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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Absense, 365 days of Beer, MBG Winter Beer Fest, Curmudgeon's Better Half!

I just realized I have not used this blog since October! For Shame... I would like to claim I have been busy and holidays were hectic and all of that jazz but any of you that know me will certainly call shenanigans, as even my son knows, I get paid to drink beer... There is no excuse for me not to stay active on the blog boards.

It is true though, I have been busy. My wife and I are about to close on a house, we are averaging 3 beer events a month at the bar, the Beer Geek Club just gets bigger and bigger along with the home brew club AND I joined my son's Tang Soo Do class! But none of that matters, you deserve to be inundated with my valuable opinion and observations and I apologize for keeping you waiting for so long.


I came across an article in the March issue of Maxim Magazine where the staff decided to drink 365 different cans of beer in a day! My kind of party! It is much less of an article than a collection of pictures of their staff getting fed beer by girls in tennis skirts, but it did raise a few good points. Can's are where it is at, no light, less oxygen and a better environment to stay true to the taste the brewer intended. Major breweries are jumping on this trend with several Michigan Breweries soon to be joining and a few leading the charge. Here are the one's I noticed where in the article:

Keweenaw Pick Axe Blonde Ale
Keweenaw Red Jacket Amber Ale
Brewery Vivant Triomphe IPA
Brewery Vivant Farm Hand Ale
Rochester Mills Cornerstone IPA
Millking It Productions Brik Red Ale
Millking It Productions AXL Pale Ale

A few Things did disturb me though, jumping out right away the tagged can of Bud Light captioned as "Still what comes to mind when we think of a 'cold one.' Quite simply, our go-to cooler staple." That simple sentence showcases again the marketing machine that is AB/INBEV. that in a crowd of some of the countries best beers they manage to get that plug into this article.

Equally annoying, the caption of the tagged Blue Moon can stating "For some reason Blue Moon is THE one great beer every crappy bar seems to have. And thank God for that." I think Maxim needs to be educated on the definition of "Great" and find something more important to thank God for.

However it is nice to see these Craft Cans getting some press even amongst the scattered swill from the big guys. I am a big fan of the canning trend and can't wait to see more products coming soon to our Great Beer State!


So I am heading with my lovely to the Winter Beer Fest this coming Saturday in Grand Rapids. As I write this I am sitting with Victor Lambert, a long time volunteer at the front gate of the festivals, he tells me that this year there is 61 breweries with a planned 453 different beers being poured. Incredible and a far cry from the 600 people hanging out with the 10 breweries that were around when these things started. See you there!

I am looking forward to being there and considering it my next "On the Road with the Beer Geek" event. Come find me and I will give you a discount card for your next trip to the Shark Club and get credit as a tour stop towards your t-shirt commemorating my year in beer travels. Our first trip was at Wolverine State Brewing in January and the next one will be the last Saturday of March at Copper Canyon!


Founders has been a hot subject lately. Both praise and criticism has come for their small batch beer they have been putting out recently. Praise for the quality and delightfulness of the brew itself and criticism for the lack of availability and the retailer price gouging.

The latest release in the rare 22oz series is Curmudgeon's Better Half, an 11.9% Old Ale made with Molasses then aged on Maple Syrup Bourbon Barrels. Rumor has it that you can find these online at various shady locations for upwards of $120 and find them locally, if you are lucky enough to be on someones list, anywhere from $15.99 to $49.99.

Even though it is simple supply and demand it still has always rubbed me the wrong way to see this kind of pricing on the high end of that scale. I would rather be told I was not on the list than be charged $49.99 for a beer that most likely cost the retailer no more than $12. The head ache this causes for distributors and store owners trying to explain to their customers why they can't get it or why their neighbor did but not them is unenviable.

Alas, I did pony up $30 for a bottle for myself and I must tell you, I do not regret my purchase at that price and would recommend grabbing one up if it is available near you.

I was worried at first that the beer would be way to sweet with the molasses and maple syrup but the flavors truly compliment the style adding to the malt back bone and helping to smooth out the burn of the high alcohol content. The oak and vanilla hints of the bourbon leave just the right amount of that sweetness on your tongue and lingers between sips. I shared this wife my wife and still enjoyed my half for the better part of an hour. Outstanding beer and worth the price.


I will try not to let 4 more months go by without hearing from me and I look forward to seeing you at the Winter Beer Fest!


Jonathan Cole
Supreme Beer Geek

come see me anytime at:

Shark Club Howell
1140 S. Michigan Ave
Howell, MI 48843

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wolverine State Brewing Company Green Thumb Dry Hopped Lager

Wolverine State Brewing Company is primarily a Lager House located in Ann Arbor, just down from the Stadium. While they market mainly their premium and dark lagers they have a wide variety of Lager and Ale styles to please everyone and I think a great place to visit while on a brew tour of Ann Arbor.

Today we are trying the Green Thumb Dry Hopped Session Lager

Pours a golden straw colored hue with ample head that fades quickly with very light lacing. Plenty of earthy hop notes a bit of funk with some serious pine aromas.  Reminiscent of the spruce pilsner from Shorts but a bit lighter on the pine nose.

The dry hopping has left the beer with its light lager mouthfeel which quickly yields to a bright hop dryness with plenty of evergreen and citrus. Really dries out the palate and leaves that bitterness in the back of the throat that begs for another sip. My only complaint would be that the bitterness has overpowered the rest of my palate in the aftertaste and loses a bit of the earthiness and citrus leaving my mouth dry and bitter. I don't get a lot of Lager characteristics and would consider it more of a light session IPA in the new trend among Michigan brewers.

I think it is a very drinkable beer that I could have a few of, and another success that ventures away from their trademark premium and dark lagers. Oliver is doing some great things down there and I highly suggest a visit if you haven't been. They have a large variety of great beer at their Tap Room for all palates and make some outstanding ales if you are not a lager fan.

For more information on Wolverine State Brewing Company please visit their website and the Beer Wench's Blog at: and

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shorts Noble Chaos

Short Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elkrapids, MI is one of my favorite places for a brew and make some of the most unique and interesting beer in the sate. Today I am going to try out their take on the Oktoberfest style. Noble Chaos is an Amber Lager in the Marzen category of beer style.

It pours a very rich copper color with a fluffy a full head that quickly settles to a thick layer across the top of the beer. Much darker looking than most of the other Oktoberfest's I have tried. The lacing is also quite good and clings tightly to the glass, I love to see that.

The noble hops are very present on the nose with a very distinct caramel note and nuttiness cutting through the roasted malts. Over all it is not very pungent and the scents are more subtle that I expect from Shorts.

There is a lot going on here between the hops the toasted malts and caramel and the nuttiness you expect from the style. A good dose of hops which are not typical for the style and some might say rules it out as a true marzen but its a trait I find delightful and helps place this on top of the list of Oktoberfest beers i have had. The more it warms up the creaminess of the caramel and roasted nuts really come through and it sweetens up as the hop crispness dry the end but don't dominate the palate.

I think it is delicious and at 5.5% i could have several on a great fall day. I still love my Captain and hot apple cider but this one rank up there with my favorite fall beverages.

Learn more about this any the many other beers of Shorts Brewing Company at their website.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Livery Dixie O'Flynn Stout

The Livery is located in Benton Harbor, MI just north of St. Joseph. Over one hundred years ago, the 

building known as the Palace Livery provided a vital service making it a unique gathering place for residents of

and travelers to Southwest Michigan. This former horse stable has been brought back to life as The Livery

It features 12 beers on tap and 3 real ales as well as a beer garden.

Completely black in color, it looks rich and full as it pours. Dark caramel colored head is frothy and thick and is stubborn to dissipate. A good amount of lacing and a solid head across the top stays for the duration of the pint.

Roasted aromas are prevalent with coffee and toffee the most distinct. Walnut and pecans are very slightly perceptible with a smooth chocolate scent that lingers. Very slight hop notes round it out and are very inviting.

The first sip is overwhelmed with the chocolate and coffee notes but as it warms up you definitely catch the roasted nuts. Very dry and full mouthfeel that rivals Breakfast Stout from Founders. The mild 5.3% alcohol leaves the heat out of it and its nice to see this big of a stout not need to be overly high in abv.

I really like this brew and its the first I have had from The Livery and has got me looking forward to my next style from them.

For more information on The Livery check out their webpage at:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Unibroue Black Currant Ephemere

A 5.5% White ale brewed with fruit from Chambly, Quebec at Unibroue Brewing Company, one of Canada's finest. It pours a cloudy peach color, not quite orange, not quite pink. A light soft head, very thin but sticks around surprisingly well as a constant stream of bubbles pour up from the bottom of the glass.

Smells tart and dry with rich berry aroma's as well a small amount of spice and citrus. You can pick up that currant rather easily and the smell is inviting and floral without that over powering potpourri smell you can get from some less sophisticated attempts at fruity beer.

Very tight bubbles, well carbonated and very refreshing. The berry flavor is helped along with a soft peach undertone with granny smith apple and lemon zest. The acidity is perfect as it is tart but not sour and reminds me of a easy drinking Soft Parade from Short's, a similar flavor but not the kick of the high gravity alcohol.

I am a tough sell on fruit beers but this one has enough complexity to keep me interested and not sweet enough to make me feel like I am swilling syrup or coat my teeth with that sugary film. I would probably drink this again though I think used as a base for a nice raspberry vinaigrette or sorbet may fit my likes a bit more.

For more information on Unibroue and their beer please visit their website @

Founder's Breakfast Stout

Founder's highly acclaimed Breakfast Stout that holds an "A" rating from over 2000 reviews on and a world class rating of "A+" from the websites founders, is the subject of our tasting today. Boasting heavy doses of coffee and chocolate it is a Michigan Beer lovers must and legendary fall beer from one of our great brewing companies.

It pours black as night with a thick caramel or cappuccino colored head that dissipates slowly with good lacing that seems to linger the entire way through the beer even after 30 minutes of savoring every sip.

Attacking my nose immediately are the roasted and toasted aromas of burnt chocolate and toffee with a rich espresso aroma. There is definitely a presence of the hops at 60 ibu's adding to the bitterness already present in the baker's chocolate like smell of the dark malts and imported chocolate. In the end the most dominant trait is still the chocolate espresso that comes trough above all others. 

My first taste is all bitter espresso up front, with a dark roasted almost burnt chocolate after taste. Letting the next sip swish around and sit on the tongue, I get the sweetness from the chocolate and a slight dark nuttiness like roasted walnuts or chestnuts. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy and coats the taste-buds. Very earthy on the back of the tongue but really very powerful chocolate and coffee throughout. The high alcohol is there but not all that noticeable as it is balanced very well for a beer of 8.3% abv.

Aptly named as it reminds me of morning coffee, like a shot in the dark (cup of coffee with a shot of espresso added) and a big bowl of coco-wheat's. This beer is so rich and satisfying that a few minutes after finishing it's hard to determine whether i just downed a beer or a frothy cup of real hot chocolate.

An iconic beer that has helped to make Founder's the name it is today. Delicious and in high demand so I say go get yours now!

For more information on this and the many other offerings by Founder's Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, MI please check out their WEBSITE!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

MBC Screaming Pumpkin

It must be fall as I have now been approached by all 6 of my distributors with all of their Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers. There are a lot of them out there and last year I think we poured at least 8 of them and it looks like we will have somewhere around 12 in the next 2 months this year.

Above all other Michigan beers, Michigan Brewing Company's Screaming Pumpkin sold the most and seems to be the most popular of the spiced ales that our state brews.

It pours a slightly cloudy copper color but is mostly translucent. Little to no head with very minimal lacing if any at all. Aroma is that all-spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves you come to expect from this style and immediately brings pumpkin pie to mind as intended.

I actually find this pour slightly under carbonated and the mouthfeel is quite thin. The refreshing quality is there but I prefer a little more body in my ales, but then again, I'm not a real fan of spiced ales to begin with. There is a smooth malt character to it before the spices take over your taste buds and those flavors back what you get in the aroma.

Of all the pumpkin/spiced ales I have had I think this one may have the most pronounced flavors and spices and if that is what you are looking for this is top of the line. As I said before it is our number one spiced ale we sell in the fall and only second to Sam Adam's Octoberfest for over all fall beer sales.

Michigan Brewing Company is a longstanding presence in the Michigan craft beer scene and also a great spot to pick up home brew materials. For more information on them visit their site at