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I am extremely excited and proud to announce that West Side Beer has entered into a distribution agreement with the Right Brain Brewery.

Right Brain Brewery opened its doors on December 1st, 2007, in Traverse City, MI. Within the last four years, RBB has become northern Michigan's premier brewery and a destination for thousands, traveling and vacationing in beautiful northern Michigan.

They continue to create works of fermented art on their 7 barrel system and have created a loyal following of those who reside in and outside of the Great Lakes State.

What was the inspiration for the name? I will let Russ Springsteen, owner and founder, explain:

"I got the name during my senior year in high school.  Miss Carter, the creative writing class teacher, strolled in to announce to everyone that we would be taking a test.  Mind you, Miss Carter did not really like me that well, for whatever reason.

Anyway, she goes on about this test we will be taking to determine who is right brained.  'Don't worry, no one can take it wrong. There is no right or wrong answers'. So, she also drones on about how only three or four people will be Right Brained.

Sooooo..... I end up being the only person in the class who is Right Brained and she tells me that I took it wrong.  She inspired me.  But just to bug the heck out of her, I would walk in each day and greet her with, 'I'm Right Brained, ya know'."

Cheers, Miss Carter!

People who are determined to be "Right Brained" generally deal with more spatial activities (music, math, art, etc.)

Right-brained individuals are thought to be more creative than left-brained people and the use of imagination plays a key role.

This ability to use creativity and imagination in their work has been the catalyst for Russ and the crew at RBB. The brewery offers at least 12 different draft beers, at one time, as well as 3 cask ales... with new styles waiting to rotate in. There is no room for common here as styles are always changing and evolving. If you wait too long to come in and sample a "new" creation.... you'll miss out.

I should also mention the fact that the Head Brewer, Corey Wentworth, is also an accomplished chef for over 20 years (Talk about flavor knowledge). He along with his fearless assistants, Andy and Tina, has brought new flavor components into beer very rarely, if ever, tasted and experienced.

Some of their creations include: Magnalista Pig Porter (2011 Gold Medal Winner at the Great American Beer Festival), Cherry Pie Whole, CEO Espresso Stout, their "infamous" Grilled Asparagus Beer, and the list goes on............

But, aside from making these artfully limited creations, this brewery's ability to make wonderfully created "core styles" is what will give this brewery long term success and has helped to create a following of passionate craft beer enthusiasts. These core brands include Will Power Pale Ale, Dead Kettle IPA, Black Eye PA, Northern Hawk Owl Amber, and Shadow Watcher Stout.

Right Brain will launch in the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids market place on Saturday, January 14th. Distribution will be very limited, due to current brewing capacities. Distribution will be draft only, so be on the lookout at some great local watering holes for your opportunity to taste "right brain" inspiration.

Welcome to West Michigan RBB! We've been "anxiously" waiting for you.  

10-07-11 GABF Winners

GABF winners

I want to send out a heartfelt "Congratulations" to the following brewery partners, for medaling at this Year's Great American Beer Festival (GABF):

Boston Beer received 4 Medals.
A Bronze medal was earned in the German-Style Marzen category with Samuel Adams Octoberfest
They received two more medals in the Chocolate Beer Category with Chocolate Chili Bock (Silver) and Chocolate Bock (Bronze).  
and a GOLD Medal for LATITUDE 48 IPA in the English Style IPA category.

Flying Dog earned a GOLD in the Barley Wine-Style Ale category with Horn Dog Barley Wine.

Goose Island earned two Bronze medals.
Harvest Ale (Fall Seasonal) got third place in the Extra Special Bitter Category and Sofie won Bronze in the French and Belgian Style Saison category.


09-19-2011 The Oxford Companion to Beer


This past Monday, Brooklyn's Brewmaster Garrett Oliver (Editor and Chief) and the Oxford University Press threw a party at the Brooklyn Brewery to celebrate the publication of The Oxford Companion to Beer.

The Oxford Companion to Beer will be the first manual reference to fully investigate the history and vast scope of beer. It discusses the agricultural influences of various beers to the technical elements of the brewing process, the local effects of brewing in regions around the world, and the social and political implications of sharing a beer.

This book gives fascinating details about how brewing ingredients affect a beer's taste, texture, and popularity. Cultural entries on such topics as drinking songs or beer gardens offer vivid accounts of how our drinking traditions have shifted through history, and how these traditions vary in different parts of the world.

Beer-making pioneers are the subjects of biographical entries, as well as the legacies they left behind.

The Companion has over 1,100 entries--written by 150 of the world's most prominent beer experts.

This is the perfect "companion" for those involved in the beer industry, as distributors, home brewers, restaurateurs, journalists, culinary students, retailers, and the general audience of beer fanatics.

It will be a required reading for our sales force here at West Side Beer Distributing.

My copy is supposed to arrive today. I cannot wait!

And just an FYI...... The Brooklyn Brewery has created a beer called "The Companion" (Wheat Wine) and will be released in limited amounts, as part of the brewery's "Brewmaster's Reserve" series. Look for it soon at our local and loyal Brooklyn Beer on-premise accounts. But get it quick, because it's extremely limited.

Blue Point


Blue PointOur mission is and always will be to be very selective in the brands that we pursue and add to our growing High End portfolio. As you opened up the West Side Beer Distributing home page, you surely noticed the upcoming addition to our craft portfolio.

Blue Point Brewing Co. is Long Island's sole brewery and is currently the fastest growing craft brewery on the East Coast. Nationally, they are the 37th largest selling craft brewer in America, through 2010. Their distribution currently covers only 11 States. So, their growth potential is tremendous.

The brewery was founded in 1998 by two long time friends, Mark Burford and Pete Cotter. The brewery was inspired by their life-long dream and built from a rare assemblage of equipment collected from breweries around the country. The brewery's unique direct-fire brew kettle, dismantled brick by brick from a brewery in Maryland and rebuilt in Patchogue, imparts a lightly toasted, complex taste to produce a line of ultra premium microbrews. Building the brewery has truly been a "Labor of Love".

In mid-August, we will launch with three signature brands in the West Michigan Market: Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion, and RastafaRye Ale. All three selections will be available, only in draft, for the first 90 days. After that, consumers will be able to take six packs home with them.

Also.... we are proud to announce that the brewery will be investing in local events starting as the signature beer sponsor for this year's East Town Street Fair in early September.

Belgium's Amber


For the past two months, we have had the distinct pleasure of selling Palm Ale on tap in the greater Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo markets.

Now, I am pleased to announce that, on JULY 1st, consumers will be able to take Belgium's best selling Amber Ale home with them. For those of you that have not had the pleasure of experiencing Palm "Speciale Belge", I can honestly tell you that you are missing out on a great "beer experience". Palm contains a honey-like mellowness, suble hop aroma, and fruity yeast aroma. These combined make Palm a great accompaniment to most any meal or all on its own.
Cheers to Great Beer!

Very Happy Medium


There are many times when alcohol consumers try and find an alternative to their normal routine drink. Their decision may be based on seasonality, environment, or dining choices. For those times when we all look for something a bit different, may I suggest that you step into the world of Pear Ciders.
Pear Ciders have been common, for centuries in Britain and France. Pear Cider is also referred to as a "Perry". Pear Ciders are created the same as ciders, but with Pears instead of apples. The resulting liquid is less tart and a bit sweeter.
A few weeks ago, we partnered up with Fox Barrel, out of California. They produce naturally fermented alcoholic beverages, using 100% pear juice.
These amazing pear ciders are filtered cold and have no added colorants, sugar sorbate, or benzoate preservatives.
The Fox Barrel Pear Ciders are all natural and extremely refreshing.
Locally, three styles are now available in bottles: Pacific Pear, Apricot Pear, and Black Berry Pear.
The Pacific Pear is now available on Tap and should be hitting local watering holes very soon.

High End Trade Show


This past Tuesday night, we hosted our 1st Annual High End Trade Show in downtown Grand Rapids. In my humble perspective, this event served a much greater purpose than just sampling our craft and import beers to our retailers.
This event was about the importance of business partnerships, our commitment of building brands through education and sales support, and
showing retailers the beer book that we have been able to develop over the past five years.
For many of our retailers, the landscape is changing. Customers desire variety and are very discerning on how they spend their money. For that reason, we understand that it is important for our company to build a book of quality brands that will help add credibility to any retail beer selection.
We will continue to be very selective in the brands that we bring into our "House". Our wholesaler mission is to be a company that is a "brand builder" and not a "brand collector". Whether it is an existing brewer partner or a new aquisition, we are commited to support our brands through sales and retail education.
Thank-You to everyone who attended and worked the Trade Show. I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

New Brewery Partners


I am very excited and proud to welcome the addition of four new brewery partners to our wholesaler family of beers. They include:


Beginning next Monday, April 4th, we will sell these brands in the counties of Kent, Montcalm, and Ionia.
These are all tremendous additions to our ever strengthening high end portfolio. We look forward to the opportunity to sell these powerful brands in our greater Grand Rapids market.

Winter Beer Festival


This past weekend marked another positive step in the progress of the local craft beer industry.
If you had a chance to attend The Michigan Brewer's Guild Winter Beer Festival this past weekend you noticed many positive things about beer brewing in the State of Michigan. Probably the most noticeable thing was that the event sold out a month earlier than last year and extra tickets had to be made available.
The Winter Beer Festival has become one of the hottest tickets to get, as people come out of their winter slumber and get outside with friends. It offers beer drinkers the opportunities to discover new local breweries and beer styles. It offers brewers to show off their "works of art" or "labors of love" to retail and consumers.
The hottest styles seemed to be Black IPA's and anything "Barrel Aged".
There are many brewers who are creating great hopped beers that have a robust malt note. It's happening nationally, as well. So much so that the BJCP (Beer Judges Certification Panel) now recognizes Black IPA as a style to be added in beer judging categories.
If you're a person who likes the flavor of whiskey than you might want to explore some barrel aged styles. These styles exude tremendous flavors given to the beer by the wooden vessels that store the beer, for up to 2+ years.
No matter what your taste profile is, no matter how experienced of a beer drinker you are, and no matter if your male or female the event offers style and flavor variety as well as a fantastic social outlet to hang with people you like or make new friends who have a passion for great beer and fun.

Beer Paradise


It's fascinating for me to imagine that I would ever have the opportunities that this industry has provided me. This past week was one of those "pinch me" moments.
A week ago today, I boarded a plane to head to the beautiful country of Belgium. I was filled with anticipation, as we were scheduled to see and taste history.
For beer lovers, Belgium is "Beer Heaven". I would dare say that there are few places on this earth where, with every sip of a locally made brew, you discover flavors on your palette that are rarely found in beer.
For centuries, Belgian brewers have enjoyed the ability to express art in fermented form. They have not been held to strict brewing guidelines, as it relates to the use of brewing ingredients. Obviously, water, yeast, malt, and hops are used, but items such as spices, candied sugars, and fruit are also utilized in many of the historical Belgian styles.
Each day was filled with discovery of new people, places, and things. We were scheduled to visit three distinctively different breweries during our visit.
The first was Boon Brewery. Boon is located in the city of Lambeek. In 1978, a gentleman named Frank Boon acquired the "R. Di Vits" Lambiek Brewery, which origins date back to the year 1680.
At Boon brewery, they brew Lambiek and Gueze beers. These styles use 100% spontaneously fermented yeast. Spontaneous fermentation makes use of yeast and fermenting bacteria present in the environment, for the process of fermenting sugar of malt in to alcohol of beer. These beers ferment inside of large wooden barrels, all stored in cellar like conditions. The oldest barrel still in use for holding liquid is from the 1870's. Each barrel is numbered and coded with chalk to let the brewers know what types of beers sit inside and whether a mixture of old and new lambieks have been blended. Frank Boon communicated that, because of the use of spontaneous fermentation, tastes will vary from one batch to the other. He also stated that many people relate the term "Lambic" to fruit. This is not the case. Lambiek (Lambic) is the style. When certain types of fruit are added, then it becomes a fruit lambic, such as a Kriek (Cherry) or a Framboise (Raspberry). My visit to Boon was a major highlight for me in my 16 years inside this profession.
The next day, as we were still buzzing (talking) from the Boon trip, we made our way to the Palm Brewery in Steenhuffel. Palm is the largest independent brewery in Belgium. Here we learned and experienced the history and flavor of Belgium's largest selling amber ale, Palm.
The history of Palm Breweries dates back to the year 1747. Around 1900, the popularity of Pilsner beers began to grow. In 1908, a gentleman named Arthur Van Roy created his own "Special Belge" Ale to combat the increasing popularity of the easier drinking Pils style, coming in from the Czech regions in Europe. Special Belge was an ale that had a copper-orange color, a roasted caramel malt flavor, and was extremely drinkable. After great success in Belgium, he renamed the beer "Palm" as a sign of victory by top fermentation (ales) over bottom fermentation (lagers).
During the visit, I was able to get a first class tour of the historical brewery and the surrounding area. This is an independent brewery that takes great pride in the brewery's rich history and contribution to the Belgian beer culture.
Our final brewery visit took us to the town of Roeselare, West Flanders, in which the Rodenbach Brewery resides. Rodenbach was founded in 1836. This brewery optimizes beer maturation in casks made of French oak. These casks are enormous and they house over 294 of these at the brewery, some over 150 years old.
They use a mixed fermentation process which is a symbiosis of mainly "top-fermenting yeast" with a limited quantity of "lactic acid flora". The acids convert into fruity esters and its intensity increases during maturation (up to 24 months). The beer's brownish red color comes from the tannins in the oak storage vessels. They incorporate a blending of young and old beer to reduce the acidity and give the beer an almost sour-sweet "wine-like" flavor.
Michael Jackson, the famous beer connoisseur, described Rodenbach beers as "the most refreshing beers in the world". I very much agree.
It seems surreal to me that I am sitting here entering a blog about places that beer passionate people only read or hear about. For just under a week, I was able to see, smell, and drink Belgian History. These experiences helped developed a greater perspective of not only beer but of world history for me.

More Beautiful with Age


Style trends in the beer industry are exciting to see take place. Right now, for me, it's exciting to see the popularity of the barrel aged offerings from craft brewers. Porters, Stouts, Barley Wines, and other Strong Ales have found themselves living and aging in empty wooden whiskey barrels from a few months to a few years.
These barrel aged styles have created quite the stir in the trade. The mix of dark fruit flavors, hop bitterness, along with an edge of whiskey create, yet another, "Wow" experience.
This week we are releasing Arcadia's Shipwreck Porter. The beer was barrel aged for over nine months and has now been packaged for retail. Shipwreck bursts at the seams with fruit sweetness and a balanced edge of whiskey flavor.
Unlike past years, Shipwreck will be offered and sold individually in 12oz. bottles. Hopefully, this will result in more retail exposure in our high end specialty stores.
If you see a bottle, grab it while you can, it is extremely limited. My suggestion is to buy one bottle for consumption immediately and buy another to age for a future special occasion. Because, this beer is special.

A Sip to Savor


It's exciting to try a beer styles that make you stop look at the glass, think for a second, smile, and then take another sip. Such is the case when I first tried the Arcadia Black IPA.
The style offers the drinker an American hop blast from start to finish, along side robust qualities of coffee and the sweetness of dark fruit. For me, it was a perfect balance between two potentially overpowering flavors in beer: Hop Citrus and Strong Coffee notes from the malt. The ABV of the beer is 8.5%, so it can definitely sneak up on you.
As of right now, it's a draft only offering. However, Arcadia already has plans to launch this style in a four pack bottle sometime in the near future. I can't wait!

Yes We Can


"Yes we CAN!"

Ever wondered what it would be like to take some of your favorite craft beers with you on that hike, that fishing trip, or for that college tailgate with friends.

Wonder no more. Because, we have recently released two "canned" craft beers from our brewery partners.

The first is Shiner's Box O' Box 6pk can. Shiner Bock cans come in individually wrapped cartons. Shiner Bock is the king of craft beers in Texas, where BBQ, football, and music festivals rule. This will be a perfect accompaniment to any outdoor (or indoor) get together.

The next offering is the flagship brand from our friends in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn Lager cans offer consumers a Pre Prohibition style lager (amber in color with a hop edge). This beers beautiful hop aroma and flavor burst from the can and make you rethink you past experiences from aluminum cans.

The craft, in a can, revolution has really exploded in areas of the U.S. where there are tremendous outdoor recreational opportunities along with great outdoor music or social events. Because of the improvements in the lining of aluminum cans, craft brewers are re-evaluating their position on GLASS ONLY vessels. Cans offer consumers endless possibilities to enjoy some great craft brands.

Think about how your experiences could change, if you now were able to take your favorite 6pk with you on some of your greatest outdoor adventures.

More to come.....................

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