Here are a few 2003 era reviews. I don't think as of 2010 Traverse Brewing is still around. Hair Of
The Frog now long gone has been replaced with The Hideout a great little brewery far better than Hair of the Frog could have ever have dreamed of. Dark Horse is still making great products!
While in Michigan I stopped by Traverse Brewing. I tried their Stout, and their Porter. Both were excellent. I purchased a six pack of the stout. It has an almost bock taste from the malt they use. I chatted with the owner and former brewmaster while I was there. Michigan people are some of the friendliest folks around, everyone at the brewery chatted with me despite the fact they were busy bottling that day. They also gave me two free shandy glasses. The realbeer and craft brewing movments have done a lot for beer in the US. Traverse Brewing is just another example of a great domestic brewery, who makes great beers.
Arcadia Brewing Company
Located in Battle Creek Michigan, Arcadia Brewing Company is home to a number of good beers. I sampled their Starboard Stout, London Porter, Lake Superior ESB, Angler's Ale, and IPA.. Their Stout in an Irish Oat Malt Stout, their Porter was a smoke beer. Excellent if you like smoke beers, their IPA was very hoppy but very watery. Personally I am not a big smoke beer fan so my favorite was the ESB. It was excellent, deep copper in color, it has a full-bodied, caramelly character reminiscent of many German beers. It had the most complicated flavor of any ESB I have had. The Angler's Ale was a good English Pale Ale great for converting the American Beer drinker to Real Beer, much like Brooklyn Brewery's Lager.
Crooked Tree IPA
Today I sampled Dark Horse Brewery's Cooked Tree IPA. Of all the IPA's I've ever drank this is in the top tree. No.1 is of course Brooklyn, followed by Overland Express. Crooked Tree holds it's own in the world of IPA's that are loved by hopheads. Crooked tree is dryhopped and has a great boquet and hop bitterness. Not for the faint of heart.
Last evening I had the privledge of enjoying a Chimay. Which of course is from Belgium and is a Trappist ale brewed by monks. It is an excellent beer. But frankly being the porter stout fan that I am I would rather have a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout or Anchor Porter. Sorry Belgium. Right now I am drinking a Jamaican Bud, known as Red Stripe. Ok so it's a little better than Bud Lite but not by much. Enough for my beer dissing I must go now. More on the Homebrew next week.
North Peak Brewery
This weekend I was able to try four brews from North Peak Brewery in Traverse City MI. They were all very excellent. I enjoyed their "Hop Head" Cask Conditioned Ale, an IPA with some Cascade hops thrown in the bunch, served at room temperature. Their Mission Point Porter, a medium bodied porter with a hint of maltiness, although not as sweet as most porters was a great brew. It tasted much like something I would brew up myself. Their North Peak Pale Ale is also worthy of note. I sampled their Helles Pilsner which was good for a Pilsner. Their staff, including manager were very helpful, their food was excellent, and reasonable priced. (Their Manager was a little confused about beer styles, but seemed to try his best). Their pints were only two dollars. Great prices if you ask me. If you're in Traverse City stop at the North Peak Brewery!
Kona Brewing Co
While in Maui I sampled Kona Brewing Company's Big Wave Golden Ale. The waitress said it was a heavier bodied beer. Evidently she drinks natural light or something. It was basically Bud Lite. Although for a very light bodied beer it was ok, no off flavors. They have over 14 brews including a porter. I was hoping to sample some of this but no where we went had them on tap. All was not lost however. Everywhere I went I found Anchor Steam Beer On Tap. This of course was much to my liking as Anchor is one of my favorite breweries. That is about it for my beer experiences in Maui. Next time maybe we'll stop over to the Big Island and visit the Kona Brewery.
Hair Of The Frog (Since Closed)
Yesterday I found myself stopping in at a little Brewery off I-96. Although closed the Brewmaster Shawn was around and serving up some of his brew. I was able to sample his Oatmeal Stout, and Imperial Stout, both good brews. I had a pint of the Railway Porter a slightly sweet light bodied porter. I was very impressed by the Batch 12 IPA. A very hoppy brew made with Centennial hops. It's one of those places worth checking out if you can find it.
Return to 'Pubba'
One thing's for sure, there has to be something said for a brewery where the Brewmaster remembers you by name. It must be small you say, yes that it is. It is however, big on atmosphere, big on personality, and big on great beer. The little Hair of the Frog Brewery, also know as 'Pubba' since it's next to Hubba Tubba hot tub rentals, is a great place to sit back and nurse a pint of ale.
My last stop in I sampled their 'copper'. Sean the Brewmaster tells me that people tell them they need to work on names for their brews. And frankly with names like 'batch 12' and 'copper' maybe they have a point. I'd much rather sit back with a pint of 'copper' that choke down 'the king of beers' no matter how great the advertising campaign may be however. None the less 'copper', Sean's version of a California Common (Steam Beer) is a good brew. Fermented at around 46 degrees Fahrenheit it seems a bit more of a lager than a steam beer.
My next brew was the Imperial Oatmeal Stout. A little sweet almost a Porter in taste, yet with that bitterness that one expects in a Stout. A conflict of descriptive terms you say? We'll you'll just have to stop in and try a pint. Located at 3113 Plaza Drive Northeast, Grand Rapids, MI, you'll find it. It almost looks abandon except for all those, cars of loyal patrons parked out front.