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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chefs table dinner

Handsome Henry’s in Muskegon recently hosted their first “Chef’s Table Beer and Wine Dinner Series” featuring a four-course meal paired with choice of beer selections from Spring Lake’s Odd Side Ales or wine from Chateau Grand Traverse Winery in Traverse City. I stopped by with a group of friends to check out the dinner which began with a sample appetizer of Teriyaki Wings. I chose the beer pairings and the first beer up was the Hop Gobbler Extra Pale which paired amazing with a Thai Noodle Soup that had a surprising ginger kick.

 the bob article

H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment) opened up on the main floor of the B.O.B. (Big Old Building) last year as a place to showcase live entertainment including jazz, rock, and blues with craft beer as well as the B.O.B.’s own Bourbon Bar. Recently, H.O.M.E. hosted a coffee, beer, and food pairing event called Strange Brew and I stopped by to check it out. The event started in the afternoon with presentations from Ferris Coffee’s Sam Mirto and a Q&A with Chef Mick RIckerd. The event also include live music from saxaphone and guitar duo Blue Train.

recap firkin freezeout 2015

Founders has been having a great year so far. Late 2014 saw a limited draft re-release of fantastic Maple Bourbon barrel-aged CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) which has been making numerous appearances both at the pub and at local bars and restaurants. On top of this, Founders really rolled out some favorite vintage beers for their weeklong Cellar Raid event in January, as well was recently visited by and tapped a collaborative release with the Scottish hosts of the Brew Dogs television series. In the midst of the flurry of activity at the brewery, I paid a visit to Founders in early February for yet another highly anticipated event, the 2nd annual Firkin Freezeout.

white flame third anniversary article

White Flame Brewing Co. recently celebrated their 3rd anniversary as “Hudsonville’s oldest brewery” with a day of food, beer, and music including a sneak peek inside the currently under construction newly remodeled / expanded brew house. The event started inside the pub at noon with the bottle release of the anniversary Black Flame Imperial Russian Stout brewed with maple. This year’s limited bottle release was available all day-long during the party, but has since sold out very quickly within the week following the event.

rum article

Bier Distillery has been quietly producing quality craft spirits from Cellar Brewing’s location out of Sparta, Michigan since late 2013 but has only recently received necessary labeling and distribution approval to make their full line of spirits available outside the brewery. In fact, the distilling license actually predates current owner Chuck Brown’s ownership and the brewery still offers flavored vodkas which has long allowed for mixed drink options for customers in addition to craft beer. For upgrading the distilling component, the new owner has brought in new equipment as well as brought in distiller Joel Bierling to oversee operations.

hopslam release article

For the 2nd year in a row, Logan’s Alley timed their Hosplam tapping at when their doors opened at 7 AM Monday morning for all the early birds out there wanting to get the freshest possible taste of this year’s Bells Double IPA release. And for the 2nd year in a row, I few friends and I headed out to join in the celebration. For those unaware, Logan’s Alley is open 7 days a week from 7 AM until 2 AM with a full bar of craft microbrews and a menu of unique bar food to complement whether there for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a late-night snack.

farmhaus article

An almost 150 year-old family farm has been recently restored near Hudsonville and will serve as the base of operations for the new Farmhaus Cider Co. Authentic German style cider sourced from locally grown apples is currently in production and will be available beginning in February for distribution via both kegs, with cans to follow. Two varieties of cider will be available initially. Both will be near 7% in terms of alcohol content and are described by Farmhaus as follows:

topshelf bar now open

Downtown Muskegon has more than just beer to offer; it now has pizza as well. Whistle Punk has made the rounds with a mobile wood fire oven both outside Pigeon Hill Brewing Company and at the downtown Farmer’s Market and has proven successful enough to move into a permanent location next door to the owner’s other successful Third St. restaurant, Mia & Grace. Rebel Pies has also offered up their own unique brand of specialty pizzas featuring quality ingredients to complement Unruly Brewing Company. Top Shelf Pizza is the latest pizza maker to enter the downtown scene, joining the same building as Pigeon Hill and offering classic made-from-scratch style pizzas with traditional ingredients as well as a full bar featuring quality craft beer, wine, & spirits.

hop cat x7 article

Things have been very busy in the world of Hopcat with new locations springing up all over. Hopcat Detroit is the most recent to open just a month ago with a world record setting 120 Short’s beers on tap. Detroit joins the East Lansing and Broad Ripple Indy locations as the 4th Hopcat to open since the original original Grand Rapids location opened 7 years ago. I recently paid a visit to the Grand Rapids location for their weekend-long celebration on the anniversary.

rockers ball 2015

This year for New Year’s Eve, Unruly Brewing Company threw an amazing 80’s-themed party complete with a hair metal tribute band, barrel aged beers and drink specials, and a two-story barrel drop at midnight to celebrate the new year. DJ Old School Spencer set the tone for the inaugural event spinning records of 80’s pop and rock classics prior to the opening set of 80’s metal hits from tribute band GlamHammer based out of Lansing. Unruly also held some contests in between sets including best costume and a breakdancing challenge with several local businesses providing prizes for the winning contestants.
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