Friday, February 22, 2013

DIY Michigan Beer Fest

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By Doctor

Probably not going to be you tomorrow.
The Eighth Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest is tomorrow at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, MI (home of the Tigers Class A affiliate White Caps just north of Grand Rapids). Now, I don’t have tickets to tomorrow’s Winter Beer Fest (admitted disappointment), but this blog is intended for Michigan Expats so most of you probably don’t have tickets either. However it is an awesome event highlighting one of Michigan’s booming markets, craft beer, and an excellent opportunity to talk about the industry (and drive blog traffic).

This was going to be a post on the Top Ten beers I would like to seek out at the festival tomorrow. I replaced that idea as soon as I started looking at the list (635 beers!) and realized that it isn’t much fun to come out with a festival beer bucket list when I’m not even going to the festival. Instead I’m going to write again on the great Michigan beers available outside of Michigan that Expats can seek out and enjoy their own Michigan Beer Fest/Party. Don't worry, there's Winter Beer Fest links at the bottom.
  • Arcadia Ales (Battle Creek): Arcadia Ales are available across the Mid-West. Whitsun is primed to surpass Oberon as the unofficial beer of Michigan summer. Also check out Sky High Rye and the Cocoa Locoa Stout. Distributors list.
  • Atwater Brewery (Detroit): I really enjoy the Vanilla Java Porter, but keep an eye out for the Grand Circus IPA now available in cans. For something different, try the VooDoo Vator Doppelbock. Find it near you.
  • Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo): Bell’s does IPA’s as well as anyone. You may have to beg, borrow, and steal to get your hands on Hopslam outside of the Mitten, but it’s worth it for one of Michigan’s most hype beers. Of course, Two Hearted IPA is pretty damn good too if you miss out on Hopslam. Oh yeah, the 2013 Oberon release is less than a month away. Bell’s offers a Beer Finder to help you track down their beer and they also host events across the country which allows you to try some of their specialty brews.
  • Brewery Vivant (Grand Rapids): Congratulations, Chi-Towners, Beer City USA’s unique Belgium style brewery is now available in the Windy City. Seek out Farmhand, a French Style Farmhouse Ale, and go from there. Events.
  • Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids): I cannot emphasize to you enough to become best-buddies with your local beer store/distributor to have them knock down doors to get you a bottle of the soon-to-be released Kentucky Breakfast Stout. This past week, beer enthusiasts crashed a server to buy tickets to have the opportunity to purchase a limited quantity. Is it that good? Pretty much. Their Porter and Breakfast Stout are also fantastic and may be easier to find.  Be sure to check out if Founders is going to be at an event near you.
  • New Holland Brewing Co. (Holland): If you try one beer from NHBC, it must be the Dragons Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout. Fortunately, it is brewed year round and readily available. If NHBC released Dragons Milk on a limited basis, it would be just as hyped and in demand as Founders KBS and Bell’s Hopslam. Not into hoppy or heavy beers, go with the Full Circle, a refreshing and session kolsch-style. Beer Finder and Events page.

More Beer Fest Links
NHBC Elvis and I had fun last year.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Craft Beer Night at The Palace

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By Doctor

It’s NBA All-Star weekend which I understand may not mean much to many of our readers, but it does provide a lead for me to recap my experience at The Palace for the Pistons victory over the San Antonio Spurs last week and the craft beer event.

It was my first Pistons game at the Palace since Joe Dumars, Isaiah Thomas, and Dennis Rodman were on the roster Friday night. I’ve seen more Pistons games at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. then I have on their home court in Auburn Hills. It’s not that I wasn’t a Pistons fan growing up, but living on the West side of the Mitten, we didn’t go to a lot of sporting events in Detroit. We went to more sporting events in East Lansing to watch the Spartans; my dad had Spartan football season tickets growing up.

I was excited to hear that I won tickets to last Friday’s Pistons game against the Spurs via Why was MittenBrew giving away Pistons tickets, you ask? Well, the Pistons were hosting craft beer night in Club 300, that’s why. Therefore thank you to MittenBrew and the Pistons for the tickets, and on to game night.

The "birds eye" view from Club 300 
Tickets included entrance into Club 300 in the Palace, food, and ten tickets for the beer tasting (2 once pours). Club 300 is about as far away from the action on the court you can get in The Palace, but it is a cool place to take in an event at The Palace. It is bookended by a couple of bars, features couches and big screen TV’s, and high top tables to eat and watch the game action.

It was even better since the area was well stocked for the Craft Beer Event. No, not all of the beers were Michigan beers, but that’s OK. Life and beer does exist outside of Michigan. It was a solid and diverse beer and cider line-up regardless of your familiarity of craft beer. Of the ten brews selected, I had three stand outs:
  • North Peak Brewing Company Diabolical IPA – Don’t drink this Traverse City brew enough. Good and hoppy.
  • Leininkugel’s Big Eddy Stout – Favorite of the night, I was really impressed with this full-body stout.
  • Vandermill’s Totally Roasted Hard Cider – This was the surprise of the night. I’ve never had a cider with such a complex flavor profile. Made in Spring Lake, MI, I’m going to be seeking this out.
The Game
No, the Pistons are not very good. They are a young deal trying to recover from bad drafts (Darko, Carlos Delfino, other guys you can’t name) and bad contracts (Charlie Villanueva and smartly traded Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince). The good news is that recent picks Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummnond (out 4-6 weeks) are all solid NBA players with upside that can form a solid core going forward (particularly Drummond).

It didn’t matter Friday night. The Pistons played arguably their best game of the season winning 119-109. It wasn't that close as the Pistons couldn’t miss (52% from the field/46% from 3), and the Spurs were without Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. Charlie Villanueva even played well, scoring over 20 points and grabbing a handful of rebounds. I even got to boo Stephen Jackson at The Palace (Jackson and Ron Artest a.k.a. Metta World Peace will always be booed at The Palace - brawl video below the jump).

Overall it was a great night at The Palace although the Tone Loc half-time concert show was disappointing. Good beer, food, great club atmosphere, and a big Pistons victory. I’ll be sure not to let another 20 years pass before my next Pistons game at the Palace.

(click down to watch the Malice at the Palace video)