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2013 Beer Release Review


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.


Petoskey Brewing

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.


Stella Cidre

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.




Stella Artois Haiku


Beware. Drinking of Stella Artois in the middle of a winter wonderland may lead to attempts at haiku writing and general happiness during the holiday season.



Branches of ice dripping

They embrace a placed Stella


Kaleidoscope color.

Give the Gift of Beer


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.


Charitable Giving: Holiday Ornaments


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.

Hold My Beer and Watch This: Nana


Hold My Beer and Watch This: Nana



For those still feeling the sad feels from the ending of the Office, John Krasinski is back, this time with Bud Light.


The funny man and the iconic beer brand teamed up to bring laughs to the masses via a new sketch series that riffs off of the popular internet meme, “hold my beer and watch this.” Far from a second run of the danger and stunt-themed show Jackass, Hold My Beer and Watch this focuses more on sketch comedy. These sketches will be ‘a lot more sketch-oriented rather than danger-oriented,” said John Krasinski in a New York Times phone interview.


The videos, available on Youtube, are short, funny and creative clips of work as part of Krasinski’s partnership with Bud Light to create branded entertainment. The clips are a fun and refreshing change from typical beer commmercials. Rather than relying heavily on stereotypes or bro humor, these clips let smart comedy take the lead. Check out this one, featuring Nana and have a bit of a laugh to start off the work week.

80th Anniversary of Repeal Day


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.


1. #cheerstobeer


Obviously, make sure to enjoy your favorite brew while toasting to the amendment that ensured our freedom to do so.


2. Rock out


Rock out to the awesomeness that is beer with some drinking songs from AC DC (Have a Drink on Me) and Flogging Molly (Drunken Lullabies).


3. Country up


If head banging isn’t your style, then sip on your beer while getting in touch with your cowboy side with Eli Young Band’s "Drunk Last Night" or Luke Bryan’s "Drink a Beer."  


4. Dance it


If you want to drink and celebrate to something with a bit more bass, check out “Brass Monkey” from the Beastie Boys or maybe you prefer Busta Rhymes and P Diddy, who like to  "Pass the Courvoisier."


5. Hashtag it


The Beer Institute is encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #cheerstobeer to virtually toast the 80th anniversary.


6. Homebrew


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 


Beer Sixer for Thanksgiving


Mixed beer sixer for Thanksgiving



Beer, historically, has been the go-to gift to for those that lack any sort of culinary inclination and still need to contribute to the holiday feast. The joy that the sight of sixer of beer can elicit from the host’s face is well worth the effort it takes to select a specific beer. But why wait stop at one? This year, make an impression with a sixer featuring individually chosen beers that each enhance the delicious fanfare of Thanksgiving.


Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

Dark and rich chocolate notes make this beer like a dessert in a bottle, ensuring that no one will recall that you forgot to bring the pie.


Stella Artois Cidre

With an effervescent body and crisp finish this is a delectable twist on the typical champagne toast.


Summit Saga IPA

An assertive bitterness and resiny, grapefruit aroma make this IPA bold enough to serve as an accent to herbed and full-flavored dishes.


Shiner Cheer

A seasonal favorite, this ale is brewed with peaches and pecans that lend it a unique sweetness full of dark roasted nut flavor making it a perfect accompaniment to pecan pie.


Brooklyn Lager

A remarkably crisp, dry-hopped lager that goes well with roasted turkey, buttery mashed potatoes and herbed stuffing, making it the versatile drink of choice all meal long.


Arcadia Loch Down Scotch Ale

Roasted malt and caramel notes join a biscuit aroma to finish crisply. Pair this with mashed potatoes and gravy or roasted turkey to complement the richness.

Most Arrogant Bar Challenge 2013


Most Arrogant Bar Challenge




Bastards and arrogance abound as the annual Stone Brewing Co. Most Arrogant Bar Challenge is finally here. The contest lets drinkers put their taste buds to work, with each participating bar seeing who can sell the most liquid arrogance and reign as the “Most Arrogant Bar.” There are several bars within the Grand Rapids and Lansing areas that have taken up the challenge to be “Most Arrogant Bar” so make sure to search them out for a chance to support them in their quest for the title.


After a week of sipping on liquid arrogance I am already aware of the side effects. These side effects include feeling really good about myself, attempting impossible feats (such as somersaulting), wearing different patterned clothing (now everything looks fabulous on me) and challenging strangers to thumb wrestling contests. In short, my confidence is through the roof and has reached the point of arrogance.


Although some of the side effects listed above could be considered dangerous  (too many thumb wrestling matches can lead to severe thumb strains), these risks are well worth it considering the reward for your mouth. Beers that are included in the liquid arrogance list include Arrogant Bastard, OAKED Arrogant Bastard, Lukcy Bastartd and Double Bastard. Try one or all, vote with your taste buds in getting your favorite bar the title of “Most Arrogant Bar” and discover if you are truly worthy to go for Stone Brewing Co.’s bastards.  

Cran Brrr Rita Food Pairing


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.

Pumpkin Pie

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.


Ugly Sweater Run




I’m already grooming my fake mustache and searching for the perfect ugly sweater for the Sam Adams sponsored Ugly Sweater Run.


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

11 am

Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids MI

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


Stella Cidre



An apple a day keeps the doctor away.


It’s usually implied that this saying refers to eating an apple but I like to think that a glass of hard apple cider is relatively similar. With cider growing drastically in popularity and more styles available it isn’t hard to have an apple a day in fermented liquid form.


For a change from the sweeter, American-style hard ciders there is Stella Cidre. Stella Cidre is an award-winning European-style cider that I like to consider the younger, half-sister of Stella Artois. Just as committed to good taste and refreshment, this cider is a crisp offering with a dry finish.


An effervescent body lends a champagne-like quality to this cider that is full of red apple flavor, accented by hints of peach, apricot and orange. The finish is smooth and dry, with a warming wood finish. The delicious, light sweetness of ciders is found in Stella Cidre but the focus in more on the crisp apple flavor rather than any residual sweetness. Stella Cidre is 4.5% ABV and naturally gluten free.


This refreshing change from the norm is much appreciated, as is shown by the accolades already showered on Stella Cidre in the past year or so. Named the 2012 Alcoholic Brand of the Year by Grocer Magazine this cider came home with gold at the 2013 North American Beer Awards. In fact, Bon Appetit Magazine called Stella Cidre “a ringing endorsement for the future of cider-making in the States.”


For more information on Stella Cidre check them out here.

Stout Day Infographic

stouts, infographic, beer education, craft beer

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.

Anchor Christmas Ale


Anchor Christmas Ale


The super-secret and ever-changing Anchor Christmas Ale is back!

Here is a really cute video talking about the 39th installment in the Christmas Ale series from Anchor Brewing, along with a press release detailing the 2013 logo and the series, in general.




Press Release:

(San Francisco, CA) – Anchor Brewing Company announces the release of the 2013 Anchor Christmas Ale; a rich, dark spiced ale that marks the 39th year of this Anchor tradition.


Every year since 1975 Anchor has brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is available from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s secret recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent with which Anchor offers it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.


“Here at Anchor, we strive to capture the spirit of the holiday season with our annual Christmas Ale,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “Much like Christmas morning, everyone anxiously awaits for the day that they can finally crack open a bottle of Christmas Ale and see what this year’s ale is going to taste like. We don’t just change the recipe and the label each year for change sake, each year we are trying to improve and make the best spiced ale we can make. We think beer lovers will be pleased when they taste the complex, spiced flavors of the our 2013 Christmas Ale.”


Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. This year, Anchor Christmas Ale’s tree is the beautiful California White Fir. It was hand drawn by local artist James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975.


Not everyone who came to California in 1849 came in search of gold. A few came in search of trees. English botanist William Lobb was one such plant hunter. As a collector of California’s exotic flora for English nurseries, the “lynx-eyed” Lobb (born in East Cornwall in 1809; died in San Francisco in 1864) was responsible for the introduction of fifty-eight species of California plants to English gardens, including Giant Sequoia and California White Fir.


In its youth, the symmetry of California White Fir’s pyramidal form makes it the ideal Christmas tree. Its shade tolerance allows it to thrive at modest size for years amid groves of much taller Sequoias; yet it can attain heights of up to 160 feet when given the opportunity. The winged seeds of the California White Fir are collected not only by botanists, but also by mountain songbirds, chipmunks, and squirrels.


From November through mid-January, Anchor Christmas Ale is available in 6-packs, magnums, and on draught in select restaurants and bars across the U.S., as well as at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.


For more information on the history of Anchor Christmas Ale, please visit the link below.

Learn more about Anchor Brewing at


# # #

About Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Brewing Company’s roots date back to the California gold rush making it one of America’s oldest breweries. Its Anchor Steam® Beer is San Francisco’s original since 1896. In 1965, Fritz Maytag acquired and revived the struggling brewery at a time when mass production of beer dominated and seemed unstoppable. Maytag started a revolution in beer that originated today’s craft beer movement. An undisputed icon, Anchor is America’s first craft brewery where beers are handmade in our traditional copper brewhouse from an all-malt mash. At Anchor, we practice the time-honored art of classical brewing, employing state-of-the-art methods to ensure that our beers are always pure and fresh. We know of no brewery in the world that matches our efforts to combine traditional, natural brewing with such carefully applied, modern methods of sanitation, finishing, packaging and transporting. See what we are brewing today at

The 6 Best Beers for Halloween

halloween, holiday, craft beer

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.



Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple

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.


Blue Point Old Howling Bastard

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.



Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

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 Horny Monk

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.




Right Brain Blue Magic

Eerily floral, this ale brewed with locally-sourced lavender, is no witch’s brew but it will definitely make your mouth taste like magic.



Stone Brewing  Ruination IPA

Tonight delight in the ruin, doom and gloom as the skies darken while sipping devilishly bitter IPA.

10 Things as Soft as Suede


10 Things as Soft as Suede

Suede, the fabric, is pretty great. Suede, the beer, is awesome. Part of the reason this brew is so awesome is that the flavor balance and mouthfeel are both as smooth as the soft fabric. Which made me think, what else is super awesome and soft like suede? These are the top ten soft like suede things, personally. What would be on your list? 


1. Puppies when they cuddle up next to you


2. Deep conditioned and brushed hair (or beard).


3. My sheets when I accidentally throw in twelve fabric softener sheets instead of one.


4. Those fuzzy socks that make it look like you have furry feet.


5. Flower petals. Although, if you rub then on your face you may end up with pollen up your nose and an allergic reaction.


6. Frozen yogurt looks and is very soft.


7. The snuggie blanket you pretend you don’t own but secretly covet all winter long.


8. Chapstick with shea butter or something in it.


9. Peanut butter.


10. Suede Imperial Porter from Stone Brewing Co. 

9.6% ABV 

Avocado honey, jasmine and calendula flowers infuse this imperial porter with a deep, complex flavor that is as smooth as suede.  Intense floral flavor highlights the dark cocoa and coffee notes, an unusual and tasty combination in an imperial porter.


National Pizza Month


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



Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager


Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager



Rochester Mills Rochester Red




Petoskey Brewing North 45 Amber 


Homebrewing for the First Time


Homebrewing for the First Time


After months of suspense I finally homebrewed. Unsurprisingly, I sucked at it.



Although the process of brewing is an ancient tradition and typically there are only four ingredients involved, brewing a beer that actually tastes delicious is quite the feat.


Luckily, I had some helpful guidance from a coworker and avid brewer who provided equipment and a brewing location. The brewing part ended up being a lot of fun. The air smelled amazing from the brewing beer and I got to sit for a bit and drink a few of my coworker’s homebrews while tending to my own liquid.


After transporting the carboy full of my brew back home, I spent the night acting like a brand new mother by checking in on it in the middle of the night and taking way too many photos of the bubbly action. However, I was not a good mother since I forgot to replace the plastic wrap on the top with the air lock. I only realized my mistake when I came home from work to discover the carboy making a loud and scary nose with the plastic wrap about to explode. After a very freaked out phone call to a brewing pal and a bit of clean up later the air lock was on but I started to live in fear of contamination. That is, until I started to neglect my first brewed.


I visited my family, work things started to pick up speed and I forgot about my beer baby in the corner. It never got to go through secondary fermentation and instead steeped for a full three weeks before I managed to bottle. After hearing stories about the boring clean up aspect, as well as the tedious labor of bottling I was a bit apprehensive. However, with a couple of beers, a friend and a few hours of my time the beer ended up bottled. 


I sampled some during the bottling process and it disappointed me. Although I had every intention of creating a West Coast style pale ale I somehow created a pale amber ale. If I had the supplies to dry hop I may have been able to create something close to deliciousness. Instead, I ended up with a rather unbalanced ale that at least managed to skirt contamination. Hopefully time and bottle conditioning will improve it but if not, or at least until then, I have plenty of fine tasting brews to keep me company. 

Copper Wort Chiller 



Beer Baby in a Carboy 



Bottling Station 


How to Drink a Beer


How to Drink Your Beer

The Importance of Glassware


Beer drinking experience is a full-sensory experience and one of the first steps to take place in the experience is choosing glassware.


Although many a time I’ve drank straight from bottles, cans, Dixie cups and sometimes plastic take-out containers, depending on the level of the desperation, the selection of glassware plays an important role for maximum drinking pleasure.


To match a beer style to the proper glass, here’s a rundown on some of the most common glassware options out there.  


Mugs and Steins

These squat, handled glasses provide room for a lot of beer while ensuring the hands-off approach keeps the beer cooler for longer.



Long and slender with a tapered bottom, this glass is designed to accommodate a larger head and release the aroma.



A nonic glass is a frequently used glass, often misleadingly referred to simply as a pint glass. It has a slight projection right below the rim that helps create the perfect amount of room for the head.



Often paired with higher ABV brews, this glass’s stem keeps hands from warming the liquid while the curved shape is designed to allow for a nice foam head while also retaining maximum aroma. 


How to Make a Pumpkin Keg


How to Make a Pumpkin Keg

Judging from the pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin beer now readily available we are in the throes of Pumpkin flavor season. Some may be feeling the pains of a bit of pumpkin over indulgence. I, on the other hand, can't get enough. A new level of pumkin awesomeness can now be attained with this tutorial on how to make a beer keg out of a pumpkin. 

It's easy, it's fun and the end result is a DIY pumpkin-flavored beer (the video uses Sam Adams Octoberfest) and a bunch of pumpkin seeds perfect for roasting and eating. 

Watch it here to make one for yourself. 


5 Oktoberfests You Need to Drink Right Now


5 Oktoberfests You Need to Drink Right Now



Draft Magazine came out with a very persuasive list for why we should all drink Oktoberfest beers right now. To make it even easier to follow the advice from this magazine, here are 5 Oktoberfest beers you should be drinking right now, although maybe not all at the same time.


1. Samuel Adams Octoberfest

It isn’t Oktoberfest season unless you are getting a taste of this beer that is the most popular seasonal style from one of the most well known and long-standing craft breweries.


2. Rochester Mills Oktoberfest

This weekend the brewery will be celebrating Oktoberfest in true beer festival fashion – with lots of beer, live performances, dancing and a carnival atmosphere. However, their draft Oktoberfest can be sampled and celebrated throughout Michigan.


3. Frankenmuth Oktoberfest

Steeped in traditional German brewing culture, this time of year is when Frankenmuth Brewery truly shines. Their Oktoberfest style is a stein of German goodness ‘till the last drop.


4. Brooklyn Oktoberfest

Brooklyn Brewery ensures it stays true to the original styling of this Marzen style brew. Their hard work paid off, with an Oktoberfest beer that has earned multiple gold medals from the World Beer Championships.


5. Blue Point Oktoberfest

The tagline for this beer is to party like the Crown Prince of Bavaria, whose betrothal in 1810 first ignited the brewing of Oktoberfest beer. Now, Blue Point ensures that the Oktoberfest party continues with this annually brewed traditional lager, perfect for royalty or regular citizens.  



Arrrgh! Talk Like a Pirate and Drink Shipwreck Porter!


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! 

Happy Birthday Perrin Brewing Company


Happy Birthday, Perrin Brewing Company!



This past Saturday Perrin Brewing Company celebrated its first birthday with a Backyard Beer Bash. The all-day event event filled up the brewery's backyard with a beer-centric artist alley, BBQ offerings that were roasted on the spot, some of the best musical acts in town and, of course, lots of beer. The beer tents provided the regular-tiered beers while the Perrin bus served as a beacon for all those searching for specialty brews. But the best part of the Beer Bash definitely ended up being the diverse, beer loving crowd. From a bachelor parties, couples on date night and a Kenny G look alike to an actual wedding party, everyone showed up to enjoy and celebrate Perrin Brewing's inaugural year of beer success. 

Check out our Facebook album to check out a few more photos showcasing the fun. 


Smuttynose Brewing Coming to MI


Smuttynose Brewing Co. Coming to MI 

As we happily announced this past Tuesday, we will be adding Smuttynose Brewing Co. to our craft portfolio in October. Keep checking back for updates on what we will be doing to celebrate being the 23rd state in the Smuttynose distribution footprint. Until then, here’s the official press release announcing their plans to distribute to Michigan. 

Smuttynose Brewing Co. expands distribution to Michigan with West Side Distributing 

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm by Press Release      

(Portsmouth, NH) – Smuttynose Brewing Company is delighted to announce their new partnership with West Side Distributing, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who will bring New Hampshire’s leading craft brewer’s beers to the Wolverine State starting in October, 2013. The deal with West Side makes Michigan the 23rd state (plus Washington DC) where Smuttynose beers are available. 

The relationship between West Side and Smuttynose didn’t develop over night, but over several years of courtship by the largest beer distributor in Michigan. “Whether it was at big beer events like Craft Brewers Conference or just an email here and there, West Side politely and casually let us know they were interested whenever we were ready,” said Peter Egelston, Smuttynose’s President and Founder, “but being at capacity for the last four or five years meant entering a large, craft beer-loving state like Michigan was impossible. With our new brewery project almost ready to come online, I was excited to talk to West Side about moving forward.” 

Michiganders will see Smuttynose beer in four key markets; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Romulus/Detroit. Initial shipments of Finestkind IPA and Big A IPA will be exclusively on draft for the on-premise trade, while shipments of bottle packages will begin in early 2014. Egelston cited West Side’s plan for building the Smuttynose brand in Michigan as a key factor in making the decision. “We’re really excited to add such a wonderful beer state to the list of places Smuttynose is sold and we can’t wait to grow with West Side.”Initial roll-out events will take place October 9,10,11 when several key Smuttynose employees will make the rounds to introduce themselves and their beers to Michiganders. Details will be announced over Smuttynose social media.

Founded in 1994, Smuttynose is New Hampshire’s leading craft brewery. In 2012, its 50 employees worked to brew, package and sell nearly 41,000 barrels of beer across 22 states and Washington DC. After nearly 20 years in their original home in Portsmouth, the international award-winning brewery will move into its new, LEED Gold-registered brewery and visitors’ center on the historic Towle Farm in Hampton, NH in 2014. 

Family-owned West Side Beer Distributors is the largest beer distributor in Michigan. The Klopcic Family’s roots in the business began in Detroit when Don Klopcic, Sr. opened Don Lee Distributing in 1965. They expanded west to Grand Rapids in 1981, with the acquisition of West Side and have since added the Romulus (2008), Kalamazoo (2009) and Lansing (2012) territories. In addition to their beer distribution responsibilities, all branches of the business are very active in their communities and are proud to support responsible beer consumption and education efforts

Infographic: Beer Myths Debunked


Infographic: Craft Beer Myths Debunked 


Myths, half-truths and old wives' tales abound when it comes to craft beer. This is no surprise, since whenever there is something exciting that gets the crowd talking you can be sure there is also a myth in the making. There are some great theories and ideas about both the community and product itself, but there are some untruths about craft beer that should be straightened out. Luckily, Visual Loop did all the work and created this lovely infographic to help debunk some myths about this alcoholic liquid. 


Now, read on, learn, and dirnk some yummy brews. 

Veggies in Your Brew: Pumpkin Beers


Veggies in Your Brew

Pumpkin Beers


Apart from the whole alcoholic aspect, beer pretty much sounds like a green smoothie. Consider the ingredients. There’s yeast, which provides an alternative bacteria to yogurt eating, a bit of grain, some nice bitter hops and then water. The healthy aspects increase to even higher levels when beers are brewed with vegetables, such as the fall-fashionable pumpkin beer.

all rights reserved: zach.larson



Health Benefits

Pumpkin beers, although not always brewed with the root vegetable itself, are arguably a somewhat healthy lifestyle choice. According to the Beer Babe, many pumpkin beers are around 140 calories, whereas a pumpkin spice latte clocks in at around 250 calories. Caloric content aside, pumpkin beers such as Arcadia Ales Jaw Jacker are brewed with a complex mix of spices to create that pumpkin pie flavor. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves are all commonly found in pumpkin ales and have many noted health benefits. With a low calorie count and antioxidant-rich spices, this brew may be a somewhat healthy option for an adult beverage.


These brews also are a part of America’s history, with references to pumpkin beer going back as far as 1643. Pumpkins are a native plant of the American continent and when the first Europeans arrived they used the vegetable to replace malt in the beer mash. The gourds provided the necessary fermentable sugars, although the flavor most definitely varied from what is now the signature flavor profile. By the 19th Century, the popularity of pumpkin beer waned as grains became more available and beer making reverted to the traditional ingredient list.

Just like high-rise pants and Disney child stars resurface and regain popularity, pumpkin beers eventually came back into style. In the early 1990s Buffalo Bill’s Brewery created a pumpkin beer inspired from a recipe belonging to George Washington. This was just one of many pumpkin beers, such as Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin, that helped innovate the vegetable beer recipes while still referencing and respecting the beer’s historical origins.



Of course, the craft beer community is known for innovation, which can be seen with the varying pumpkin beer styles. Samuel Adams Fat Jack is a double pumpkin beer, loaded with 28 pounds of pumpkin meat in each mash. New Belgium Brewing just released Pumpkick, its fall seasonal that is brewed with cranberries for a tart twist to a traditional pumpkin beer.  These innovations are welcome additions to the pumpkin beer world that continues to thrive due to a balance between tradition and change.


Style Notes 

Despite the subtle and not so subtle differences amongst various pumpkin beers, most tend to possess the same style profile. Pumpkin beers are a golden to deep amber color, ranging from hazy to a clear clarity. The nose is full of fall spices with a hint of pumpkin. Many have a low hop level, which allows the pumpkin pie flavors to make a bold statement that is often partnered with robust fall spice and slightly sweet notes. Think Thanksgiving dinner when pairing pumpkin ales with food; roasted ham, turkey and macaroni and cheese are all suitable options.


The most important thing to remember about pumpkin beer, at least for me, is that it tastes like fall and fall is my favorite season.

4 Craft Cans for Labor Day Weekend


4 Craft Beer Cans for Labor Day Weekend

Make sure to get some CANaction in over the holiday.

The sleeping bags, tent and backpacks are by the door. It's time to head out into the Great North (or what I call home) and get in touch with your naturalistic self for the Labor Day Weekend. Or, maybe there's a jersey and tailgate party in the future for game day. Or a ton of sun screen, sand and one of the Great Lakes' pristine shorelines is on the horizon.

Whatever the future holds as the workday draws towards an end before the holiday weekend, one thing is for certain; some craft beer CANaction is bound to happen. Here are a few of the options I'll be drinking up in celebrate of the last weekend of summer.

1. Oskar Blues Dale's Pale

Nothing like a hopped up pale ale from the brewery that first brought the can back.

2. Rochester Mills Milk Shake Stout

Perfect for beer floats, it's easy to drink a few of these for a liquid dessert.

3.  Sixpoint Sweet Action

Incredibly refreshing, this hybrid beer is light-bodied enough for a day at the beach but still substantial in flavor.

4. New Belgium Fat Tire

This amber ale pairs perfectly with all the typical Labor Day food fare – from hot dogs, burgers to steak. And vegetables, too, I guess.


International Bacon Day


International Bacon Day




It is time to gear up – not only for Labor Day but for International Bacon Day! According to Wikipedia, International Bacon Day occurs the Saturday before Labor Day so go out buy some cured pig meat and eat up. While you are feasting , check out this infographic featuring fun facts about bacon. Some of my favorites include the following.


Bacon cures hangovers.

Bacon contains six types of umami.

The infographic also asserts that September 3 is actually International Bacon Day, which is confusing. It is probably best to celebrate the holiday on both dates to be sure.

Now, we've got the bacon so let's add the beer! Here are a few suggested beer pairings to go along with side, or entire plate, of bacon.

Sam Adams Octoberfest

Light-bodied enough to let the bacon take center stage. Slightly sweet caramel malt notes work nicely with saltiness of the bacon while the crisp finish and slight hop bitterness refreshes the palette.

Shiner Bock

This full-bodied, amber-colored brew acts as a mellow component that balances the strong bacon flavor.

Brooklyn Brown

The rich caramel flavors work well with smoked and cured bacon flavors, while the malt character is strong enough to withstand the bacon's strong flavor profile.

Periodic Table of Alcohol


Periodic Table of Alcohol 


To celebrate back-to-school season I decided to go way back to my sophomore memories of Chemistry and re-amp them with a bit of alcohol knowledge. 

Check out this periodic table of alcohol and see if there are any surprising or unknown elements.  


Shark Week and Beer


Shark Week and Beer 

It is my favorite part of the year – shark week! Let’s celebrate by watching a marathon of shark shows and drinking beer!


Just add beer. 


Craft Beer Suggestions

Landshark – It is in the name, obviously, but it is a fantastic island-style lager.

Will Power – Right Brain’s pale ale is named after what you would need if you came into contact with a shark, a la “Deep Blue Ocean.”

Kona Brown – Perrin’s brown ale is brewed with coffee beans from the Hawaiian island of Kona, which I think has a lot of sharks in the water surrounding it.

Rampant IPA – New Belgium’s imperial IPA is rampant, much like a great white shark is when it goes on a rampage before eating LL Cool J.

Jaw Jacker – Arcadia Ale’s pumpkin beer won’t break your jaw, although a giant hammerhead might!Saga – The IPA from Summit Brewing is delicious enough to drink all throughout the gripping saga of the life of a shark. 



How to Celebrate IPA DAY


Happy National IPA Day! 


Craft Beer Creativity


Craft Beer Creativity: The Neverending Story  



Craft beer lovers love to try new brews – it’s one of the most attractive aspects of the craft community – and craft breweries love to innovate. But is there a saturation point to creativity in craft beer? How many variations exist? Is creative craft beer the reality version of the Neverending Story?


Perhaps there is no threshold to creativity in brewing, considering research that proves beer is helpful in the creative process.  According to Life Hacker, creativity is when you brain is able to create something original by connecting pre-existing ideas. Because one of the effects of alcohol is that the brain pays less attention to surroundings, allowing more relaxation, the brain is able to work in a manner that produces more creative ideas.


In addition, the brewers themselves, those impressive chemists and innovative thinkers, are not only creative due to their (assumed) beer drinking, but are prone to be more intelligent, according this study regarding evolutionary drinking behavior.


“Since the consumption of modern alcoholic beverages…is evolutionary novel, the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to engage in it, and the empirical data from the UK and the US confirm it.” – Psychology Today


This one-two punch of creativity plus intelligence, which is so often the seedling for many breweries and beers, gives hope that the craft beer world will never be creatively stagnant. Rather, the symbiotic relationships between beer drinkers, brewers and homebrewers will continue to infuse the craft community with new, sometimes novel, brews.


With that settled, lets cheer to the past, present and seemingly bright creative future of craft beer. 

Oktoberfest Infographic


Oktoberfest Infographic

It's chilly and all I want is pumpkin-flavored food and fall beers. Luckily, it's getting to be Oktoberfest beer season. Here is a rundown on the beer, infographic style. 



Fruit and Beer Pairing


Drink Beer, Eat Fruit, Get All Your Vitamins at Once!


I may currently be wearing a hoodie but it is still summertime, which means there is an abundance of fresh fruit for me to gorge myself on. Considering that fruit is high in vitamins, antioxidants and all that other good stuff it must be ok to have as much as you want. Especially, in my opinion, if you pair fruit with a heart-healthy beverage like beer. So go buy some fruit and some beer and have a party.


Strawberries and Raspberries with Stouts or Porters


Although it may seem daunting to pair something as delicate as fruit with such a robust beer, just think about what you like to eat with strawberries and raspberries. Rich chocolate and cream pair well with both, so a stout or porter full of chocolate and coffee malt notes will make a great contrasting beer/fruit duo, too. Look for a beer that is also brewed with oats to lend a creamy mouthfeel that will balance out the tart fruit flavors.




Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

 5% ABV


New Belgium Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

10% ABV 39 IBU


Blue Point Oatmeal Stout

 5.2% ABV 30 IBU


Melons with Weissbiers or Krieks


The sweetness of the beer rounds out the fruits’ sugars, while the often-present (in weissbier) coriander and orange peel notes complement the bright melon flavors. The high carbonation of these beers helps to scrub the palate clean of any residual stickiness left over from the melon.




Boon Kriek


Flying Dog In Heat Wheat

4.7% ABV 12 IBU


Belgium National (Beer) Day


Belgian National (Beer) Day


July 21 is celebrated as Belgian National Day and what better way to celebrate that with a myriad of Belgian beer styles?





On July 21 1831 Leopold of Saxe-Coburg became the first king of Belgium when he swore allegiance to the Belgian Constitution. Before then, Belgium had been a part of the Netherlands before breaking away in 1830. The coronation of King Leopold was the last step in finalizing Belgium’s nationhood. Before nationhood, however, the people of Belgium already had a long-lasting affinity for beer that can be traced back to 2800 BCE.


Belgian Beer Styles


The best part about Belgian beers may be the unique styles and vast variety within this beer category.  One feature that makes Belgian styles stand out is the yeast, which sometimes are brewed at higher temperatures, which creates a more fruity and spicy flavor. Other characteristics of a Belgian beer include aromatic hops instead of bittering hops as well as a more malt-focused approach to brewing. Finally, Belgians love their acidic brews, which is why sour beers are so prevalent in this category.


Belgian Beer Suggestions


Abbey, New Belgium Brewing

Abbey (along with Fat Tire) is the firstborn brew from New Belgium Brewing. It stays true to the Belgian Abbey Dubbel style with a creamy malt component and a warming, slightly peppery, roasty chocolate malt flavor.


7% 20 IBU



A Belgian Witbier, meaning white beer in reference to its pale and cloudy appearance. Hoegaarden is named after the town Hoegaarde, which is where the style originated. It has a spicy nose with orange and coriander notes, and a creamy mouthfeel with a slightly sweet and slightly sour citrus flavor.


4% ABV


Leffe Brown

Leffe Brown is a Belgian Dark Ale that possesses a deep brown color and strong, slightly sweet, malty flavor. Dark roasted malts provide a rich complexity while the hop presence is miniscule.


6.5% ABV


Palm Spéciale

This Belgian Pale Ale stays true to the Belgian tradition, with a crisp palate, nutty malt character and a bit of a hop presence. There are also spicy yeasty notes noticeable in both the aroma and flavor, that helps accentuate the balance between the crisp hops and malt finish.  

5.2% ABV 18 IBU 

Beachy Beers


4 Beachy Beers 

We are in the midst of the hottest week of the summer, which means it’s time to head to the beach! For those of us stuck far away from the shores there is beer that can act like a mini mouth vacation, bringing the summer beach to the drinker. Here’s my top 4 list for the beers that have beach in a bottle.



Elderbetty, Magic Hat

Elder berries lend a tart note to this beer, making it both a beachy, beery and berry flavored treat.  

White IPA, Blue Point

This hybrid brings back the cool and bitter sensation of diving into a freezing lake. Creamy mouthfeel is smooth and hops bring bitterness.

Rampant, New Belgium

Mosaic hops leave the mouth feeling like you just gorged yourself on blueberry patches along the beach.

Sweet Action, Sixpoint

Sweet Action has a light enough body and creamy enough mouthfeel to be the perfect beach partner. It also reminds me of the Grease song, Summer Lovin’.


6 Reasons Midwest is the Best for Beer Lovers


6 Reasons Why Midwest is the Best for Beer Lovers




Full disclosure – as a born and raised Michigander I’ve never lived in another state, let alone on a different coast. That being said, I do think living in the Great Beer State here in the Midwest is best for beer drinking fiends.


I’ve heard the assertions about Northwestern beer towns positively saturated with every sort of brewery as well as tales regarding the nearness and character of East coast brewpubs. Still, for availability, activities and culture Michigan, here in the Midwest beats them all. Here’s why.


1. Craft Beer just named Arcadia Ales just as one of the top brewpubs that is helping put the Midwest on the Map, thanks to its excellence beer and food pairings offered on location.


2. Grand Rapids is Beer City USA, thanks to the continuously growing number of breweries in the area, as well as the supportive craft-centric culture that resides in the city.


3. Summer in Michigan is just another opportunity to try craft beer in a can. From woods to beaches, golf courses, parks and ballgames Michigan summers welcome the growing craft can revolution.


4. The perfect location to receive beer from all corners. Being sandwiched in the middle has its advantages. Breweries from both coasts, such as Stone Brewing (California) and Sixpoint Brewery (New York) are able to bring their products here because the state is practically within reach of anyone who wants to be.


5. Homebrewing is alive and well, with the next National Homebrewers Conference slotted for Grand Rapids in 2014.

6. July is the official Craft Beer Month in Michigan so everyone should be nice and agree that Michigan in the Midwest is the Best for Beer. 


I could go on but there is so much awesome beer calling my name that I’ve got to wrap this up in order to go enjoy the Great Beer State. 

Beer and Salad Food Pairing


Beer and Salad Pairing

Corn, Cherry Tomato, Avocado and Shrimp Salad

Summertime, salads and beer all go together so well it seems absolutely necessary to produce a great salad and beer pairing.

This weekend my flight back home was delayed for 2 hours and while meandering around the airport I bought a magazine all about salads. Then I went to a bar and read it and realized what a perfect combination salads and beers are, especially in the summer. So, here is a salad from my salad magazine with suggested beer pairings.

Salad: Corn, Cherry Tomato, Avocado and Shrimp Salad

Suggested Pairings: A light-bodied, crisp beer style will complement the light salad flavors. Choose one with a slight hop bite or drying finish to with cut through the buttery avocado flavor.

Frankenmuth Twisted Helles: The helles beer style works well with lighter food options, including salads and seafood.

Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils: Full of flavor but very light and crisp, pilsners pair well with lighter fare, such as salads.

Brooklyn Summer Ale: Although classified as a pale ale, which can be too overpowering for a salad, Summer Ale is brewed as an English light dinner ale, making it perfect for a seafood salad and with enough hops to cut through the Avocado taste.


Corn, Cherry Tomato and Avocado with Shrimp Salad Recipe


1 ½ lbs peeled and halfed shrimp

2 large, firm avocados cut into ¼ in pieces

½ chopped cilantro

½ cup sliced scallions

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups corn kernels


3 ½ tsp lime juice

½ cup olive oil

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 tsp paprika

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Add Kosher salt to taste. Set aside. Boil and cook corn kernels until tender, drain and cool. Fry shrimp in a pan with a bit of olive oil for three minutes or until caramelized. Combine avocado, tomatoes, scallions, corn, shrimp and cilantro in a bowl.

Pour dressing over salad and toss together.

4 July 4 Beer Crafts


4 July 4 Beer Crafts


The 4th of July is the time to celebrate America’s birthday and enjoy the lovely summer weather. To spice up the holiday a bit try playing with your beer.


Make A Watermelon Keg



Take a beer you would like to have a bit of melon flavor in it (for suggestions see 6 Beers to Celebrate Michigan Craft Beer Week) and use this tutorial to make your very own watermelon keg.


Cool A Beer ASAP

Forgot to cool the beer? No problem! Check out how to cool a beer in 3 minutes, flat so you don’t have to wait to refresh and celebrate with a brew.


Grill With It

Infuse your meats with beery goodness by marinating the meat in it while waiting for the grill to heat up, just make sure to safe a bit for yourself to sip on, too.


Make A Bottle Cap Flag

Once the party is over, upcycle the bottle caps by creating patriotic art, like this bottle cap American flag

6 Beers for Celebrating Michigan Craft Beer Month


6 Beers to Celebrate Michigan Craft Beer Month


Happy July and, more importantly, happy official Michigan Craft Beer Month! With a whole month to celebrate, here are six beers, one from each brewery, to drink to the Great Beer State with.


Right Brain Will Power

This golden-hued pale ale has some great grassy notes, balanced out by a light maltiness.

4.9% ABV


Perrin Grapefruit IPA

Bright citrus notes and hop bitterness blend into an incredibly sessionable and slightly sweet IPA.

4.7% ABV 10 IBU


Arcadia Whitsun

An unfiltered wheat with a cloudy appearance and a creamy mouth feel that is topped with a thick creamy head while lemon and orange peel come across in the flavor.

6.2% ABV 17 IBU


Frankenmuth Twisted Helles

Brewed with noble hops, it is a light bodied, crisp summer lager highlighted by citrus notes.

5.5% ABV 18 IBU


Rochester Mills Cornerstone IPA

 An IPA that bring the bitterness without overbearing the palette it is medium bodied with a balanced bitterness.

6.6% ABV


Petoskey Horny Monk

Along with a memorable name, this Belgian provides an addicting smoothness, with a slight touch of sweetness.

6.9 % ABV 20 IBU


1. 2. 3-4-5-6! Cheers to Michigan Beer Month!  


Craft Can Infographic


Craft Beer.

Can it. Drink it. Enjoy


I talk about craft cans a lot. Partially because I drink a lot of them and also because its an exciting topic and strengthening trend in the craft beer community. But I don't want to bore anyone with the topic so today I won't write or talk, I'll just show this craft can infographic and keep quiet. 


The Petoskey Brewing Story


The Petoskey Brewing Story 


Here in the great beer state there are a multitude of breweries to choose from, both local and beyond, which makes it easy to find great liquid for your drinking pleasure. As summer days roll by and many vacation up in the Great North to escape the city heat while others seek solace in brews from the land above. Petoskey Brewing provides that escape with its artisan beers that highlight the best that Northern Michigan has to offer.

Petoskey Brewing’s story has two beginnings; one starts with a friendship and one with a building. The brewery is located in the “Old Brewery” in Petoskey, which back at the turn of the century produced Petoskey Sparkle Beer. The original Petoskey Brewing Company eventually faded out, although the building stayed active serving as various shops including an antique shop and a goat farm.

The second story is about the partnership and friendship between the brewery’s co-owners, Patrick Dowd and Lou Gostinger. In 2008 the two men bonded over shared interests to create a business based on creating exceptional beer. By 2011 they closed on the “Old Brewery” building and started work on creating their product; beer. Their beer is always unfiltered, with water pumped directly from an artisan spring well, which gives the beer a drying finish due to mineral content.

The brewery’s story continued with Petoskey Brewing’s launch into the Grand Rapids market to start off the 2013 year. The next step will be the launch of their product in package, focusing on distributing Horny Monk, North 45, and Mind’s Eye in cans throughout the area. Look for their beer, on draft or in cans, throughout the area and get a taste of the Great North. 


Horny Monk Belgian Dubbel

6.9% ABV 20 IBU

A complex Belgian ale that is delightfully smooth, with a hint of sweetness. 

Mind's Eye Pale Ale

6.7% ABV 74 IBU

A hopped up pale ale with a drying bitter finish that pours like liquid copper. 

North 45 Amber 

5.8% ABV 25 IBU

Vienna, Munich and Pilsner malted barley combine to create a beer full of rich flavor that pours bright amber. 

How Yoga Helped Me Retronasal


How Yoga Helped Me Retronasal 

I think yoga is helping me become better at drinking beer.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been attempting to practice yoga. Back when I was a young’n I always switched back and forth from pain to painful boredom and didn’t really understand why people got into this prolonged movement called yoga. Then I started breathing. This past year in the midst of an excruciating hot yoga session I joined the bandwagon of heavy, obnoxiously loud yoga breathers and immediately noticed improvement, both in yoga and in beer tasting.

The most enjoyablepart of beer tasting (besides the fact you’re drinking beer) is that it is such a full-on sensory experience. Sight, smell, touch and taste combine to create the full effect. Smell especially should not be underestimated. Not only do the first sniffs help decipher the beer aroma they also play a huge role with taste, in fact, smell accounts for 80 percent of taste.


To “retronasal” is to breathe in, sip the beer, hold the breath and then breathe out through the nose, allowing for odor compounds to travel from the mouth through the nasal cavity, which enhances the taste of the beer. This is similar to yoga breathe since it is simply breathing in deeply and rhythmically through the nose.


Breathing through the nose should be simple and honestly integrating retronasal into the beer tasting experience is very easy. However, feeling like asphyxiated or choking on the beer due to poor timing happens all too often. The key is in the ability to hold the breath while swallowing and then slowly, enjoyably releasing that breath via the nasal passageway. To have the perfect retronasal technique the breath needs to be a part of the sipping process, so the entire drinking experience is calm, smooth and enjoyable thanks to calm, rhythmic breathing. That’s when a flood of taste will suddenly hit and the full effect of the beer flavor will send wash over and be (hopefully) awesome.

So, get into mountain pose, breathe in through the mouth, sip, swallow, breathe out through the nose and enjoy.

4 Days and 4 Reasons to go to Clips of Faith


4 Days (until) and 4 Days Reason (to go to) Clips of Faith


There’s nothing I like better than a countdown. It forces you into a state of excitement and increases the actual event or experience that you have been anticipating. It’s that frosting monstrosity known as a cupcake that you think about all day and can’t wait to have instead of the random cookie you discovered in the office that somehow ended up in your mouth.


Don’t let Clips of Faith accidentally end up in your mouth. Anticipate. Prepare. Waited with bated breath for Friday night.


To tide you over until then and to provide distraction from the dizziness due to lack of oxygen (all that bated breath) here are some reasons Clips of Faith in Grand Rapids is worth the 4 day wait.


1. The Beer

16 kinds of New Belgium beer. All in one place. That beer you’ve wanted but keep on missing out on? It’s probably going to be at Clips of Faith, waiting for you.


2.  The Location

In the heart of Beer City USA, on a grassy knoll along the waterfront with a giant screen showing movies. Ah-Nab-Awen Park provides the perfect environment for a family night out, a date night, a boys/girls night out, or an I’m tired from being inside an office all day night.


3. The Cause

Getting in the event is free but the beer is not. All proceeds will go towards the Greater Grand Rapids Bike Coalition. Their mission is to help facilitate a safe bicycling community in order to improve health, recreation and the environment within the Grand Rapids area. There is absolutely nothing not to like about a cause like that.


4. The Environment

New Belgium Brewing is a company that is actively committed to the environment and this event echoes the company’s practices. Clips of Faith, with it’s drive-in movie vibe, brings the nostalgia of the good ol’ days without leaving behind heaps of trash which always seemed to pile up after fairs or other fun summer celebrations. Aside from their encouragement for everyone to ride bikes to the park, New Belgium also is working with the High Five Recycling program to provide recycling options and food options will be from locally minded and environmentally conscious vendors.


Not satisfied with these reasons? Check out New Belgium Michigan’s Facebook page  or check out the Clips of Faith Press Release located below. 


Thoroughly jazzed up now? Fantastic! See you there.

Clips of Faith: Handmade Films, Handmade Beers 

Friday, June 21 2013

8:30 - 11:00 pm

Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Grand Rapids MI 



Beer, Bacon and Burgers for Fathers' Day


Bacon Beer Burger: The Ultimate Fathers’ Day Gift.

Memories from growing up during summer are filled with green (probably skunked) beer glasses balanced on worn picnic tables as my dad attended the charcoal grill. This helps explain my love for beer and burgers. I like bacon because it is bacon. That’s argument enough. So what better way to celebrate summer and Fathers’ Day than with a burger topped with bacon and accompanied with beer to bring on a wave of nostalgia and food coma? Let’s celebrate all the dads out there with the ultimate “B” trifecta of bacon, beer and burgers all combined into one celebratory bite.


Beer Braised Bacon Burger*


To Prep: Cook some thick cut bacon until it is crispy or however you prefer it. Leave some grease in the pan. Pour half bottle of porter into the bacon pan then add sliced onions and cook until almost tender. Then, add a bit of brown sugar and cook a little bit longer until completely tender and translucent.

Burger:Get some beef. Mix that beef with four ounces of your favorite porter and spices (I like garlic, black pepper, meat seasoning stuff, a bit of cayenne pepper and a dash of cinnamon). If you have a grill, then grill it. Brush each burger patty with a bit of olive oil before placing it on the grill. If you making them on the stove or oven, wait until partially cooked then pour porter on the pan to sear the meat. During the 10 seconds add cheddar cheese to melt on top.

Once the burger is done, top it with beer braised onions, bacon and whatever other condiments you want. Open up another beer, cheers to all the great dads out there and then enjoy.

My Porter Picks

Arcadia Ales London Porter

Smoked malt complements the charcoal grilled meat flavor while chocolate and coffee malts lend an almost sweet smoothness to match the bacon’s saltiness. 8.2% ABV 58 IBU

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

If you can get your hands on this limited edition porter do it and then eat it/drink it. It is full of big flavors that add a chocolate, roasted coffee malty depth that will help bring out the meat’s smokiness, especially the cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The hops provide a drying bitter bite at the end. 9.1% ABV 85 IBU



*Inspiration for this burger came from the Slow Roasted Italian. If you prefer a specific recipe over my vague instructions I suggest visiting their site for the original recipe.

Craft Beer Interactive Map


Craft Beer Interactive Map


Here are a few things that I enjoy; reading, craft beer, maps and clicking on links. The New Yorker combines all of the above into one interactive map that displays the craft beer industry’s growth in one of the most understandable ways I’ve witnessed.


For the Mitten lovers out there check out all the new breweries that have popped up throughout the great state in the past year. Petoskey BrewingPerrin Brewing and Rochester Beer Co. production facility are all listed. 




In addition, the map highlights Michigan's place as the 5th beer state in the nation, based off of total number of breweries. I also found the numbers on production growth as a fantastic indicator for the continued strength within the craft beer industry. All around, this map is fun to play around with while providing a more visual view of the state of the craft beer industry in the U.S. Check it out. 











National Donut (and beer) Day


National Donut (and beer) Day


In my opinion, any day is another great day to enjoy a beer. Today is requires special celebratory cheering and drinking of beer because it is not only Friday but it’s also national donut day! To end this week with an exclamation point full of happiness and calories I’ve come up with a few donut and beer pairings.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager
 and Boston Cream Donuts

For the love of Boston, check out this iconic duo. Picture it, the malty balanced brew is strong enough to hold up to the thick sugary creaminess of the donut while the crisp finish helps clear the palette of any remaining residue.

Right Brain CEO Stout
 with Chocolate Glazed Donuts

The richness of the stout, derived from chocolate, espresso and oatmeal, complements the chocolate duo of the donut. It’s kind of like the perfect chocolate heaven that ends with a slight buzz.

Rochester Mills Cornerstone IPA
 and Crispy Crème Donuts

The light and sugary sweetness of the crispy crème is contrasted with a light IPA, such Cornerstone, whose bitterness cuts through the sweetness and acts as a palette cleanser in between bites.

Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA
 and a Bear Claw Donuts

This heavy hitting beer matches the strength of this heavy, almond flavored donut. In addition, the hops bitterness and dry finish keep the donut’s sweetness from being too overpowering.

New Belgium Fat Tire
 and Jelly Filled Powdered Donuts

Homer Simpson’s favorite donut meets one of my favorite Amber beers to create the perfect match. Fat Tire is a medium-bodied and well balanced beer that doesn’t overpower the light sugar dusted donut while providing a strong enough malt backbone to withstand the sticky jelly sweetness.



Clips: Handmade Films, Handmade Beer

8:30 to 11:30 pm at Ah-Nab-Awen Park


Like movies? Or Beer? Or being a part of a great cause? We do, too! Which is why we are pumped for Clips of Faith, presented by New Belgium Brewing. The event takes place on Friday, June 20 starting at 8:30 pm in Ah-Nab-Awen Park.


Here’s the lowdown on Clips of Faith and an estimate of how much fun will be had that night.




The Fun Estimate: great movies + great cause + great beer(x17) + outside summer fun + local awesome food = Super, don’t miss out, best time ever fun. 

What it is: Part, film expo, beer extravaganza, and part nonprofit fundraising Clips of Faith is full on fun.


The films: One-of-a-kind short films created and submitted by fans (many locally made) will be viewed on an outdoor screen at the park.


The Cause: Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition will receiver 100 percent of the proceeds from this event.


The Beer: So many kinds of beer to choose from! There will be over 16 different New Belgium beers, including multiple beers from the Lips of Faith, Hop Kitchen and Explorer series. Here is the list.


Here’s the list.

  • Cascara Quad
  • Heavenly Feijoa Tripel
  • Dieu de Ciel Collaboration
  • Biere de Gaarde, Brewery Vivant Collaboration
  • Rolle Bolle
  • Paardebloem
  • Hoppy Bock Lager
  • Pluot Ale
  • Rampant
  • La Folie
  • Ranger
  • 1554
  • Fat Tire
  • Trippel
  • Abbey
  • Blue Paddle
  • Shift


That right there presents quite a few reasons to go. You should go. 

Summer Beer List


Summer Beer List


First came the song (Summer Beers) now comes the beer list and hopefully afterwards the summer weather will follow. Here’s is what we have to offer in the Grand Rapids area for summer seasonals. Some are new while some are old favorites.


Your Summer Beer List 


Arcadia Ales Whitsun

Wheat beer brewed with local Michigan honey for a rich and smooth taste.


Blue Point Blueberry Ale

A blonde ale brewed with fresh blueberries to create a light and tart flavor.


Blue Point White IPA

A wheat beer and IPA hybrid that is partially creamy with a dry, bitter hop finish.


Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale

A light ale with citrus/floral aroma, slightly bready flavor and mild hop finish.


Buffalo Bill’s Orange Blossom

A cream ale that combines with orange and honey to create a slightly sweet summer drink.


Flying Dog Woody Creek

Belgian wheat with light coriander and citrus notes.


Frankenmuth Brewery Twisted Helles

A traditional lager brewed with German noble hops and citrus.



Magic Hat Elder Betty

Weiss-style beer brewed with elderberries for a creamy and unique flavor.


New Belgium Rolle Bolle

Brewed with monk fruit and soursop this is a blonde and fruit ale hybrid.


Perrin Brewing Grapefruit IPA

Slightly hazy with a huge citrus aroma and bright citrus flavor that finishes bitter.


Samuel Adams Summer Ale

Wheat beer brewed with noble hops and citrus peel. Hazy, slightly sweet and citrusy.


Shock Top Lemon Shandy

Wheat Ale brewed with citrus and coriander to create a bright flavor profile 

Summer Beers Song


Summer Beers Song


Inspired by my favorite summertime jam from the middle school era, "Summer Girls" by LFO. I’ve revamped it to be fit more into my new lifestyle so naturally it's about beer. 




Summer Beers 



New beers on the block, had a bunch of drinks

Liquor after beer makes me sick

And I think its fly to have new beer for the summer, for the summer

I like beers with a citrus kick

I’d try all the beers if I had one wish

But I’ve don’t want to get fat this summer…

Not this summer.


Barley, hops, malt and beer in a can

I met you one summer and it all began

You’re the best brew that I ever did see

This is the Great Beer State and we’re beer city


When I take a sip I feel full of cheer

Tim Surprise brewed a whole bunch of beer

Call me Sam Adams cause I love to brew baby

Something in those hops went and drove me crazy


Now I can’t stop drinking you and it feels real rad

Tried craft beer and never looked back

Will be sipping them all, one after one

Craft Beer all summer, its gonna be fun



New beers on the block, had a bunch of drinks

Liquor after beer makes me sick

And I think its fly to have new beer for the summer, for the summer

I like beers with a citrus kick

I’d try all the beers if I had one wish

But I’ve don’t want to get fat this summer…

Not this summer.


Meet Your New Neighbor, Arcadia Ales


Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Arcadia Ales is heading the neighborhood 


I love getting new neighbors (as long as they don’t obnoxiously practice their techno DJ skills 24/7) and I’m very excited to see Arcadia Ales heading to the neighborhood in the near future. Here’s the lowdown on what will soon be your neighborhood brewery.


The View


Arcadia West will be just 400 feet from the Kalamazoo river, ensuring a brew with a view for all who visit.  Easy access to the river, including portals, will be available. Geography never was my strong suite so I have no idea if there is a way to canoe or kayak from Grand Rapids to Arcadia West but the Yooper in me is willing to find a way.


The Grub


Arcadia West will support the West Michigan community while serving them fresh, locally sourced grub. The wood-fired smoke house will provide unique twists on traditional American BBQ while Middle Eastern and South American cuisine will also make a play.


The Size


The new facility will be 30,000 square feet with the potential to yield 60,000 barrels of beer annually. Initially, Arcadia plans on an initial brewing capacity of 30,000 barrels.


The Plan


Arcadia West will transition into the main brewpub and brewing facility for Arcadia Ales. At the outset, it will create 40 new jobs in Kalamazoo. The brewery’s facility in Battle Creek will retain its current employees and remain open, brewing experimental batches.


The Grand Opening


TBA. I’ll let ya know.


The Conclusion


Arcadia Ales is soon only going to be a mere half hour drive from Grand Rapids.  Since that is the amount of time I probably waste in rush hour traffic on a regular basis, I’m considering Arcadia Ales as yet another local, neighborhood brewery. You should, too. 

May is Session Beer Month


Session Ales


“We humbly declare the month of May to be dedicated to Session Beers. May the tyranny of the Imperialists be cast down. Raise your pints, and declare with pride, less is more.”

– Session Beer Month Facebook



Since May is Session Beer month it’s time to explore this beer category a bit more in depth.


A session beer pretty much means the beer packs a bunch of flavor at a low ABV, meaning you can sit down and have more than a couple of these brews in one session.  Technically, it must have low gravity and be at or under 4.5% ABV or 5% ABV, depending on your source.


Try and tempt your palette with these paragons of session beers.


Perrin Brewing Razzberry Blonde

4.5% ABV 7 IBU


Crisp with a slightly sweet fruit flavor full of raspberries.


Summit Brewing Co. Pilsener

4.5% ABV  25 IBU


A pilsener brewed in the classic Czech Republic style this beer is full of Saaz hops that lend a slight spiciness that finishes crisp.


Flying Dog Brewery Woody Creek Belgian White

4.8% ABV 17 IBU


A classically brewed Belgian-style wheat beer full of citrus notes and wheat, coriander and orange flavors. 

Brooklyn Brewery and BBQ


Brooklyn Brewery and BBQ: Food Pairing


“And this is what real beer can do: it can make every single decent meal you have an interesting and memorable flavor experience. It can be something that will light up your senses and make you actually want to pay attention to what’s happening on your palate.” – Garrett Oliver, the Brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery. From his book, The Brewmaster’s Table.


The great thing about beer, that Oliver makes quite clear in his book, is that beer can pretty much be paired with anything. So, celebrate summer with a nice grill out with some beer pairing options, Brooklyn style.


First, get your grill started so it will be prefect temp by the time you crack open your first brew. Now, read on with these suggestions pairings that match Brooklyn Brewery.


Brooklyn Brown. Brown Ale. 5.6% ABV. 30 IBU.

Ribs have a strong, sticky sweet flavor that can easily overwhelm a lighter beer. A brown ale will match the ribs in terms of flavor, while the malty backbone helps complement the ribs’ flavor. In addition, the caramel flavors work well to enhance the sweet and dark flavors.


Brooklyn Lager. Amber Lager. 5.2% ABV. 33 IBU.

Burgers need a beer that won’t overwhelm the palate that won’t be drowned out by the meat and toppings. An amber lager provides a depth of flavor with a clean, crisp finish that cuts through to refresh the palate.


Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. Farmhouse Saison. 7.6% ABV. 34 IBU.

This single-hopped Farmhouse Saison pairs well with grilled corn on the cob. The Sorachi hop adds an acidic aroma that complements corn on the cob, especially if you eat it how I do, which is with fresh-squeezed lemons or limes and chili seasoning. Clean malt flavor matches the corn’s carb levels while the hop bitterness balances out the corn’s sweetness.


Brooklyn Summer Ale. Pale Ale. 5% ABV. 18 IBU.

Pair it with grilled shrimp and pineapple kebabs. The pale ale has a light citrus aroma that complements the pineapple. The British malts and four different kinds of hops make sure its flavor is bursting, while not overpowering the delicate flavors of the shrimp. 

American Craft Beer Week


A Guide to Celebrating American Craft Beer Week

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, once again! American Craft Beer Week (May 13-19) is in full swing, which means it’s time to celebrate with fun, beer-filled activities. For those who want to go beyond simply drinking beer to celebrate, since in reality that is no different than any other week of the year, here is a guide for appropriately celebrating every beer drinker’s favorite holiday.


Step One: Pair that beer with some grub.

This is a holiday so feel free to go beyond your beer and cheese option and do some wild pairings. Test out different dishes to see what beer flavors they accentuate or mask or do a themed pairing with all breakfast food. Or, go the route of spontaneity and assemble whatever you have in your fridge then take out your beer and start trying whatever is available. This is what some of us call making dinner.


Step Two: Travel the world through beer.

Growing up I never could master the around-the-world slinky trick. However, I’m quit proud of my world traveling skills when it comes to beer. Start off local, spread out from the Midwest and hit up Southern, Western and Northeastern brews before getting out of the states. Europe’s rich brewing history shouldn’t be overlooked, nor should the up and coming craft beer hotbeds in Chile or Asia.


Step Three: Play a new kind of drinking game.

See how long you can go this week without drinking a beer you already have tried. Pushing the limits and expanding your view of beer will not only expand your palette but also introduce you to new breweries you may have previously ignored.


Step Four: Don’t get wasted.

American Craft Beer Week is about appreciating and enjoying beer, not chugging it to reach such an inebriated state that you can’t remember half of what you drank the night before. Plus, May is session beer month so this is the perfect time to segue into lower ABV beers that you can drink a few of without the room spinning.


Step Five: Make friends.

The craft beer community is known for getting together in the name of beer. So, for the sake of beer, go out there, have fun and be nice and make new friends. 

Happy Mothers' Day


My Mothers’ Day Card in Beers

Dear Mama,


Last year I made you a rap mixtape for Mothers’ Day. This year you get a mix of beer to symbolize all the ways I’m thankful that I get to have the kind of mom who has always supported me through all my misadventures and who will hang out at breweries with me, even though you don’t really like beer.


Here’s to you, Ma! Cheers!



My Mama and Me


Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

You raised five moody and rebellious kids without (completely) losing your sanity and without the help of those magic yella pils. Shuttling us to hockey, soccer, dance and swim classes while keeping us from killing each other couldn’t have been easy but you did it.


Right Brain Will Power

My siblings and I outnumbered you but you held your ground didn’t let us forget our responsibilities. Instead you raised us to be independent and hard working, then recognized us for that.


Sixpoint Righteous Ale

You taught me right from wrong so I could make better decisions in my life. I may not have always listened but I remember.


Perrin Razberry Blonde

This is just because I know you will really like this beer. Light, fruity and with a hint of sweetness and a crisp finish.


New Belgium Shift

The tagline for this beer is “finish your shift. Start another,” which is exactly what you do. Whether it’s going beyond what your nursing job responsibilities for the patient, teaching extra classes, taking care of us kiddos or now spoiling your grandkids, you are always tirelessly working and caring for others.


Magic Hat Elder Betty

Although you’re getting up there in years and may soon be considered an elder I still think you’re lookin’ good.


OK, Mama. That about sums up how awesome you are. Happy Mothers’ Day and Cheers to you and all the other fantastic mothers like you!





Michigan Mobile Canning


Mobile Canning


Recently I sat down and talked with the guys from Mobile Canning about the benefits of craft beer in a can. Canning continues to grow with the increasing momentum behind the craft beer industry. To get an in-depth look at how the beer gets into the can they’ve provided this handy video that shows the process.


To get a better idea on the inspiration and mission for mobile canning I sat down with Scott Roberts and discussed the can revolution.  Scott is half of the team behind Mobile Canning, Michigan’s first mobile canning line.


Scott lived in Colorado from 1993-1999, which is where he caught the craft beer bug. When he visited the state again in 2011 and went to his favorite beer store he couldn’t find any bottled beer – they were all in the back. Instead, up front and center were cans of craft beer. According to Scott, aluminum accounts for at least 75 percent of the beer in Colorado, with West Coast brewers embracing the vessel. Scott thought this would be the perfect vessel for Michigan, considering the new activities and places beer could be taken in a can without fear of breakage, in comparison to a glass bottle.


Back in Michigan, Scott partnered with Andrew McClean to provide a mobile canning option to brewers who are unable or wary of investing in a long-term a canning line. They were surprised by the lack of pushback from brewers who, knowing the benefits of the can, welcomed this innovation.


Not only are brewers aware of the benefits of using aluminum cans, Scott also believes that the current beer drinking demographic is ready for more beer products in cans. The younger generation, 21-34 years old, grew up with aluminum products, from soda to energy drinks. Expanding that line up to include craft beer is a logical step.


Mobile canning is just another addition to the aluminum craft beer wave. West Side Beer provides over 40 different craft beers in cans, currently. That number is slated to grow as Right Brain Brewery becomes the first brewery to use Mobile Canning this summer as they can their Will Power, CEO Stout and Northern Hawk Owl beers.


As this trends grows to the point of becoming a solidified part of the craft beer arena, I’ll be sure to do my part by supporting craft can products. 

Top 5 Reasons being Beer City USA Rocks



Top 5 reasons being Beer City USA Rocks morning on the radio the DJs discussed with a caller whether being Beer City USA is something Grand Rapids should be proud of or not. The caller considered it a negative title since essentially it made Grand Rapids famous for drinking. However, such a stand point is silly in consideration of what being Beer City USA actually entails for the Grand Rapids community.


In celebration and explanation for the Grand Rapids push to retain the Beer City USA title (have you voted yet?) here is a top five list for why being Beer City USA rocks. 

1. It promotes Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids and Michigan's tourism, in general and brewery-specific, increases dramatically with the possession of the national title. 


2. Craft beer is an experience, not just a way to get drunk.

This is such an important concept to understand – the title Beer City USA goes beyond the number of beers sold or the number of breweries within the city limits. The title Beer City USA is a nod to the culture of the craft beer community. Craft beer drinkers enjoy sharing, discovering and tasting new craft beers and create an entire experience around the brew. This is drastically different than someone who is shotgunning beers or downing shots in an inebriation effort. 


3. Craft Beer supports the community


The craft beer community is not separate from the city, it plays an active role in supporting many local organizations, causes and events. For instance, Perrin Brewing will be supporting a local artistic endeavor, called Trip the Light this weekend.


4. Craft beer helps the economy


With staggering double digit growth in the industry during the past year, craft beer contributed $2 billion to the Michigan economy. It also accounted for 37,2200 jobs and $949 million in wages within the state. With many breweries like Arcadia Ales and Frankenmuth Brewery continuing to expand and open new production facilities, these numbers will continue to grow.


5. Being Beer City USA is fun

Along with the pride that comes with the title, there’s a lot of fun to be had as Beer City USA.  As part of the fun, there will be a 3-day pub crawl this week and brewers are collaborating together on a new beer called #55555513. New beer, fun events and lots of people loving and enjoying beer together – that’s what rocks about Grand Rapids being Beer City USA.


Now go out and vote! 



Cinco de Mayo: Craft Beer and Cactus


Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Craft Beer and Cactus


Time to celebrate Cindo de Mayo with a craft beer and cactus pairing! Cactus salsa is the perfect way to enjoy a traditional Mexican cuisine (nopales) in a very American way: chips, salsa and beer. 


courtesy of are Nopales?

Nopales are the leaves of cacti and are often used in Mexican cooking. To prepare the cactus leaves, wash then remove any cactus thorns with a knife and trip the outside edges.


Nopales Salsa Recipe

Chop up the cactus and place into a heated skillet with two tablespoons of hot oil. Add a bit of salt and stir for a minute before putting a lid on the skillet and cooking for 20 minutes on medium heat, or until all the gooey stuff that looks like aloe vera gel is dried out.


Cool the cactus bits before adding to a mixing bowl with diced up tomato, onion, Serrano peppers, cilantro, fresh lime juice, salt and avocado. Serve with tortilla  chips.


Nopales add a protein, almost beanlike flavor to the salsa, which will be full of bright citrus flavors and a bit of smokey spice from the Serrano peppers. Best beer pairings will be either a light pale ale, with a bit of hops to complement the spice level or a lager to refresh the palate.


Frankenmuth Helles A light summer lager with citrus notes and a crisp finish.


Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

npoA perfectly balanced West Coast-style pale ale. 

Focus on Imperial IPA


Style Focus on Imperial IPA


What makes an IPA imperial? Let’s discuss this hopped up brew and what it means to be imperial in the world of IPA. begin with, an IPA is an India Pale Ale, which is a hoppier version of a pale ale. When discussing the American IPA style (which is the majority of our product) you will notice distinct hop notes due to the predominant use of Northwestern Pacific hops. These hops lend floral, citrus, grapefruit, resinous and piney notes, as well as grassy and fruity notes at times.


The term “imperial” originated in the 19th century and referred to beer Britain shipped to the Russian Empire. Imperial stouts are one example of the use of this term. However, in America, the term evolved to designate the alcohol strength of a beer. In general, imperial beers are strong with imperial IPAs often made with twice the amount of hops and malts, which is why they are also called double IPAs instead of imperial IPAs.


The imperial IPA style is often very complex, with a huge hop aroma due to the prevalence of dry hopping in this category. Flavor-wise, hop bitterness is strong, although a hefty malt backbone is typically used to balance the beer while providing caramel and toasty flavor components. Some alcohol flavor is noticeable with the finish, which typically ends dry. Imperial IPAs tend to be golden amber to medium copper and have a medium-light to medium body. 


Although very hoppy and high in alcohol content, I’ve noticed many tasters who are not fans of a typical IPA will actually prefer imperial IPAs. My impression is that this is due to the strong malt background and the care many brewers put into creating balance in these heavy hitting brews by creating a balance between the ABV and IBU levels.


If after reading all of this you feel a bit thirsty here are a few suggestions for an Imperial IPA.



Sixpoint Brewing Resin

9.1% ABV 103 IBU


Oskar Blues Brewery Gubna

10% ABV 100 IBU


Blue Point Brewing No Apologies

10% ABV 93 IBU


New Belgium Rampant

8.5% ABV 85 IBU

Arcadia Ales Hop Rocket

9% ABV 111 IBU  

High End Trade Show Recap


High End Trade Show Recap


This week went by in a whirlwind of great beer, amazing people and fun times!  West Side Beer celebrated our many craft beer and high-end beer brands with our customers in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo.


It was a great opportunity for everyone to join together and discuss a shared interest and one of my favorite topics: beer. A huge part of our trade shows includes a beer education component at the very beginning. This year, we lucked out and had John from New Belgium Brewing lead the beer education lecture with a beer sensory presentation. Watching people’s first retronasal experience made my day. Then, our sale representatives discussed a few topics that are growing and are trending pretty hot lately. Craft beer in a can and the growing rise of the hard cider category took main stage, which made sense since in Grand Rapids alone West Side brands include over 40 different craft beers in a can and the cider market grew over 70 percent in Michigan.


I also presented during the beer education class and talked about the importance of social media as a way to connect beer consumer to buy seller (be that a brewery, distributor or wholesaler) and the importance of recognizing women as a growing and important demographic for craft beer consumption. After beer school and during the beer tastings multiple people came over to say how excited they were that we were able to provide more information and discuss these trends in craft beer.


The beer tasting portion ended up being a ball, with a laid back setting with great musical entertainment and a ton of food. But beyond that, I appreciated being able to reconnect and acquaint myself with so many fellow beer lovers who comprise of our Michigan craft beer community. I, and everyone at West Side Beer, is so very thankful for the wonderful turnout we had at each event and the great experience the High End Trade Show provided us all. Exciting times are ahead and we’re very happy to have already shared so many with our community.




P.S. Check out our photo albums on Facebook for some visuals of each tradeshow. 

Kalamazoo High End Trade Show

Grand Rapids High End Trade Show

Lansing High End Trade Show 

Sriracha: Beer and Food Pairing


Beer and Food Pairing: Sriracha

Although Sriracha pretty much goes great with any dish, it takes a certain type of beer to pair well with the hot sauce.  The Thai condiment, Sriracha, is known for making grown men cry and adding awesome heat to a wide variety of dishes.

To begin deciding on the best beer pairing, let’s take a look at what comprises the sauce. Sriracha is a combination of red chili pepper paste, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. Typically found in the iconic green-tipped bottle and bright red in color, Sriracha adds a tangy heat to any dish when it added.

Following the general guidelines for beer and food pairings, spicy food should not be paired with strong dark beers, since the palate will be overwhelmed by spice and not able to recognize all of the beer flavors. Rather, pair with a clean and crisp pilsner or lager to refresh and clean the palate in between bites or choose an IPA with bitter hop notes that enhance the spiciness.

Suggested Sriracha Beer Pairings

Stone Ruination IPA 7.7% ABV 100+ IBU

You can’t get much hoppier than Stone’s Ruination. If you want to completely obliterate your palate douse some food in Sriracha then toss back a pint of this.  

Frankenmuth Pilsener 5.25% ABV 26 IBU

Following the traditional German purity law by using only malted barley, water, German hops and German lager yeast, this pilsener is perfect in its simplicity.

Sam Adams Boston Lager 4.9% ABV 30 IBU

There’s a reason Boston Lager is credited for helping jump start the craft beer revolution. Balanced and full of flavor with a crisp ending.  

3 Beers to Warm Up To


3 Beers to Warm Up To


Back home a lot of friends are enjoying a snow day, thanks to the lovely Spring weather we are having. Although it may not be snowing here in the Lower Peninsula, the rain and cold are still rather unpleasant. To warm up the day I propose finding your own ray of sunshine to drink today while hiding from any oncoming thunderstorms or cold onslaughts.


Magic Hat #9

My first experience with Magic Hat #9 occurred during a hellish week that included work, final exams and moving to a new apartment. While packing up the remaining goods my eyes spied a Magic Hat #9 for the first time. I sipped on it and although I didn’t suddenly enjoy cleaning my house that night, #9 definitely brightened up the evening for me.

Sixpoint Sweet Action

I like sweets and things full of action so no wonder Sweet Action is a go to beer, but is especially made for days like this. While the rest of your body is trapped feeling damp, cold and all around unpleasant a bit of Sweet Action in your mouth allows your tastebuds and mind to enjoy a break. Sweet Action is a combination of pale, wheat and cream ales that combine to create a highly drinkable and delicious brew that may even give hope of brighter days ahead.

Pyramid Weiss Cream

A new option available on draft only, this beer combines two of my favorite things; beer and ice cream. A wheat ale brewed with spices, bitter orange peel and vanilla then nitrogenated, it is super smooth. The ending result is that it tastes like a creamsicle in liquid form, except for this version you don’t have to run down the ice cream truck to get it. Also, anything that reminds me of a creamsicle reminds me of happier, warmer days.

Now, put on a little bit of Beach Boys, crack open a beer, close your eyes and pretend that the sun is shining.

Repeal of Prohibition anniversary


Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Legal Booze in Michigan

Michigan became the first state to repeal prohibition in 1932

Booze always has been a booming business for Michigan. During the days of prohibition an
estimated 75 percent of the nation’s booze originated from Detroit, channeling it from Canada to thirsty Americans across the nation.

 Part of the push for prohibition repeal came from Michigan’s law known as “a pint for a life,” where anyone caught with alcohol on their person and with three previous felonies automatically received a life sentence. In addition, the Great Depression threw Michigan into the throes of unemployment and financial crisis making alcohol tax revenue especially appealing. All of these reasons combined to lead to a vote to ratify the 21st Amendment that was described as 99 percent pure since out 100 votes only one went against the ratification.

In celebration, here are a few quotes on prohibition and Michigan’s thirst for boozy liberty.

“So, we have decided to give up prohibition. We have decided to try personal liberty once more, the personal liberty we had before prohibition.”-  Michigan governor, William Comstock

“Prohibition only drives drunkenness behind doors and into dark places and does not cure it or even diminish it.” –
Mark Twain

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.” –
Al Capone


Now go celebrate your right to drink with a beer!

Beer Consumer


Who is Today’s Beer Consumer?


The craft trend continues to gain strength within the beer industry. As the industry changes then the beer consumer does, as well. Who is the beer consumer now with new and different tastes?


There are now new facts out there to lend a better understanding of the beer consumer and what characteristics comprise the new drinking trends. Here are some facts on the beer consumer courtesy of In the Capital.



71.9% of craft beer consumers are male while 28.1% are female, although with more and more young women turning to craft beer this statistic is changing.



Millenials account for 32.9% of the craft beer consumer while Generation X accounts for another 23.9% and the Baby Boomers add another 34.6% of the beer drinkers.



Why drink beer? There are a lot of reasons for consumers to decide on a certain craft brand but here are the most popular reasons for drinking craft beer.

Craft drinkers said 56% of the time they chose craft to experiment with flavors while 46% of the time it is because of seasonal beer. In addition, 46% of the time craft is chosen because it tastes better. Aside from flavor, craft is chosen 36% of the time because it is considered a treat.


With so many statistics out there about the craft beer drinker it is hard to assemble a set picture. What it comes down to, though, is that the craft beer drinker is or should be everyone. There is a style out there to match each individual preference. The issue isn’t whether or not someone is a beer drinker or a craft drinker it is about what they are searching for. More than likely, beer will have the answer, one way or the other. 

Easter Dinner Beer Pairings


Easter Food Pairings


For those who gave up the good stuff (aka beer) for Lent, congratulations! This weekend your taste buds and beer belly will be set free to enjoy both meat and beer this Sunday! Here are some simply delicious pairings to peruse and consider for your feast.


Ham roast with New Belgium Trippel


Picture a savory and sweet brown sugar rubbed ham roast. Now picture that paired with a Trippel. New Belgium’s Trippel is brewed with coriander, which adds a spiciness that goes well with the brown sugar and spice rub I typically cook my ham with. The fruit notes will also complement the sweetness of the ham, while the alcohol level helps clean the palate.


Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Point Hoptical Illusion IPA


Cheesy creamy potatoes are always a staple on the Easter dinner table. Pairing them with a hopped up beer, like an IPA, creates ensures neither the potatoes nor the beer overpowers the other. The strong flavors match the intense cheesiness of the dish while the hops cut through the creaminess.


Peeps and Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils


Animal-shaped marshmallows are pretty much sugar bombs in the mouth. To help mellow out the sugar bomb, pair Peeps with a light and crisp pilsner, such as Mama’s Little Yella Pils. The pilsner will contrast the sugar-saturated peeps with its crisp finish. 



Ladies Love Craft Beer


Ladies Love Craft Beer

Studies show craft beer is edging out wine as young women’s drink of choice

Ladies who love beer, you are not alone. In fact, you are becoming the majority as women aged 18-35 now prefer craft beer to wine as their drink of choice.

Although in general I am not very fond of considering myself as a statistic, as a 23-year-old woman who makes a living from and loves drinking craft beer, I find this heartwarming news. Not that it is any surprise here in Beer City USA, where women tend to head out in droves for a ladies’ night at a brewery or check out cheap pints during happy hours throughout the city. In addition, the increased interest women are giving craft beer makes sense biologically, at least according to
Beer West Magazine.

“Most women have more taste buds than most men, which gives them a substantial edge when savoring the flavors, aromas, and complexities of a well-crafted beer in a properly poured pint. In other words, women, on average, and in general, have broader, better, and more balanced palates than men” – Chad Walsh

Another reason craft beer is gaining popularity with the ladies is that could be that craft beer tastes good and anyone, regardless of their gender, can appreciate something that tastes delicious.

With 12 percent growth in 2012 the craft beer segment continues to grow and with that growth follows an increase in options, allowing each individual can find that intro beer that intrigues their taste buds enough to fall down the proverbial craft beer rabbit hole.

As more beer companies recognize the potential for growth in this particular beer drinking population, women will become more sought after within the industry itself. At the moment it seems like women beer aficionados are still viewed as a bit of a novelty. However, as more women engage in the craft beer community and as the craft beer community recognizes and welcomes them as legit drinkers and sources of knowledge reports like this one won’t seem newsworthy. Hopefully soon it won’t be a surprise to be a knowledgeable craft beer drinker and not just a pretty face in the beer world.

To ensure that day comes, I’ll continue to do my part and continue drinking craft beer.

beer business is good


(beer) business is good


It is an established fact that the beer business is good in Michigan. With more research confirming this fact, it is also obvious that the state of the growing and vibrant craft beer segment in Michigan is not just a positive note for beer lovers but for the state, in general, craft beer is a positive economical force.


This shows that Michigan is proving itself worthy of its Great Beer State title (Michigan is 5th in the state in terms of breweries), with Grand Rapids or Beer City USA the epicenter of the craft beer business boom. According to the article, Michigan beat the national craft beer industry growth rate by 8 percent, growing 20 percent for the year 2012 while the average national growth clocked in at 12 percent for 2012. That double digit growth resulted in more than 100 breweries within the state, packing a $133 million positive economic impact in Michigan.


The positive force that the craft beer business exudes in Michigan goes beyond just economic profit, however. It is a force within the local movement, as well. I remember hearing that no matter where you are in Michigan, you are within 20 minutes of a fresh water source and I bet pretty soon the same can be said for how close you are to a craft brewery. Already, living in Grand Rapids, I’m within walking distance of seven craft breweries.


Although promoting local craft breweries is a great boon to our economy, out of state craft breweries and their own positive impact in Michigan and in their local territories should not be undermined. Out of state breweries also employ local residents to help represent their breweries within the state, often support the same ideals as local breweries in terms of environmental and social awareness, provide support for local causes in their distribution footprint and are a driving source of local economic growth in their own hometowns.


At the end of the day, with the beer business succeeding so phenomenally and with the positive impact craft breweries wield in their local and distribution areas, drinking a craft beer in Michigan is not only an enjoyable but a socially responsible act (in moderation), right?

Why Oskar Blues is the Craft Brewer of the Year


Top 6 Reasons Why Oskar Blues Brewery is the Craft Brewer of the Year

Beverage World Magazine crowned Oskar Blues Brewery with the Craft Brewer of the Year title for 2013. This honor comes after Oskar Blues made Michigan the 30th state in its distribution footprint. For all Michiganders out there, this is a wonderful coincidence, since we now are not only a Great Beer State but also have access to the Craft Brewer of the Year’s product! Now a lot of factors are taken into account when deciding upon who is the craft brewer of the year and to be honest, I am not privy to that sort of information. However, in my opinion, here are the top 6 reasons why Oskar Blues is the 2013 Craft Brewer of the Year.

Top 6 Reasons Oskar Blues is the Craft Brewer of the Year


  1. 52% increase in production in 2012
  2. 49% revenue growth in 2012
  3. Capacity to brew up to 130,000 barrels in 2013
  4. Expected 50% increase in production for 2013
  5. Started, and is known as the leader of, the Craft CanRevolution
  6. A brewery made up of great people with great attitudes making phenomenal liquid



    What the What? Whitsun is back!


    Spring really is around the corner! Arcadia Ales will be releasing Whitsun ale in celebration of every Irish and non Irishman’s favorite holiday.


    Whitsun is an unfiltered wheat beer brewed with local Michigan honey and spiced with orange peel and coriander. A great beer for warmer weather, I’ve enjoyed it as an orange juice replacement. It is incredibly smooth with bready notes and a slight sweetness that complements the light hops perfectly.


    Whitsun, as an iconic symbol of warm weather in Michigan, will be available throughout spring and summer months. It is available in draft, bottle or can, another example of the craft CanRevolution that continues to pick up strength. No matter your adventure, Whitsun will have you covered this summer, just keep an eye out for that sunny orange packaging to get some Whitsun of your own. 

    Adults Only Comedy Show


    Adults Only Comedy: Bud Light Blue Late Night Comedy Series


    Everyone likes a good laugh and everyone likes to get things for free, which means everyone will love the Adults Only Comedy Show tonight. Presented as a part of the Bud Light Blue Late Night Comedy Series, this is a free show featuring raunchy fun adult humor as a part of Gilda’s Laughfest.

    The comedy show starts tonight at the Orbit Room and will feature veterans of the laugh business. The stars of the night include Eric Andre, creator of the Eric Andre show on Adult Swim who is also on ABC’s “Don’t trust the b@#$& in Apt. 23.”

    Neil Brennan from “The Goods” co-writer of “Half-Baked,” co-creator of the Chappelle’s Show, and recent director of a “New Girl” episode will also be raking in the laughs tonight as the another act in the Adults Only Comedy show.

    Gilda’s Laughfest is in its third year celebrating the health of laughter while raising money for the nonprofit Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids.

    History of the Rebel Stout


    The History of the Rebel Stout


    Murphy’s Stout, a.k.a. the rebel stout, has a long past tied to its homeland Cork, Ireland.


    The story begins in 1709, when the Murphy family first moved to Cork Ireland. There they settled in and became pillars of the community. Finally, in 1856, James, the eldest out of fifteen children, started brewing the classic Irish beverage out of his new brewery, Murphy’s. The brewery wasn’t just welcomed by local Cork dwellers but went nationwide and by 1861 it established itself as a major Irish brewery.


    In fact, Murphy’s Brewery became such a symbol of Irish pride, it was the choice of drinker by the fighters during the Irish War of Independence.  Cork Ireland was known as a hot spot for these rebel fighters during the war and once again during the Irish Civil War. With a hometown like Cork, which became known as the rebel county, Murphy’s stout soon gained the nickname rebel stout.


    For Murphy’s, wartime signified a period of change for the brewery. In 1914 a vat of porter flooded the brewery and even a bit of the town. By 1921 they recovered enough from the flood to start bottling beer. Steadily, Murphy’s Brewery grew until it finally came to the U.S. in 1979, satisfying the thirsts of Irish and non-Irish alike.


    Although St. Patrick’s Day is full of merry faces, green oddities and lots of drinking, it is also a time for tradition. For Irish and those who are Irish for a day, celebrate with a true Irish drink and enjoy Ireland’s only rebel stout.

    Happy Oskar Blues Day!


    Happy Oskar Blues Day!


    It’s everybody’s nonbirthday today and our collective present is drinking Oskar Blues beer in Michigan! Starting today they are available throughout the Great Beer State.  To celebrate, we will be throwing a bunch of fun tap takeovers throughout the week. Make sure to head out to at least one and try a few of Oskar Blues’ righteously named and awesome-tasting beer.


    Monday (tonight!) 

    • Oskar Blues will be over on the West Side starting at 6 pm tonight and will showcase 4 draft handles. 




    • Head over to one of the world’s best beer bars over on Ionia Ave. and try a selection of four drafts from Oskar Blues.




    • Pick up a 6 pack of Oskar Blues to enjoy at home.




    • Start thirsty Thursday early while sampling Oskar Blues drafts over on 28th Street, starting at 3:30 pm.


    • Head downtown to enjoy a classy dinner paired with one of Oskar Blues’ 4 drafts.


    • From there, head over to Ionia Ave. to finish the night on a high note that starts and ends with more Oskar Blues.




    • Fill up on wings and Oskar Blues at this downtown sports bar over on Ionia Ave.




    • Listen to the best jukebox in the downtown area while hanging out at this Commerce Ave. bar and sipping on some Oskar Blues.


    • Next, head up to Division Ave. to rock out and fill up on sushi and Oskar Blues to finish the night strong. 

    New Belgium Spring Releases


    New Belgium releases 7 new brews. We all rejoice.

    Spring is in the air, although it may not look like with all the snow and ice covering pretty much everything. With the changing of season comes the changing of beer, and New Belgium is celebrating the season in a grand fashion with 7 new beer releases. Keep a look out for these beers on the market, most are limited and incredibly delicious. If you’re lucky you might be able to collect them all.

    Dig Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV 36 IBU

    This spring seasonal highlights the best of the season as a pale ale with a lemon-citrus aroma. Crisp and clean, it is a sessionable ale with citrus and floral hop notes.

    Rampant Imperial IPA:
    8.5% ABV 85 IBU

    As part of the Explorer series, Rampant is the only new addition to New Belgium’s year-long line up. It boasts bitter hops and a citrus aroma for a brew that pours copper and finishes bone-dry.

    Hoppy Bock Lager: 6.5% ABV 70 IBU

    Perfect for spring, this lager is the first release in New Belgium’s Hop Kitchen series. It’s full of citrus notes spiced with rye malt and old world hops.

    La Folie:
    6% ABV 15 IBU

    Lips of Faith Series. A sour brown ale wood-conditioned for 1 – 3 years in French Oak barrels. Sour apple notes, dry effervescence and earthy undertones combine to create a collection of goodness.

    Transatlantique Kriek: 8% ABV 8 IBU

    Lips of Faith Series. A collaboration between New Belgium and Boon Brewery out of Belgium, this sour cherry ale shows the best of both breweries. It started out in oak barrels, where it aged for two years in Belgium before being shipped over to Colorado for New Belgium’s finishing touches to the full-bodied brew. A cherry aroma with a sour cherry taste that finishes sweetly and tingles the mouth with carbonation is the best way to describe this beer.

    Cascara Quad:
    10% ABV 22 IBU

    Lips of Faith Series. As a Belgium Quad, this beer is dark and strong with a strong malt bill that is spiced with coffee and molasses notes. A heady aroma full of dates and tobacco provide enticement with a warming mouthfeel from the alcohol content and a swift, dry finish.

    Heavenly Feijoa Tripel:
    9% ABV

    Lips of Faith Series. A collaboration with Dieu de Ciel out of Montreal, this beer is brewed with Hibiscus flowers and Feijoa fruit. It has a tropical fruit aroma and with a flavor profile full of spicy notes, sweet-fruit, cranberry tartness and a sharp bit.



    7 Reasons I like My Craft in a Can


    7 Reasons I’ll take my craft in a can 




    1. Recylcemania!

    Aluminum cans are the most easily and frequently recycled beverage package in the world. Considering the amount of beer consumed personally and by the general public, it makes sense to ensure that the mass amount of empties are easily recycled. Plus, one recycled can saves approximately 6 oz. of energy, which can then be used to make more beer!

    2. Keepin’ it fresh

    Because cans block out light and oxygen better than bottles, they are able to protect the beer and keep it fresher for longer

    3. Less is more

    Living in an upstairs apartment leads to the appreciation of the small things in life; primarily the small, light things that are easier to carry up and down stairs without bags breaking or dropping during the trek.

    4. Crushin’ it

    Cans are ideal for feats of strength that showcase a hand’s ability to crumple up really thin aluminum. Impressive, right?

    5. Unbreakable

    Although ideal for hand crushing, they are a far better choice to bring along to fun activities like hiking, golfing, camping. Or, for the couch potato, they won’t break if dropped carelessly on the floor from the couch during a TV watching marathon.

    6. Cool Cans

    Cans are able to cool much quicker than bottles. In fact, in a pinch, you can speed chill it with this handy tutorial by Alton Brown.

    7. CanRevolution – Join in!

    The craft CanRevolution officially started with Oskar Blues in 2002 with the distribution of Dale’s Pale Ale in a can. Since then the CanRevolution has blown up as more craft brewers and drinkers realize the myth of the metallic-tasting can and recognize canned craft as an innovative way to provide great product in an environmental package.


    Here’s a list of our Brewers who provide craft in cans.


    Oskar Blues: Jumpstarted the CanRevolution by choosing to start distributing with cans and never looked back.


    Rochester Mills Beer Company: Rochester Mills recently began distributing their beer across the Great Beer State and started off right, with 16 oz. cans in 4 packs.


    Six Point Brewing: This East Coast brewery recognized the superiority of the can as a vessel for their product.


    New Belgium Brewing: Known for its environmental focus, New Belgium distributes Shift only in cans (recently in 12 oz. cans!).


    Blue Point Brewing: Another East Coast brewery committed to creating great product in an environment and user-friendly manner.


    Samuel Adams: One of the first breweries of the craft beer movement recently announced to begin canning it’s flagship brew, Boston Lager, and joined the CraftRevolution. 

    MI Winter Beer Fest '13 Recap


    MI Winter Beer Fest Recap


    Yesterday beer lovers from all over congregated to enjoy and celebrate the culmination of GR Beer Week; MI Winter Beer Fest. It was a fantastic and long day as crowds lined up early in participation for the 635 different brews from 74 breweries. Outfits ranged from Tiger and Yetti outfits to extravagant necklaces that had everything from basic pretzels to chunks of jerky and lunchables. Although I didn’t sport one of these fashionable necklaces I’m thankful to the kind-hearted individuals who shared the wealth and let me eat off their necklaces.


    Throughout the day, the atmosphere maintained convivial, despite the snow and beery slush dampening clothes and limbs. Love of beer combined with neighborly friendliness as brewers served and mingled with the crowd in the shared passion for quality beer. Personally, as a beer lover, it was a fun and exciting day to try new beers with a group of like-minded friends. It was especially gratifying to see West Side Beer’s awesome Michigan craft breweries showcasing solid product and receiving enthusiastic responses from the crowd.


    Although many of us may be hurting today from yesterday’s activities one thing is for certain: We can’t wait until next year!


    Check out our Facebook GR Beer Week album to get a glimpse at the crowds, breweries, outfits and fun we had at MI Beer Fest ’13. 

    Ultimate Beer Bash Breakfast


    Ultimate Beer Bash Breakfast 


    Only two days until everyone’s favorite holiday, the Michigan Winter Beer Fest! Now is the time to put some serious planning into the day’s festivities in order to max out on the beer and fun times. Along with making top 10 lists for breweries and outlining a rough path to make through the maze of tents you should also plan ahead for fueling your beer lovin’ body. Although pretzel necklaces and turkey legs will come in handy, let’s focus on the most important meal of the day.


    Breakfast time is when you’ll need to pump up the body by pumpin’ up the calories. Beer Fest is not a day to shy away from gluttony. Rather, make sure to embrace the fattening foods since that multitude of calories will keep you feeling toasty and help your body handle the onslaught of beer goodness it will be subjected to all day.


    Here’s the Ultimate Beer Bash Breakfast Recipe.



    Start with frying bacon.


    There is no data to explain this one. It just tastes good and should be involved in any serious breakfast making.


    Multitask and fry up sliced potatoes, onion and garlic.


    Potatoes are high in vitamin B6, which helps subdue nausea, something that might come in handy during the day. They also contain complex carbohydrates, which take longer to break down so you remain full for longer. Onions and garlic taste good and are great at fighting off sickness.


    Add eggs and whatever veggies you like.


    Eggs provide a heavy dose of protein that will also help keep your body running for longer. Vegetables are always good for you.


    Top with cheese and avocado.


    The fat content in the cheese and avocado will help keep you full longer. And they maker everything taste better.


    Add the bacon.


    Eat breakfast with lots of water so you will be fully hydrated. Then go out and beer it up at the MI Winter Beer Fest with no worries! 

    Oskar Blues is coming to town


    Oskar Blues is coming to town!

    Happy Monday everyone! West Side is super excited to announce that Oskar Blues is coming to town beginning March 4!

    If you hadn’t heard of this brewery here are some stats to get to know Oskar Blues a bit better.

    Top 5 Reasons Oskar Blues is Awesome

     They started the Canrevolution for craft.

    Before anyone else, Oskar Blue started canning Dale’s Pale Ale in 2002 and started the craft can revolution. Since then, craft in cans started to grow into a new movement, all headed by Oskar Blues and their ability to do what they wanted and thought best.  

     All of their beers are award-winning.

    Dale’s Pale Ale is known as the best pale ale around, according to the New York Times. From their stable, three beers have won top awards at GABF and three have won tops awards at the World Beer Championships (including G’Knight the 2008 and 2010 Gold Medal winner).

    Oskar Blues is known for their bad ass culture.

    The best kind of brewery is the kind the that produces beer you not only want to drink but employs the sort of people you want to share a pint with. Oskar Blues’ commitment to their employees and their company’s fun and bad ass culture make it a brewery you can drink and drink with.

    They have some of the best names for their brews.

     From Old Chub and Mama’s Little Yella Pils to the Gubna and Deviant Dale’s, their beers are fun to drink and to talk about.

    They make some seriously delectable beers.

     Just take a look at these five beers that will be available in the Grand Rapids market starting March 5.

    • Dale’s Pale Ale. 6.5% ABV 65 IBU
      A hoppy nose is accented by pale malt flavors that simultaneously consume and soothe the palette from start to finish.
    • Deviant Dale’s. 8% ABV 85 IBU
      A hop-forward aroma with citrus and pine notes partner with strong malty flavor to crush your soul with this IPA’s bold flavor.
    •  Old Chub. 8% ABV
      This scotch ale is full of semi-sweet cocoa and coffee flavors with a touch of smoke from the beechwood-smoked malt.
    • Mama’s Little Yella Pils. 5.3% ABV 35 IBU
      Made in the proud tradition of the Czech Republic’s Pilsens, this brew comes completely from pale malts. Bavarian hops add to this perfectly balanced and refreshing beverage.
    •  G’Knight. 8.5% ABV 60 IBU
      A dry-hopped double red ale that is full of big hop aroma and flavor, all balanced with a malty backbone.
    • Gubna. 10% ABV 100 IBU
      This imperial IPA keeps it simple in order to create an epic brew; 3 malts and Summit hops combine to produce a beer with a slightly spicy malt character and bitter hops flavor. Dry hopping lends a citrus and grapefruit aroma.

    Rochester Mills


    Rochester Mills Beer Co.

    Friends, Food & Beer

    Here at West Side Beer we are celebrating having another amazing Michigan brand in Beer City U.S.A. – Rochester Mills Beer Co. is now in Grand Rapids!  

    Rochester Mills opened in 1998 in Rochester Hills, on the east side of the state. Since then, they have been busy brewing up a storm of handcrafted beer for our state. Erik Briggeman (director of brewing operations) and Forrest Knapp head the brewing process in the new 50-barrel production brewhouse. With their new brewhouse they have the potential to eventually annually produce over 200,000 barrels.

    Along with their top-of-the-line brewhouse, they are continuing the craft can revolution. In addition to draft selections, Rochester Mills proffers up three of their most popular beer selections in cans. Milkshake Stout, Cornerstone IPA and Rochester Red are all available in cans so keep an eye out for them in the market. And don’t forget to grab a pint of Rochester Mills and welcome this new Michigan brewery into the Grand Rapids market!

    Milkshake Stout 5% ABV

    Four malts combine to create a stout with sweet, roasted malt flavor. Lactose adds body and sweetness, creating the perfect grown up milk shake.

    Rochester Red 5.9% ABV

    This English-style red ale pours ruby red. With mild hop bitterness and rich malty notes it goes down smooth.

    Cornerstone IPA 6.6%

    Dry hopped and full of citrus and pine hop aroma, Cornerstone pours amber and tastes deliciously bitter.

    Focus on Midnight Wheat Malt


    Focus on Midnight Wheat Malt


    There’s a new malt in town that is bringing new level of awesome to your tastebuds and its called Midnight Wheat. Here are the details on the malty goodness.


    First, this malt is rising to the challenge posed by the increased popularity of black IPAs. Produced in the U.S. (made from Wisconsin wheat) with 550° Lovibond this malt shows off deep, intense malt color with miniscule bitter and harsh flavors. The result is slightly sweet and subtle malt flavors that wash over the palate. The result is an exceptionally smooth malt character that finishes clean. Midnight Wheat malts are perfect for brewing a roasty dark beer with silky flavors and minor bitterness.


    Flavor: coffee/chocolate/roasty wheat malts

    Aroma: roasty with hints of chocolate

    Color: black



    Beers featuring Midnight Wheat


    New Belgium Snow Day


    Right Brain Midnight Rendezvous  (available in pub only)


    ShockTop End of the World Midnight Wheat 

    GR Beer Week Events


    Grand Rapids Beer Week Events



    From February 18 – February 24 Beer City USA will be celebrating all things beer for the official Grand Rapids Beer Week. Fun and, of course, pints upon pints of beer will be had by all. Here’s a list of some of the fun times to be had during the week, where you will be sure to find an array of good times and great beer.


    Right Brain Brewery Beer Dinner

    Sunday, February 17, 2013. 6 pm – 9 pm

    Kick off GR Beer Week by testing your tastebuds with a five-course dinner paired with Right Brain’s brews in Eastown. The dinner starts off with a bit of a beer quiz, with samples of that night’s beer available to be sampled. The challenge is to guess what each mystery brew is in Right Brain’s line up, with prizes for those with winning tasters. Updates and more information on this event and/or tickets can be found on here.


    Right Brain Tap Take Over

    Monday, February 18, 2013. 6 pm – close

    Continue the Right Brain flavor extravaganza over on Ionia Ave. for a tap takeover, starting at 6 pm. Drafts on hand will be Will Power, Satisfaction ESB, Northern Hawk Owl amber and CEO Stout. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Perrin Brewing
    “Beard City USA” beer dinner and beard competition

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013 6 pm – 9 pm.

    Celebrate "Beard City USA" with Perrin Brewing and Beardcore. The night will feature a three-course dinner paired with Perrin Golden Ale, Black Lager, and Double IPA, as well as a beard competition. the beard competition categories will be best 'stache, best beard and best freestyel. Rush from Beardcore and Jarred, the owner of Perrin Brewing, will be the featured judges. 

    Tickets should be bought in advance from the location on Ionia Avenue. For more information and check out the Facebook page.


    New Belgium Brewing Tap Takeover

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013. 6 pm – close.

     Don’t forget to take a chance on some of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, which will be on draft for this tap takeover. On draft: Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Imperial Coffee Stout, Biere de Garde (collaboration with Brewery Vivant) and Snow Day. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Perrin Brewing Tap Takeover

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    Go for round two with Perrin Brewing with a tap takeover over on Division Avenue. Draft selection will include Raspberry Blonde, Imperial Stout, Pale Ale, Double IPA and Nut Brown. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Right Brain Tap Takeover

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    Get a chance to try a ton of Right Brain brews – 18 to be exact – at this tap takeover taking place over on at the infamous whiskey lounge on Ionia Ave. On draft you will find Shadow Watcher, Naughty Girl Stout, CEO Stout, Fat Lad Imperial Stout, Igor Takes a Digger, Midnight Rendezvous, Irish Goodbye Cream Ale, Flying Squirrel Brown Ale, Dead Kettle IPA, Mangalista Pig Porter, Pecan Pie Whole, Looping Owl bourbon-aged amber, Imperial Brown, Will Power and Satisfaction ESB. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Arcadia Ales Beer Dinner

    Thursday, February 21, 2013. 6 pm – 9 pm.

    Celebrate Arcadia’s 16th anniversary with a fantastic five-course dinner featuring Mediterranean fare. Featured brews will include Arcadia’s 16th Anniversary Ale, Sky High Rye, Hopmouth, barrel-aged Imperial Stout and Lochdown Scotch Ale. Updates and more information on this event and/or tickets can be found on here.


    Frankenmuth Brewery Winter Wonderland Party

    Thursday, February 21, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    Have a party celebrating winter’s wonderland with Frankenmuth’s Pilsner and Dunkel on draft. With classically brewed beverages and fun times on hand, a wintry good time will be had by all. For more information check out the GR Beer Week’s events, here. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Rochester Mills Beer Co. Tap Takeover

    Thursday, February 21, 2013. All day.

    Find out what Rochester Mills is all about with their tap takeover at this Michigan St. Bar. Drafts of Cornerstone IPA, Snow Daze, Rochester Red and Bourbon Milk Shake Stout will be poured all day long. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Right Brain Tap Takeover

    Thursday, February 21, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    Enjoy a draft or six while hanging out with the owner of Right Brain Brewing. Drafts featured will be Igor Takes a Digger, Second Coming IPA, CEO Stout, Will Power, Satisfaction ESB and Northern Hawk Owl. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Perrin and Rochester Mills Tap Takeover

    Friday, February 22, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    It’s a two-for-one deal Friday night at one of the top rated beer bars in the world over on Ionia Avenue. They will be featuring a duel tap takeover by Perrin Brewing and Rochester Mills all night. Perrin drafts will be bourbon Rogue Rye, bourbon Double Black Lager, Vanilla Stout, Extra Pale, Strong Pale, Black Lager, Nut Brown and Raspberry Blonde. Rochester Mills drafts will feature Cornerstone IPA, Snow Daze, Rochester Red and bourbon Milk Shake Stout. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    Arcadia Ales Tap Takeover

    Friday, February 22, 2013. 6 pm – close.

    Over on the north side of town another tap takeover will be taking place. Arcadia ales drafts will be pouring all night with the line up including the following: B-Craft, Hop Rocket, Sky High Rye, IPA and Cereal Killer. Updates and more information on this event can be found here.


    With a list of events like this there are endless possibilities for celebrating GR Beer Week. Make sure to do so. 

    Brewing Pie Whole with Right Brain


    Brewing Pie Whole with Right Brain Brewery


    This weekend two of my favorite things came together in a wonderful way at Right Brain Brewery; Right Brain invited me to brew their Pie Whole beer with them. This release ended up being a pecan pie beer, with the beer straight from Right Brain’s neighbor, Grand Traverse Pie Company.


    I spent the day with Nick and the Right Brain crew and not only thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip but learned quite a bit. One of the biggest takeaways from the weekend was Right Brain’s culture that promotes a sense of community with other local businesses and focuses on actively participating in the creative, artistic and culinary side of brewing. We started the day sipping on the same coffee they use in their award-winning CEO Stout and tasting the pecan pie they picked up the night before from the bakery. Later on, I helped to shovel the used mash into containers for a local farmer to take for cow feed who, in turn, shares some of his beef. We ended the day at the bar surrounded by local artists’ work and live music thanks to Right Brain’s Art Bomb party.


    The entire day ended up being an exploration of the senses. From smelling hop varieties, chewing on malts, tasting barrel-aged beers to repeatedly being surrounded by an amazing aroma, the brewing process ended up being a full-sensory experience.


    If you see Pie Whole make sure to try it, knowing it was brewed with love from me to you.


    Also, Right Brain crew, you all rock. Thanks again. 

    More pictures from brewing at Right Brain can be found on Facebook. 

    2013 RateBeer Best


    RateBeer’s 2013 Awards


    With over 4.5 million reviews, RateBeer, once again, has compiled data to come out with the 2013 RateBeer Best. This is considered the largest beer competition in the world, tallying over 13,000 brewers and more than 180,000 beers. It’s been quite an exciting week as the results from the competitive categories rolled in, especially seeing so many of our brands winning top scores. West Side Beer is incredibly proud and honored to have so many award-winning brands in our portfolio. Here’s a big beer salute to all the brewers, bartenders, cellar man, packagers and lovers of beer for making world-class brews! Here are the award highlights for our brands.


    Best 100 Brewers in the World


    #9 Stone Brewing Co.

    #53 New Belgium Brewing Company

    #83 Brooklyn Brewery

    #93 Flying Dog Brewery


    Top 50 Beers in the World


    #38 Stone Imperial Russian Stout; Stone Brewing Co.


    2012’s Best New Releases


    #25 Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA; Stone Brewing Co.

    #29 Stone Enjoy By IPA; Stone Brewing Co.


    Best By Style 2013


    Pale Lager

    Bronze - Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL; Boston Beer Company



    Silver – Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale; Stone Brewing Co.

    Bronze – Stone IPA; Stone Brewing Co.


    Double IPA

    Silver – Stone Ruination IPA; Stone Brewing Co.

    Bronze – Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA; Stone Brewing Co.


    Strong Ale

    Silver – Samuel Adams Utopias; Boston Beer Company


    Imperial Baltic Porter

    Silver – Gonzo Imperial Porter; Flying Dog Brewery



    Bronze – Anchor Porter; Anchor Brewing Company



    Bronze – Brooklyn-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse; Brooklyn Brewery


    Dark Lager

    Bronze – Brooklyn Lager; Brooklyn Brewery


    Cider and Perry

    Silver – Crispin Stagger Lee; Crispin Cider Company 

    Beer-licious Super Bowl Recipes


    Your Beer-licious Super Bowl Menu


    Beer, football and food have always been the perfect recipe for a perfect Sunday. This Super Bowl Sunday step up the ante with these three traditional Super Bowl foods all made with beer.


    Beer BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

    This is my ultimate pulled pork recipe. Pair it with a pretzel bun and a brew and you are set for life, or at least for the Super Bowl. The key to this recipe is picking out a liquid to complement the flavor. I’ve experimented with several beer styles and prefer a dark porter, which adds a nice depth to the sauce.


    Suggested Pairings:

    Arcadia Ales Cocoa Loco: The molasses and chocolate malts add a sweet richness to the pork.

    Right Brain Brewing Fire Starter Chipotle Porter: The chipotle peppers brewed into the beer add bit of heat and complexity to the sauce.

    Recipe: Courtesy of Food Network


    Beer Bratwursts with Sauerkraut

    Beer, bratwursts and sauerkraut were made to be enjoyed together. Make sure to do so this weekend. This recipe can be modified to be used with an oven instead of a grill. I also prefer a spicy mustard.


    Suggested Pairings:

    Stella Artois Belgian Lager: Use one bottle for cooking the beer with and then pour the others into a glass and appreciate the fizzy head and clean finish. 

    Recipe: Courtesy of Serious Eats


    IPA Cheese Dip

    Cheese and beer are to of my favorite things and happen to pair together perfectly. Actually, beer and cheese create a much better pairing than wine and cheese, partially due to their similarities (both are fermented and aged) as well as the fact that beer better cuts through the cheese, which can coat the palate and blunt the taste of wine. A sharp and bitter beer will help balance out creamy, pungent flavor of the Gouda cheese.


    Suggested Pairings:

    Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale: The robust bitterness from the hops balances out the creaminess while also providing a clean finish.

    Recipe: Courtesy of my kitchen experiments


    6 oz. IPA

    1 oz. grated Gouda cheese

    1 ½ 8 oz packages of Neufchatel cheese

    1 clove of roasted and pureed garlic

    1 T. spicy mustard

    1 C. baby spinach

    salt and pepper to taste


    Mix all the ingredients together in an oven-safe dish. Pop in the oven, preheated to 325 degrees, for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Serve with

    crostinis and more beer. 


    Enjoy the Beer, recipes and especially the Super Bowl this Sunday! 

    top 5 tips for cellaring beer


    Top 5 Tips for Cellaring Craft Beer

    Growing up, one of my favorite childhood hobbies revolved around collecting troll dolls and Polly Pockets. These were very cool things to collect in the 90's and I was quite proud of my hobbies. But as I've grown up I've given away the troll dolls and Polly Pockets and moved on to a new hobby; cellaring craft beer. Cellaring beer is almost as easy as collecting troll dolls, once you've gotten a few of the main points settled. Cellaring beer is also fun since you get to pick and choose what beers will be best to be cellared, hypothesizing on how cellaring will increase and intensify certain flavors and which will fade with time. It's like a long-term science experiment for your taste buds. Here are the top 5 cellaring points to keep in mind while cellaring your favorite bottles.

    1. Consider the profile of the brew.

    Beers with higher alcohol content age best. Go for beers that are at least 8% ABV or higher. Beers with a high malt content and low hops are also best, since the hop flavor fades over time, leaving a lackluster beer of what used to be a stellar hoppy brew.

    2. Buy in multiples.

    For the best cellaring experience buy at two bottles of whatever beer you choose to cellar. This way you can drink one right away, which lessens the probability that you will be tempted to pop open that other bottle before it has matured for long enough. While drinking your first bottle take notes on the liquid and store those with your second bottle to review later on. Better yet, buy three bottles. One to open immediately, one to open in one year and one to open in 5 (or 20) years.

    3. Pick a spot to store your beer.

    The spot your pick to cellar your beer should be consistently between 50-60 degrees or, at the very least stays a pretty consistent average temperature, not too hot or too cold. Ensure your beer spot is hidden from strong sun light.

    3. Cellar vertically.

    Although there is debate on storing beer horizontally versus vertically, in general vertical is still considered best. This will keep any sediment in your beer settled on the bottom of the bottle, rather than it creating a yeast ring inside your bottle over time. Storing vertically also limits the liquid's contact with the cork (if it is corked), reducing any unwanted corky flavors.

    4. Be Patient.

    Cellar for at least 1 year. Or for however long you want. Either way, make sure to save that beer for a special occasion or special non-occasion and take your time enjoying and noting the beer's nuances once you do (finally) drink it.

    Chocolate Stout Cake


    How do you Celebrate Michigan’s Birthday?


    With Beer.


    Nothing quite says “celabrate” when it comes to the Great Beer State celebrating its 176th birthday quite like beer. Well, beer and cake. Preferably together and with a side of beer, too. Without further ado, here is Michigan’s birthday cake; a chocolate stout cake with stout buttercream icing.

    Note: For the stout I used Right Brain Brewing's CEO Stout, recently available in 22 oz. bottles, because I wanted a nice coffee note to the cake. If you are in the Grand Rapids area I would suggest stopping by Perrin Brewing for a growler of the vanilla stout, which would taste fantastic as well as leave lots of beer left over for you. I stayed away from imperial stouts because I didn't want to waste the high alcohol content and end up crying while reducing the  beer. 


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch cake pans. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in a heavy saucepan. Add cocoa powder and whisk smooth. Let cool.


    In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking soda and 1 ½ tsp. salt together. In a different bowl, use an electric mixer to beat eggs and sour cream together. Add the stout/chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat to combine. Add flour mixture slowly while briefly beating. Add the chocolate chips and fold batter with a rubber spatula to completely combine. Pour batter evenly into the three pans. Bake 35 minutes and cool 10 minutes before popping the cakes out of their tins to further cool.


    For the Icing:

    Reduce the cup of stout by simmering it for roughly 20 minutes on the stovetop or until there is about a ¼ cup left. Next, blend the ½ cup of butter with 1/8 cup of the reduced beer until light and fluffy. Gradually add in alternating increments the white sugar and the powdered sugar until the frosting is the right consistency. Taste, and if preferred, add more beer for flavor. Now frost your cooled cake layers and stack together. Attempt to draw the state of michigan on the top of the cake with colored icing. Fail or give up, grab a beer and eat the cake already. 


    Happy Birthday, Michigan! Eat up! Drink Up!

    Cake (courtesy of epicurious)


    2 C. stout 

    2 C. unsalted butter

    1 ½ C. unsweetened cocoa powder

    4 C. flour

    4 C. sugar

    1 T. baking soda

    1 ½ T. salt

    4 eggs

    1 1/3 C. sour cream

    1 ½ C. bittersweet chocolate chips


    Stout Buttercream Frosting


    1 C. stout

    ½ C. butter

    1 C. powdered sugar

    1 C. sugar





    First Canned Beer


    Canning It



    Tomorrow will commemorate the anniversary of another epic day in beer history. On January 24, 1935 the first beer in a can rolled out and changed lives forever.


    Cans made transportation of beer easier by proving more durable, more stackable and more cost efficient than the typical bottle. This led to their increased popularity and use for mass distribution throughout the mid to late 1900s.


    However, due mostly to the initial canning process which didn’t allow for a protective coating inside the can, canned beer started to get a bad name. Canned beer tasted metallic and started to be considered the cheap alternative to bottled beer. Now, cans sport a water-based polymer lining that seals beer from metallic contamination.


    Today, many craft breweries are returning to the can for environmental and as well nostalgic reasons. Nothing brings back memories of long-past summers than a cold can of beer in the hands. The sustainability factor also plays a role for craft brewers since cans are 50 percent lighter to ship and take much less energy to produce since they are made from ultra-recyclable aluminum.


    With top-notch breweries such as New Belgium Brewing and Sixpoint Brewing proudly showcasing their brews in cans, its obvious that canned craft beer is here to stay as more breweries, like Perrin Brewing, plan for their own can releases in the future.


    So tomorrow, in a nod to the past and to the future, raise a can of beer in memory of that great day in 1935. 

    Chocolate Beers


    Chocolate Beer


    Thanks to beer, chocolate has evolved from the candy bar or cake you guiltily eat into a rich, dark and awesomely alcoholic beverage you celebrate the day with. As a lifelong chocolate lover, I considered it my duty to try out and judge some of this season’s chocolate beers. The verdict? Chocolate beers are my new favorite alternative to dessert or really anything.

    Arcadia Ales Cocoa Loco 

    7% ABV

    This one is brewed with Michigan blackstrap molasses, which adds another layer of depth to this triple chocolate malt stout that. It has an initially sweet and then heavy taste with an extra creamy mouthfeel. I drank it after eating steak tacos and it paired well as a dessert to the smoky dark meat.


    New Belgium Cocoa Mole

    9% ABV

    The heat from the chipotle peppers, along with the 9% ABV, created a warming sensation while the combined caramel and chocolate malts added a smooth richness to the flavor. As a fan of spicy dark chocolate, this beer was right up my alley.


    Brooklyn Brewing Black Chocolate Stout  

    10% ABC

    It pours rich and black with distinct chocolate notes while the imperial stout’s high ABV warms your throat. The thick chocolate notes are perfect for baking chocolate chip cookies with.

    Right Brain Brewing Naughty Girl Stout


    Brewed with actual Girl Scout Thin Mints that provide a minty sweetness to the rich malt flavor. On its own it’s great but I want to try it in an ice cream float next time.


    Right Brain Brewing CEO Stout


    Creamy, roasty and dark with distinct chocolate notes, this one is more mocha than pure chocolate, which happens to be how I like it. The full-bodied stout is well-balanced and highly addictive.

    Perrin Brewing Chocolate Porter

    7% ABV

    Perrin’s chocolate porter definitely satisfies any chocolate cravings with chocolate liquor and 30 pounds of dark chocolate brewed into this beer. Malty, rich and sweet with a smooth finish, this porter provides all the chocolate beery flavors I need. 

    What should I brew


    What Should the Hopstress Brew? 

    Fellow beer lovers,

    Place your vote on West Side Beer’s Facebook page and help me decide on what my inaugural home brew will be!


    For 2013 I made the New Years Resolution to begin home brewing my own beer. This past year I’ve tasted, cooked and baked a lot with beer but now it is time I start making my own liquid.


    Now the big question is what should I brew? Let’s be democratic about this and put it to a vote, shall we?  Go on and follow this link to our Facebook page to let me know what you think. Once we’ve voted I’ll go and get my home brew on while updating you on the process. 

    Perrin Brewing January Feature for Flavor616


    My Kind of Centerfold: Perrin Brewing is Lil’ Miss January for Flavor616 Magazine




    This month I opened a new magazine in the Grand Rapids area and had to turn it sideways to get an eyeful of the centerfold. Lil’ Miss January, the magazine feature and centerfold was an awesome photo featuring a seductive looking bottle of what Perrin Brewing Co. beer could look like in bottled form.


    The January issue also stood out as the inaugural issue for Flavor616, a new magazine in Grand Rapids that is designed for those who love local, beer, food, and wine. Considering that Perrin has the first three out of those four categories covered, it made sense to begin the new magazine with Grand Rapids’ growing and most sought-after brewery.


    This past weekend highlighted the launch of the magazine and featured three Perrin beers that ranged in style from a hoppy pale to the Black Lager,  including the fruity Raspberry Wheat on the draft list. Black Lager seemed like the crowd’s favorite, which comes as no surprise since the brew flawlessly combines bready aromas with a clean and crisp finish. With a balanced body like that, what else could you ask for from a centerfold? 

    New Belgium Shift on Draft


    New Belgium Shift on Draft


    Sometimes, I’m overcome by nostalgia for the good ol’ days. Where, after a day of hard work, you could relax and celebrate the end of a shift with a nice cold American beer. Then, I remember that you can still do that and hurry up to finish working in order to take part in what I consider a great American tradition, the post shift beer.


    New Belgium’s Shift is the exact beer to match that sort of nostalgic reminiscing. A sessionable (5% ABV) pale lager, it combines subtle bready malts with American herbal and floral hops that end in a crisp and clean finish.


    Initially, the brew was strictly available in 12 oz. cans, a nice nod to the classic workingman’s 5-o-clock beer. However, as a way to start this New Year off right, Shift is now available on draft.


    That’s right. Get out your pint glasses hardworkers of America. It’s time to end one shift and start another by pouring out a glass of the gold liquid, Shift. 

    Beer is always the Answer


    When in doubt, choose beer. 

    When you have a case of the Mondays. 

    For that New Years resolution to be healthier.

    For days when you don't feel well or for days you feel like celebrating. 

    To go along with pizza, Mexican take out or a nice candlelit dinner. 

    For all the moments of 2013, I bet beer is the answer. 


    Thanks Sixpoint Brewing for the reminder. 



    Beer in History: Imperial Stout


    A Beer in History: Thank the Czar for Russian Imperial Stout!


    It’s cold and windy outside, which means the time for drinking Imperial Stouts is upon us.



    In the late 1700s Russia was ruled by a female Czar, Catherine the Great, who not only managed to rule an empire but knew how to enjoy a good brew. The story goes that on a diplomatic trip to England she first encountered the stout beer style and decided she would be bringing stout home to Russia with her. Of course, at this time, she wasn’t privy to such innovations as West Side’s refrigerated beer trucks so securing the beer’s safe passage across the Baltic Sea without its spoilage became an issue. The brewers, when faced with such a dilemma, did what brewers do best; they played around with the beer and got a bit creative until the final result was a stout with a high alcohol content that could withstand the journey.


    The beer, which typically clocks in at over 10% ABV, showcases a strong and bitter pour with warming sensations from the alcohol, dark fruit and chocolate flavors. This combination made it popular beyond just Catherine the Great’s personal tastes and soon many breweries were brewing and shipping the brew across the Baltic and beyond. It remains a favorite drink, especially during the bitter cold of winter, for many beer drinkers out there. Here are a few of our brands’ own unique takes on the Russian Imperial Stout style.


    Arcadia Ales Imperial Stout 9.5% 82 IBU 

    Pours Black with a molasses and roasted malt aroma. Prunes, bittersweet chocolate are balanced with a heavy dose of hops. This stout is the proud winner of the Gold Medal for Bottle Conditioned Ale at the 2002 Real Ale Festival.


    Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 10% 51 IBU 

    Imperial Stout that uses three mashes to create a luscious, dark chocolate flavor. Multiple award-winner, including gold medal for the 2011 World Beer Championships.


    Perrin Brewing Imperial Stout 8.5% 35 IBU

    Coffee, molasses and chocolate flavors combine for a rich black beer that is topped off with a creamy toffee head.


    Right Brain Brewing Fat Lat Imperial Stout 9.2% 90 IBU

    Brew with a massive body and robust roasty character with a sweet finish, yet not overpowering. 


    Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout 10.5% 65 IBU 

    Intensely aromatic and heavy on the palate, this version of the traditional Russian Stout pours black and heavy.

    Right Brain Begins Bottling


    Right Brain Brewery Begins Bottling


    The year 2013 is starting off looking pretty tasty with Right Brain Brewery’s new bottling line releasing some of their signature and seasonal brews.


     Already, they released Michigan’s favorite stout, CEO Stout (on Black Friday), and the Naughty Girl Stout (on 12/21/2012) in 22 oz. bombers. More beers will be released throughout the year as Right Brain settles into its new home. Already, the beer community is abuzz with what will be the next beer to be released – which one of Right Brain’s strangely crafted brews will it be?


    Right Brain is located in the pinky of Michigan, Traverse City, where it focuses on exploring the imaginative side of beer through creative brewing that uses only fresh and local ingredients. They recently moved to a larger location in order to increase production and begin bottling some of their draughts. 

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