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Wednesday Beer Log: Hometown Breweries 1

Beer drinkers beware, there are breweries all over. Look left, look right, and in one of those directions, you can head towards a brewery in your hometown! Well, at least in my two hometown cities you can!

I am originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!), but I also consider Charlotte, North Carolina home. Ergo, two hometown cities. Furthermore, two GREAT cities. No, I am not biased, this is just fact. Believe it. I do!

So let us start up North for today. In Kalamazoo, a great little big town smack dab in the middle of the Detroit-to-Chicago route, and the Traverse City-to-White Pigeon route. Land of Pop, Euchre, Vernors, Meijers, Kellogs, Stryker and Upjohns. Those of you who know Michigan are nodding your heads. Everyone else is scratching them. But that is okay. We Michiganders are a forgiving and understanding lot, so we’ll just continue on without a hitch.

Growing up in Kalamazoo but leaving for college, I obviously didn’t get to drink at any of these wonderful places through my formative beer years, however they were all there, and so was I, and so I heard about them. So here we go:

1) Olde Peninsula Brewpub & Restaurant: This is the original brewpub for Kalamazoo, and a popular spot to catch up with friends. One of the best things about this pub is they do a $10 brewery tour with a “guided tasting of each beer” they serve. How is that not amazing? With constantly changing beers, the current spring menu incldes the variety of choices below, taken from their website, and can I just say yum?!?!
a) Haymarket Cream Ale: 4.25% ABV. This American cream ale is straw in color and mildly hopped for a smooth, delicious taste.
b) Sunset Red: 5.75% ABV. Semi-sweet amber ale with hints of caramel malts and just enough hops to make this a Downtown favorite.
c) OP IPA: 6.75% ABV. Very flavorful, dry-hopped with a generous amount of hops from start to finish.
d) Rockin’ Raspberry Wheat: 5.5% ABV. A blend of barley & wheat malts gives it a rich golden color. Mildly hopped with a soft raspberry finish.
e) Midnight Stout: 5.25% ABC. Brewed when the night is young! This blend of roasted barleys & chocolate malts gives this ale a chocolatey coffee-like flavor.
f) Custom Mix-N-Match Brews: Black Razberry (Midnight + Raz); Black & Tan (Midnight + Haymarket); Red Razberry (Sunset + Raz); 1-2-3 (Haymarket + Sunset + Midnight)

2) Paw Paw Brewing Company: Paw Paw, you say? What the heck is a Paw Paw?!? Well, among other things, it is a city in Michigan. Ha, you should’ve seen that coming, really! So the Paw Paw Brewing Company is a January 2010 concoction (fine, put-into-reality), and is run by a pair of guys who are also brothers-in-law. They have a pretty delicious-sounding line-up, that I hope to try when I am up there this summer!
a) Paw Paw Wheat: 5.1% ABV, 14 IBUs. This American style Wheat is perfect for a sunny day. Clear in color and smooth, this brew is light and pleasant on the palette.
b) St. James English Mild: 5.1% ABV, 20 IBUs. Session brew of English pale, caramel & German-style Munich malts combine with American Summit & English Golding hops, and roasted oatmeal for a smooth, toasted-malt & nut flavor.
c) Gus Meister Amber: 5.1% ABV, 22 IBUs. Pleasingly smooth and slightly darker than most amber styles, this Amber carries a caramel note through the finish. English and crystal malt lend themselves to the pleasant aroma and finish.
d) 2Paws IPA: 5.8% ABV, 75 IBUs. 2Paws IPA first announces itself with an intoxicating citrus aroma derived from a wonderful mixture of hops. Easy to drink, 2Paws IPA incorporates special ingredients that allow the bitterness to go the distance of pure pleasure without compromising a smooth finish.
e) Black River Oatmeal Stout: 5.8% ABV, 30 IBUs. Pleasing mild roast, rich bittersweet chocolate and chocolate ice cream flavor. Terrific mouth feel, clean and drying in the finish.
f) Raspberry Wheat: 5.1% ABV, 12 IBUs. American style wheat blended with locally grown red raspberries makes up a summer favorite for all to enjoy. Light raspberry taste and wonderful aroma.
g) Laughin’ Paw Pale Ale: 5.4% ABV, 40 IBUs. European style pale ale with a unique mixture of English Malts and Hops form our 5.4% ABV pale. A subtle roast combined in its flavor profile give the Laughin’ Paw Pale Ale its pleasant and unique roasted finish.
h) Twisted Pumpkin Ale: 6.2% ABV. Structured with a light Amber base and American malts Twisted Pumpkin is brewed with a combination of real pumpkin and special spices. The light malts bring out a bready characteristics which brings out a crust like taste making this seasonal taste like a slice of pie.

3) Bilbo’s Pizza & Brewpub: Anyone who has been to Kalamazoo or Portage has seen Bilbos. The luckiest ones have eaten their food. Delicious. Even as a kid, this was one of the best places to go for pizza & salad. YUM! Then you learn they cater to adults by brewing their own beer, and it’s like “SOLD!” was just written in place of their name. Love it! Now, the brewery is only out of one of their locations (Stadium Drive, gotta be the one by WMU of course!), and it is a small operation with only a few beers at a time.
a) Sledgehammer: 5.2% ABV, English Brown Ale with toasty, mildly hoppy smell, and a bit of citrus to finish it off.
b) Wheat Wizard: 5.5% ABV, Hefeweizen with a lemony hop taste.
c) Thunderbird: This American IPA has citrus flavors that combine with a spicy yeast flavor and a sharp hop note.

4) Bravo Restaurant & Cafe: Bravo was one of the “fancy dinner” places we would go as kids, or have something catered from them for real special occasions. So there are some fun memories of Bravo!s for me! Here are some notes from their website about their April beers!
a) Chefs Ale: 6.3% ABV, 21 IBU Amber Ale. Crisp and uniquely bitter flavor with a hoppy finish. The caramel notes make it a perfect match with the restaurant’s wood fired pizzas, calamari and lighter foods.
b) A-dam Good Beer: 5.5% ABV, 33 IBU Pale Ale. A well balanced and crisp APA with a nutty biscuit flavor. A perfect blend of flavors for the spicier foods.
c) Exit 78: 6.5% ABV, 23 IBU American Red Ale. Find it just off I-94, Exit 78, and nowhere else. A well balanced ale with a beautiful light ruby hue from German red malts. Light and easy to drinkn with virtually all foods.
d) Nimbus: 6.8% ABV, 28 IBU Oatmeal Stout. A dark and lightly cloudy ale. Caramel flavors brewed with oats giving a creamy texture and sweetness to smooth the spiciness of the hops. Matches perfectly with any grilled foods or a chocolate dessert.
e) Adams Ale: 7% ABV, 47 IBU IPA. The “Hop Heads” India Pale Ale. Very hoppy , very high in alcohol and very good! A perfect blend of flavors for salmon or any spicier foods.

5) Old Hat Brewery: while this brewery is a bit up the road from Kalamazoo, like Paw Paw, this is another brewpub in the area. Beers below are what they are serving now and year-round!
a) Station 1300 Light Lager: 5.3% ABV. German-style golden ale, this is a soft and drinkable delight. There is a restrained hoppy dryness to this ale that allows for a faint fruit flavor to emerge.
b) Depot Pils: 5.3% ABV. Darn good pilsner if the brewer don’t say so himself. A Bohemian style pils with Czech Saaz hops all the way through good to the last hop.
c) Red Lager: 5.5% ABV. A smooth, malty ruby-hued lager with a surprisingly crisp hop finish.
d) Alt: 5.6% ABV. A Dusseldorf-style altbier, this ale is the brewer’s choice. This brew boasts an impeccable balance of malt and hops, and its ruby color is true to style. As bitter as it is malty.
e) Amber Rhy Ale: 5.3% ABV A malty German-style ale made predominantly with rye and wheat malts with a touch of caramel malt. This unique mixture lends to a slight rye flavor, caramel color, and a mild hop finish.
f) Mustachioed Gentleman Pale Ale: ? ABV. An American style pale. Distinct bitterness, though not an IPA, with a definite hop aroma and finish. Very balanced, you’ll be licking your beer mustache to get every drop.
g) Bees Knees: 5.2% ABV. Dry Honey taste with a pilsner hop finish. Very light head, similar to a Vienna but with honey. Try this one with a lime on thos hot summer days, AND this is Gluten Free!
h) Maibock: 7-8% ABV. A spring bock, fruity and bold, with a fresh malt flavor and a noticeable alcohol content!
i) Doppelbock: 8-9% ABV. Our monster fall and winter bock, with a pronounced caramel flavor and a raisin note.
j) Billy Bock: 6.5% ABV. A big malty lager, with a caramel & butterscotch note, and a slightly bitter finish, but only produced when we feel like it!
k) Hefe Weizen: 4% ABV. A summer German ale, contains 50% wheat malt and a yeast that produces clove and banana esters. Traditionally server with a wedge of lemon.
l) Cherry Baby: 4% ABV. A light sweet beer with a Cherry Soda taste. Not much hop flavor.
m) Scotch Ale: 7% ABV. A high gravity Scotch Ale with a big malt flavor. Large caramel taste, slight bitterness, with no hop finish.
n) Pumpkin Ale: 4.2% ABV. Just like Grandma used to make: sweet & sassy. Available October, November, and whenever we feel festive!

Aaaaand I have saved my favorite “local” brewery for last!

6) Bell’s Brewery: This is by far my favorite Michigan Brewery. I know, I know, I am a bit biased, but you will be hard pressed to find a Michigander who doesn’t celebrate when they drink a Bell’s. Oberon, Kalamazoo Stout, and the other yummy choices they have. In addition, there is the “Eccentric Café” which I will be parked at this summer at least once. Okay, maybe twice. Here are the Bell’s brands!
a) Amber Ale: 5.8% ABV. Deftly balances a mixture of toasted grain & light caramel notes with a range of floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by a clean bitterness.
b) Two Hearted Ale: 7% ABV. Defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.
c) Pale Ale: 5.2% ABV. This beer stands apart from the model of completely hop-dominated pale ales, offering a noticeable degree of malt body to counter the hop bitterness. A blend of floral & herbal hop notes provide the aromatic & flavor highlights, alongside the distinctive contribution of our house ale yeast. A crisp bitterness finishes the experience without being harsh.
d) Porter: 5.6% ABV. This emphasizes the darker, roasted aspects of malt. Hints of dark chocolate and freshly roasted coffee provide the focus, while hops remain in the background. Not as full-bodied as a stout, Porter bridges the gap between malty brown ales and our more heavily roasted stouts.
e) Kalamazoo Stout: 6% ABV. Offers a blend of dark chocolate and coffee flavors with just a hint of brewer’s licorice. One of our oldest recipes, it balances a significant hop presence against the roast malt body. Brewer’s licorice is gelatin-free, thus vegetarian-friendly!
f) Third Coast Beer: 4.8% ABV. Offers a crisp, dry bitterness with a mixture of floral & herbal aromas.
g) Bell’s Lager Beer: 5% ABV. Matching a crisp bitterness & distinctive herbal hop aromas to a simple yet firm malt backbone. Following in the tradition of Bohemian-style pilsners, this beer spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. This extended conditioning period refines the overall flavor, highlighting the contributions of the malts & hops.
h) Oarsman Ale: 4% ABV. The grain bill includes a healthy portion of wheat, while citrusy hops lend bright notes to the aroma. Fermented with Bell’s house ale yeast, Rather than being the dominant flavor note, the tartness in Oarsman takes on more of a palate-cleansing role, making it perfect for pairing with food.
i) Oberon Ale: 5.8% ABV. A wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer.
j) Best Brown Ale: 5.8% ABV. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops.
k) White Winter Ale: 5% ABV. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices.
l) Cherry Stout: 7% ABV. Gaining its signature tartness from 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan’s Traverse City region. Rather than doubling up on sweetness, this tart cherry varietal serves as a counterpoint to the warm, dark chocolate notes from the malt bill. Lightly hopped for balance, this stout is one of the cornerstones of the Bell’s stout portfolio.
m) Special Double Cream Stout: 6.1% ABV. Completely dairy-free, this stout blends eight different specialty malts to yield a remarkable depth of flavor. With only a touch of burnt notes, it focuses on the softer, cocoa & espresso-like aspects of roasted malt.
n) Java Stout: 7.5% ABV. Using a custom blend of coffee beans, roasted locally for us by Water Street Coffee Joint, to generate its intense flavor.
o) Third Coast Old Ale: 10.2% ABV. Focusing on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness.
p) Expedition Stout: 10.5% ABV. One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, it offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.
q) Consecrator Dopplebock Beer: 8% ABV. It is a well balanced, full bodied lager with hints of caramel and molasses in its smooth, malty finish. It undergoes a lengthy lagering period: 3 months in the fermentor vessel!
r) Octoberfest Beer: 5.5% ABV. This session beer trades in the assertive hop presence for a focus on a light caramel malt note, lending body without too much sweetness.
s) Hopslam Ale: 10% ABV. Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, it possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. These Pacific NW varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.
t) Hell Hath No Fury…Ale: 7.7% ABV. Originally conceived along the lines of a Belgian Dubbel, this morphed during development into something entirely different. Blending a pair of Belgian abbey-style yeasts into a recipe more akin to a roasty stout, it offers up warm, roasted notes of coffee & dark chocolate together with the fruity & clove-like aromas.
u) The Oracle DIPA Ale: 10% ABV. This West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific NW. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise.
v) Christmas Ale: 5.5% ABV. This beer uses locally grown malts, and not containing any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific NW lend earthy, herbal aromas.
w) There are too many specialty beers from Bell’s to put in here, but Harvest Ale, Smoked Stout, Milk Stout, Raspberry Ale, Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, and Le Pianiste Ale are just a few of the many they’ve offered over the life of Bell’s Brewery!

So I think that takes care of the Hometown Breweries edition for Kalamazoo, Michigan, and hope you enjoyed them!

Craft You Later,

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