Monday, September 10, 2012

Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant: Gives The Feeling of Stepping Into an Old US Tavern

Written by  Jon Jefferson
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Brewery Review: Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant

Kalamazoo has many historical buildings, something not uncommon for many of the down town portions of cities across the United States. Back in 1874 on the corner of Portage Street and Michigan Avenue the Peninsula building was built. The next historic moment came in 1980 when a F3 tornado tore through Kalamazoo County. This tornado did not destroy the building but it was damaged severely, requiring massive repairs. This was true for much of the area.
And then we find ourselves in 1996; the market for craft beer had not been created yet, at least not in Kalamazoo. This was the environment that Olde Peninsula was born into. Sure Bell’s had already been around for a while, but in a mainstream college town, most were still looking for cheap and familiar. Kalamazoo is home to both K College and Western Michigan University. It’s understandable that many of the bars have been dive college bars for quite some time. Now, of course, Bell’s Eccentric Café has been around for a while and Olde Peninsula has been around for a good portion of that time as well.

When you step inside OP (common name around Kalamazoo) you have the feeling of stepping into an old US tavern. Leather and dark woods add a warmth and richness to the feeling in the air. The large bar acts as a separation between a quiet dining area and a traditional feeling barroom. During lunch this gives a great backdrop for watching the brewers work in the brewery. The brewery is separated from the bar by a windowed wall, allowing full viewing of the happenings inside.

They offer 5 beers year round as well as four seasonal brews. I started off with a small pour of their Summer Hefe (seasonal 5.25%). As far as German wheats go, this was tasty. Considering I had walked over to OP from the Kalamazoo Library, something light and refreshing was perfect. Something that I noticed in the flavor profile was a rich spiciness that to me possibly came from some rye in the mash. It definitely had something a bit more than what you find in many wheats.

From here I moved on to a tasting flight of 4 of their year round offerings. Starting with Haymarket Cream Ale (4.25%), light and creamy, this one would have served the same purpose as the Hefe. The hops do their job, enhancing the flavors from the grains. But it is the grains that stand out in this one.

Sunset Red (5.75%) was probably my favorite of the night, but then I am a sucker for the caramel notes of a well done red. This one had more in line with an American amber than it would with an Irish. The main flavor was more caramel than butterscotch. My view is, this is one I could drink all day.

OP IPA (6.75%) was a shocker. Many times you run across IPAs where the brewer is trying to compete with others in jamming as much hop bitterness into the brew that they are almost undrinkable. Instead of that, they decided to let this one stand on its own merits. Balanced between malt and bitterness, the resin stays with you. In my view this is a mark of a brewer that has learned how to make the hops and malt play together.

Lastly, Rockin’ Raspberry Wheat (5.5%) is another well done beer. The beer is dry and clean, refreshing with a sweet raspberry finish. The raspberry does not overpower, instead it helps to enhance the malt.

OP is worth checking out. They do have tours, but they require a reservation and carry a fee, although the fee does cover the cost of a guided sampling of the beers on offer.

Jon Jefferson

Jon Jefferson

Having graduated from both Grand Rapids Community College (Associate of Science: CulinaryArts) and then Davenport University (BBA), Jon Jefferson has been working within the restaurant industry for roughly eight years. The last restaurant was Epic Bistro/ Central City TapHouse in Kalamazoo Michigan. In 2008 he started a journey, exploring the world of beer through brewing. It was through a desire to share his homebrewing and beer related adventures that the blog 10th Day Brewing was born. He lives in Galesburg, Michigan with his wife Joanna and daughters Chelsea and Maggie.