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hop lot

There is something enticing about Northern Michigan and its endless summer charm. That charm led Hop Lot founders Drew and Steve Lutke to leave Chicago and pursue their dream of living up north. Hop Lot Brewing Company opened in April 2015 and has emerged as an exceptional brewery to visit if you are looking to spend some time outdoors with friends and family.

The journey to brewery ownership for the Lutke brothers began with a Groupon deal. The Groupon deal was for a homebrew kit and peaked their interest.

“Steve got into it, and then continued to experiment with all grain. He has a chemistry background, and had fun tweaking the recipes, trying to perfect the product,” said Drew Lutke.

Fast forward to 2012 when Steve Lutke married his wife, Sarah. Her family is from the Suttons Bay area and their wedding was held in Northport. Steve brewed six varieties of beer for the wedding, and they were well-liked. So much so, that he was approached that night about opening a brewery.

hop lot

The Lutke brothers had visited the area many times and had always dreamed of making Northern Michigan home. So, they entertained the idea and began to draft out a business plan.

“We asked ourselves: what is going to make us unique? And really, what would we want to do?” said Drew Lutke.

The Lutke brothers began visiting breweries throughout Chicago and took diligent notes. This meant noting what they liked and did not like about the beer, atmosphere, taproom design, etc.

“We wanted to design our ultimate experience,” stated Drew Lutke.

Once that “ultimate experience” was defined, Steve and Drew began to put their plan into action by constructing the brewery on their own. With no prior building experience, they utilized the expertise of Steve’s father-in-law, Pete Leabo, who is a General Contractor. And, after 11 months of his guidance, Hop Lot was complete.

The result: a German-style biergarten with an up-north twist. The taproom is simple, featuring 8-10 brews on tap, as well as local wine and cider. The tap handles are in the shape of Leelanau County, and there are large windows and outdoor elements throughout, which highlight the relaxed up-north attitude. The large windows are inviting to the expansive biergarten. The outdoor space encompasses the best of Northern Michigan summers: picnic tables, fire pits, rustic elements, a live music stage, and yard games. Hops are also grown on site, which they hope to use in a harvest ale later this year.

With such a relaxed atmosphere and the emphasis on the outdoors, the Hop Lot space is one where an entire afternoon and evening could easily be spent. It’s not a place to make a quick pitstop; rather it’s a place to stop and enjoy yourself.

“We’re selling an experience: beer is bigger with a friend. It’s that simple,” said Steven Lutke.

 

Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

Psychedelic cat grass

Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elk Rapids, MI announces distribution of Psychedelic Cat Grass, a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale. Billed as a “Without Delay IPA,” Short’s plans to package and distribute the beer within 24 hours; allowing customers to enjoy this beer on the same day it was packaged, resulting in out-of-this world freshness.

The brewery describes Psychedelic Cat Grass as a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale first brewed for HopCat. Aromas of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit accompany the brew’s slightly hazy, pale orange color and lasting white head. A dry finish is preceded by balanced flavors of tropical fruit and bitter hops.

The idea to package and distribute a beer in one day came from Short’s Partner, Scott Newman-Bale. “We originally talked about executing this at our pub only, but in true Short’s fashion we decided to push ourselves further and extend this to the state of Michigan and beyond. Why not go all in and see just how psychedelic we can get?!”

According to Newman-Bale, the company plans to send Psychedelic Cat Grass to any of their current distributors willing to take on the challenge of same day distribution. So far this includes Short’s longtime Michigan distributor, Imperial Beverage. Full distribution information will be posted on Short’s website at a later date. Psychedelic Cat Grass will also be served on tap at Short’s Bellaire pub and for sale in bottles at the pub and Short’s Mart, Short’s Bellaire “brewtique.”

Psychedelic Cat Grass will be distributed in six-packs of 12 oz bottles and a limited number of kegs on August 17th, 2016. The label artwork for this IPA is three dimensional and each six-pack includes its own pair of 3D glasses. An earlier batch of Psychedelic Cat Grass will be served on tap at the Michigan Brewers Guild 2016 Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, MI on July 22nd and 23rd, at Tribes Beer Fest held at Tribes Alehouse in Chicago, IL on July 23rd, and at HopCat locations.

Psychedelic cat grass

Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elk Rapids, MI announces distribution of Psychedelic Cat Grass, a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale. Billed as a “Without Delay IPA,” Short’s plans to package and distribute the beer within 24 hours; allowing customers to enjoy this beer on the same day it was packaged, resulting in out-of-this world freshness.

The brewery describes Psychedelic Cat Grass as a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale first brewed for HopCat. Aromas of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit accompany the brew’s slightly hazy, pale orange color and lasting white head. A dry finish is preceded by balanced flavors of tropical fruit and bitter hops.
The idea to package and distribute a beer in one day came from Short’s Partner, Scott Newman-Bale. “We originally talked about executing this at our pub only, but in true Short’s fashion we decided to push ourselves further and extend this to the state of Michigan and beyond. Why not go all in and see just how psychedelic we can get?!”
According to Newman-Bale, the company plans to send Psychedelic Cat Grass to any of their current distributors willing to take on the challenge of same day distribution. So far this includes Short’s longtime Michigan distributor, Imperial Beverage. Full distribution information will be posted on Short’s website at a later date. Psychedelic Cat Grass will also be served on tap at Short’s Bellaire pub and for sale in bottles at the pub and Short’s Mart, Short’s Bellaire “brewtique.”
Psychedelic Cat Grass will be distributed in six-packs of 12 oz bottles and a limited number of kegs on August 17th, 2016. The label artwork for this IPA is three dimensional and each six-pack includes its own pair of 3D glasses. An earlier batch of Psychedelic Cat Grass will be served on tap at the Michigan Brewers Guild 2016 Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, MI on July 22nd and 23rd, at Tribes Beer Fest held at Tribes Alehouse in Chicago, IL on July 23rd, and at HopCat locations.

upper hand brewery

Escanaba, Mich — ­Upper Hand Brewery is throwing a BBQ ­Yooper Style  in the backyard of their brewery this summer. The brewery¹s First-Ever Backyard BBQ will take place on Saturday, July 23, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 3525 Airport Rd, Escanaba, MI.

Tickets to the BBQ are $25 in advance and $30 day of. Admission includes first beer, commemorative pint glass, all the BBQ you can eat, free lawn games and music by local U.P. favorites Driver, Conga Se Menne and Grassfire. To celebrate the occasion, Upper Hand will also be tapping a number of specialty beers during the event.

“Our fans and the local Escanaba community have been amazing with their support of the brewery and we wouldn’t be here without them,” commented Larry Bell, President and Founder of Upper Hand Brewery and Bell¹s Brewery, Inc. (Upper Hand is a division of Bell¹s). “The BBQ is a chance to not only celebrate summer in the U.P., but even more so, everyone who has helped us get where we are today.”

For more info or to purchase tickets, visit the brewery’s taproom in Escanaba or go to www.uppperhandbrewery.com. All attendees must be 21 or over.

ABOUT UPPER HAND BREWERY

Brewed on a 20-barrel system in Escanaba, Michigan, our beers celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the north and our community. We may be a young brewery, but our roots run deep. Upper Hand beers are available throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. We brew our beer in the North, where it is meant to be enjoyed. We invite you to visit and enjoy not only our beer, but the wonder and beauty of Michigan¹s Upper Peninsula.

You can also stay in touch with Upper Hand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Elk Rapids, Michigan will be throwing their annual bash in the village of Elk Rapids on August 6th, 2016. Now in its 7th year, Short’s Fest will again be held at the Short’s Production Facility on Industrial Park Drive from 5-11 pm.

Short’s Fest takes place on the last day of Elk Rapids Harbor Days, a community festival that celebrates the beauty of this area. Joe Short sees the festival as a way to celebrate with the community, as well as invite attendees to experience the Production Facility in a way that is not usually available to them.

shorts fest

“Short’s Fest gives us the opportunity to showcase our production facility, which is normally not open to the public. We love being able to invite people in for a behind the scenes look at what goes on there. It’s especially exciting to put on Short’s Fest during the 61st Annual Harbor Days, where the whole community comes together to celebrate our area and just have a great time.”

The event will offer Short’s Brews and Starcut Ciders, local food trucks including Short’s own Woj’s Weiners, production facility tours, and live music from Billy Strings, Vox Vidorra, and AOK.

New this year is an Early Bird ticket option. This ticket includes early entry to the festival at 4 pm, a 500mL bottle of a secret specialty release, and 7 tokens to be used for beer or cider.

Short’s Fest tickets will only be available online this year, and the brewery anticipates the event will sell out. Short’s encourages early purchase of tickets to ensure those interested will be able to attend the event.

For more information about Short’s Fest, please visit shortsbrewing.com/shortsfest.

shorts fest

north peak

At the corner of Front and Hall Streets sits a building that has been a part of Traverse City since 1899. It was first the Big Daylight Candy Company, then later became an auto parts factory, and now houses a staple neighborhood brewery.

In September 1997, two locals, Greg Lobdell and Jon Carlson, teamed up with Shelde Enterprises to open North Peak Brewing Company. It quickly became a cornerstone restaurant on the west end of downtown. And, as breweries have continued to open in the area, North Peak has continued to grow and flourish while remaining a downtown standard.

north peak

Lobdell and Carlson have continued to expand their reach, refurbishing old buildings throughout the state. Each new brewery and restaurant continues to make its own impression on the craft market. North Peak, which opened at the beginning of the boom, has continued to evolve, furthering its position as a community staple.

North Peak is now a part of Mission Management, which has a reach throughout Michigan, and even distributes outside of the state. Despite this, North Peak does not feel like a large incorporated brewery. It remains unique to the Traverse City area, grounded in its old architecture and local community.

“You can get things here that you can’t find elsewhere. We want to wow everyone and not only meet the standard, but exceed it,” said Mike Lloyd, General Manager of North Peak.

In order to exceed that standard and continue to make an impact, North Peak has set itself apart with a strong commitment to its beer, food, and community. North Peak does have a bottling facility in Dexter, but continues to brew on-site for its taproom, remaining connected to its roots. There are ten local taps: five remain consistent with local favorites, and five are rotating. Brews like Northern Light, Siren Amber, and Diabolical IPA offer the variety many locals desire.

Likewise, North Peak’s food menu offers a unique variety of high quality dishes.

“We continue to grow as time goes on. We now have a culinary experience to match our brewery experience,” said Lloyd. “Roughly 70% of our menu incorporates our beer.”

Menu items include a variety of meat dishes incorporating sauces, brines, and batters made from North Peak beer as well as an array of hearth baked pizza made from hand-stretched dough incorporating its ale.

The last pillar in North Peak’s success is perhaps one of its most important: its people. With a strong commitment to community, North Peak puts an emphasis on taking care of its staff and giving back to the community.

“We’re fortunate to have a great staff. We have the right people and ensure they are properly trained,” said Lloyd. Many of North Peak’s staff have been employed for over ten years, Lloyd included.

Likewise, North Peak helps the local community whenever it can. Earlier this Spring, it hosted Mohawks for Munson, which directly raised funds for the new Cowell Family Cancer Center at Munson. North Peak has long been a supporter of the now popular St. Baldrick’s campaign, and has hosted a variety of other community fundraisers and events, including for local schools.

“We are a local place that’s doing well, and we want to help where we can. We’ve been fortunate, and want to give back,” said Lloyd.

shorts brewing

Short’s Brewing Company

Nicie – An American Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Coriander, and Peppercorn

It is certainly hazy, but not cloudy. It is certainly golden, but with more of a yellow brightness. It certainly has a fluffy looking white head, but it’s not stacked up high in your glass. Before me is a beer that looks like summer and I’m delighted to partake.

My first thought when sipping became, “Zesty indeed!” As an American-style wheat ale, Nicie gets its kick from both the orange and lemon zest, with the added underbelly of coriander and peppercorn to lift it further. The coriander is oh-so-wonderful in particular with the orange zest notes in the flavor.

shorts brewing

The nose is a bit more mysterious as it only really emits the coriander and stronger peppercorn notes. The spicing  almost gives me the impression of sniffing a meal. Though it doesn’t exactly smell “savory,” the spices lean towards that end of the aroma spectrum.

As I swirl I can hear the carbonation rise up near my face and fizzle at me. Swallowing the beer gives me the eerie impression that I’ve drunk more in one swallow than I had originally intended. The flavors start out strong until you begin the swallowing process and the spritz and zest and wheat smoothness takes over to create a quaffable beer. The carbonation levels feel as though I get a zip along my tongue, but at the same time I don’t have to worry about the constant urge to belch in 10 minutes.

The dosing of the spices is truly magnificent, and I’m finding myself enjoying this beer more and more by the minute. When I think of an American Wheat, this is what I’d hope for (granted I know they have added more spices than in a traditional American wheat) and it feels like a pleasant blend between an American style wheat beer and a Belgian Witbier—in color, carbonation levels, and flavor.

shorts brewingWhy yes, I WOULD pair this little brew with food. A filet of a mild fish such as Mahi Mahi would be stellar, and I’d even take a guess that this beer would fit nicely with pistachio ice cream, using the cream to cut the peppercorn spice. The salty pistachios would lend their saltiness to the beer, giving it an almost Gose beer style kind of enhancement.

To top it all off, the Montecristo White Series cigar would be a fine cigar choice to pair with this brew. Using the orange zest and the peppercorn notes of Nicie to meld with the distinctive woodiness and hint of peppercorn notes of the Montecristo White, the imbiber would find a refreshing, yet complementary, experience.

 

shorts brewing

Short’s Brewing Company
Nicie – An American Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Coriander, and Peppercorn
It is certainly hazy, but not cloudy. It is certainly golden, but with more of a yellow brightness. It certainly has a fluffy looking white head, but it’s not stacked up high in your glass. Before me is a beer that looks like summer and I’m delighted to partake.
My first thought when sipping became, “Zesty indeed!” As an American-style wheat ale, Nicie gets its kick from both the orange and lemon zest, with the added underbelly of coriander and peppercorn to lift it further. The coriander is oh-so-wonderful in particular with the orange zest notes in the flavor.
shorts brewing
The nose is a bit more mysterious as it only really emits the coriander and stronger peppercorn notes. The spicing  almost gives me the impression of sniffing a meal. Though it doesn’t exactly smell “savory,” the spices lean towards that end of the aroma spectrum.
As I swirl I can hear the carbonation rise up near my face and fizzle at me. Swallowing the beer gives me the eerie impression that I’ve drunk more in one swallow than I had originally intended. The flavors start out strong until you begin the swallowing process and the spritz and zest and wheat smoothness takes over to create a quaffable beer. The carbonation levels feel as though I get a zip along my tongue, but at the same time I don’t have to worry about the constant urge to belch in 10 minutes.
The dosing of the spices is truly magnificent, and I’m finding myself enjoying this beer more and more by the minute. When I think of an American Wheat, this is what I’d hope for (granted I know they have added more spices than in a traditional American wheat) and it feels like a pleasant blend between an American style wheat beer and a Belgian Witbier—in color, carbonation levels, and flavor.
shorts brewingWhy yes, I WOULD pair this little brew with food. A filet of a mild fish such as Mahi Mahi would be stellar, and I’d even take a guess that this beer would fit nicely with pistachio ice cream, using the cream to cut the peppercorn spice. The salty pistachios would lend their saltiness to the beer, giving it an almost Gose beer style kind of enhancement.
To top it all off, the Montecristo White Series cigar would be a fine cigar choice to pair with this brew. Using the orange zest and the peppercorn notes of Nicie to meld with the distinctive woodiness and hint of peppercorn notes of the Montecristo White, the imbiber would find a refreshing, yet complementary, experience.
 

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