Happy Hour: Dark Horse Will Not Look At That Photograph

Darkhorse And Nickleback?

Chad Kroeger


So… a couple years ago Nickleback or some representative approached Dark Horse Brewery about some sort of promotional agreement. Apparently, Nickleback’s sixth studio albums (srlsy? they have six?!) is called Dark Horse. Some marketing intern probably got a synergy stiffy and sent off an email. Dark Horse’s marketing director asked what they should do in the blog post linked above. The owner of Dark Horse, Alan Morse, stepped in and made the executive decision to decline the offer because Nickleback is “shit rock.”

This story got posted up on Reddit on Wednesday and blew up Twitter. As Michigan Brewing Company has taught us, hitching your wagon to mediocre musicians is not a good long term solution. That and you should probably pay your bills every once in a while…

(h/t @BeerAdvocate)

Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America

Pliny the Elder


Zymurgy, the magazine run by the American Homebrewers Association, released the results of its 2012 Best Beers in America survey. Pliny the Elder gets the four-peat. I got to taste about 2oz of Pliny at a tailgate this past fall. It was very, very good, but I think the relative difficulty of acquiring it has raised its profile higher than the beer itself. Two Hearted is the first runner up. I’ve written about this previously,  but Two Hearted is a damn good beer that I always overlook because I can always get it. The reverse Pliny, if you will.

Eight of the top ten are some form of IPA1. Thirty-two of the top fifty are between pale ales and hop-bombs. Tim and Nate make fun of me for always getting hoppy beers, but I’m not even this focused. Four Michigan beers made the list, Two Hearted, Hopslam (4th), Founders Breakfast Stout (23rd) and KBS (T37th lolwut?). Bell’s and Founders both rank in the top ten breweries at 5th and 10th respectively.
This may eventually be a full post in the future, but I’m not sure I quite agree with these choice.

Dogfish head Is officially everywhere


Grand Rapids Breweries Collaborate on Beer City Pale Ale


Recently, Grand Rapids, MI (our home town) joined Asheville, NC to win Beer City, USA. The competition was run by Charlie Papazian. Grand Rapids brewers are planning to commemorate the award with a special brew:

Ten area breweries have teamed to create Beer City Pale Ale, a new craft beer produced in celebration of both the city’s newest title and Craft Beer Month beginning July 1…

Participating breweries include Harmony Brewing Company, The Hideout Brewing Company, White Flame Brewing Company, Jaden James Brewing Company, Michigan Beer Cellar, Pike 51, The BOB, HopCat, Founders, and Schmohz.

Full Release →

Rare Beers Close to Home

The weather has changed and we’ve had four or five days straight of sunny days over fifty degrees. This has led me to start walking home from work most days. In addition to the weather, an advantage to walking home is that I can walk right by Local Option. I went there for the first time a couple weeks ago, and had some ridiculous beers.

Wednesday morning I got an email from the excellent Chicago Beer Society Listserv (viva los 90s!) with the tap list that Local Option would be having that evening. The relevant excerpt:

Founders Black Biscuit
Founders Breakfast Stout
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Founders Double Trouble
Founders Endurance Ale
Founders Imperial Stout
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

I originally wasn’t planning on stopping in. I had some silly ideas of going to the gym, and I was heading to rare beer event at Sheffield’s later that night. All that said, as I walked by Local Option on the walk home, I was drawn in like a moth to the flame.

Local Option

Some of the Taps at Local Option

The place was packed with a wide assortment of beer nerds. There were the stereotypical befacialhaired folk wearing the shirt/hoodie of their favorite brewery; there were men and women still in fancy-pants work clothes; there were DePaul students in their craft beer adolescence with a chance to try one of the pinnacles of the movement. What I’m trying to say is that it was a diverse, excited crowd all waiting for 6pm when the Founders kegs would be tapped. I’ve mentioned this before, but like going to see a movie at midnight, going to special tappings and being immersed in a crowd that is buzzing with excitement for the same thing makes the wait nearly as exciting as the payoff.

I grew up in Grand Rapids and still have friends and family there, so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to routinely go to the Founders Taphouse. Between that and the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals, I’ve tried all but one beer on that list, the Canadian Breakfast Stout.

They were doing small pours (about 7-8oz) to ensure all beer nerds in attendance got the chance to try something from each 5gal keg. Even so, the Canadian Breakfast Stout was the first to kick – after only 25 minutes. Luckily, I got my glass and, as so often seems to happen at Local Option, struck up a conversation with some other folks who were trying the CBS. I’ll do a brief review of the beer:


I feel the better the beer, the less I’m disposed to analyze it and try to isolate flavors. When I drink something that is that good, I like to turn off the analytical side and just enjoy the experience.

So after my amazing beer and meeting a fellow homebrewer (bottle exchange coming soon), I left the bar and headed home to get ready* to taste some crazy belgians made by Goose Island.

…To Be Continued [Part 2]

*“Get ready” is a phrase which here means “lose by 30+ points to Tim in NCAA Football.”


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.

Guest Post: Hopcat Tasting Event

Special thanks to Geoff of The Hoover Street Rag for this guest post. Geoff took in a tasting event at Hopcat in Grand Rapids, and was kind enough to pass along notes.

Shorts Huma Lupa Licious
IPA – Pint glass.

Love the Huma. Always a favorite of mine.  And $6 for a pint plus the house burger and crack fries is a fantastic bargain.  The first taste is of crashing hops bitterness with citrus.  It mellows briefly  before a second wave hits, then the long finish.

Hopcat Kodial Killer
American Barleywine – Tulip glass

Dark, near-black appearance with an aroma of whisky and dark fruits.  Drink slowly to keep from being overwhelmed by the alcohol and pronounced fruit notes and ruining the flavor, which is refined by aging for four months in spend Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout barrels.

Shorts Bourbon Barrel Huma Lupa Licious
IPA – Globe-shaped sampler glass

I wanted to be able to directly compare the bourbon barrel version to the standard, and it’s almost unnecessary.  The whisky smell is huge off of it, obscuring the grapefruit notes of the original, and the bourbon taste is even bigger, almost obliterating the regular Huma, though it’s there underneath everything.  I’ll defer to the Hopcat description: “Think creamy vanilla-laced hop cones, soaked in bourbon.”

Shorts Bourbon Barrel Sustenance
Schwartzbier – Tulip

Oh, this is delicious.  Full of the toasty schwartzbier maltiness with the bourbon coming in around the edges.  I could drink this all night

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Globe-shaped sampler glass

I had the Bourbon County Stout before, in a 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles, and it was something of a disappointment.  I’d had the Founders KBS before (on tap at the brewery) and hoped that Goose Island would be able to compete with that.  What I tasted was very good, but not in the same class as the KBS.  I’m extremely happy to report that I was totally off base on that.  On tap, Bourbon County Stout is a revelation.  It’s huge, thick; viscous as motor oil and full of chocolate, bourbon, and coffee.  The clear winner on the night.  I still prefer the KBS overall (I think the flavors are a little more complex), but this is ever so close.

Dark Horse Plead the 5th
Russian Imperial Stout – Globe-shaped sampler glass

The lightest RIS I’ve ever encountered.  It pours brown and translucent with no real head by the time it was served.  A whiff of alcohol on the nose, not much more in terms of scent, it has a smooth mouthfeel with tastes of dark chocolate and a strong whisky finish.

Goose Island Imperial Brown Goose
Old Ale – Globe-shaped sampler glass

Pours dark brown with a persistent, thin off-white head.  Goose Island blended their 2004 and 2005 Christmas ales and aged them in 4-year-old Jim Beam and 12-year-old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, and I can detect cinnamon and nutmeg among other spices alongside a mellow bourbon flavor.

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout – Globe-shaped sampler glass

It smells like a beer, but tastes STRONGLY of charcoal smoke.  Must be the oak chips it’s been aged with, giving it a burnt flavor that lingers for a long time after the vanilla flavors fade away.

Avery Samael’s Ale
English Barleywine – Globe-shaped sampler glass

It tastes sweet and light, but packs a 14.5% ABV wallop and finishes with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Founders Backwoods Bastard
We Heavy Scotch Ale – Globe-shaped sampler glass

You can taste the Dirty Bastard under it all, but to me it tastes more like Devil Dancer than anything else.  It has that same way about it where it hits like a sledgehammer and lingers.

Founders Black Biscuit
Old Ale – Tulip glass

The pour overflowed the glass on the way over and now my hands smell like beer and chocolate.  Black Biscuit has a thin but persistently full head and pours thick and black.  This is a black old ale aged in bourbon barrels, and the chocolate, bourbon, and roasted malt flavors dominate.  It’s not quite as huge or complex as a bourbon stout, but the tradeoff is that it’s more drinkable.  Definitely give this one a try if you have the chance.

Atwater Barrel Aged Cherry Stout Firkin
Stout – Globe-shaped sampler glass

Tastes like black cherries soaked in bourbon and dropped into a stout, but not overpowering the stout base.  I’m not a big fan of fruit beers, but I can see myself ordering this as a a full pour.

Founders. Sept 1st. Be There

Founders, for my money, is the best brewery in Michigan. If you haven’t tried their beer yet, well, you should. I’m from the Grand Rapids area, and every time I head home to see the family I try to get out to their tap house which has $3.75 (!) pints of many of their brews. The only beer clone we’ve ever brewed was an imitation of Red’s Rye.

What I’m trying to get at is that Founders is awesome. One of the biggest reasons for this, is how much they still seem to have that homebrewer’s mindset. They’re always experimenting, coming up with interesting and innovative beers. The best example of this may be their Nemesis Ale. Here’s how the brewers describe it:

What you have here is a rarity. A special, one-of-a-kind ale that is only made once a year. Sometimes that’s all. Forever. No more. Nada. Limited-time only. You never know what you’re gonna get. But you can be sure that it’ll be damn tasty.

This beer will be released on September 1st at their Grand Rapids taproom. Before then, only a handful of people will really know what it tastes like or even the style. One thing you can know, is that it will not be boring.

If taking a risk isn’t your thing, well they’re also releasing this year’s Breakfast Stout on the 1st as well.

I was planning on heading to start my move to Chicago on September 1st, but it might just be worthwhile to postpone that for a day to get my hands on some of the best beer in Michigan, the USA and possibly the world.