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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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Flying Dog Raging Bitch

Flying Dog Raging Bitch is a Belgian Style IPA that has been the source of a lot of controversy in Michigan. Up until very recently it was banned for sale in Michigan due to "vulgar" label art. I won't get into my thoughts on this but know that the laws have no changed in favor of freedom of speech and expression and hurray for us cause we now can enjoy this tasty brew!

Pours very translucent coppery color, good thick head with tight bubbles that dissipates rather quickly but not too quick and leaves decent lacing.

The aroma is very bright citrus and floral hops with that very faint funk from the Belgian yeast. The Belgian characteristics are barely there unlike the Cali-Belgique but are present in the slightly earthy smell behind the hops.

It is actually quite drinkable, not too heavy as I was expecting and the only hint of the Belgian side of it is a slight sweetness on the finish. Over all its an excellently balanced IPA but the depth is lacking a bit. The citrus of the hops is cut by the dry finish and the very small hint of banana is there but fades quickly. Almost too bitter as I wait a good minute before taking the next sip but for a hop head like me that is all good.

Medium mouthfeel that lingers well on the sides of my tongue as a little honey and clove do manage to make their mark but over all if I wasn't told this was a Belgian style I might miss it. That ultra dry grapefruit really grips my taste buds still even after 2-3 minutes since the beer was empty.

A very good brew and one of my favorites but I still enjoy Cali-Belgique from Stone, Farmhouse Hatter and Short's Belgian IPA better in this category. It drinks more like an Imperial IPA than a Belgian and that is OK in my book!

Find out more about this beer @

Find out more about the political side of this story @