Wednesday, May 23, 2012

West Michigan road trip Part 3


This is the third installment of my west Michigan travel blog series, but this is a continuation from my first entry.

After we left Hopcat in Grand Rapids, we headed to a new brewery called White Flame Brewing Company in Hudsonville, MI.  It dubs itself as a "nanobrewery", with five beers on tap.  The taproom seats 48 customers (according to their Facebook page) and their beer is only available on tap.
White Flame tap handles

I ordered a couple samplers for us so we could try all of their beers.  I didn’t take any tasting notes, but I do recall thinking that for being a new brewery, their beers were well made and for the most part, enjoyable to drink.    I also liked the taproom.  It had a nice wooden rustic feel to it, and I felt comfortable to be there.  While I don’t necessarily think White Flame is worth a separate trip by itself, it is certainly worth a stop on any west Michigan beer tour.  However, if I lived in Hudsonville, I would be a regular at White Flame.

Next we headed to Saugatuck Brewing Company in Douglas, MI (bordering Saugatuck, MI).  This was our fifth stop on our tour this day, so everyone excluding our driver was pretty well lubricated by this point.  I think we entered the pub a little too loudly!  We bellied up to the bar and I ordered a sample of every beer they had on tap.  14 tasting glasses later and there appeared to be what looked like a color chart of beer lined-up in front of us.

While we were explaining what our Better Beer Authority shirts were to random customers, the bartender introduced us to one of their brewers who happened to be sitting at the bar next to us.  He offered a tour for us, but only David and James took him up on the offer.  The rest of us were too busy sampling all of the beers.  James and David said they got a great personal tour from the brewer.

beer samples at Saugutuck
A few of the beers on Saugatuck’s tap list seemed gimmicky to me;  Serrano Pepper Ale, Neapolitan (ice cream) Milk Stout, and Not Your Granny’s Ginger Ale.  But I will be the first to tell you that these beers were anything but gimmicky.  The Serrano Pepper Ale was well made, had a crazy pepper aroma and taste, yet it still was not spicy.   The Ginger Ale beer really tasted like a beer, not a ginger beer as often found in the Caribbean.  The Neapolitan, for me, took the cake...er, ice cream cake that is!.  It was the surprise beer of the trip for me.  True to Neapolitan form, you could taste all three flavor elements, strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate.   I bought a 4-pack later to send home.  And the bottled version is just as great as the tap version.

Neapolitan Milk Stout (photo by Saugutuck brewing)

Saugatuck was one of the many breweries we visited that I had not heard of before, but I left a big fan of theirs.  Some cool things at the brew pub facility to note:  A dart league, a brew your own beer program, a large ballroom for rent, and not to mention how good the food looked. I highly recommend a trip to the brewery while on the west side of the state.  

As if we hadn’t sampled enough beers throughout the day, our “work” wasn’t done.  We then made the short trip to Holland, MI to finish ourselves off at New Holland Brewery.  We were unable to get in contact with anyone from the brewery, so our visit was “unofficial.”  We were excited to visit New Holland nonetheless; we had heard the brew pub was a lot of fun, and James really likes the Poet oatmeal stout.

The bar was crowded, and a live band was playing, amazingly enough, we were able to get a spot at the bar and order a few samples to try.  Then we saw it!  Das Boot!  Sitting underneath the bar was a two liter glass boot made famous from the movie Beerfest.  I had to have it.  So I ordered a Das Boot filled with Mad Hatter IPA. Only $16 for two liters of fine American craft beer ($75 more if we broke the glass).  Better judgment would have suggested we filled it up with Full Circle Kolsch…but our judgment was impaired by an entire afternoon of sampling beer after beer.
Das Boot!

We didn’t talk to anyone on official BBA business, but did meet a few bar patrons who seemed nice.  Upon walking out, I wanted to buy a Das Boot as a souvenir.  Luckily no one was working the merchandise area and I saved $75.  I am also not sure how I would have brought it on the small plane back home.

This was the end of our first full day, and we were tired!   We made the hour-plus drive back to Kalamazoo and sacked out, ready to go at it again the next day,

Beers sampled during this portion of the trip:
White Flame
Black IPA
White Shoes Pale Ale
Sugar g IPA
Pale Otter Porter
Oatmeal stout

Tap list at New Holland
Saugatuck
Oval Beach Blond
Delilah DeWylde-Berry Wheat
Maggie's Irish ale
ESB Amber
Nippy Nutmeg Bonfire brown
Neapolitan Milk Stout
Pier Cove Porter
Black Pale Ale
E ale
Singapore IPA
Hop on a Blonde
Not your Granny's Ginger Ale
Serrano Pepper Ale
Dramanatrix

New Holland
The Poet
Mole Ocho
Mad Hatter IPA
Full circle kolsch
Dragons milk
Hopivore
Blue Sunday Sour




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