Fall has really arrived here in Southwestern Ohio, and with that comes darker style beers. That said, starting earlier this month, Founders Brewing, out of the state up North, released bottles of their fabled Breakfast Stout. With the draft release being today, it is only fitting that I tackle this one on a Friday night. Breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Enter the Breakfast Stout:
To get this started, let’s have a story: I have wanted to try this beer for some time. My first experience with it happened at a friends wedding. After one or two too many rum and cokes, a friend handed me a bottle of this and proclaimed, “This is one of the greatest beers that I have ever had!” Instantly, I was intrigued. At this point in the evening, the wedding reception had moved into the hotel bar. In my rum clouded vision, I insisted that the bartender should open this beer for me, as I did not have an opener. He politely told me to take my drunk ass back to my room. I then, when he was not looking, proceeded to try to open this beer on the fancy marble counter top. After a few tries, much to my dismay the bottle was still intact, and now in the hands of my wife after she caught me in the act of trying to open the bottle. Fast forward to the next morning, and the bottle had disappeared, but my interest in this one was still hanging on. To this day, I am not really sure what happened to that bottle.
Enter today. After securing a 4 pack of this beer, it was finally go time. The beer pours nice and dark, like a good stout should. This one however, has a very pronounced head. Aroma wise, nice notes of coffee and roasted malts hit your nose. When the beer hits your taste buds, you will be hit with flavors of coffee, malts, bitter chocolate, some oatmeal flavor, and more coffee at the finish. Carbonation is spot on, this beer feels good in your mouth. It basically makes you want to have another. Careful with this beer though, as it clocks in at 8.3% ABV, which is heavy duty for a stout. It blows my mind that this beer is so high in ABV, as you cannot taste the alcohol at all. This one is very enjoyable, and it sets the new standard in my household for a stout!
When you think of stouts, if the first beer that pops into your head is a Guinness, you NEED to drink this beer. It will completely re-write your opinion of the darker craft. I will even go on to say that I enjoy it above and beyond my favorite stout, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. This beer delivers, so go give it a shot! It pains me that it has taken so long to finally drink one of these amazing beers, but boy am I glad that I did. Once again, Michigan delivers the good stuff. I really need to look more into property up there…
Well done Founders!
For some reason, Michigan has become one of the bigger craft beer markets. Quite a few breweries are gaining traction in the beer world, while being based out of the state up North. One brewery that I have not really heard too much about is out of Battle Creek, called Arcadia Ales. Since I have been on an IPA kick as of late, a farewell to summer if you will, I decided to take a walk with their version of a double IPA, called the Hopmouth.
This beer looks like an IPA, and smells like an IPA, so it should be an IPA right? Yes, yes and yes. The beer pours a perfect looking IPA, just a little darker red than normal. Some IPAs rush right to the top of the glass when poured, but this one came out of the bottle perfectly. For the record, I pour every beer the same, right down the middle of the glass, no tilting. Tilting is for cans or kegs. That is another rant altogether. Back to the beer. Once in the glass, the beer smells a bit of pine, and a little fruity, but not as powerful as you would expect. Taste wise, this beer is excellent. Hops meet your taste buds at the gate, then fade away to a few different malt flavors, one that jumps out at me is a bit caramel like. The hops do not make an encore, and the beer finishes nice and dry, with a touch of alcohol, which clocks in at 8% ABV for those who care.
This beer was a great pick, unfortunately for the Hopmouth though is that it had to follow Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum in my beer que. Overall, this is a solid beer, a little maltier than I expected, but a nice change for a double IPA. If you see it, you should try it out. Well done!
Ended the week here in Lower/Northern Michigan the best way possible: With a mountain bike ride at the VASA single track, located just outside of Traverse City, Michigan.
The VASA system is a pretty awesome 15 or so mile loop, through the very interesting Michigan landscape. By interesting, I mean very sandy at times, and unfortunately sandy in the various tight and twisty corners. It took a couple times eating sand to adjust my riding style over the entire trail, but by the end I had earned my sand wings. The trail is tight and twisty, with very fast sections where you can crank out the big ring and really get some speed. Not the most technical of trails, but very enjoyable regardless.
This was a great way to end a very amazing week. Lots of time on the quiet Little Traverse Lake either swimming or kayaking, some urban exploration, lots of euchre, and lots and lots of Michigan beer. For some reason unknown to me, Michigan has some great brews going on. Breweries on our agenda were North Peak, Bell’s, Founders, and Arbor Brewing.
What a fantastic week of relaxation, now unfortunately back to the grind of reality.
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.
At some point in my life, I plan on buying a frame from a custom builder. There is just something cool about having a frame/bicycle that you don’t see everyday. Something almost like bicycle street cred. Anyway, while surfing the cycling related web as I usually do, I stumbled upon 616.
616 Bicycle Fabrications, based proudly out of Michigan, is pumping out some quality, head turning rides, at a decent price for a smaller frame builder. One feature that stands out is their paint process. Since they do not believe in decals, every logo is painted on, using the process of reverse masking. Another nice touch is custom metal ID badge with the bike’s information. Add those touches to a hand crafted steel frame, and that is well worth the price of admission.
Only a few spectacular models are available at the moment, including a 29er and 650b hardtails, and also a fatbike. According to their website a cross bike is coming soon:
Even though they are relatively new, I feel that 616 is going to stick around for awhile, especially with such great looking bikes. They will definitely be on my short list when the time finally comes for a custom frame. Also, as with many other bike companies these days, 616 is always looking for pro level racers to throw some swag to, check them out if that is your thing. Now if only I could find a company looking to sponsor a beer drinking, non racing, everyday rider…
Maybe I am really pumped for my vacation in northern Michigan this summer, but the last few topics have been about brands based out of there. There might be more to the state up north than cherries, lakes, and the upper peninsula.
Just keep spinning…
All photos from 616’s site, go check it!