Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.

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tibb review article

If you’ve not paid a visit to Kalamazoo in a couple years, a lot has been going on with their local brewery scene. While staples like Bell’s and Olde Peninsula brewpub continue to thrive, the biggest news is of course Arcadia Brewing Company’s recent move from Battle Creek to Kalamazoo with a new productions facility, pub, and restaurant. But while this maybe the most visible and apparent recent addition to Kalamazoo brewing community, behind the scenes another craft brewing revolution is current in progress at the nanobrewery scale with the introduction of several new smaller breweries with brewing systems of 3 barrels and less. To put this in perspective, Bell’s recent expansions have put them in the capacity to brew 500,000 barrels or more a year.
Thursday, September 04, 2014

Recap of Midtown on Tap in Grand Rapids

 midtown on tap

This year was the second year for Midtown on Tap put on by the Midtown Neighborhood Association in Grand Rapids. The event is held at the Midtown Green Park at Fountain and Eastern and was free to attend with family-friendly hours from 2 to 4 PM featuring helium balloons, face painting and frozen juice as well as games and prizes. Live music was also featured with local bands including Love Fossil, Cabildo, and The Juno Blacklist. The event also served to showcase local food vendors with a variety of options provided by B&Y BBQ and StoryLane Catering.

 railtown-article

Opening soon in Dutton is the new Railtown Brewing Company located in the Village Mill Mall on 68th and Mill Run in southeast Grand Rapids. For those who have been to the Cranker’s GR location in Cutlerville which is also on 68th St, Railtown is an approximately 10 minute drive to the east and also just a short trip south of Cascade Winery in Kentwood which is home to Jaden James brewery . The name “Railtown” is nod to Dutton’s origin as the historic location of the Hammond Station train depot. The railroad has long since been eliminated but the brewery plans to pay homage to the town’s lost past and bring back the theme.

The Mitten Brewing Co.’s new outdoor beer patio is just the first of many new exciting expansions in the works at the popular Leonard St. brewery on west-side of Grand Rapids. Recently I had an opportunity to check out the new deck as well as take a sneak peek at some of the improvements in the works for this year. In addition to the patio, a new upper level bar and seating area is currently under construction which all taken together will nearly triple the capacity of the location. The upper level will focus more on the building’s fire station history as opposed to the baseball themed lower level.

Grand Rapids might be “Beer City” and home to many great breweries, but other fermented beverages are now making a name for themselves here as well. The People’s Cider Co. for instance has been producing some great hard cider for over a year now, while Long Road Distillers hope to put G.R. on the map for craft spirits this fall. Another new player is Arktos Meadery which has plans to soon add mead to the mix. The name “Arktos” comes from the greek word for bear, which is appropriate because bears love honey, and mead is a fermented honey beverage often associated with ancient Greek mythology as being the nectar of the gods.

Founders Brewing Co. loves to keep people guessing each year with their popular Backstage Series release, not revealing specifics as to which beer will be released or on what date until the last possible minute. The recipes often evolve from various taproom-only releases made available throughout the year and their new pilot small batch system has served as an incubator as of late for many of these new test-run brews. This year’s earlier release of Smoked Porter is an example. Also this year, the taproom featured a new series of “SpyPA” released which included such favorites as Sleeper Cell and Infiltrator leading up to and hinting at this year’s second Backstage Series release Dissenter.

Rockford Brewing Company recently teamed up with Amore Trattoria Italiana of Comstock Park for a 6-course dinner pairing a selection of mainstay and “drifter” brews with the culinary creations of award-winning chef (and co-owner) Jenna Arcidiacono. Both the restaurant and brewery source many of their ingredients locally, and this food and beer pairing was no exception using produce and meat from local farms and beer using such ingredients as locally sourced hops and malt.
 mgb summer recap 2014
 
The 17th Annual Michigan’s Brewer’s Guild Summer Beer Festival at Riverside Park in Depot Town, Ypsilanti this year featured over 800 Michigan craft beer selections.

recap summer beer fest 2014

This year was my third visit (out of four) for John Ball Park’s annual Summer Craft Beer Fest, and also my first time to participate as a judge in the blind taste test challenge. With ten categories, and being my first beer judging experience, I was a little apprehensive I might be chosen to judge a style that wasn’t my favorite, or at least not my personal area of expertise. However, my fears were not justified as the first category bestowed upon my group (which also included fellow beer blogger Bryan Esler of Mittenbrew) was the coveted top spot for IPA (India Pale Ale)....

unruly bike garden article

Muskegon Bike Time is a festival transforming downtown’s Western Ave into “Steel Horse Alley” for four days of bands, beer, and food for the tens of thousands of motorcyclists visiting from all over the United States and even internationally. New to bikers this year along this stretch of Western is the addition of Muskegon’s two new breweries Pigeon Hill and Unruly bringing in both their busiest 4-day stretch since their respective openings. Additionally, Unruly used the festival as an incentive to launch their brand new outdoor beer garden in the space directly outside their home in the Russell Block Building, something that has been a focus of theirs since first choosing the location and opening late last year.
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