One of the best things about vacations is discovering new things. For me, one of those things is discovering new beers. Being a beer geek, I have a short list of beers that I really enjoy, and always have the thought in my mind to visit the breweries that I like the most. Luckily, here in the Traverse City region, one of my favorite beers is a staple in the area.
My family and I had the chance to swing by North Peak Brewing’s pub and restaurant to grab some beer and appetizers, and just enjoy the atmosphere. And atmosphere there was, based out of a historic brick building that used to manufacture candy. The interior of the building is gorgeous, with rough looking lumber everywhere, giving you a cabin like feeling. From looking at the brick exterior, I never would have guessed it:
We all decided on getting their sampler, which gives you their five standard beers, which we the elected for their three extra styles that are only available at the restaurant. All of the beers were amazing, with my attention focusing mostly on their Porter, but mostly on their Barleywine, which if they offered a sixer of that I would have taken home a case. Definitely a great representation of the style.
If you should find yourself in the Traverse City area, be sure to stop in and have a drink, you will be glad that you did.
Every other summer my family takes a trip to northern, lower peninsula Michigan, just outside of Traverse City. This area is known for it’s multiple clear lakes, sand dunes, the Great Lake, and surprisingly quite a few craft beers. I am not really sure what is going on up north, but Michigan is turning out quite a bit of quality beer. During our last trip, I discovered North Peak, and really enjoyed their versions of some staples in my diet. Seeing the company name again on a recent family outing, this beer made the journey back to Milford for an official write up. Enter the Vicious Wheat IPA…
Wait a minute, did I just say a wheat IPA? Yes, yes indeed.
But before that, check out the packaging. I am a sucker for clever marketing/packaging, and this beer makes me think of good times just by looking at it. Almost looks like a Red Stripe right? Right off the bat, that makes me like this beer. But this beer is more than just it’s almost trademark infringing look, once poured into a glass you will see why.
The beer pours with a nice, fast forming head that is stickier than I was expecting, especially due to it’s reddish/amber hue. The head dissipates leaving a little bit of lacing, and some subtle aromas start to hit your nose. Scents of citrus hops slightly, with an earthy wheat smell to it. Not the most fragrant IPA that I have ever had, but this is a beer tasting, not a beer smelling. No negative points there. Once you start to drink it, you realize that this is a keeper. Smooth, smooth wheat flavors, with a tiny sweet malt touch balance the scale with the 72 IBUs, to give this beer a very minimal hop character. The hops are there, just not choking out the other flavors like some IPAs. You almost forget that this is an IPA, but the bit of hops are a subtle reminder. Very interesting, and I have to say I was reaching for a second.
This beer has been one of my favorites, and I will definitely be buying more of it. One of the smoothest, easiest drinking beers that I have ever had, and just in time for my trip up north to sit by a cabin on a lake, watch the sunset, and drink good beer. Welcome the newest beer into my top 5.
Well done North Peak, check out their site here.
Sometimes, you get tired of heavy, dark beers. Sometimes the time is just not right for a stout. The heaviness of a dark beer on a warm day is too much to bear. That is why I like to switch it up with beers, drink a certain style for a bit, then flip the incoming flow to the opposite side of beer. That bill has recently been filled with Mt. Carmel’s Springtime Ale:
Mt. Carmel is my favorite out of the local breweries, so take that into consideration here. But, their Springtime Ale delivers. Brewed in the “Scot’s Tradition,” this beer pours a nice amber coloration, with a decent white head. The beer flows over the taste buds like a light beer with real beer flavors, such as malts, spice, and in lack of better terms, an earthly feel. Just what you would expect from a spring seasonal. The beer finishes dry, and I would call it the perfect lawn mowing brew. It also works well in the garage, as you can tell from the picture above.
This beer is a favorite of mine, especially for this time of year. I would call it a beer drinker’s light beer, only due to the lower alcohol level. This is definitely what I needed, especially after spending this winter drinking heavier octane brews. Once again, well done Mt. Carmel. I need to head back to the brewery to get my growler filled again!
In the world of beers, especially craft beers, there are rarities. Some are rare due to being brewed in small batches, which translates into high price tags. Some are rare, just because they cannot be found in your local area. That is where your friends/family come in. That was the case with this beer, enter Marshall Brewing Company:
Marshall Brewing Company is an Oklahoma based brewery, out of the city of Tulsa. Only selling in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas, this beer is going to be quite rare in most of the world. Luckily, a friend passed one on to me after the long journey from Oklahoma to Ohio. Here are some thoughts:
First off, the beer has a nice, slightly subdued, IPA aroma coming straight out of the bottle. This is not Stone Brewing here, no hops punch in the face. Just a nice, dare I say “pretty” fragrance that is not too strong, but not too light. That smell transfers over quite well to the taste side of the beer, making it a very balanced brew. Nothing really jumps out at you, but everything blends together quite nicely. This is an easy drinking IPA. Also at 6.5% ABV, it is not going to put you into an early nap time. I can appreciate that.
The label of the beer has a picture of Atlas holding up the world. I would venture to guess, assuming though since I have not had any of their other products, that this beer carries the company as their flagship beer. If not, a beer this balanced and easy to drink should. My interests have been piqued, hopefully I can find some of their other offerings in the near future. Next time I find myself in Oklahoma though, I am going to find some to bring back with me to the Buckeye State.
Flannel has always been a staple in my wardrobe. Ever since I was a kid growing up in the middle of nowhere, flannel was just part of the local uniform. Functional and stylish. At least until the 1990s. Every now and again, much to my wife’s chagrin, I break out a few pieces from my rock and roll days and sport it like a trophy belt buckle. Not that I have one of those or anything… anyway, when I caught a glimpse of this beer, I knew it had to come home with me:
Enter Great Divide Brewing Company’s Hoss Rye Lager. Right off the bat, with the subtle lumberjack flannel backdrop of the label, this beer screams “I love Soundgarden!” Well maybe not that exactly, but I am sure it screams something.
Normally, I do not get myself all excited over lagers. Sure, there are a few that are quite tasty, and since I have been jamming on Great Divide’s products here lately, I thought this deserved a spin. After a sixer of this, here are the thoughts:
Right out of the gate, it pours a nice amber color. I love a beer with a good color palate, and this beer does not disappoint. Beautiful color that you normally would not see on a lager. One of the beers best attributes though is the smell. Flagrant sweet smells hit the nose coming from the malts, and some darker fruits. This leaves a little to be desired once it hits the mouth though. Granted it tastes great, but the smells from this beer are heavenly for a lager. Apart from that little note, the flavors of this beer make it a great Oktoberfest/Marzen style that makes me wish it were fall. Smooth and easy to drink, the rye spiciness gives a different touch to the flavor which then finishes nice and dry. This is a great version of the Marzen style, and I am planning on remembering this beer anytime that I want to pretend it is October.
So take a flannel bottle, and put some Oktoberfest style brew in it, and that makes a winner in my book. It makes me extremely happy that this beer is available year round, so it can be Oktoberfest at any point in the year. So by the transitive property, that also means that I can wear flannel at any point of the year as well. Double win. Now off to drink and listen to Soundgarden…
Cheers to you Great Divide!
Today is a special day. December 5th, a day that most people do not even recognize. Today is the day that beer was given back to the people just 78 years ago. If you still have no idea what I am talking about, today is the anniversary of the 21st amendment, the repeal of prohibition.
For my personal celebration, I pulled from the lineup of my favorite local company, Mt. Carmel. I had never had their stout before, and after searching around for it, yesterday it made the journey back to Milford with me. So without further ado:
I love stouts, absolutely one of my favorite types of beer. This beer is a solid representation of what a good stout should be. Dark appearance, a tan colored head, and a somewhat bitter chocolate flavor round out this beer. It is more carbonated that the stereotypical stout, like a creamy Guinness, but a great flavor overall. This is a solid beer that does everything well, but nothing superbly. A “Jack of all Trades” if you will. That is in no way a knock on the brew, it is good. My opinion could very well be a little altered due to the fact I have been drinking Imperial stouts of the Russian variety lately. Regardless of that, this is a good beer, which I am glad that I finally found. Once again, well done Mt. Carmel.
Hopefully this finds you drinking a finely crafted beer on this special day in beer history!