Tag Archives: Craft Beer

Michigan Summer Beer Festival

If you are a beer guru or just love to drink beer, the 16th annual Ypsilanti Beer Festival was the place for you this past July. The actual festival is located outside in a scenic riverside setting. There were over 450 different beers from about 80 different breweries up and around the state of Michigan. This was a great opportunity to sample the Michigan domestic beers that we carry at Nino’s. There are so many types of beers that will please the palate of everyone from the everyday beer drinker to the microbrew aficionados.

Here are some of my notes from the event:

Bell’s

Bell’s had three stations altogether, but topping the list was the Uberon, which is classified as Oberon’s stepbrother. It was like Oberon aged in bourbon barrel, and this intrigued me. When I think of the boozy, malty, thick characteristics of bourbon barrel, I don’t exactly think of American wheat that pairs with orange. It was actually very balanced. It smelled boozy and strong but was smooth and still slightly citrusy.

Atwater Hop-a-Peel

This was an IPA made with orange peels. The Atwater Hop-a-Peel had plenty of citrus from the orange bites through the bitterness of the IPA. It was still bitter but with a delightful back note of orange and acid at the end.

Greenbush

Greenbush Imperial Red IPA: The red really shines through and is quite malty. The bitterness is very faint, especially for it being an imperial. This IPA was alcohol- 9.5 but not overly hoppy.

Greenbush Atomic Tuan Ton Overdrive: Extremely tasty with lots of strawberry and vanilla up front and then BOOM, with lots of spicy habanero. The pallet was thrown for a loop in a very delightful way. It was the hit.

Greenbush Distorter: Had to have something that wasn’t 100 ABV or 1000 IBU, so I had the distorter, a stout/porter hybrid. Smooth but not overly milky like some stout can be and not overly vanilla like some porters can be. It’s just a good combo of two malty styles.

Griffin Claw

Griffin Claw Berliner Weisse: It is pleasantly sour and makes you pucker but ends with a subtle sweetness. Pours like Champagne. Extremely refreshing!

Griffin Flying Buffalo Imperial Stout: This particular beer had a very boozy nose, and the nose does not lie. It’s very hot, burning down your throat. On the palate, it had lots of vanilla bean and a little bit of cocoa after you got through the booze.

Short’s

Short’s Strawberry Shortcake: This beer is very well balanced but had more spice in it than I remember. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s not just a beer with fruit juice added. When they throw graham cracker and strawberries into the mash, it’s the real deal.

Short’s Wowee Zowee: A golden ale made with mint and mango. The mint really shines through! It’s a great beer for conversations because you won’t feel like your breath is stinky. Instead, it’s quite minty.

Short’s Cinnabilly Dopplebock: It was like drinking a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Not overly spicy but actually quite sweet.
A special thank you to Kyle from Imperial beverage for his thoughts and input.

Take the time to visit a Michigan Beer Festival, and you will be surprised with how many unique Michigan beers there are. The education of different types is reason enough to attend, but the beers are good too.

Anything Goes at Greenbush Brewing

My job is getting a lot harder. Craft beer is booming and space is limited, but when I heard that Greenbush Brewing from Sawyer, Michigan was going to be available for retail, I made space. This past summer, I took advantage of Lockhart’s $3 craft beer Wednesdays and found my favorite new beer: Dungras IPA. It was balanced, with a nice showing of Cascade and Columbus hops for the citrusy grapefruit notes and cutgrass smells of summer that I desire in both IPA and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Also, it was medium-bodied but refreshing, with a hint of bitterness that makes it great for patio picnics.

I knew I was hooked, and each time I went out, I was on the hunt for more. I am always looking for new and interesting beers, and surprisingly, my hunt had become quite easy. Despite the fact that before this summer I had never heard of Greenbush, it seemed that it was on the list at all of my favorite beer bars, in some way or another. I have since tried the Closure Pale Ale and the Red Bud Wheat Ale. However, when I found out I was pregnant, my monetary output and alcoholic input were put on hold.

Greenbush became available in bottles late last February, and I couldn’t wait to share it with our customers! I had chatted, tweeted, and endorsed finding it on draft, and now my customers could try it for themselves.

Like most great craft beer companies, the story starts with a homebrew kit. The founder and head brewer of Greenbush, Scott Sullivan, was on hold from his woodworking job. Through a little mix of boredom and fate, he found himself dusting off his friend’s old homebrew kit. He started out simply trying to make good beer that he and his friends wanted to drink, and after some mishaps and miscalculations, his first beer, Distorter, was born. It features roasted malt, chocolate and a kick of alcohol. Sullivan liked it and began showing it around to his beer geek friends. He was not alone. Winning blind tastings against many other celebrated Porters gave Sullivan the initiative to go into business.

Though Distorter was trying to be a Porter but leaned stout, the rich flavors and balance between sweet and bitter makes it the company’s best seller and most acclaimed beer. Distorter became a sort of model for the company, which wasn’t trying to meet guidelines for what its beers should or should not be. Instead, the company was just making something it liked and hoped everyone else would too.

In 2011, Greenbush opened its doors. Now not only acclaimed for its terrific lineup of beers, its menu has people from the tri-state area coming back again and again. Though it has 8 year-round brews, 9 seasonal, and 6 specialties, these beers are going to be in and out of circulation due to high demand and short supply. While Michigan is Greenbush’s home, it is already well-established in Illinois and Indiana. As the news of these beers grows, the team at Greenbush is expanding to keep up. When the brewery opened last year, it had a 2,000 barrel-per-year capacity and has since ramped that up to 7,000. This is an amazing feat for a little brewery that started full production just a little over a year ago. I feel that this is in part due to the team over at Greenbush having its finger on the pulse of social media with a facebook page; an endearing, educational, and up-to-date blog; and a Twitter handle.

At Nino’s, we always have a minimum of four varieties of Greenbush 6 packs and at least one specialty. This week’s is Brother Benjamin Imperial IPA. The most popular have been Dungras IPA, Closure Pale Ale, Anger Black IPA, and Distorter Porter, the one that started it all. Don’t get discouraged if your favorite is not available. Please try something new; you won’t regret it.

Have you tried any of Greenbush’s beers or visited the brewery? Please leave a comment about your experience or tweet me at @NinosWineExpert!