Beer is the Best. Ever.
Beer is most likely the best thing humanity has ever accomplished (I’m 99 percent positive on this). Yes, fire and the wheel helped out humankind immensely but do you reach for a nice pint of fire or wheel after a long day? No.
The appeal of beer can’t be denied. Remember that one time the government tried to make it illegal? Didn’t work out too well, which is why today Americans get to rejoice and celebrate the repeal of prohibition day (AKA Beer Day). And that’s why on National Beer Day here’s a list of the ultimate (personally biased) reasons why beer rocks the sock’s off of civilization.
1. You can drink it on a daily and moderate basis to live a longer life.
2. You can bathe in it for a spa –like skin treatment.
3. The variety is astounding – any kind of beer you want probably exists in some part of the world (or will soon). There’s quite possibly a special beer for everyone out there.
4. It is the perfect tangible example of the connectivity between agriculture, production and consumption. Sometimes beer recipes change because there is a hop shortage or a new beer is created due to a brewery mishap. These things aren’t hidden away, rather they are placed out there to further involve the consumer in the beautiful process that is beer making.
6. It saved the world. Or at least that’s what I heard.
7. It makes food taste better. Whether it’s the perfect beer/food pairing or the beer is being used to marinate meat or enrich a soup – beer heightens the experience of eating.
8. Beer helped put Grand Rapids on the map. From a mid-sized city, Grand Rapids morphed into a hub of beer activity and is now a top tourist destination in the country and will be hosting the homebrewers’ national convention this summer.
9. Because grabbing a pint with a buddy after work sounds way better than getting a mug of hot cocoa or a goblet of wine. It just does.
Do it today. For National Beer Day. Because it's the best.
Top 5 Opening Day Traditions
Happy Opening Day, everyone! Enjoy the American tradition of baseball and beer with these top 5 opening day traditions.
1. Playing hooky from work
The inexplicable sickness, the car problem, the random disappearance. Whatever your chosen method for skipping work is, Opening Day is when you perfect the skill of skipping work in the name of baseball. Of course the Wizard and Budweiser’s recent efforts (along with all thousands of signatures) have helped begin the process for a petition to make Opening Day a holiday. Until then, the rest of us will continue the long-held tradition of heading off to the stadium instead of the office on this day.
2. Hot dogs
Fuel is required for all that baseball watching and celebration. Most often, that comes in the form of a hot dog. Or two. Or five. Coincidentally, hot dogs also pair perfectly with a beer. American lagers and pilsners act as a palate cleanser while allowing the dish’s flavors to take center stage.
The Budweiser Clydesdales are a symbol of Americana. Combined with the Opening Day ceremonies and parade, nothing feels more patriotic.
4. Cracking open a cold one
Beer and baseball. Probably few things in life go together as perfectly as this pair. When the first ball is pitched and that first Budweiser is popped open it’s officially baseball season.
The best tradition is the one that ties together all of the above into one free for all of tradition. That’s what happens when the first tailgate of the season occurs - it’s a convergence of friends, hope, Budweiser and baseball.
St. Patrick’s Day Pairing: Murphy’s Stout and Corned Beef with Cabbage
Nothing says St. Patrick’s Day quite like beef and beer, the food and succor of our (honorary or real) ancestors.
The beer is Murphy’s Irish Stout and the beef is corned beef served up with cabbage. Why do these two go so well together? Well, there’s the historical side of it and then there’s the flavorful aspect, as well.
A great way to start off in creating complementary dishes is to create dishes with ingredients that are sourced from the same region. Grown from the same dirt and acclimated to the same environment, these food items often are mutually complementary. Although corned beef and cabbage may not be considered a completely traditional Irish meal (at least according to articles like this), Murphy’s Stout is known as the rebel stout throughout Ireland. The beer has been a part of Irish culture since 1856 when the Murphy family first started brewing up the liquid. Now, the Irish stout and the American-Irish dish are both synonymous with St. Patrick ’s Day.
Murphy’s shows off the characteristics a true Irish stout with its creamy head and rich black color that is chock full of roasted malt flavor. Available on nitro, it has a light-bodied mouthfeel with little to no carbonation and finishes on a chalky, dry note. These characteristics make it the perfect accompaniment to corned beef and cabbage. The thin mouthfeel of the Irish stout matches the light texture and flavor component of the steamed vegetables. The main attraction – the salty meat – is counterbalanced by the acrid roasted malt flavor and dry finish from the stout. Together, there’s a feast to be had for St. Patrick’s Day.
Opening Day Petition
Anheuser-Busch is hoping to make Opening Day for America’s national pastime a national holiday this year. In collaboration with “The Wizard” Ozzie Smith they are working on gathering enough petitions to bring to the White House in order to get the day nationally recognized as a holiday. It is literally like Mr. Smith Goest to Washington, except IRL and with more entertaining campaign.
This would mean no more faking sick, sneaking off or simply not show up to work/school every year to catch the first ball toss. If the petitions garners a minimum of 100,000 petitions by March 26 the motion will be put under review by the White House, meaning we’re one step closer to an awesome holiday. Think about it, even for those who don’t closely follow the sport (myself included) there is no reason not to get behind the idea of watching a game and cracking open a Bud.
If you haven’t signed the petition yet you have until March 26 to get behind the movement – just click here. www.bit.ly/BudOpeningDay
Stella Artois Valentine's Day Pairing
For some, a heart-shaped box of chocolates is good enough to show your love on Valentine’s Day. But to go the extra step, beer is needed to seal the deal in have a special valentine. Coincidentally, beer also makes the perfect substitute for an actual Valentine.
Whatever the case, to make the night special you can turn to Stella Artois and show up with a pair of bottles, a couple of chalices and a box of chocolates. Better yet, try out the following recipe that cooks with beer to create a beery themed Valentines.
Herbed Lamb Chops
- Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before you plan to cook it.
TIP: bringing meat to room temperature allows for even cooking. If the meat is cold when you cook it, the outside will be overdone by the time the inside is cooked.
- Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic with ¾ teaspoon salt.
- Add several grinds of pepper, rosemary, and lemon zest and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Slice your lamb into chops, like so.
- Rub this mixture on both sides of the lamb chops, place in a glass bowl.
- Let the lamb marinate in fridge for several hours, or overnight.
- eat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the lamb for 2 minutes on each side. (Do this step in batches).
- Mint Herb Sauce (Optional)
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse to combine mint, scallions, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
While the blade is spinning, drizzle in the olive oil.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve the lamb alongside your mint-herb sauce. It pairs perfectly with Stella Artois and a candle lit dinner.
Nachos and Beer: Your Super Bowl Pairing
As the Super Bowl approaches there is only one thing on my mind – nachos. Maybe it’s multiple types available or maybe it’s the cheese. Whatever the cause, nachos are the ultimate Super Bowl snack. This crispy, cheesey, spicy and salty snack requires a beverage that will be its equal in taste and overall awesomeness. The nachos require a beer (or three) that pairs perfectly with the dish. Depending on personal nacho preferences, here is a list of beer styles and brands to pair with the ultimate Super Bowl snack.
Classic Cheese Nachos with Jalapenos and Salsa
Pairing: Pale Lagers (Stella Artois, Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils)
Gooey and cheesy with a bright heat from the jalapenos, these nachos require a lager with a complex body. Light hoppiness from the lager will withstand the flavor without overemphasizing the heat. Instead, the clean finish will cut through the cheese gooeyness while higher combination levels with combat and balance out the spiciness. If you want to take it a step further, check out this recipe for beer cheese made with Stella Artois.
Pairing: Ambers (New Belgium Fat Tire) and Dunkels (Frankenmuth Dunkel)
Often made with pulled pork, BBQ nachos combine gooey cheese with sweet and tangy BBQ sauce covering dark meat. The sweet maltiness complements the BBQ flavors while also adding to dark and meaty quality. The clean finish of the dunkel and the dry, slightly bitter finish of the amber both work to dig through the cheesiness.
Pairing: Pale Ales (Summit EPA) and IPAs (Perrin IPA)
So many toppings are on these nachos that your chip is in danger of breaking. Ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, olives, salsa, onion, sour cream and avocado are all common toppings on these nachos that boast a complex, spicy, salty and tangy flavor. The hops in both pale ales and IPAs complement the tang in the sour cream while the effervescence and bitter end clear the palette for the next bite. The bold beer flavors provide a strong enough brew to hold its own beside the deluxe nachos.
2013 Beer Releases Review
2013 is going down in history as the year full of fun and beer. Beer highlights included new packaging and brand new beers in the market. Here’s a breakdown of the biggest beer introductions in Grand Rapids for the 2013 year. Take a look, reminisce and check out any beers you haven’t gotten your mitts on yet.
Budweiser Black Crown
As the winner from Budweiser’s Project 12 competition, Black Crown launched at the same time as the 2013 SuperBowl. An amber lager aged over beachwood chips it delivers a smooth flavor that made it stand out from the nation-wide competition held, making it the audience favorite and then the newest addition to the Bud Family.
Rochester Mills Beer Co.
Just in time for the Michigan Winter Beer Festival, Rochester Mills Beer Co. (based out of Rochester, MI) began distribution via draft and cans. For many, this was the best belated Christmas present they could get since in Rochester Mills Beer Co. consistently is one of the most sought-after and popular beer pubs in the state and with their distribution launch are now available in Grand Rapids.
A new brewery from the North launched their beers on draft in the first quarter of 2013. Although the brewery is itself new, the idea is rooted in 100-year history, dating back to 1898 when the original “Old Brewery” used the building for the original Petoskey Brewing facility. Now, Petoskey Brewing once again shines as a brewing landmark while providing artisan beers to the Grand Rapids area and beyond.
Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita
The Bud Light Rita family gained two new additions this year, beginning with Straw-Ber-Rita in the spring. Straw-Ber-Rita, and then the limited winter specialty Cran-Brrr-Rita, provided more choices to the Rita family for those who wanted a change from the original Lime-A-Rita. And those new choices are mighty tasty together!
Oskar Blues Brewery
This past march the 2013 Craft Brewer of the Year, Oskar Blues Brewery, launched their Cantastic line up in the Mitten State. The brewery is renown for sparking the craft can revolution by being the first brewery to distribute their beers in cans only. Since then, the brewery has grown exponentially, with a new brewery located in North Carolina, which is good since it craft beer drinkers continue to steadily and increasingly gravitate and drink up the fuh-CAN-tastic beers from Oskar Blues.
New Belgium Brewing: Rampant Imperial IPA
Rampant is a well-balanced example of an imperial IPA. Calypso and Mosaic hops combined to create a bright citrus aroma and stonefruit flavor profile in this bitter, copper-colored brew. As a brand new addition to the Explorer Series, Rampant IPA contribute a heaping handful of hops bitterness that leaves you craving more.
Perrin Brewing: Grapefruit IPA
This year Perrin Brewing produced a fantastic line up of new beers from their brewery in Comstock, MI – there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. However, one that stood out was the summer seasonal, Grapefruit IPA. A sessionable and low IBU IPA that simply burst with fragrant citrus aroma and taste stole the show this summer.
This year, Stella Artois introduced Stella Cidre, a European-style cider that showcases an effervescent body with a dry and crisp finish. Since it first launched, Stella Cidre has won multiple accolades, including winning gold at the 2013 North American Beer Awards.
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Smuttynose Brewing Co. launched Finestkind IPA and Big A IPA drafts through West Side Beer in October, bringing another world-class brewery to Michigan. Based out of Portsmouth, Smuttynose is a leading craft brewer in its home state of New Hampshire while both Finestkind IPA and Big A IPA are top rated beers on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer...and are now available in the Great Beer State
Frankenmuth Christmas Town
Frankenmuth’s newest release, Christmas Town joined the ranks as the brewery’s winter seasonal, ensuring that everyone got into the holiday spirit. A delightful winter warmer, this new addition to the Frankenmuth family helped us end the 2013 year on a happy and beery note.
It’s officially one week until Christmas. The mall is now a scary place to visit. It’s time to find some sanctuary in the beer aisle and, while you’re at it, finish holiday shopping. Here’s the ultimate list of booze to get for that hard-to-buy-for (over 21 years old) person on your list.
The Mixologist: Shock Top Choctop
Essentially a beer cocktail kit in a 6 pack, Choctop is a black and tan featuring the winter seasonal Chocolate Wheat and Shock Top Belgian.
The Gluten Free: Angry Orchard Cider
Gluten-free drinking is no longer a problem with the rise of ciders, especially with the range provided by Angry Orchard. Choose between Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, Apple Ginger or the winter seasonal Cinnful Apple. Or, have all of the above.
The Sweet Tooth: Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout
No longer is sweet treats regulated to the kitchen, beers provide rich, chocolate flavors with a bit more than a sugar kick. Naughty Girl Stout is aptly named since the flavor profile is reminiscent of the popular mint chocolate cookie.
The Snow Bunny: New Belgium Accumulation
Whether its snow or hops accumulating, this winter white IPA is full of bright hop aroma that will warm up anyone after a day on the slopes.
The Hop Head: Arcadia Ales Hop Rocket Imperial IPA
Simcoe hops bring out an assertive aroma that will bring you to the moon and back.
Holiday Ornaments Give Back to Local Food Banks
‘Tis the season for jolly times, lots of full steins and sharing cheer and goodwill.
Join West Side Beer Distributing in doing all three as we work to help raise funds for local food banks this holiday season. It’s easy to do; buy a paper holiday bulb – or as many as you want – and you’re helping out your neighbor.
According to the USDA, 49 million Americans, or 14.5 percent of all American households are food insecure, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This holiday season give the simple gift of life sustenance to those around with these paper holiday ornaments.
As part of our giving program, we ensure the funds raised are kept local. Each holiday ornament represents one dollar that will go towards local food banks in the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing area. Where the ornament is purchased is where the charitable good will stay.
Happy Repeal Day!
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the 21st Amendment, which officially ended Prohibition. Since 1933, the beer industry has come along way, with beer now the most popular alcoholic beverage to drink in America. All levels of the beer three-tier distribution system is a $246 billion industry that employ more than two million workers across the U.S. In addition, the beer industry ensures to actively contribute to local communities through various sponsorships and aid. In celebration of each fantastic decade of drinking since the ratification of the 21st Amendment, here are eight ways to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Repeal Day.
Obviously, make sure to enjoy your favorite brew while toasting to the amendment that ensured our freedom to do so.
2. Rock out
3. Country up
4. Dance it
5. Hashtag it
The Beer Institute is encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #cheerstobeer to virtually toast the 80th anniversary.
To remember the old days of Prohibition, brew up some alcoholic concoction of your own, preferably in the bathtub. Depending on the level of success with your homebrew experiment, you may end up mildly surprised at your own brewing skills or even more grateful that you posses the freedom to legally buy great beer.
7. Beer up your cocktail
Mix up a Beer’s Knees in beery honor of the prohibition cocktail, Bee’s Knees. To make, combine in a shaker with ice the following: 1 ½ ounces of gin, 1 ounce lemon juice, 1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 honey and water). Shake vigorously then strain into a collins glass and top with a hefeweizen beer and garnish with a lemon. Recipe courtesy of Paste Magazine.
8. Never forget
Don’t forget these quotes about prohibition in order to better appreciate that brew today.
Once, during Prohibition, I was was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
- W.C. Fields
Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.
- Al Capone
Prohibition makes you want to cry into your beer and denies you the beer to cry into.
- Don Marquis
Bud Light Cran Brrr Rita Thanksgiving: Food Pairing
The margarita with a twist recently debuted a limited edition winter seasonal, Cran Brrr Rita. The drink combines Bud Light Lime with tart cranberry flavor and slightly sweet margarita flavor. It pours a festive, deep red hue and gives off a sweet cranberry aroma with a hint of lime. The 8% ABV beverage is served best over ice, but there are other accompaniments to this winter seasonal that also enhance the flavor. Without further ado, here is the top holiday food fare to match with Bud Light Lime Cran Brrr Rita.
The citrus and tart notes in Cran Brrr Rita contrast the thick slices of juicy turkey, robust with earthy spices.
Whether your stuffing of choice is traditional, oyster, sausage, cornbread or another variety Cran Brrr Rita makes a great accompaniment. The beeriness in the beverage matches the stuffing’s starchiness while adding a sweet note to the saltiness.
The creaminess of the pie is offset by the light-bodied tartness of the beverage while the two types of sweet play off each other well.
Also, check out this great commercial that’s all about Cran Brrr Rita coming home for the holidays.
That’s right the “ugliest 5k on the planet” is coming not only to the Mitten State but to Beer City USA itself. Starting at 11 am on December 1st the crowd will gather to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate and get ready walk or run off all those Thanksgiving pounds to the beat of cheesy holiday music.
The Ugly Sweater Run is pretty a pretty cut and dry give/get scenario: If you’re over eight years old then register for the race (eight years old or younger run for free), and bring a toy to give to Toys for Tots. All toys will be placed under the giant inflatable holiday tree. Then get a vintage hat to look super cool, a fake mustache for those mustache-deprived and two drink tickets to for Sam Adams Boston Lager, Winter Lager or Angry Orchard Hard Cider. Also, although not as tangible as a cup of hot cocoa or delicious beer, participants will most likely experience a warm fuzzy feeling, thanks to all the holiday cheer, post-run endorphins and the super warm ugly sweater they are sporting.
Another reason I’m pretty excited about this run is that the video features the only Mariah Carey song I have admitted ever liking. Check it out for yourself, although you can probably guess which song I am referring to.
One last note: don’t worry about racing. This 5K is seriously fun. I attempted a run outside to condition my lungs to the colder temperature in preparation and then promptly remembered I have cold-induced asthma. I’m still going to participate, although the running might be less of a focus than the competition to see who can drink the most hot chocolate.
If you’re into mustaches, ugly sweaters, bottomless hot chocolate, delicious craft beers or crisp ciders, running, walking, holiday music, fun or giving to underprivileged children then here is the link for registration for the Ugly Sweater Run.
They are on the Facebook.
They also provide some Pinterest inspiration.
And they tweet about all things involving ugly holiday sweaters.
Ugly Sweater Run
Saturday, December 1
Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids MI
International Stout Day
What a lovely day to celebrate those dark-hued brews with their delicious malty aromas! Here's an infographic to assist in the Stout Day revelry.
*Stout Cupcake recipe is courtesy of My Baking Addiction.
The 6 Best Beers for Halloween
Halloween, the one day where you can be whatever you want to be. Hopefully, no matter your costume selection, you will choose to imbibe a beer to wash down all that candy. Here are a few beers to get ghoulish with tonight.
Although Angry Orchard is a cider, it gets to be included because the name and the drink are that good. Delightfully tart and sweet with a bit of heat from the cinnamon, this cider provides excuse enough to make tonight as cinnful as possible.
The perfect beer accessory for those who want to dress up like an angry, old bald man, this barley-wine strong ale (10% ABV) will keep you warm and toasty throughout marathon trick or treating.
The skeletons out and about tonight will adore this porter’s label while the rest of us enjoy this bold and black beer brewed in honor of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Petoskey Brewing provides a red, malty and complex Belgian-style ale for all the booze-loving monks and friars that will be out, rather oddly celebrating All Hollows’ Eve.
Eerily floral, this ale brewed with locally-sourced lavender, is no witch’s brew but it will definitely make your mouth taste like magic.
Tonight delight in the ruin, doom and gloom as the skies darken while sipping devilishly bitter IPA.
October is Pizza Month – Let’s Celebrate with Beer!
Although pizza is an “Italian” cuisine, we can actually blame WWII for the pizza craze that has gripped the nation. The GIs came back from overseas in full pizza-loving mode and the rest of America soon learned the craving for pizza to be contagious. Our pizza loving ways didn’t become a true nationally celebrated month until the mid 1980s when some dude named Gerry Durnell out of Santa Claus Indiana declared October National Pizza Month. The rest is literally history.
Pizza and Beer Pairing
The perfect way to celebrate such delicious history? With more delicious goodness, this time in liquid form. The best pizza and beer pairings are the ones that really let the robust pizza flavors take center stage. Of course, depending on the toppings, sauce and cheese combination the pairing can vary drastically. However, for a regular pie, American-style lagers and ambers pair very well, generally.
Suggested Beer Pairings
Arrrgh! Talk Like a Pirate and Drink Shipwreck Porter!
Ahoy there me mateys! Ay, ‘tis National Talk Like a Pirate Day and the official Shipwreck Porter release day!
I happen to love celebrating holidays, especially ones that incorporate reasons to drink beer. I fully intend to celebrate Pirate Day to the max, even if it means the warehouse crew is weirded out by me calling ‘em all scalawags. If they can’t appreciate the inner pirate in me then they can swim with the sharks, if ya know what I mean. For those swashbucklers ready to go full pirate, include Shipwreck Porter from Arcadia Ales in the plan. Ye inner pirate and palette will thank you.
Shipwreck Porter, a Baltic porter from the reserve series from Arcadia Ales, is so good it will be sure to shiver your timbers. The brew is aged for 12 months in 10-year-old Kentucky bourbon oak barrels in the depths of some of Michigan’s abandoned mines. It pours a dark and alluring hue, with a hint of herbal hop aroma. Robust malt flavor is accented by vanilla, cocoa and coffee undertones with a warming alcoholic finish. Avast! With a 99 rating on Ratebeer, It’s a brew to bring a tear to the eye of any ol’ salty dog.
Want more ways to parley as a pirate? Here ya go!
- Find out your pirate name (mine is Pirate Ramona the Bald).
- Review pirate pick up lines.
- Drink more Shipwreck porter.
- Wear an eye patch.
- Buy a talking parrot.
- Watch these pirate movies.
- Bury some treasure and make a map with an X where it is buried.
- Drink some more Shipwreck Porter.
- Find buried treasure.
No off ye scalawags!
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West Side Beer Distributing
5400 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512