Preamble by Steve Siciliano
I’m sure I’m not the only Michigander who thinks it’s way too early to be dealing with the wintry weather that our state has been subjected to over the past week.
According to the extended forecast, frigid temperatures and bouts of lake effect snow will be hanging around for a while which means that my son Chris and I will be freezing our butts off steelhead fishing on the Manistee River next Thursday. Chris and his wife Gena moved down to the Asheville, North Carolina area last summer, and while the weather down south has been no bargain of late either, at least he’s still been able to get some trout fishing in. A couple of days ago I texted him a screenshot of next week’s forecast.
“I’ve been watching. Not great.” he replied. “Want to cancel?”
“Hell no!” I immediately texted back.
“Ha. Okay,” he said. I’m quite sure that was the answer he was hoping for. When it comes to fishing, he’s as fanatically batty as I am.
Last week Barb and I spent a few days up at the cottage getting things ready for winter. On Friday our friends Pat and Marcie MacAulay stopped by on their way back from their annual late fall trip to Chateau Chantal up in Traverse City, and since it was too cold to do anything else, we decided to hit some Lake County watering holes. After a few beers at the Oak Grove in Irons (one of the few joints I know where you still can throw shells from your free peanuts on the floor), we made our way over to Luther.
Luther is one of those small, ubiquitous northern Michigan communities dating to the late 1800s that either grew up around sawmills or were stops on the Pierre Marquette Railroad. The mills and depots are long gone but most of these tiny burgs still have at least one vestigial saloon. Luther has two on its wide main street that are practically spitting distance from each other. The Loggers Landing has a beautiful old backbar, tasty fried gizzards and an ancient wood floor that is precariously sloped. The North Bar is a bit humbler and a tad more rustic but they do fry up some pretty yummy pork rinds.
It’s not often that I partake in such artery clogging bar food but for some reason I felt the urge to indulge that day. Maybe it had to do with the premature cold reviving an instinctive urge to put some additional meat on my bones in anticipation of winter. Whatever the reason, I felt no remorse whatsoever for committing those culinary sins. Come to think of it, if one of the saloons had pickled bologna and pigs feet sitting in big jars on the back bar, I probably would have ordered them too.
New and Returning Beer
Arvon Creep, $5.09/16oz - "This NE style IPA is hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Hallertau Blanc and balanced with milk sugar" (source).
Arvon Fort Gratiot, $5.09/16oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.'s Lighthouse Series of New England IPAs are each distinctly hopped with a single varietal, displaying the unique character of the hops as a shining beacon. The explosive hop flavor and aroma of Falconers Flight Hops featured in Fort Gratiot IPA is best experienced when this beer is kept cold and enjoyed fresh - drink now" (source).
Atwater VJP Hazelnut, $1.99/12oz - "English style porter brewed with vanilla, hazelnut, and coffee beans" (source).
Austin Brothers Double Red Raspberry, $4.09/16oz - "This fruited kettle sour features almost double the amount of Red Raspberry we would normally add during fermentation in our Gose... almost 60 pounds per barrel! We then add salt for balance and character. Pours bright red with a pillowy collar of pink foam" (source).
Austin Brothers Murk Honcho, $3.79/16oz - "There is something I want to get off my chest... this New England style IPA features Vic Secret, Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and Citra hops. It pours out a murky light golden color, and follows with a super smooth delivery of citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Although you probably didn't hear about it because I went under the name of Murk Honcho" (source).
Bell's le Batteur, $21.89/750ml - "Delicate pale malts with a touch of wheat and Tettnang hops are fermented in wooden foeders (formerly used for wine) with three different strains of Brettanomyces yeast and Pediococcus. The end result is funky and fruity with a bright, tart finish" (source).
Big Lake Deer Beer, $2.79/16oz - No commercial description.
Big Lake Vanilla Captains Porter, $3.19/16oz - "Creamy, Rich, and Chocolatey full bodied porter" (source).
Brewery Vivant Paris, $12.99/500ml - "Paris is a bold saison spiced with orange peel and black peppercorns. It is then aged with wild yeast strains in red wine barrels for over a year, creating an oaky nose, bright fruit character, a tannic structure perfect for aging, and a solid smack of sour" (source).
City Built Happy Friendsgiving, $4.09/16oz - Berliner weisse with cranberries and lactose.
Deschutes Jubelale, $1.79/12oz - "Cozy up fireside with this festive winter ale full of spice notes and a robust malt character of toffee and dusted cocoa" (source).
Ellison Haz'n'stein, $3.59/16oz - "Soft and subtle NE IPA brewed using Amarillo, Mosaic, and Citra hops" (source).
Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $2.09/12oz - "Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. You will enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove with our festive holiday-themed packaging to match the taste. Christmas Town Ale is a must-have brew in the wintertime" (source).
Greenbush Party Wolf, $2.59/12oz - "This rude boy all Centennial IPA is righteously refreshing with clean citrus notes & a decent malt backbone" (source).
Griffin Claw Haze Force, $3.69/16oz - NE/Hazy IPA
Guiness Milk Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Cocoa, caramel, fresh coffee and sweet fruit " (source).
Lagunitas Willettized Coffee Stout, $3..79/12oz (Limited) - "From our friend, the Kentucky distiller J.D. Willett himself, a man of few words, 'We have one type of barrel: Wood. And we put two things in 'em: Rye and Bourbon." We scored some of J.D.'s scrutable casks and put one thing in 'em: beer. The taste tells. It's good to have friends! Let us know what you think" (source).
Left Foot Charley Cinnamon Girl, $8.59/500ml - "We chose the Korjinte/Sumatra cinnamon for this cider. It is stronger, more spicy and textural than Ceylon (some would say Real) cinnamon. The bark of this shrub was aged in the cider to impart that gentle spice and warmth you know so well. A touch of sweetness balances the flavors and the bubbles just make it fun" (source).
Lord Hobo Meat and Potatoes, $3.59/16oz - "Every good meal deserves a great beer. That's why we are serving Meat & Potatoes with your dinner tonight. We've cooked up a classic American Stout with a slight hop twist to stand up to the heartiest of meals. Bold flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, and a hint of citrus drink in perfect harmony with robust foods" (source).
Lord Hobo Virtuoso, $4.69/16oz - "A style-defining New England-Style Double IPA that delivers big on juice and haze" (source).
New Belgium Accumulation, $1.79/12oz - "This winter, IBUs start accumulating like snow in Colorado with our new Accumulation White IPA . Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter and winter seasonal beers. At least that’s what our rebellious brewer Grady Hull likes to claim as he shovels in plenty of new hop varietals and a bit of wheat for a smooth mouthfeel. Stack up a few cases of Accumulation White IPA to keep your long nights glowing blizzard white" (source).
North Peak Gnarl, $1.89/12oz - "With each sip of Gnarl Chestnut Amber Ale think about the wild boar and his passion for nature. This earthy style is toasted and sweet, blending caramel notes with amazing chestnut flavors. Hop aromas of floral and citrus combined with a beautiful hue of coppery amber. Enjoy and be kind to our forests" (source).
Odd Side DDh El Dankerino, $2.89/12oz - "This west coast style DIPA packs a hoppy punch with a smooth, citrusy finish. Brewed with Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hops, this is sure to please even the hoppiest hop head" (source).
Revolution Cafe Deth, $9.39/12oz - "A weaponized quantity of freshly roasted whole bean coffee from Dark Matter Coffee Roasters imbues our Deth’s Tar Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout with assertive coffee aromatics without overshadowing the base beer on the palate. Pair with rich food or enjoy on its own. Keep cold. Enjoy now. We mean it" (source).
Revolution Deth's Tar, $7.69/12oz - "Witness the firepower of this fully operational Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Brewed with English specialty malts and the addition of flaked and malted oats to create a rich, chocolaty profile and silky mouthfeel that cloaks its considerable strength. The American oak barrels continue to build layers of complexity, reminiscent of vanilla, toasted coconut and caramel candy after aging this dark menace a full 12 months" (source).
Revolution Fistmas, $1.99/12oz - "Our Holiday Red Ale is steeped with ginger and orange peel. It features notes of fresh-baked bread, caramel, and stone fruit along with holiday cheer" (source).
Roak Little Saint Nick, $3.39/16oz - "The tart intensity of this beer submits to a light edition of pink Himalayan sea salt. This gose subtly presents the complexity of the cranberry and offers a crisp sensation of malted white wheat to the palate" (source).
Rochester Mills 12 Days of Milkshake, $27.29/12pk - Variety pack.
Saugatuck Neapolitan Gift Set, $18.69/Set - "A creamy Milk Stout with all the brilliant flavors of Neapolitan Ice Cream in one glass. Taste the rich flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry in this unique beer" (source).
Short's Super Hoppy Holidays, $28.79/12pk - "Tis the season to finally announce the return of Super Hoppy Holidays with a few surprises you’ve all been waiting for! Super Hoppy Holidays will hit shelves in the Great Lakes Region starting on November 1st, grab the perfect present or $plurge on yourself" (source).
Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest, $3.19/12oz - "Northern Hemisphere was the first wet hop ale and it inspired the wet hop craze in America. Wet—undried—hops go straight from the fields into our kettles within 24 hours. Because hops are incredibly perishable, using hops wet preserves all of the precious oils and resins for a unique drinking experience as evidenced by the intense herbal green flavors and citrus-like and floral aromas" (source).
Speciation Biomimicry, $5.89/16oz - "A juicy hop-bomb, with a fruity bouquet of pineapple, mango, pear, and pine" (source).
Speciation Incipient with Blackberry, $9.39/16oz - "Our Golden Sour beer brewed with pilsner malt, oats, & wheat. Fermented with wild and lab cultures, and open fermented for ultimate yeast expression and to capture additional wild cultures. We then added 5 gallons of Blackberry Concentrate to 9 bbls of beer for a balanced fruit character" (source).
Speciation Magic Trait, $13.99/375ml - "Sour ale with blackberries and black currants" (source).
Speciation Plum Genetic Drift, $11.69/375ml - No commercial description.
Tripelroot Sour Sister Mango, $2.09/12oz - Ale brewed with mango.
Video of the Week | Bell's Two Hearted
Bell's Two Hearted: Where it all begins.