Thursday, May 04, 2006

Michigan or bust

What is it about Michigan that produces such damn good beers? One thinks of Oregon and Colorado and California as leading the market on craft brews, and of course here in the Midwest we have our staple brews--Summit in Minnesota, New Glarus in Wisconsin, and Three Floyds in Indiana. So why not Michigan?

Bell's Brewery really put Michigan on the craft brew map, with their stylistic blend of hops and grains producing some crazily flavored, but very drinkable, beers. They've easily become a standard to reach, and are always trying new things. Remember their whole line of stouts? They released 10 different stouts, a few each November, in the late '90s, from a rye stout to a cherry stout to a chocolate stout. Recently, they've gone on a wheat kick, brewing Wheat 2, Wheat 4, 6 and 8 (I thought 6 was the best), and even brewing a white ale as their winter ale. Not for me, I might add---I still prefer the heavy, porter style when temps dip into the single digits.

Read this great interview with Bell's president and founder Larry Bell at for more insight about the brewery.

Recently, I've found Arcadia Brewery Company, out of Battle Creek, MI, whose specialty is British-style ales (which ones aren't?!). I mix-and-matched a few of their beers, mostly because I had never heard of them and I saw they were from Michigan. I tried the IPA, the Angler's Ale and the Amber Ale, all very solid. The most consistent thing about the beers was the way they poured: HUUUUUGE head. It literally took me a couple minutes to pour each bottle.

The one I was most impressed with, in large part because I'm a sucker for red beers, was the Amber Ale. Like the other beers, I had to wait for the foam to settle down before I could drink it. What immediately strikes you is the smell--it's got a subtle sweet earthy caramel smell. Not offensive at all, but you can definitely pick out the spring rain sensation (ok maybe I'm taking the scent a bit far). The first sip is a mellow bitterness, followed by more hops, then this slightly iron-acidic taste as it slides down your throat, and finally it leaves you with a very pleasant after-taste like apple cider and fresh-buttery bread. And then you want more.

Okay, you're asking yourself, you tried two beers from Michigan, and now you're ready to put the state up there with Colorado? And I would reply, yes, you're right, I've only tried two kinds of beer from Michigan. But, they both produced great beers, and are the only two I've seen in Minnesota. If you know of others, let me know, or better yet, leave a comment so everyone can know! Here's a good site for more info about Michigan brews. And another one.

[NOTE: I actually posted this at about 11pm on Friday the 5th of May, NOT at 8:51am on Thursday, the 4th, as it appears I did. But because I started it at that time, that's when it says I posted it. Just to clarify...I was NOT drinking Arcadia Amber Ale in the morning, at work, at the Capitol, however much I would like to.]

1 comment:

Jane said...

Where is Trish Van Pilsen for this one?