Thursday, August 23, 2007

Road Brewer IPA - now on tap

I posted about our friend, Teri "Pink Boots" Fahrendorf, the Road Brewer in pink boots, visiting us earlier in July. Well, we invited her to design a beer for her visit, and that she did. "Road Brewer IPA" is now on tap at our pub in Holland. She brewed it in collaboration with our pub-brewer and distiller, Ben Fris. Billed as a "West Coast IPA" (we assume it's a tribute to Michigan's West Coast), it is a dry-hopped IPA with a huge "smack you in the face, piney aroma." The bitterness is balanced by a very nice malty sweetness and the beer finishes clean with a touch of grapefruit. Clocking in at 6.3% alcohol by volume and a calculated 65 IBU's, this beer is sure to take the edge of any road trip.

Be sure to visit Teri, and keep up with her travels at Road Brewer

Teri, mashing in with the infamous blue paddle.
Be sure to ask her about her theory on mash-hoes.

In Memoriam - Steve Harrison, VP of Sierra Nevada

There was some tragic news from California last week. Steve Harrison, a long-time beer industry veteran and stalwart of Sierra Nevada and craft-brewing, was first reported missing and later discovered dead. Full Story.

While I was not close with Steve, I enjoyed meeting him and learning from his contributions to a few Craft Brewer's Conferences in the past. I find myself saddened and uncomfortable with this loss to our community. First off, my condolences and wishes for strength and peace go out to his family and friends.

I feel a kinship with Steve, as I've held a similar post (VP of Sales) for two different breweries over the last 13 years or so. I hope he was aware that many in the industry looked up to his work and his company with respect and admiration. Sierra Nevada, under Steve's leadership, was an early force in the craft brewing scene. What I have always appreciated, was their patience to do it their way, at their pace, according to their ethos. There are many breweries that have grown faster than them, with flashier stories and more exciting marketing. No brewery has led such a steady, controlled, march into national distribution, while maintaining their presence in core-beer accounts with a solid flagship brand and a conservative-to-non-existent, media budget.

They've demonstrated a quiet confidence and genuine sincerity in their approach to the market. Their stability is one of the reasons people can have confidence in craft beer today. While Sierra Nevada Pale Ale may not get talked about in hushed tones any more, or revered as the most intriguing beer someones had this week; it was a pioneering beer that taught our beer-drinking public that hops are ok, and pale ales should not be feared. Since then, it has taught brewers that consistency is important, and after you teach someone that a flavor profile is enjoyable, you better be able to deliver the same profile in every bottle, no matter what size brewery you are or how fast you're growing. The consistency they deliver(ed) in beer, in message and in service is a benchmark that our industry owes a good deal of its existence to. It is also a benchmark that we should all strive to meet.

I hope Steve was aware of his impact on our proud industry. I'll remember him as a leader and offer my thanks and respect to his family, friends and colleagues.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Food Dance

Food Dance Cafe, a Kalamazoo classic, is celebrating August as "Beer Month." That's all the excuse I need to give them a little plug and wax poetic about a terrific group of foodies that make eating in and around Kalamazoo a bountiful experience.

Food Dance is a restaurant that celebrates local ingredients. They can tell you about the farmer that raised your greens, poultry or beef. They've recently moved into a new space, only a few blocks from their original, but world's away in terms of space, concept and potential. Besides probably tripling their dining room space, they've elevated their bar & dinner game, something that has been blossoming nicely from their early roots of breakfast and lunch in the Haymarket building.

On top of all that, they've added a market! Now you can take Food Dance home with you. Imagine having the same expertise that runs a leading fine-dining restaurant contributing to the food in your fridge. I don't have to imagine it, I have experienced it. Gourmet olive oils, delicious cheeses, Michigan wine, Michigan BEER, it's all there in a quaint, efficient space.

I was finishing up hanging our art-show tonight (Art in Fermented Form) before tomorrow nights beer & cheese tasting. I didn't feel like cooking anything complicated, and didn't feel like carryout ~ the solution? Nieman's Ranch pulled pork, expertly slow cooked in Short's Pilsner, sold cold. Fresh asian slaw, Zingerman's onion rolls and an intriguing jar of bbq sauce from Benton Harbor, MI. (I'll be back with the name later). We also got a loaf of Journeyman Seedy-salt bread, but that was for our loaf a week-habit, not tonight's dinner.

Ok, I get home, drop the pork in a large skillet, pour a little New Holland Lucid in for flavorful steam and to keep it moist, and cover it. After it warmed up, I put just a little sauce in to mix it up. Next up, ~Bun, meet pork...topped with more sauce, covered with slaw...then the bun crown. That next to salad of mixed greens and fresh corn. Get down! That was a REALLY good pork sandwich in about 15 minutes.

I could go on about their dining room menu, beer list, wine list, service, management and local contributions, but tonight I was moved by what a nice meal was made on an impulse buy on the way out of their market.

Tomorrow, I'll be there hosting a guided beer and cheese tasting and our framed label-art will be hanging for a month. Do yourself a favor and check out their new place, you deserve it.

I'll be back sometime to share my recipe for grilled halloumi cheese from their cheese-case. Another awesome treat.



Wednesday, August 08, 2007


You know I'm not going to divulge our booth-theme, but we'll definitely do our best to defend our two-year crown of "Best Booth Champion."

What I WILL divulge, is the beer we're bringing. We’re excited to bring you a diverse collection of beer to the Great Taste, including some very special vintage beer. Not all beers will be on tap at once, so please drop by, check out our rotation schedule and come back often.

2007 Beers at the Great Taste will include:

Mad Hatter IPA, Hatterized Hatter, Barrel-aged Hatter, Lucid Kolsch, The Poet Oatmeal Stout, Sundog Amber, Zoomer Wheat Ale, Red Tulip, 2006 & 2007 Dragon’s Milk, 2005 Black Tulip, 2003, 2004, 2005 Pilgrims Dole Wheatwine, Blue Goat Dopplebock, Existential Ale, and 2005 PHI.

Cheers -

Dinner of Beer Fest Eve @ CocoLiquot in Madison Aug. 10th

If you haven't already, it's time for you to discover the beauty of pairing beer and food together. There are a few ways to enjoy this combination. One way is a simple pairing like beer and cheese, or just selecting a well-suited beer for your dinner. Another way entirely is to have a team of experts select several beers and pair them with specially thought out and delicately prepared courses, culminating in a taste explosion of house-made chocolats with a flight of intriguing beers.

Every once in a while you should enjoy the luxury of the latter option.

This Friday is your chance. You're already in town for the Great Taste of the Midwest. Splurge, explore yourself, discover.

The Dinner of Beer Fest Eve
CocoLiquot - 225 King St. Madison WI
7 pm - 10 pm

Preview MENU:

At the bar from 7 - 8 pm
Pork Rillettes and Marinated Shrimp stuffed leeks
Cherry tomatoes with olive puree ~

~Tulip-Julep Cocktail made with New Holland Duchess Lemon Brandy, fresh raspberries and mint
~Cajun Martini with New Holland Duchess Pepper Brandy and Lillet

First Course
Scallop Tartare with Lucid Kolsch

Second Course
Rabbit Terrine with Zoomer Wheat Ale

Third Course
Duck Roulade and Chantarelle Mushroom Ragout
Moxie Sour Ale (10th Anniversary Limited Edition)

Fourth Course
Roast Leg of Lamb
2001 Vintage Black Tulip Trippell

Flight of house-made DB Chocolats with Poet Oatmeal Stout, Existential Ale and 2002 Vintage Dragon's Milk Barrel-aged Ale.

$55 per head, call 608-255-coco or email for reservations.

Limited seating = reserve NOW.

Where does the Summer Go?

It seems only yesterday, I was an active blogger. Now, I have to withstand the semi-regular shame and guilt of uncovering my neglected bastion here in cyber-land. We've been BUSY as ever this year. We've celebrated 10 years of brewing with our Mad Hatter Day's celebration, celebrated 10 years of Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festivals, and have survived the first half of a hellishly busy 2007.

While the blog has been a little quiet, I've actually worked on keeping our crowd in the loop with our newsletter. If you'd like to catch up on spring events like our Zoomer/Lucid release at Sheffields, Beer and Cheese Pairings, or the fight to repeal Sunday prohibition in Holland, check out our Spring newsletter. We should have another one out by Autumnfest.

I'll catch you up on a couple of upcoming events real quick and promise to be back soon.