Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Harmony Brewing Co. - GR's Newest Brewery

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Grand Rapids added to it's respectable list of breweries last week when Harmony Brewing Company opened in East Town on Lake Drive joining an already stellar brewing community. I made my first visit to Harmony yesterday and enjoyed good beer, pizza, and service.

We'll start with the beer. Harmony opened a week ago with five beers on tap, and two of those five beers had already been tapped out by the time I visited yesterday with a fellow beer guy, Adam. Nonetheless, we enjoyed $1 off happy hour specials on pints of the Black Squirrel, a smokey peated porter; the Brownson Pinchot, an American Brown; and the Golden Lion Tamarin, a mild pale ale. 
Harmony Brewing Co. Beer Board
  • Black Squirrel: I decided to go heavy to lite and therefore started out with the smokey peated porter. The Black Squirrel has a nice full body (a must for me), but they definitely ain't lyin' when they say it is smokey and peaty. Unfortunately, it was a tad too smokey for both Adam and I, but the full bodied finish and flavor gives me hope for future porters and stouts, so as the Honey Porter that the brewers mentioned is currently in the works.
  • Brownson Pinchot: The best of the three that we tried. This American brown ale had a nice smooth finish and flavors of nuts, caramel, and a hint of raisins. The only criticism we had was that the coloring was a bit dark for a brown ale, but we aren't going to gripe too much about aesthetics when it tastes good.
  • Golden Lion Tamarin: Good quality mild pale ale. Good flavor, balance, color, and hops finish.

Food: I'm a fan of artisan and coal fired pizza's, so Harmony's menu is right up my alley. They list a half dozen pizzas on the menu plus the option to build your own. We split a Crispy Pig pizza with prosciutto, ham, and cheeses which paired well with the Golden Lion and surprising well with the Brownson Pinchot.  

The Doctor is "Smitten with the Mitten" & the Browson Pinchot
Atmosphere: Harmony is located in a former liquor store, so it's not the most spacious place. There are only about six stools at the bar which is a little small for my taste - when visiting breweries, I prefer to sit up at the bar to chat with fellow beer drinkers and the bartender about beer. There are three booths across from the bar, a handful of tables in the main room, and additional seating in a small dining room in the back. 

Service: I was most impressed with the service at Harmony and it is one the primary reasons I'm looking forward to going back. Our waitress, Natasha, was quick to get us fresh beers, take away empties, and was courteous to ask us if we wanted to order another beer just before happy hour ended (we did). We also chatted with the general manager, J.P, and the co-owners and brewers Barry and Jackson VanDyke who discussed the beers on tap and in the works along with coming back at a less busy time to check out the brewery and chat about beer.   

And Michigan Beer Month continues here at Michigan Expats. I hope to post an update tomorrow, and am looking forward to the Traverse City Winter Microbrew and Music Festival this Saturday as well as Grand Rapids Beer Week and the Michigan Winter Beer Festival February 25th. And of course, you can get more Michigan beer updates by following us on Twitter @MichiganExpats

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Game and Commercial Review

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It's the day after and while you've no doubt read your share of recaps of the Super Bowl and the commercials, but you haven't read the Michigan Expats recap of last night's barbarism and crass commercialism complete from a complete Michigan biased snarky perspective.

The State of Michigan once again was a the heart of last night's festivities including the game, half-time show, and commercials.

First, congratulations to former Wolverines Mario Manningham and David Baas and Spartans Devin Thomas and Greg Jones of the New York Giants on their Super Bowl victory. Manningham made the play of the night while Jones thought that a Super Bowl victory to cap off his rookie season wasn't enough for one night, so he proposed to his girlfriend, Amanda Piechowski (a former MSU basketball player) on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium during the celebration.

Controversy: Conflict drives plots as well as anonymous blog posts so we'll start at the controversial Michigan moments from last night's Super Bowl.
  1. Chevy v. Ford: According to the Mayans and the folks at General Motors, you have 10 months to go out and buy yourself a Chevy Silverado pick-up if you don't want to perish in the coming apocalypse with the rest of humanity and Ford owners. Ford sent a formal letter to GM to pull the ad, but GM ran the "good humored" ad last night which I found one of the funnier ads of the night.
  2. Clint & Chrysler v. Politics & Copyright Laws: A year after Chrysler launched there  "Imported from Detroit" campaign with the well received Enimen "Born of Fire" ad, the automaker followed up the campaign with "Halftime in America" featuring Clint Eastwood and scenes from the Motor City. While my Twitter feed suggests that Michiganders found it a source a pride for Detroit, I wasn't nearly as impressed with the ad. For most of the  2 minute ad I thought it was President Barack Obama's first re-election campaign spot before Chrysler vehicles began popping up towards the end. Apparently we aren't the only ones who noticed political undertones.

    We have a lot of pride for Michigan and Detroit here at, but we don't agree with the notion that 1) it's "halftime" in America nor that 2) Detroit or the auto industry is a model for making adjustments for the second half of America.

    We'd link to the ad, but for some stupid reason the NFL believes it has a copyright on the phrase "Halftime" and it has been pulled from Youtube. Way to follow up a good football night by being assholes NFL.

  3. Half-Time Show Scandal: After nearly a decade of boring geriatric NFL halftime shows following the scandalous Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake "nipple gate", last night's half-time delivered another censor moment when co-performer, M.I.A., gave the world the finger. Moving on...
  4. Bad Political Ads: Those outside of Michigan were spared having to see former MI-Congressman, Pete Hoekstra's, senate campaign ad attacking Democratic incumbent, Debbie Stabenow. The ad has been attacked, for featuring an Asian gal using broken English (racism!). Hoekstra defends the ad. I just think it's a poorly executed that is also misleading because Hoekstra's Washington record is just as big spending as Stabenow's.
(Recaps of the game, half-time show, and commercials after the jump.)