and, more recently, Zig’s Kettle & Brew, the lousiest brewpub I’ve ever been to.  When Zig’s shut its doors eight years ago, it was no surprise considering its bad beer trifecta, crummy food and surly service.

Happily, the Local does not suffer from any of the deficiencies of its immediate predecessor — quite the opposite. For starters, the service is prompt and friendly. There were three people manning the bar in front of us, and each was more than happy to make sure we were comfortable and taken care of.

They actually seemed proud to be a part of a new and exciting business, and who can blame them? Craft beer is exciting.

Especially really good craft beer – and the Local has it.  There are seven beers pouring at present (two of the bar’s nine taps serve wine), and owner and brewer Phil Wilcox explained his brewing philosophy as I made my way through a sampler of his offerings.

“We specialize in session beers — flavorful but low in alcohol,” he said. “We’re located by the freeway — people drive in here from 94 and they drive out again. We want to make sure they stay safe.”

Maybe it has to do with advancing age and decrepitude, or perhaps it’s my desire to remember my experiences when I sit down to write about them, but more and more I find myself gravitating toward such beers. Lower alcohol content does not need to mean bland. As proof, there’s the Local’s regular lineup:

Lightning Kolsch – 4.5 % ABV, 22 IBU. A classic lager/ale hybrid style from Northern Germany, the Local brews its with pilsner and wheat malts, resulting in a goldish-blonde brew with a light body and lively head. It’s crisp with a subtle sweetness and a surprisingly hoppy finish.

E.H. Pilsner – 4.7 % ABV, 31 IBU. This is brewed in the classic American pilsner (CAP) style, using a pre-Prohibition (read: non-BudMillerCoorsian) recipe and according proper respect to the Czech noble hops that make true pilsners such a delight. A standout.

JaXon IPA – 6.0 % ABV, 60 IBU. Easily the hoppiest and highest-gravity beer on tap, the “IPA” in this case is not what you think. As Wilcox explained, it stands for “imperial pale ale” as a protest against Jackson’s once-largest employer, Consumers Energy, outsourcing a number of jobs to India. This American pale is brewed with pilsner, Vienna, Munich, and, interestingly, biscuit malts to achieve a malt profile solid enough to balance the Amarillo hop infusion.

Cork County Stout – 4.3 % ABV, 18 IBU. Advertised to be “black as night,” it’s really more of a semi-transparent dark brown, but no matter. This true Irish stout follows in the Beamish tradition – dry, roasty, light-bodied and delicious. If you’re expecting a Double X-treme Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Coffee Banana Stout, you’ll be disappointed.

Lucky Penny Alt – 4 % ABV, 40 IBU. Another Northern German style, the altbier is a darker, bitter beer brewed with generous amounts of Munich malt and Perle and Hallertau hops. I enjoy this style, but something tasted off to me. The more I drank, the more I imagined a dimethyl sulfide (DMS) character, which yields a sort of unpleasant “canned corn” taste. More experienced tongues may differ.

There were also two rotating taps:

Yellow Dog Bit-Her – 4 % ABV, 38 IBU. This beer is the bomb. Anyone who enjoys English bitters can’t fail to appreciate the classic Maris Otter malt and East Kent Golding hop flavors in this brew. (Although it’s not a regular house beer, “I’ve already ordered the ingredients to brew up another batch,” Wilcox told me). It was a no-brainer to take a growler of this home.

Mulligan Wheat – 4.3 % ABV, 28 IBU. American wheat ales admittedly hold no particular charm for me, but the full-bodied flavor of this one made me sit up and take notice, with plenty of spicy notes balanced by a mellow hoppiness. It was so good a growler of this went home with me too.

As a licensed microbrewery, the Local is not a full-fledged restaurant, but its menu includes an assortment of appetizers, salads and sandwiches, all of which sounded pretty delicious. We chose a sampler platter of various sausages, cheeses and soft pretzels (accompanied by mustard made with kolsch), along with some cheddar ale soup, and it was just the thing. Food is served during dinner hours every day and for lunch every day but Monday. Drink-wise, there are plans to add distilled spirits to the pub’s beer and wine selections.

Those local to the Local will be interested in the Mug Club, membership is $30. Bring in your own mug (at least 20 ounces), pick a peg, write your name, and enjoy $1 off pints as well as discounts to events and first dibs on special releases.

And for those who can’t sit still, the Local is also trying to resurrect a tradition of English pub games with names only our friends across the pond could have come up with: Ring the Bull, Shove Half-Penny and Devil Amongst the Tailors. What are those? I don’t know, but there are also dartboards for anyone who wants to stick to the basics.

To sum up: Service good. Beer good. Food good. That should be enough to convince you to support your Local Pub & Brewery.

The Local Pub & Brewery (aka JaXon Beer Co.), 6020 Ann Arbor Rd., Leoni Township (Jackson), 517-395-4156. Hours: Tues. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. Noon to 7 p.m., closed Monday. Web: http://www.thelocalpubandbrewery.com

LEONI TOWNSHIP — With nearly 100 breweries in the state, chances are no matter where you live in the Mitten there’s at least one craft beermaker near you.
The recently opened Local Pub & Brewery — despite its name — may not be one of them, but if you’re traveling the I-94 corridor near Jackson, it’s a worthy addition to a brewery-rich route that already features potential stops at the likes of Arcadia, Dark Horse and Bell’s breweries.
The Local Pub’s roadside location should be familiar to longtime Michigan beer mavens. It once housed the Jackson Brewing Co. and, more recently, Zig’s Kettle & Brew, the lousiest brewpub I’ve ever been to.  When Zig’s shut its doors eight years ago, it was no surprise considering its bad beer trifecta, crummy food and surly service.
Happily, the Local does not suffer from any of the deficiencies of its immediate predecessor — quite the opposite. For starters, the service is prompt and friendly. There were three people manning the bar in front of us, and each was more than happy to make sure we were comfortable and taken care of.
They actually seemed proud to be a part of a new and exciting business, and who can blame them? Craft beer is exciting.
Especially really good craft beer – and the Local has it.  There are seven beers pouring at present (two of the bar’s nine taps serve wine), and owner and brewer Phil Wilcox explained his brewing philosophy as I made my way through a sampler of his offerings.
“We specialize in session beers — flavorful but low in alcohol,” he said. “We’re located by the freeway — people drive in here from 94 and they drive out again. We want to make sure they stay safe.”
Maybe it has to do with advancing age and decrepitude, or perhaps it’s my desire to remember my experiences when I sit down to write about them, but more and more I find myself gravitating toward such beers. Lower alcohol content does not need to mean bland. As proof, there’s the Local’s regular lineup:
Lightning Kolsch – 4.5 % ABV, 22 IBU. A classic lager/ale hybrid style from Northern Germany, the Local brews its with pilsner and wheat malts, resulting in a goldish-blonde brew with a light body and lively head. It’s crisp with a subtle sweetness and a surprisingly hoppy finish.
E.H. Pilsner – 4.7 % ABV, 31 IBU. This is brewed in the classic American pilsner (CAP) style, using a pre-Prohibition (read: non-BudMillerCoorsian) recipe and according proper respect to the Czech noble hops that make true pilsners such a delight. A standout.
JaXon IPA – 6.0 % ABV, 60 IBU. Easily the hoppiest and highest-gravity beer on tap, the “IPA” in this case is not what you think. As Wilcox explained, it stands for “imperial pale ale” as a protest against Jackson’s once-largest employer, Consumers Energy, outsourcing a number of jobs to India. This American pale is brewed with pilsner, Vienna, Munich, and, interestingly, biscuit malts to achieve a malt profile solid enough to balance the Amarillo hop infusion.
Cork County Stout – 4.3 % ABV, 18 IBU. Advertised to be “black as night,” it’s really more of a semi-transparent dark brown, but no matter. This true Irish stout follows in the Beamish tradition – dry, roasty, light-bodied and delicious. If you’re expecting a Double X-treme Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Coffee Banana Stout, you’ll be disappointed.
Lucky Penny Alt – 4 % ABV, 40 IBU. Another Northern German style, the altbier is a darker, bitter beer brewed with generous amounts of Munich malt and Perle and Hallertau hops. I enjoy this style, but something tasted off to me. The more I drank, the more I imagined a dimethyl sulfide (DMS) character, which yields a sort of unpleasant “canned corn” taste. More experienced tongues may differ.
There were also two rotating taps:
Yellow Dog Bit-Her – 4 % ABV, 38 IBU. This beer is the bomb. Anyone who enjoys English bitters can’t fail to appreciate the classic Maris Otter malt and East Kent Golding hop flavors in this brew. (Although it’s not a regular house beer, “I’ve already ordered the ingredients to brew up another batch,” Wilcox told me). It was a no-brainer to take a growler of this home.
Mulligan Wheat – 4.3 % ABV, 28 IBU. American wheat ales admittedly hold no particular charm for me, but the full-bodied flavor of this one made me sit up and take notice, with plenty of spicy notes balanced by a mellow hoppiness. It was so good a growler of this went home with me too.
As a licensed microbrewery, the Local is not a full-fledged restaurant, but its menu includes an assortment of appetizers, salads and sandwiches, all of which sounded pretty delicious. We chose a sampler platter of various sausages, cheeses and soft pretzels (accompanied by mustard made with kolsch), along with some cheddar ale soup, and it was just the thing. Food is served during dinner hours every day and for lunch every day but Monday. Drink-wise, there are plans to add distilled spirits to the pub’s beer and wine selections.
Those local to the Local will be interested in the Mug Club, membership is $30. Bring in your own mug (at least 20 ounces), pick a peg, write your name, and enjoy $1 off pints as well as discounts to events and first dibs on special releases.
And for those who can’t sit still, the Local is also trying to resurrect a tradition of English pub games with names only our friends across the pond could have come up with: Ring the Bull, Shove Half-Penny and Devil Amongst the Tailors. What are those? I don’t know, but there are also dartboards for anyone who wants to stick to the basics.
To sum up: Service good. Beer good. Food good. That should be enough to convince you to support your Local Pub & Brewery.
The Local Pub & Brewery (aka JaXon Beer Co.), 6020 Ann Arbor Rd., Leoni Township (Jackson), 517-395-4156. Hours: Tues. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. Noon to 7 p.m., closed Monday. Web: http://www.thelocalpubandbrewery.com

HOLLAND – New Holland Brewing Company has come to known some pretty diverse and interesting beers over the years, offering everything from a Golden Cap seasonal ale to the ever-popular Dragon’s Milk. But on Saturday, New Holland played a different tune. In celebration of its Mad Hatter India Pale Ale, New Holland released four new “hatters” to the public during its 14th annual Mad Hatter Birthday Bash.

The event featured nine “hatters” in all, and we were able to try out five of them. Each offered a particular spin on the traditional Mad Hatter, introducing some new flavors and giving familiar flavors a different spin on things.

Centered around a decked-out “Alice in Wonderland” themed brewery, we tried the Black Hatter, Smoked Hatter, Farmhouse Hatter, Sour Hatter and Oak Aged Hatter. And despite the obvious IPA undertones, all five of the beers seemed to bring something different to the table.

The Black Hatter (5.5% ABV) retained the somewhat bitter aftertaste I’ve come to expect from an IPA. Its dark color, though, was refreshing and a great way to start off the night. And like the Black Hatter, the Farmhouse Hatter (5% ABV) still had a hint of bitterness with an underlying IPA taste.

But that’s when the similarities seemed to stop.

The Oak Aged Mad Hatter (7.2% ABV) had no bitter taste to it at all — in fact, it was smooth, refreshing and held a slight caramel aftertaste. It’s woodsy-like flavor was accompanied by a somewhat fruity flavor and golden color. This was definitely the most rustic of the night.

And like the Oak Aged, the Smoked Hatter (5.2% ABV) was equally interesting. Being a newbie to smoked brews, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of flavor the beer let out. It wasn’t overpowering or bitter, and had a nice, relaxed flavor to it.

By far, though, the favorite of the night had to be the Sour Hatter (8.5% ABV). It was the only beer that was served to us in a flute glass (the rest were in standard pints), and was very refreshing and smooth. It’s dark brown color gave way to its slight cider taste and somewhat fruity smell. It was crisp on the tongue, but smooth thereafter. My immediate thought was that it reminded me of those sour candies I used to eat as a kid — but much more refined. It was a great cap to the night.

In addition to the five we tried, New Holland also served up its regular Mad Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Oak Aged Imperial Hatter and Rye Hatter. Surrounded by servers who were decked out in “Alice in Wonderland” costumes, everything seemed to fit together for the event — including the absolutely mad birthday cake.

This contact form is deactivated because you refused to accept Google reCaptcha service which is necessary to validate any messages sent by the form.