Belgium in Colorado, OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Trippel

Being out in Colorado, without a car, and basically limited to the resort town I live in (Vail) offers many great opportunities to hit the slopes… and not much else. As I’ve mentioned earlier, most bars here are catered to the generic apres ski crowd, so Bud, Coors, and Keystone (along with New Belgium’s Fat Tire) dominate the taps.

The only advantage of living here (Vail Valley specifically), in terms of beer tasting, is the alco-ma-hol stores have a great selection of CO Microbrews, and not just the common ones you see across the country, like NB’s Fat Tire, or Avery’s The Reverend, I’m talking the entire Odells, Oskar Blues, and New Belgium catalog, and a good chunk of Avery’s selection as well. While it does take me a bit of a bus ride to get there, and another one to get back: Worth it.

Today, I gathered a collection of three Belgian-style ales from CO, mostly because it’s not a style (or group of styles) that I generally drink, nor is it one of my favorite groups of styles, and getting yourself into a habit of only drinking a couple types of beers is going to diminish your palette, and we can’t have that, can we?

7.8% ABV

New Belgium's Trippel - 7.8% ABV

The first beer on the list was the New Belgium Trippel. This poured well, for a trip, a lingering sudsy head typical of the style that helped release the aroma of the beer. This picture makes it appear much darker than it actually is, which is a nice golden yellow. The aroma is dominated by the banana esters and maybe a hint of strawberry. Hop tones are light as is the coriander. I’d go so far as to say I had to strain hard to pick up on it.

The flavor also strongly featured the bananas with what I thought was a surprising amount of malt flavor. Sweet, but not so much as to prevent you (read: me) from rapidly consuming it. It did, however do a fantastic job of covering the flooring 7.8% ABV. I had one of these, and was definitely aware I was drinking a beer. The finish lingered enough to leave my mouth wanting another swig.

This is truly a great brew. I don’t really go out of my way to drink tripels, but I can see myself (frequently) getting a six pack of this again and enjoying a couple on the mountain for a mid-day picnic once the we start getting a little warmer around here.

Next on the list was New Belgium’s Abbey ale. This is a dubbel ale with a bit more color to it. On my first attempt at a pour, epic fail ensued, resulting in a five finger head out of my mug, with maybe half that height in beer. It faded enough to try again in about two minutes, this time with much more success.

7% ABV

New Belgium's Abbey - 7% ABV

Significantly darker than the trip (as one would expect), the Abbey’s head laces much more, and the head settles to a thin creamy cap on a deep amber transparent base. Fewer esters in the nose here, along with a bit more malt aroma. I also picked up a significant amount of tannins in the nose. I felt like I was about to drink some bizarre cab sav.

And on to the tasting: Boy, oh boy, getting suck in a style(or, more accurately, chronically avoiding a style) leads to some forgetfulness. My tongue doesn’t remember anything but a banana smoothie that has that much banana in it. The fruitiness of the malt hides some of the more basic sugar flavors you’d expect from something this dark. Normal for the style, not so normal for me.

Just as a side note, I’d like to voice my appreciation for these two NB bottles. It seems breweries are going to busier and busier labels. These are simple two tone bottles, with the name and style and a small, simple graphic. Beer doesn’t need to be show-y. It’s beer, you drink it. Hilariously, after buying both of these, I told Paul he’d like the design of the bottles. Paul mentioned he also had bought sixers of each, with a significant factor in his decision being the label design.

9% ABV

Avery's Salvation - 9% ABV

And finally, the bomber of Avery’s Salvation Belgian golden pale ale: The pour was excellent, with a soft one and a half finger head that subsided to a light dusting of eggshell white foam. Not the retention I was expecting, but the texture was decent, for a non-Belgian-aficionado like myself. The aroma had a sickly sweet fruit aroma, with a small mix of earthy and floral hop notes. It reminded me of our Lawnmower beers: a lot going on, but nothing really coherant. I know I’m not well versed in this style, but I don’t remember any Belgian anything smell like this. It’s hard to get past, maybe because of my bad memories of trying to choke down the Lawnmowers so we could put something else in our kegs…

Once I got it into my mouth, it seemed to normalize a bit, and I was able to track it down a little better, but I’m not sure that’s doing it any favors. The spicy pepper notes come through very strongly, drowning out most of the malt flavor. Floral hop flavor also dominates. I caught a bit of honey and maybe a lick of cruciferous veggies, cabbage, mostly. The alcohol covers up any other notes that might lead you to think this was anything but a macabre attempt at a complex, enlightened beer.

Well! What an adventure! That was certainly interesting, and it ran the gamut of Beer I Loved (Tripel), Beer I Liked (Abbey), and Beer I’ll Quaff, But Not Do So Enthusiastically (Salvation). Importantly, I reminded myself that some Belgians can rock my socks. It’s easy to get caught up in our preferred styles. We always try that IPA we’ve never had before, or the new stout our beer store is carrying. That’s totally fine! That’s great! We drink beer because we like it. Certain styles we like more than others, so our tabs should favor those brews. I just want to emphasize the importance of not letting yourself forget what certain aspects you like and dislike about styles you might rarely drink.

Your palette is like a muscle. Exercise it. Challenge it with flavors it doesn’t always come across. It will make your ability to discern the various aspects of the beers you usually consume all the more. Maybe you didn’t notice that the stout you always pour has a slight but now-noticeable ester presence, or that APA has some tannin notes you never got before. Expand your tongue – stretch it and flex it.

Winter Beer Festival: The App

If you’re attending the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival and have a smartphone, boy do we have something exciting for you. Tech guru Paul has put together a web-based application to help you remember the following:

  • Which beers you had.
  • What you thought (on a “liked/didn’t like”-type scale, not specifics) of it.
  • Which beers were your favorite.

Perhaps the most useful is that it includes the full beer list, conveniently organized by brewery, so you don’t have to rummage around in your pockets for a piece of paper to see which beers are available at each brewery. That piece of paper inevitably ends up tattered beyond recognition by the end of the day, and there’s no risk of that happening to your phone.


Without further ado, you can download the app here. It requires registration (free, and no e-mail address acquired, it just helps you keep track of your beers). If your phone is equipped with a QR reader, point it at your computer monitor and snap away here. If not, visit

It’s still a work in progress, so you can test out the app a bit, and let us know on twitter (@yeastbounddown, or there’s a link at the bottom of the app) or in the comments here what we need to frantically work on for the next day or so.

If you’re interested in just helping test, you can do so from your computer’s web browser as well. If you have suggestions, or notice that something is broken, please let us know so Paul can work on fixing it.

Review: Short’s The Wizard

Part of our Michigan Beer Week.

Yet another of the beers I bought on my recent snowboarding trip, I decided to stick with the Northern Michigan theme and picked up a Short’s beer, The Wizard. They describe it as a barley wine brewed with raisins.

Short's The Wizard

Short's The Wizard

The beer has a great barleywine color and head, though it may be just a little bit darker than most barleywines. That could be due to the adjunct being dark in color, or more malt. Either way, no complaints here.

The aroma had plenty of malt, and just barely a hint of raisins – which, to be fair, don’t exactly have a strong aroma themselves. The flavor was a nice deep maltiness, but again, I hardly even got a hint of the raisin flavor. If you’re going to make a beer somehow “special” or distinct by including an adjunct, that should be present. I’m not asking for it to be overwhelming, just existent.

Lack of raisin flavor notwithstanding, this was an all-around mediocre beer. The malt flavors were present, but not as strong as you’d expect from a barleywine. It almost tasted a bit watered down, or more like a brown ale. Adding to that, when I was drinking it, I didn’t think it tasted particularly strong, but I quickly realized that probably wasn’t the case, as I got a buzz going before I was done with it. The flavor was weaker than the actual alcohol (11.0%) and malt content, which I don’t regard as a positive asset.

Overall, I would drink this beer again, but certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it.

Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Festival

Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival

Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival

Tomorrow is the big day. We’re ready to take the world of Michigan craft brewers by storm, one beer at a time. Here’s the full list of participating breweries and their beers – though some breweries will bring along offerings not on the roster.

Paul is working on something very special for the MBG Winter Festival that we’ll unveil on Friday. Check back that day (especially smartphone users) to see the goods.

Paul and I have written a couple things about some of the beers that we’re most excited to try:

  • Arbor Brewing Company Crye Baby Rye – “Maybe… low priority. looking to brew a rye in the future” – Paul
  • Arcadia Brewing Company Cereal Killer Barley Wine – “Even though I’ve had it before, I’m a barley wine sucker” – Tim
  • Arcadia Panama Red Smoked Imperial Red Ale – “I’m auto-‘yes’-ing any smoke ales.” – Paul
  • Arcadia Shipwreck Porter – “I hope they have the barrel-aged one” – Tim
  • Atwater Block Brewery US Black Imperial Stout – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • Bell’s Brewery Golden Rye – “Same reason as the ABC rye” – Paul
  • Bell’s Harry McGill’s Spiced Stout – “Interesting” – Tim
  • Bell’s Smoke Stout – “Bell’s sure does like their stouts” – Paul
  • Big Buck Brewery Triple Rye IPA – “We’ll stop here and this seems interesting” – Paul. Translation – I LOVE ALL RYE BEERS AND ALSO IPAs THIS IS GOING TO BE HEAVEN.
  • Big Buck Wild Winter – “Maybe” – Tim.
  • Big Rock Chop & Brewhouse Bourbon Imperial Stout – “Bourbon stout = yes” – Tim
  • Big Rock Blueberry Ice Trippel – “I feel kind of girly going for the fruit beers” – Paul
  • Big Rock Strong Scotch Ale – “Scotch ale also = yes” – Tim
  • Big Rock Sour Raspberry – “I could give this a go” – Paul
  • Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery Bourbon Oak ‘Hands off my Goat’ – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • B.O.B.’s Brewery Robert the 4th BOB’s Bourbon Barrel Beer – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • BOB Peanut Butter and Stout – “See how it compares to our peanut butter beer” – Paul
  • BOB BBQIPA Smoked IPA – “Interesting” – Tim. “Double yes” – Paul.
  • Brewery Vivant St. Peppercorn Pale Rye – “To steal it from Paul’s list” – Tim
  • Copper Canyon Brewery Rocktoberfest – “Token lager” – Paul
  • Copper Canyon Gingerbread Cookie Ale – “Interesting. This might have been at the summer festival though” – Tim
  • Copper Canyon Imperial Mild – “They have a beer named ‘oxymoronic’ and it’s not this one” – Tim
  • Dark Horse Brewing Company GingeRed – “Ginger…” – Paul
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Scotty Karate – “OMG YES” – Tim
  • Dark Horse Whiskey Richard Sour Ale – “Whiskey? Check. Sour? Check” – Paul
  • Dark Horse Sour Plead the Fifth Stout – “Interesting” – Tim
  • Dark Horse Ginger in the Rye – “Rye and ginger? Maybe we should just go to Dark Horse…” – Paul
  • Dragonmead Microbrewery Final Absolution Tripel – “This is a good beer” – Paul
  • Dragonmead Sin Eater Dark Belgian Strong – “Yes” – Tim
  • Founders Brewing Company Imperial Stout – “Yes” – Tim
  • Founders KBS Imperial Stout – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • Founders Red’s Rye (Firkin) – “To steal it from Paul’s list” – Tim
  • Frankenmuth Brewing Company Baltic-style Porter – “If I had to choose one” – Paul
  • Frog Island Brewing Company Old St. Nick Nolte Holiday Ale – “Just because the name is awesome” – Tim
  • Frog Island Stone Bone Old Ale – “I’ll have an Old Ale that’s almost ready to drink [homebrew for comparison purposes]” – Paul
  • Frog Island Witch’s Hat Confusion Barleywine – “Barley wine” – Tim
  • Grizzly Peak Brewing Company Burton-Brussels Express Wood-aged IPA – “If the Brussels refers to Brett in the barrel, sign me up” – Paul
  • Hopcat Slammin’ Salmon American Pale Ale – “They had a turkey beer… is this a salmon beer?” – Paul
  • Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Chocolate, Pineapple, Chipotle Rauch Biere – “Very interesting” – Tim. “You stole this from my list” – Paul
  • Kuhnhenn Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Aged Fourth Dementia Olde Ale – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • Kuhnhenn Lunar Eclipse Amero-Bel IPA – “I hope it’s like their Total Eclipse Stout: read 19% ABV” – Paul
  • Liberty Street Brewing Company Pooh Beer Honey Porter – “Interesting” – Tim
  • Liberty Street Resinator Hemp Doppelbock – “We’ve talked about hopping with hemp before” – Tim. We haven’t tried it yet because we aren’t stoners.
  • Lily’s Seafood Grill and Brewery A Strange Oatmeal Stout – “I wonder what strange about it…?” – Paul
  • Lily’s Yukon Cornelius Spiced Porter – “If I had to choose one” – Paul
  • Lily’s O’Grady’s Cherry Stout – “Maybe compare to the subpar Bell’s cherry stout” – Tim
  • The Livery – “Almost all of these sound cool” – Tim. “I say we post up here for a while…” – Paul
  • Michigan Beer Cellar Double Black Magic Double RyPA- “Why the hell not” – Paul”
  • New Holland Brewing Company Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock – “Yes” – Tim
  • New Holland 2010 El Mole Ocho – “AHHHHH YEEEEEEAH” – Paul
  • New Holland 2010 Beer Hive Trippel w/honey and ginger – “Yes” – Tim
  • New Holland Mutinous Battle Chai Saison – “I’ve been into saisons lately” – Paul
  • New Holland 2006 Pilgrim’s Dole – “Old. I’m kind of curious” – Paul
  • Odd Side Ales Fig Brewton Pale Ale – “Hmmmm” – Tim
  • Odd Side Irish-style Mint Stout – “Interesting” – Tim. “Mint beer is next” – Paul
  • Odd Side Black Peppercorn Pale Ale – “I’ve been a sucker for peppercorn beers” – Paul
  • Odd Side Smoked Chili Pale Ale – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • Old Boys’ Brewhouse La Belle Apple – “Maybe” – Tim
  • Old Boys’ Toffee Stout – “A twist!” – Tim
  • Old Hat Brewery and Grill Bees Knees Gluten-free Ale – “I’ll admit: I’m a little interested” – Tim
  • Olde Peninsula Brewpub Stout Chocula – “I approve of this name” – Paul
  • Original Gravity Brewing Company 440 Pepper Smoker – “Obvious, even though it’s one of their standards” – Tim. “Love this beer” – Paul
  • Original Gravity Bellywasher Scotch Ale – “I like this style. Haven’t had it before” – Paul
  • Original Gravity Bourbon Barrel Ginger Ale – “Only if it’s alcoholic ginger ale, and not like bourbon-aged Canada Dry or something” – Tim
  • Right Brain Brewery Random Alpha Docious Collaboration IPA – “Collaboration with whom?” – Paul
  • Right Brain Bonaduce Ginger IPA – “Ginger…” – Paul
  • Right Brain Barrel Aged Black Eye IPA – “This has a lot of different words smashed together that I recognize as things I like” – Tim
  • Rochester Mills Beer Company 2009 Imperial Stout – “So we can try both” – Paul
  • Rochester Mills 2008 Bourbon Barrel Barleywine – “Obvs.” – Tim
  • Round Barn Brewery Grape Expectations – “I hope it’s aged in one of their wine barrels” – Paul
  • Royal Oak Brewery Das Brittania Export Ale – “Yes” – Tim
  • Royal Oak Brewery Abbey Normal Belgian Pale Ale – “By default” – Paul
  • Saugatuck Brewing Company Rauch Bier – “SMOKE” – Paul
  • Saugatuck Neapolitan Ale – “Milk Stout” – Tim
  • Sherwood Brewing Company Mistress Jades Hemp Ale – “Gotta compare to the Liberty Street hemp offering” – Tim
  • Sherwood Mole Stout – “I wonder if this is molé of moles…” – Paul
  • Sherwood Resinator Hemp Doppelbock – “Yes” – Paul
  • Short’s Brewing Company Carrot Cake – “Hmmmm” – Tim
  • Short’s Almond Joy – “I could be down” – Paul
  • Waldorff Brewpub and Bistro Cobain’s Double Dark IPA – “Closest thing to my parents’ hometown place” – Paul
  • Woodward Avenue Brewers Vanilla Porter – “Eh, I could try it” – Tim

There’s a damn good chance we don’t get to try everything on this list, and I can guarantee that we’ll try a couple things we haven’t singled out yet. That’s part of what makes the Brewer’s Festival so much fun, right?

In order to make this easier on ourselves, we’re going to drink the two preceding nights as well. Wait, wait, wait: hear me out. We plan on spending Thursday night (I’m writing this in advance because who knows how much I’ll feel like writing in between sessions of debauchery) checking out what Ann Arbor has to offer – and drinking some beer festival beers I’ve already bought – and if we can cross anything off our list ahead of time, it’ll make things easier for us Saturday afternoon. We plan to do the same Friday night in Grand Rapids. Who knows, maybe we’ll pick up a recipe and brew a batch of our own on Friday afternoon.

Should be an excellent weekend.

Jolly Pumpkin Release: Bambic and Collababeire

Jolly Pumpkin Bambic and Collababeire

Jolly Pumpkin Bambic and Collababeire

Living in a great craft beer city often provides the opportunity to take part in cool events, and recently just such an event took place at Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor. A couple weeks ago, the taphouse had a release for two creations from their Dexter brewery, Collababeire and Bambic.

The release itself was hectic, with patrons lined up to purchase bottles of each beer (some of them trying to game the system to get more than the maximum – which, uncool, dude). In no hurry, I grabbed a seat at the bar, and although it took a while to be served, it certainly beat out waiting in line to not even drink the brews immediately.

Jolly Pumpkin Collababeire

Jolly Pumpkin (WSGs Stone and Nogne Ø) Collababeire

Collababeire, as the name implies, is a collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin and a couple other breweries. Stone in California and Nogne Ø from Norway were involved in the creation of this farmhouse-style ale. The three have collaborated twice before, and this was the third leg of that relationship. Each brewery created their own beer from the same recipe, and they were blended in Dexter and aged in oak. This is a “holiday ale,” although, as you may note, it was released well after the holidays.

Jolly Pumpkin Bambic

Jolly Pumpkin Bambic

Bambic is Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Biere blended with their Lambicus Dexterius (yeah, I didn’t even notice until writing this post that the title referred to “lambic.” I’m slow). The label says “Winking Lizard” all over it, so one must assume this beer was created primarily for Winking Lizard Tavern, a chain across the state of Ohio (further research shows it’s to celebrate WL’s 25th anniversary).

I won’t talk too much about how they tasted here, but there will be full reviews coming soon. I picked up a 330mL bottle of the Bambic and a 750mL bottle of the Collababeire, so I’ll let Paul take place in the tasting before putting official thoughts to paper.

Hopslam in Chicago

Tim wrote about his impressions of this year’s Hopslam when it was actually contemporary. He saw Ashley’s tweet about the tapping, and I saw that Sheffield’s was having a tapping party on Facebook. Hooray for beer and social networking!

I won’t give a full review of Hopslam, since Tim took care of that, but I wanted mention a few things about the beer and the bar.

Beer Release Events Are Awesome

Tim attended one at Ashley’s and my Hopslam release was hosted at Sheffield’s. There’s something about the feeling of a crowd together, all excited about the same thing. It’s the reason I like going to movies at midnight the day they open or going to live sports. There’s something about the crowd and shared emotion that makes the event or product itself much more enjoyable.

Beyond the crowd, I enjoyed having a theme for my drinking. Back in Sheffield’s “Beer School” bar they had, in addition to Hopslam, Hell Hath No Fury, Winter White and Two Hearted from Bell’s. It was like being back in Michigan for a night. When I was there for the tapping of Vrienden, a collaboration between New Belgium and Allagash, they also had a New Belgium Trippel and IPA along with Allagash Black and White. While aimlessly exploring an extensive tap list is fun (and usually the way ago), sometimes a more limited, focused and curated experience is awesome as a change of pace.

Sheffield’s Is Awesome

Sheffield's in Chicago

Sheffield's front bar. Photo by Media Fury

This isn’t news or an original thought. Sheffield’s is on Draft Magazine’s top 100 beer bars in the US and comes in at an A- on Beer Advocate. Still, sometimes things just need to be said. The beer list is constantly changing, especially the Beer School Bar. The bar tenders all know and, more importantly, truly enjoy beer.

They also have beer focused events fairly often. To kick off my beer-a-palooza weekend,  I’m going to a five course Texas BBQ dinner paired with beers from Founders. They do a fair amount beer tappings and even road trips, including annual pilgrimages to Two Brothers and to Three Floyds for Dark Lord Day. Throw in the awesome barbecue food, you’ve got my favorite bar in Chicago.

I Don’t Appreciate Bell’s As Much As I Should

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Michigan. Bell’s has been relevant and even top dog in the craft beer scene since I started thinking, “maybe there’s something better than Bud Light…” I’ve never harbored any ill-will toward Bell’s, but when I saw it in the stores next to Arcadia, Founders, New Holland or Shorts, I would almost invariably pick one of the smaller guys.

Being out in Chicago, it’s amazing how excited people get about Bell’s releases. The Chicago Beer Society Listserv I subscribed to was flooded with messages about where you could go to get Hopslam on draft or pick up a case or two. This was totally shocking to me. Back in Michigan, an average party store still has a couple six packs of Batch 9000 and Hell Hath No Fury, etc. Here in Chicago, it’s a mad dash to grab it before it’s gone.

Bell's Beer

A selection of beers made by Bell's

Moving away from Michigan has definitely helped me appreciate Bell’s more. They have tons of different beers (and an incredibly impressive selection of stouts) and almost all of them are anywhere between Very Good and I Could Die Right Now And Be Happy.

I’ll credit it to a mixture of expatriate nostalgia and appreciation borne from seperation, but now when I see Bell’s on draft, I’ll snag a pint (especially Two Hearted). I usually have at least on variety of Bell’s in the fridge at any given time. In getting excited to try new breweries, I let Bell’s fall by the wayside, but that’s not fair to them or, more importantly, to me.


Michigan Breweries: The Biggest and Newest

Michigan Breweries: The Biggest and Newest

Since it’s the week leading up to the Michigan Brewers’ Guild Winter Festival, we’re excited about beer in the state of Michigan. The mainstream media seems to be similarly stoked. First, the top 10 brewers (by volume) in the state of Michigan, per MLive’s Kalamabrew blog:

1. Bell’s Brewery Inc., Kalamazoo (153,973)
2. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids (28,516)
3. New Holland Brewing Co., Holland (12,314)
4. Michigan Brewing Co., Webberville, (9,856)
5. Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek (8,759)
6. Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire (8,420)
7. Dark Horse Brewing Co., Marshall (6,179)
8. Keweenaw Brewing Co., Houghton (5,420)
9. Atwater Block Brewery, Detroit (4,700)
10. Arbor Brewing Co./Corner Brewery, Ann Arbor (4,057)

It’s shocking to me (though it probably shouldn’t be) just how much bigger Bell’s is than Founders. I’ve been to almost every brewery on the list, but haven’t hit up Short’s or Keweenaw in the flesh.

Various newspapers are gearing up for the MBG Winter Festival by profiling breweries. The Kalamazoo Gazette talks Dark Horse, which I’m glad to hear is in the stages of some expansion. The Marshall-based brewery has to be one of the more underrated producers of craft beer in the state. Speaking of expansion, it’s no secret that Founders is is trending upward as well. They project 45,000 barrels of production this year.

There’s a ton more information on MLive about the state’s beer economy and the MBG Winter Festival itself, so check it out. We’ll be talking about Michigan beer all week on YBD because we are very excite indeed for the weekend.

Michigan Liquor Law Thoughts

Michigan: The Great Beer State?

Michigan: The Great Beer State?

I’ve already posted on Michigan Liquor Laws once, but I think it’s also important to say not only what those laws are, but what I think they should be. I’ve traveled to many states, and though Michigan is often known as one of the most beer-friendly, that doesn’t mean there are some things I’d like to see changed. Shockingly, considering the nature of this site, most of my suggestions involved loosening restrictions.


The Keystone State was founded by Quakers, and it is notorious for its ridiculously restrictive liquor laws. Beer can only be purchased in state-run stores (for now) or to-go restaurants, and anyone who’s visited Pennsylvania has been frustrated by the archaic legal restrictions.

That said, there is one thing that I’ve experienced in Pennsylvania that I’d like to see the State of Michigan adopt: free samples. When I visited Philadelphia in the fall, I went into a beer store (state-run, of course) and was able to try samples of several different beers. In Michigan, you can only give out free samples that are brewed on-premises, or in an establishment owned by the brewer.  The restrictions have eased up slightly since the recent legislation went through, but samples still have to be purchased (though they’re now allowed to sell them at pacage liquor outlets).

Illinois/New York

This is certainly the case in many other states as well, but statutes limiting the closing of bar establishments to 2AM at the latest are an annoyance in Ann Arbor. In Paul’s new hometown of Chicago, 4AM is the time du jour, and Nevada (particularly Las Vegas) famously has 24-hour service.  I understand some of the reasons behind this, as it’s possible to be a public nuisance, and there’s risk of leading to overserving patrons, but aren’t there other statutes that already take care of this?

In Ann Arbor, a law passed a couple years back allowing establishments (i.e. nightclubs) to stay open until 4 if they stop serving at 2, but what purpose does that really serve?


Beer distributors are a big lobby in every state that has robust alcohol trade, and though there are some positive aspects to this (anybody who’s taken Econ 101 knows about natural monopolies), but there are also problems with state-mandated exclusive distributorship.

The biggest problem comes from restricting the availability of certain products in a location. If Distributor X controls Bells distribution in your area, and they don’t carry Oberon, for example (oh hai Chicago, until recently), you’re out of luck. The lack of Yeungling availability that your friends who are Pennsylvania ex-pats keep bitching about is another example of this – showing that it’s not a Michigan-specific problem.

I understand that the strong distributor lobby is going to make this tough to change, but there has to be some way to allow for exemptions that will increase the availability (and therefore sales) of craft beer across the country.

What else would you like to see changed?