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great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven members of the Michigan Brewers Guild brought home a total of nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world, presented by the Brewers Association.  Michigan-based Rockford Brewing Company was recognized as the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year”

In all, 293 medals were presented in 98 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016). The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S.

great american beer festival

 

Michigan Brewers Guild members received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Shipfaced, Silver Harbor Brewing Co., Saint Joseph

SILVER

  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout, Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids
  • Rye Hipster Brunch Stout, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Sheehan’s Stout, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford

BRONZE

  • Antwerp’s Placebo, Batch Brewing Co., Detroit
  • Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford
  • Passionfruit Gose, Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
  • Pilgrim’s Dole, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland

 

 

The Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

great american beer festival

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

thanksgiving

Despite what some of you may think, there are those of us around Thanksgiving that are not daydreaming about wolfing down turkey for the feast. Some of us are looking for an alternative to the traditional centerpiece and main course, and I figure it’s only fitting that we get some beer to pair with our new entrees as well. Thankfully, Michigan provides some killer beers for us to pair it with.

thanksgiving

I wanted you all to know that, yes, there is such a thing as stuffing stuffed pork chops. It’s exactly what it sounds like—in that our beloved stuffing is in fact jammed right into your juicy chops for an extra level of enjoyment. The pork lends its meaty flavors to the stuffing, while the stuffing itself creates an almost “inside-out” sandwich like effect. I’m thinking that we’ll want a beer to resonate with, or connect matching flavors in both the food and beer, for this dish. Cedar Springs Brewing Company offers up the Küsterer Munich Dunkel, and I think it would be the perfect accompaniment. The bready and slightly nutty flavors along with the subtle chocolate aromatics of the beer will match with the obvious “breadiness” of the stuffing. The clean and balanced profile of the beer, as well as its carbonation, can cut through some of the fats from the pork. This creates a balanced back and forth between both the beer and food, because the beer acts as an extension of the stuffing flavors to connect the pairing. Though the beer is not bottled or canned, be sure to grab yourself a growler of it on tap at the brewery or from local bars carrying their product.

thanksgivingHoney glazed ham is a personal favorite of mine, and it finds quite the companionship when paired with beer. Because of its sweeter flavor, and its powerful salty and savory deliciousness, we’ll need a beer that matches in intensity. I’m proposing Odd Side Ales’ Barrel Aged Sweet Potato Souffle Rye. It’s big, bold, boozy, and—quite literally—a sweet potato pie tasting beer. When lining up its sweetness (though not cloying in any manner) with the honey sweetness of the ham, you find a tasty similarity. Even the honey and the sweet potatoes will find harmony together! The rye and spice characters from the beer are then highlighted by the sweetness and create the added layer of difference or complexity to the pairing. The alcohol warmth will cut through the fat, meld with the sweetness, and make your insides feel hot and happy. I mean, hey, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of booze and ham having a relationship together (rum ham anyone?) so let’s see what the delicious fuss is about. This is one of those pairings that can create a lot of interesting flavor combinations, so sip slowly, savor every bite, and enjoy the layers.

thanksgivingSausage stuffed butternut squash is a new one for my list, and of course it sounds oh so perfect for beer. With the combination of potential herbs and spices in the sausage, and the sweetness of the squash, this portion of the meal would be quite happy with Stormcloud Brewing Company’s 228 Tripel. It’s a Belgian Tripel, built ‘to style’, that would tackle just about any combination of sausage or squash types that one would want for this dish. Squashes tend to lend a subtle sweetness that can be whisked away with the drier, more highly attenuated and more highly carbonated body from the Tripel. It can also contrast and create layers with the various spices and herbs that are in the sausage, depending on which variety you choose. Pepper, sage, garlic, and beyond, the Tripel’s yeast and their resulting phenols and esters will highlight and enhance the spices you encounter. The Tripel is a beer lover’s ultimate pairing tool, especially when a multitude of flavors are present. In this situation, with a couple of unknown creative opportunities with the recipe (again, type of sausage and squash), all you have to worry about is cracking it open and enjoying it, because this beer will be able to stand up to the job regardless.

thanksgiving

Though we see this next dish on many occasions, it can make a seamless transition into your Thanksgiving meal as well. Beef short ribs are savory little niblets of awesome that can be absolutely crushed and enjoyed thoroughly with the Penetration Porter from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. We’re once again encountering salty and savory characteristics in our entree, so let’s take a new route and join it with the roasty, toasty, citrusy, and bitter brew that is the Penetration Porter. The roasty bitterness of the beer will cut through the meat’s fats, as the toasty bits will gain a friend along the charred and crispy edges of our beef. Add that layer of citrus to gain a roast and orange citrus tasting blend, and the meal has officially transformed.

thanksgivingGoing on the ‘gamey’ realm, duck can make for a delicious alternative bird to the traditional turkey. I recommend doing a roast duck with a cranberry glaze, and pairing it with Greyline Brewing Company’s Schadenfreude German Wheat. The soft and pillowy mouthfeel from the wheat is going to coat the duck and embrace it. The cherry glaze is going to find a home in that wheat and allow itself to be highlighted by it. Those roasted, caramelized edges on the duck will contrast beautifully with the sweet cherries, and the higher carbonation from the beer is going to absolutely clear our palate between each bite so we can keep diving into more food and never stop because it’s Thanksgiving and we must press on. Be sure to grab the Schadenfreude from Greyline Brewing’s taproom, which offers 32oz sealed crowlers of their beers as they are not in bottles and cans for distribution.

You see? Turkey isn’t the end all be all for Thanksgiving. Go a different route if you are so inclined, and we’ll just keep providing ways in which you can enjoy it thoroughly with our favorite beverage. For this day of thanks, I just want to be sure you all have some suggestions for imbibing on those fine hours of gluttony. It seems to only make sense.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

odd side funk fest

A long overdue festival for Odd Side Ales finally popped its cherry on Saturday. OSA has been exploring the idea of a festival for quite a while now. They always liked the idea of having an outdoor anniversary festival, but since their anniversary falls on St. Patrick’s Day, the weather never seemed like something they would have on their side.

“So why not do it in the summer time, on the water, at a time when nothing else historically is going on downtown, while benefiting the city. We want to celebrate our success and thank our customers by throwing them a gigantic party,” said Reid Warber, OSA Tap Room Manager.

odd side funk fest

It took a bit of convincing when it came to pitching the festival to the City of Grand Haven. Warber had to firmly express that this isn’t just an ordinary beer tent—it isn’t Anheuser Busch with tall boys. OSA wanted to showcase local beer and local food. After three city council meetings, a few additional meetings with the city, a long check list and a lot of beer, they finally got the city’s blessing.

“I love watching Odd Side get better and better every year. I am excited for their first festival,” stated Brent Newville, OSA mug club member.

OSA Funk Fest was a day spent showcasing funky music—Chris Wiser-The human jukebox, Plain Jane Glory, Starmen, and Mainstays—their beer, local food and a silent disco. Silent Disco? Yeah, I had no idea either. A 60’ x 40’ tent lined one corner of the festival, where  you could only hear the DJs via headsets. Throughout the later part of the day SoundIsRed, DJ JSUPP, Clark After Dark played separate sets, then at the very end, they all played together. You could tune the headset into three different stations to pick who you wanted. From an outside perspective you could not hear any music, but could see a lot of people dancing their butts off. Someone who loves people watching, which I admit is me, could try and figure out which people were listening to the same stations by their dance moves.

The beer list had summer in mind with different variations of IPAs: The Implication Triple IPA, Mango IPA, Blood Orange IPA, Pineapple IPA, El Dankerino Double IPA; Sours: Touch of Red, Sour Grapes, Funk Soul Brother; and even some heavy hitters like Hazel’s Nuts – Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with hazelnuts, The Nihilist – Barrel Aged Double IPA, and Mayan Mocha Stout – coffee stout with cinnamon, nutmeg and habanero, to name a few. Hipster Brunch Stout – Barrel Aged Stout with coffee, maple syrup and bacon had a special unannounced tapping at around 6pm.

“This is one funky fest,” stated Joe Wallace, OSA mug club member.

Saturday was the day to just get Funky—plain and simple. Festival goers were also seen playing corn hole, conquering giant jenga, hanging with friends, meeting new friends, and checking out the Better Drinking Culture booth. Better Drinking Culture is a grassroots movement with efforts to shift our culture’s relationship with alcohol to a healthier and more positive direction. If you scored a 100% on their quiz you received a free t-shirt.

 

“This festival has good vibes and a friendly crowd,” stated Shane Timmins, local resident.

The festival itself was ran by volunteers with a love for OSA.

“They are my favorite brewery. We first poured for them awhile back at the Microbrew and Music Festival in Traverse City and now follow them wherever we go,” stated Amanda and Heather Reno, Funk Fest volunteers/ ‘groupies’.

Some people who joined in on the fun were people just walking by, curious as to what was going on.

“This is just the beginning to what I have up my sleeve for the future,” stated Reid Warber, OSA Tap Room Manager.

 

Photography: Steven Michael Holmes

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.

Michigan’s own Madonna once sang that “some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they’re okay…” She went on to divulge that Mr. Right was always that man with the cold hard cash. Money is great, but I want to tweak those lyrics a little to say that the man with the beer is (usually) Mr. Right. And he is even more likely to be the right one if he comes to you on Valentine’s Day bearing beer and candy. To help out those wannabe Mr. and Ms. Rights, I offer the following suggestions for Valentine’s gifts.

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Ah, those lovely heart shaped boxes full of chocolate goodies! Unless you cheat and get the Whitman’s Samplers, you are in for a lovely surprise with each chocolate that you pick. Here are some of my personal favorite pieces that can be paired with a delicious Michigan beer!

Vanilla in the middle: Whenever my dad would get my mom a box of candy, I would always insist on getting the ones with the vanilla cream in the center. This often meant that I would bite into or at least poke a few pieces before finding what I wanted. Ah, youth! Nowadays, I would still really love that vanilla cream interior, but I would pair it with Saugatuck Brewing Companys’s Neapolitan Stout. You could also use this beer if you accidentally grab the strawberry cream interior, as well. The beer is quite versatile.

Caramel: I’ve always had a problem with caramel — specifically, it sticks to my teeth and will not come off unless I pry it off with a chisel. Fortunately, I can use Odd Side Ales Granny’s Apple Pie to wash it down with! The apple flavor in this beer is not overpowering, and just tart enough to balance the caramel’s sugar.

Toffee crunch: The long, flat candies in the box tend to be the toffee crunch ones. I love any food that makes noise, so I usually go for these after I find my vanilla ones. A good winter warmer would balance out that sugary crunch — Arbor Brewing Company’s Jackhammer Old Ale would complement the taste of toffee perfectly.

Chocolate in the middle: Every once in a while, you will grab what I call the “chocolate chocolate” piece. You know, that one with the pure chocolate inside and out? If that happens, just go whole hog and grab a Detroit Beer Company’s Sanders Chocolate Stout. It is made with Sanders chocolate and what better way to honor the cocoa bean?

Raspberry in the middle: I mentioned above that I would often get to my mom’s chocolate box first. She was okay with this, so long as I left the raspberry creams for her. Raspberry was and is my mom’s favorite flavor, and I was a nice enough kid to share her own chocolates with her! Given the sweetness and sometimes overpowering taste of raspberry, I would suggest pairing these candies with the best chocolate beer out there, Atwater Brewery’s Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. The beer has the pure taste of chocolate, but isn’t overly sweet and doesn’t have any coffee or oatmeal undertones.

Chocolate covered cherries: How cool would it be to pair with these gooey, fun candies than a beer actually made with cherries? Fortunately, we have just such a beer that is made right here in Michigan: North Peak’s Archangel! This nicely hopped, well balanced beer will wash down the tasty chocolate.

Other Valentine’s Day treats

Marketers love dying things red, white and pink and calling them Valentine’s Day treats. I have absolutely no problem with this, and to celebrate that creativity, I suggest the following beers be paired with these fun Valentine’s Day treats.

M&Ms Dark Chocolate with New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk with Raspberries: This creamy stout with its touch of raspberries makes for a nice combination with M&M’s Dark Chocolate (or any dark chocolate, for that matter).

Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts with Tri City Brewing Company’s Giant Slayer: The strong peanut butter taste will need an equally strong beer, and there are few better than this imperial stout from Tri City Brewing.

Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses with Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Tres Blueberry: It’s a pity that chocolate covered blueberries aren’t more of a thing, because the two tastes really taste great together. Until the candies become more common, make your own with the classic Kisses paired with a tasty blueberry beer.

Conversation Hearts (Kiss me! Love me! Text me!) with a lager from Wolverine State Brewing Company: Nobody does lagers better than this Ann Arbor based brewery, and a nice, crispy lager will balance out the sugary fun of these chatty hearts.

Red Hots and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale: Traditionally, IPAs have been paired with hot foods. Thus, I think that the spiciest of candies will pair nicely with one of Michigan’s finest IPAs. (In a perfect world, there would be another batch of Red Hot beer brewed at the Arbor Microbrewery!)

Peeps with Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja: Peeps aren’t just for Easter anymore, and thank goodness for that! If you are going to ingest these gelatinous globs of sugar, just go for it! Balls to the wall! Eat the sugar, drink the sour and let the tastes mingle in your mouth.

These 12 beer and candy pairings should win your way into anyone’s heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!

GRAND HAVEN — As craft beer continues to sweep the state — and the nation — microbreweries have a unique position when it comes to expanding production.

For Odd Side Ales, beer production in one week nearly matches its production during its first year in operation just more than three years later. But such growth is only possible with good measure, according to operations manager and assistant brewer Josh Gordon.

“Our owner Chris (Michner) is very business savvy and not easily persuaded by the craft beer boom,” Gordon said. “It’s been a slow and steady, calculated growth versus a massive explosion.”

The first year open — March 2010 — Odd Side produced 192 barrels on its small pub system on site of its taproom. This year, the company projects 5,000 to 6,000 barrels at its off-site brewing facility southeast of the brewery in Grand Haven Township, which opened in fall 2012.

“The plan is to keep expanding,” Gordon said. “We’ve outgrown our current production facility, which was huge when we first moved into it.”

According to Gordon, the company will decide in the near future whether to expand at its current production building or move to a new facility. In the meantime, Odd Side began leasing a warehouse across the street from the production facility four months ago, and is utilizing it for dry storage of its ever-expanding barrel-aged products.

“We have a lot more room for expanding our aging program,” Gordon said.  “A lot of people are into the bourbon stuff or just aged-in-barrel in general.”

Gordon credits much of the ever-growing demand for Odd Side to its branding and bottle distribution, which now reaches the entire state.

“I attribute a lot of that to our aggressive bottling and bottling distribution versus kegs, which you’re fighting for tap handles,” he said. “Either way you’re going to fight for handles or you’re going to fight for shelf space. But it seems like a majority of the population will go into the store, see the brand, see the logo and they’re more likely to notice you.”

Around 85 percent  of Odd Side Ale’s distribution is in bottles with the remaining 15 percent going to kegs.

“It seems to be working,” Gordon said. “Our distributor is having a hard time keeping anything in stock.”

But that’s not something Odd Side Ales can complain about.

“It’s a pain, but it’s an awesome thing when you can’t make enough beer,” Gordon said. “I feel like we’re making a ton of beer.”

Certainly its name is not a misnomer. When it comes to the eccentric, strange or just plain odd, Grand Haven’s Odd Side Ales advertises itself accurately.

Since opening its taproom doors in March 2010 — on St. Patrick’s Day weekend — the brewery hasn’t been afraid to offer products on a wide range of the odd spectrum. Hot peppers may be added to the brew. Or maybe it’s aged in tequila or wine barrels. Better yet, maybe it’s coffee flavor in a blonde ale.

“You can go anywhere and get an IPA, or a pale ale, or an amber or a brown,” said Josh Gordon, operations manager and assistant brewer. “Obviously, we have those here, but it’s kind of cool a lot of the mainstays at Odd Side have weird stuff in them as well.”

The beckoning to the odd grew as part of the brewery’s reputation even after it was first named Odd Side. According to Gordon, the moniker was first chosen because the taproom is located at 41 Washington Avenue — situated on the “odd side” of the street.

“But then it also developed into the weird beers and stuff,” Gordon said. “And that’s kind of the niche in the market for us where people expect us to have at least a beer with a hot pepper in it or other weird stuff going on like coffee Hefeweizen or crazy names or loud artwork.”

The upcoming fall release of Hipster Brunch Stout — an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with cooked bacon, maple syrup and coffee added directly into the barrels after the first six months of aging — adds to that repertoire. Gordon also mentioned a mojito lager (fresh mint and fresh lime) and two brews aged in tequila barrels — a lager with lime and “Josh on the Beach,” a pineapple IPA — as some of the most notable odd brews in recent memory.

The branding of “odd” has taken roots in the artwork and overall market branding for Odd Side, which opened a separate production facility south of the downtown taproom on Hayes Street in Grand Haven Township in fall 2012 and began bottling. It was soon after that time when Gordon joined the company, aligning his passion and love for craft beer with his day job.

“I’ve been coming here since Odd Side opened, and definitely the beer has gotten better — much more consistent,” Gordon said. “I think a lot of the stuff at the production facility helped that out.”

“After having the bottles out there for a year and half, the branding is way more solid. The direction all the beer is going in is a bit more defined.”

Gordon works with head brewer Kyle Miller under the direction of owner Chris Michner. Beer is still brewed in-house at the taproom/brewery in addition to beer that is either bottled, distributed in kegs to bars and restaurants throughout the state or brought to fill 17 of the taproom’s 21 tap handles.

Inside the taproom, there are many brews not available in stores and patrons shouldn’t expect the typical bar — no blaring music, televisions or other distractions. Instead, beer drinkers are invited into the Odd Side community, with couches, a long bar and shareable tables accompanied with stacks of board games, a line of dart boards and plenty of conversation.

The taproom takes on more of a coffeehouse vibe with a décor of local art and kitschy light fixtures. Summers usually have less going on in the taproom, as Odd Side is in a prime location of a summer tourist city. But most of the year, something is happening each night.

Monday is Dart Club, Tuesday is trivia, Wednesday is mug club, Thursday is for steins (fill a 32-ounce for $5) and Friday and Saturday usually feature live music. Gordon called Sunday “recovery day,” but it’s not uncommon for patrons to partake in some euchre even so.

Craft beer enthusiasts flocked to One Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale on Tuesday, to take part in an Odd Side Ales beer dinner.
The five course dinner included specialty beers from the Grand Haven brewery paired with complimentary homemade courses, all centered around a circus theme.
“We do a theme for every beer dinner. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t,” said Beth Hussey, Owner and Operator of One Eyed Betty’s. “For this one, we went with a circus theme for no other reason than them being Odd Side.”
The first course included a corn dog paired with the Old North Baltic Porter. Not your typical carnival corn dog, as this particular dog was made from wild boar and blueberries. The slight gaminess of the boar and sweetness of blueberry along with the breading complemented the smooth 8% ABV porter.
Second up was Smokin’ Hama Mama along side non-sugared elephant ears. The American Pale Ale provided a sweet aroma and smooth taste along side the elephant ear spreads that included hummus, tabouli and a nutty, spicy spread.
Emmele Herrold, Executive Chef at One Eyed Betty’s, enjoys getting away from the everyday menu and the freedom of creating new dishes.
“We picked a crazy theme that nobody really knew coming into it what was going to be on the menu,” she said. “I just try to come up with dishes I love or dishes I know would pair well with something.”
Hussey and Herrold enjoy keeping food descriptions vague prior to the dinners in order to surprise the guests.
“I never really know what (Emmele’s) going to do,” Hussey said. “That’s the fun part.”
The third dish was a popcorn shrimp salad with arugula, oranges, blueberries and jalapanoes. The ever-popular Odd Side Citra paired beautifully with the salad, providing a refreshing blast of citra hops.
Chris Michner, Owner, Brewer and Founder of Odd Side Ales, admits he was anxious to see how the dinner would go.
“I was really interested to see what they would do. I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like, but I thought it was really good,” he said.
The fourth and main course included the brewery-exclusive Blood Orange Wheat alongside a citrus roasted chicken drumstick and mashed potatoes. The wheat brew provided a bittersweet and citrusy finish, balancing out the salty-sweet combo of the chicken and potatoes.
And what would dinner be without dessert? When ideas were coming together, Hussey insisted that Herrold include cotton candy somehow, some way.
“She said, ‘What the hell am I going to do with cotton candy?'”
What Herrold created was top a booze-filled tiramisu (dark rum, amaretto, Kahlua and bourbon) with the cotton candy. The perfect finish when set alongside a Chocolate Koffie Stout, a stout with no chocolate additives and a huge coffe nose profile.
“I figured I can’t do anything normal,” Herrold said. “I have to add that flare and make it Betty’s-like.”
Michner had a hard time picking a favorite pairing, but praised the tiramisu and did have another favorite dish.
“I have to go with the corn dog. That was great,” he said.
Michner said he felt the beer dinner was a great opportunity to take advantage of for everyone involved.
“The theme went very well with our brewery,” he said. “This was really well done. From the artwork, the theme, everything. It was top notch.”


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