Wednesday, August 22, 2012

West Michigan Brewery Tour: Arcadia, Bell's & Founders

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

Last week, I put together a list of a dozen essential Michigan breweries and brews. On Saturday, I visited three of those breweries in person: Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek, Bell's Brewery in Comstock/Kalamazoo, and Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. 

Yes, I had a designated driver. In fact, there was a bus load of us, and the brewery tour itself was a fundraiser for NextGen, the young leaders program through the Heart of West Michigan United Way. Day of fun, check. Almost $1000 raised in one day, check.

Despite being just two weeks removed from Achilles surgery, I was not going to miss this. Along with my growler, I brought a wheelchair and crutches with me on the tour that departed from Founders Saturday morning.

First Stop - Arcadia Ales (Battle Creek) 
Tour: General Manager and Head Chef, Sean Kelly, gave the tour for our group of just over thirty. Fun facts from the tour: Arcadia's bottling machine dates back to 1957 and originally was used by RC Cola; Yoda makes sure that the canning machines works instead of "trying"; and that Arcadia uses open fermentation for their "harvest" beers (IPA's, ales, and ESB) and that the yeast, originally from England is roughly in it's 600th generation. 

Not fun fact. The wheelchair that I had borrowed so I wouldn't have to use crutches all day, did not survive the tour. The front right wheel wasn't straight trying to go over a door frame and broke. 

Going through the tour, it is evident that Arcadia has outgrown their present space in Battle Creek. Fortunately, they've already made plans to expand into a new facility in Kalamazoo that will break ground later this year. 

Beer: My first beer of the day was Arcadia's ESB. I had not had it before, and was not disappointed. Great flavor with just the right bitterness. I followed that up with Warcraft which I knew was going to be tough to beat for best beer of the day from the start. A barrel aged Black Ale, Warcraft came in at 10% with a complex flavor profile of toffee, bourbon, with a vanilla flavored finish. Fantastic. 

We also had lunch at Arcadia, featuring hummus with pita chips, quesadillas, and brick oven pizzas. After the tour, beer, and food, it was time to fill up the growler with Whitsun to enjoy on the bus on the way to our next stop. (after the jump)