Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Steadfast Sorghum Pale Ale (Gluten-Free) - Blind Taste Test

When Chad Polenz (chadd9976, chadzbeerreviews) sent us a gluten-free beer from Steadfast Pale Ale I had no idea what to expect. At the time, I couldn't remember ever having a gluten-free beer. I felt the only way we could do this was with a blind taste test. I wanted to see what the guys thought when they had no idea that the beer was gluten-free. The sorghum flavor definitely threw them off when trying to figure the beer out. But, did they think it was a good beer to drink? Tune in and find out!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Resin: Sixpoint Brewery - Blind Taste Test

When I heard that Sixpoint Brewery was going to distribute in Ohio, I contacted them to see if they would be interested in sending us some beer. However, I didn't want the guys to be biased by the fact that they got free beer, so we went the blind taste test route. Resin is Sixpoint's newest, strongest and most bitter offering. It's supposed to celebrate the resins that are in the hops. Will this brew be a hit with the guys? Tune in and find out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

West Michigan Part 5: Kalamazoo

Bell's tap list during our visit'

Finally, my last blog about our awesome beercation to western Michigan features Kalamazoo.

After getting picked up by Craig at Grand Rapids International Airport and stopping for some samples and eats at Walldorff  Brewing Company in Hastings, MI, it was time to head to Kalamazoo; Craig’s hometown.  Also home to Bell’s Brewery’s Eccentric Café.

Bell’s main brewing headquarters is in nearby Comstock, MI, tours were not available at the time of our trip.  We were unable to contact anyone at Bell’s to do a formal interview/tour, but that sure as hell didn’t stop us from visiting their café in Kalamazoo! 

Hayes and James drove straight to the cafe from the Better Beer Authority Worldwide Headquarters near Columbus, Oh.  So our first rendezvous was there.  They had a few samples of beer in front of them when we entered the bar, and David and I promptly added to the samples by ordering even more.  I also ordered a full pour of Hopslam. 

Some highlights were the Vienna Smoked Lager, Experimental 2011, Oberon.  Also, the hot cashews they sold behind the bar were excellent.  Check out their "tap cam" for up-to-date draft listings.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe bar
The Eccentric Café is a cool place.  It is basically divided into three venues:  The main taproom where we were enjoying our suds, a concert club, and The General Store.  The taproom was earthy and comfortable, with a lot of wood tones.   It was spacious, yet comfortable.  Peeked my head inside the concert venue, and it looked decent.  Like a concert club, but with a great tap list.

going to Bell's?  Look for this sign
The General Store is attached to the side of the building.  This is where you can buy bottles, six-packs, and kegs of most Bell’s offerings.  There is also a ton of memorabilia for sale ranging from pint glasses, to t-shirts, to an entire quiver of Frisbees for Frisbee golf!  There is also a large selection of home brewing equipment ranging from starter kits to fresh hops.

After we left The Eccentric Café, it was time for late night eats.  We hit a place near Western Michigan University’s campus called Menna’s Joint, a place that specializes in late night wraps.  Use your imagination to guess what kind of late night crap we ate.  I recommend the place if you are blind drunk.
Menna's Joint menu

Daniel and James
After our last brewery visit, most of us were too tired to continue, but James met up with a BBA follower and local beer-tuber Daniel Harper (YouTube  handle: TheEndosymbiosis).  Coincidentally he is the beer monger at the one beer store we visited not part of a brewery, Tiffany’s Wineand Spirits.  As soon as I walked into the store, I knew I would love it.  You are greeted by two barrels of olive oil that you can fill up a vessel of your own.  As you walk past the cheese, you enter the land of beer.  It was a great one-stop shop to pick up bottles from the breweries that we visited along with other Michigan beers.  There was also a great selection of regional and national craft beers.  If I were doing my year end review today, Tiffany’s would easily by the number one beer shop I visited this year.
Michigan beers at Tiffany's

We had an epic beer tour of Western Michigan.  I highly recommend and beer enthusiast to follow in our footsteps or make your own in that area.

Thank you for reading all five of my Michigan blogs.

A special thanks goes to:

Craig Kortlandt for being our driver and giving us lodging. 

Dave and Mike from Founders.  You guys were great and run a kick-ass brewery

Tim Surprise from Arcadia.  Great hands-on tour at Arcadia!

All the brewers and brewery employees who we met and chatted with along the journey!

Smoked stout
Oatmeal stout
Milk stout
Smoked Vienna lager
Lost coast beer
Experimental 2011
Experimental 2012
Harvest ale
Pale ale
Amber ale

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Michigan Road Trip part 4

Gerald Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids
When David and I landed in Grand Rapids, our chauffeur was waiting to pick us up.  After taking a picture of a sign welcoming us to Western Michigan, we jumped into that waiting SUV and headed directly to Walldorff Brew Pub & Bistro.  Since James and Hayes (BBA behind the scenes guy) were still driving up from Columbus, we had time to start exploring Michigan beers.

standard brewpub chalkboard menu
We arrived in the small town of Hastings, a small charming red-bricked downtown with grassy squares to the side, and parked in front of Walldorff.  Upon entering, it wasn’t crowded, but there was no room at the bar so we shared a cocktail table and promptly ordered a 9-beer sampler, followed by a few appetizers.

Walldorff samples!
My favorite beer we tried was Cobain’s Double Dark IPA.  Other offerings include Hopnoxxious IPA, Bee Sting Honey Rye, State Street Stout (on nitro).  For food, I ordered the Schnitzel sliders which were very good.  The Walldorff is a nice small town brew pub.  If you are in the immediate area, by all means, make a stop there.   Or have Craig pick you up at the airport and take you there.

Bouncing back to the afternoon of our third day (second full day), we had already visited  Arcadia Ales and Dark Horse Brewery, so we headed west to Paw Paw, MI to sample beers at Paw Paw Brewing Company.  Paw Paw is a small, relatively new brewery, but had a lot of character.  Not to mention I was smitten over the bar keep Whitney! 

stolen picture from Paw Paw Facebook page
When we walked in, some of the locals drinking at the bar were kind enough to make room for the five of us.  The clientele was so friendly, I love it.  The selection of beer and the creativity of their names had me excited when I ordered the sampler; Urban Assault Pale Ale being my favorite. 

We ended up meeting a brewer, Trevor, who happened to be hanging out there, and he offered to take us to Paw Paw’s new brew house just down the road. Trevor was great; he gave us a tour of the brew house even though it was closed for the day.  He is easily the most excited person I have ever met regarding craft beer.  Thanks for the tour Trevor!

Next we headed even farther west to Benton Harbor, MI, famous for Whirlpool Coorporation and being the hometown of Vivica A. Fox and Ernie Hudson (“who you gonna call?”)
The Livery lighter colored beers
Before heading to the Livery Brewery, we had dinner at Charlies Grinnin and Piggin Barbeque.  I was thoroughly impressed with their pulled pork sandwich and rib tips.

The Livery dark beers
Then it was down the street to The Livery, the number 100 ranked brewery in the world according to (amazing, 4 of the top 100 are in western Michigan, and two more are close by!).  We didn’t get the full experience of The Livery since a charity event was going on upstairs.  But we were happy at the downstairs bar.  Once again we ordered a sampler of every beer before explaining our BBA shirts to the bar tender and some of the bar’s patrons.

This was our 12th brewery and my palate was wrecked.  Everything was tasting the same to me at this point, which really sucked because I was curious try some of The Livery’s offerings.  The food menu looked really good as well.  I really wish I was able to give the beer a fair shake, but our ambitious trip caught up with us and I was unable to.  That being said, I definitely recommend a trip to The Livery on a clean palate and sample their beers.

beers sampled:
Walldorff Brewpub
Bistro Blonde
Sundancer Wheat
Bee Sting
State Street Stout
Purple Haze
hopnoxxxiois IPA
java Brown
Conbain’s Dark IPA
Organic Kolsch

Paw Paw
Paw Paw wheat
Black river stout
St. James English ale
Laughing paw
Urban assault American pale ale
Jakes Vanilla porter
Black Talon IPA
2 paws

The Livery
Black dynomyte
Bier Munro
Mr. Tee
Dark tripped
Steep Canyon
Old Cedar

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Double-Wide IPA

In case you missed it, Mark Smith from the BBA has started posting his own reviews on Youtube. You should go subscribe to him. His Youtube username is esLeMarc. Even if you're not sure you want to subscribe, check it out and let him know what you think. Here is his latest video...

Saluki Dunkeldog - Beer Review

I had never heard of this beer or brewery when my brother handed me a six-pack of it at Christmas, so I had no idea what to expect. Saluki Dunkeldog comes from a small brewery named Big Muddy Brewing Company in Murphysboro, Illinois. It's an easy-drinking dark amber ale that would make a great session beer. It would also be a good beer for drinkers that are new to the craft brew scene. But, is it what the guys want to pull out of a cooler at the next tailgate? Tune in and find out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Endeavour IPA

Mark Smith reviews Endeavour IPA from St. Arnold in his new home state of Texas.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Delaware Brewery Road Trip 1 - Dogfish Head

When Sam Calagione agreed to sit down with us for an interview, the Better Beer Authority decided to make its first official brewery road trip to Delaware. We visited four breweries - Dogfish Head, 16 Mile, Evolution and Fordham & Old Dominion. It was a fun adventure and we are looking forward to more great adventures in the future.