Have You Been to OG Lately?

A few days ago Mike O’Brien posted about a recent  to Original Gravity on the Craft Beer in Michigan Yahoo group. I enjoyed reading it so I thought I would share it with you. I asked Mike to add a short introduction (he made it modest) for those who don’t know him.

I am Mike O’Brien  – BrewGyver. I spend my days – and some evenings – helping breweries stay running. I did help Brad install the equipment at OG and was there  the day I did the sampling  to help Brad rebuild the brewhouse pump. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brad  and sampling a couple of his new beers. Brad’s Belgian offering  is now all grown up.  He has taken off his Training Wheels and is now serving 2-Wheeler Wit. A delicately balance beer  with ‘just the right amount’ of spice.

Ez-Duz-It is his offering for a lighter IPA (4.2%)  that is lacking nothing that you would expect in a hoppy IPA – great Amarillo character . . . and you can have more than one! 🙂

The latest addition  of his BellyWasher (Scotch Ale)  is nicely smokey with an addition of crystal rye?! If you think that his ‘famous’ 440 Pepper Smoker  now has just a little bit more of a kick  you are right. Brad added a couple of Habanero peppers to this batch – still super drinkable!

The current beer list on a chalk board -you can read from across the room 🙂 Brad’s  always delicious  sandwiches  are now available on beer bread from the Erie Bread Co. Wednesday’s Erie Bread Co.’s beer bread  is sold by the loaf. This week was Porter Rye – mmm! If you haven’t been there in a while – it’s time to go back! If you have never been to OG?! – shame on you! Look what you are missing!

Mike O’Brien

I share Mike’s love of Original Gravity. It is what I would want my brewery to be if I owned one. Fantastic beer. Brad’s sense of community (using a local bakery, hosting a farmer’s market) and a family atmosphere makes OG a special part of the community. Thanks Brad! We will be out to drink one soon.

Michigan Beer Spotlight: Bell’s Winter White Ale

I have decided to change up our Michigan beer spotlight post a little bit by making it  less of a tasting. I will also be adding a song that is currently boring a hole through my head. I am hoping to do these more often than I have.

This post’s beer is Bell’s Winter White. I have been enjoying this beer a lot this winter and even though Spring is almost here, there is still time to enjoy it.

The appearance is a cloudy light straw yellow with a foamy, quickly dissipating white head. The aroma is slightly citrusy with hints of banana along with other fruits and some clove. The flavor is what I really love. The sweet malts with fruity hints along with the slight tartness hits me in my beer sweet spot. Other flavors that are in the taste profile are clove, banana and citrus.  There is little to no hoppiness. The beer has a medium body and the mouth feel is slick yet is still has a bite and feels great on the tongue.

Don’t be fooled by the winter in the title of this beer it can be enjoyed all year long (at least while you can get your hands on it.) The medium body makes it very drinkable and the initial sweetness accompanied by a hint of tart makes this beer uniquely enjoyable. Look for the price of this beer to be marked down a little in the next few weeks since spring is only a month away. If not, try to convince the store to do so by telling them they need to make room for Oberon.

There Ain’t No Sanity Clause!

I hope everyone will have a safe and joyful Christmas and that beer geeks everywhere are sharing locally made beer with their loved ones. I bought a 12 pack of individual local craft beer for our gift exchange tonight so I may pick that gift out for myself.

We have a very special “beer” for today. It’s B. Nektar (Ferndale, MI) Cranberry Melomel which is a mead made with cranberries and orange zest. I bought this bottle at Merchant’s in Dearborn. Yes, technically it’s a mead and not a beer but it’s a special occasion and I think that Jesus would want us to enjoy something a little special on the eve of his birthday.

Here is the description from the bottle…

Only 20 gallons of this Cranberry Melomel (Batch 58) were made in January, 2010 (a melomel is a mead made with fruit). Orange blossom honey was fermented with 30 pounds of whole cranberries for a wonderful tart balance. Then we aged the mead on some orange zest to bring out the citrus-like character of the honey. The aroma is very complex with cranberry, honey and hints of citrus. The flavor doesn’t disappoint with tart cranberry up front followed by citrus-laden honey. This mead is also incredibly gorgeous in the glass with a striking pinkish-orange hue.

The bottle’s description is pretty thorough but I will try to add something to it. The mead is a beautiful salmon color with a slight carbonation to it.It has a sweet honey nose with hints of cranberries and orange. It has a nice tart taste from the cranberries that sets it apart from other meads I have had. The orange adds a hint of citrus to the sweetness of the honey along with a slight earthiness. The mouthfeel is dry but soft on your tongue.

If you don’t like mead because it is too sweet this one has a nice tartness to balance it out, so you may enjoy this one. I really like B. Nektar’s meads and recommend them for the holiday season. What is great is that they are easy to find in our local stores so now I can enjoy them whenever I want.

I will warn you. Don’t drink this on a empty stomach. It is 12% ABV and I am feeling it. Too busy cleaning house to eat.

Here is one of my favorite Christmas songs to end this post as well as our advent series. Enjoy!

St. Stephen’s Day Murders by Elvis Costello & The Chieftains

Welcome to MI Nightmare Before Vicious

It’s somewhat of a special occasion tonight since neither of us has to work until next week.  Sarah doesn’t go back to work till 2011. I’m not so lucky. So we bumped our scheduled Advent beer tonight so we could split a growler of Jolly Pumpkin that I bought from the cafe yesterday. As soon as I tried this beer I wanted to share with it Sarah as soon as I could. So our beer tonight is Nightmare Before Vicious Sour Wheat IPA. I’m not sure why it is called that but it seems to be a play on words with The Nightmare Before Christmas. I should have swiped a beer menu.  

The color is a bright golden amber with a white head. It had very little head retention but it had more retention when it was poured at the Jolly Pumpkin Cafe. The aroma has a farmhouse sourness that is  distinctively Jolly Pumpkin. Once that clears you can smell the oakiness. The mouthfeel is dry with a tart crisp bite and really excites the tongue.The farmhouse sourness is in the forefront of this beer with some bready sweetness from the wheat and a finish of grassy hops .

I would place this beer at the top of the advent beer so far. I am always impressed with Jolly Pumpkin beers. They have a distinct flavor yet each beer is distinctly different. When you see the process that Ron Jeffries goes through you realize why it is called Artisan Ales instead of a brewery.

Now to enjoy the rest of our night, good beer, bad movies and ugly gift wrapping jobs.

Merry Solstice to All and to All a Long Night


Merry Winter Solstice pagans! It is the longest night of the year here  in America. But as I write this some Aussie is throwing another shrimp on the barbie because he has 4 more hours of daylight. I realize all I know of  their culture is through TV and movies so I am going to stop before I stereotype them into giving me a booting. Our beer tonight is Solstice d’hiver brewed by Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel in Montreal Quebec. It was purchased at Merchant’s in Dearborn.

Since it is a Barleywine, I am hoping it is the perfect beer for tonight.

This is from the website…

“The Solstice d’Hiver is brewed only once a year in the month of July, and is then aged for 5 to 6 months before being put on tap on the 21st of December. This aging process is necessary to achieve an ideal equilibrium between the sharp bitterness and the other flavours in the beer. Also, every year, two 50 liter kegs are put aside. One is served as of the following 21st of June, after one year of maturation, and the other is served as of the following 21st of December (a year and a half of aging) to accompany the new batch”

The beer we are drinking tonight was brewed this July and even though the ABV on the website says it’s 9% the bottle say it’s 10.2%. I would love to find one from last year to try along side this one.

The color of this beer is a deep reddish, copper brown and moderately cloudy. It pours a light beige head with decent head retention.

The aroma is full of caramel malt notes and a distinct alcohol nose. It is unmistakably a barley wine and the alcohol is powerful in the flavor with a very distinct (almost harsh) burn in both the flavor and in the mouthfeel as it goes down. Almost so much so that it overpowers the other flavors that we should be getting in the beer. We would like to taste this beer again after it has aged a little bit more which I think would mellow it out considerably. If we can get our hands on a bottle from this batch next year we will definitely feature a reprise review.

We were both very excited about this beer and it fell a little short of expectations. But if you like the flavor of alcohol this beer would be great for warming up your night. Especially if you are trying to cajole a special someone into staying a little later at your house. I can’t help thinking of the “what’s in this drink?” from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

By the way, if you can zoom in on the ornament in the picture you will see Sarah at age five.

Save Our Shore; Let Them Know It’s Christmastime

By: Kevin & Sarah Nash

…And down the stretch we come. For those of you that do have an Advent calendar you noticed that we are out of the teens and Christmas is just 5 days away. Tonight’s beer is called Abita S.O.S. (Save Our Shore). Abita is a brewery located near Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Being part of a community that has been affected so negatively this year by the oil spill Abita decided to  create S.O.S., a beer to raise money and consciousness. It is a weizen pils at 7% ABV so this should be a nice change of pace from all the other beers we have had.

Here is their description…

“This Abita Beer is a message in a bottle…a distress signal for the troubled waters of our Gulf Coast. For every bottle sold Abita will donate 75¢ to the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive this disastrous oil spill. This unfiltered Weizen Pils is made with Pilsner and Wheat malts. It is hopped and dry hopped with Sterling and German Perle hops. It has a brilliant gold color, a sweet malt flavor, and a pleasant bitterness and aroma.”

The label on the bottle describes this beer pretty accurately, which makes our job tonight that much easier. It pours a hazy golden with a nice white lingering foamy head. The aroma and flavor is crisp, floral and spicy, which you would expect from the pils malt. It  is light bodied and crisp with biscuity maltiness in the onset which soon gives way to a refreshing floral hop bitterness.

Its probably not the type of beer you would expect to be drinking around Christmastime which makes it an even more welcome variation, at least for us. In our opinion, pilsners are pretty hard to pull off and the style is unfairly maligned by some but the brewers at Abita have succeeded in making a good easy drinking and flavorful beer. The fact that its for a good cause makes it that much more enjoyable for us.

Purchased at The Anderson’s 

Ris a la m’ale? Pas Mal.

<div class=\"postavatar\">Ris a la m'ale? Pas Mal.</div>


Tonight’s beer is Ris a la m’ale by Mikkeller Brewery out of Denmark (the brewers behind the beer geek series and the famous Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.) It’s hard to find much about this beer online and in fact there is no mention of it on the official Mikkeller site. But apparently (thanks to some research done by other dedicated beer bloggers) it is based upon a Danish Christmas dessert called risalamande and is made with the same ingredients: rice, vanilla, sugar, salt, cream / milk and then cherries and almond extract. Interesting. We picked up this particular beer from Merchants in Dearborn.

It pours a very fluffy white almost pinkish head and is a cloudy burnt sienna color. We picked up a little bit of a nuttiness and the cherries in the aroma but not a whole lot else. When you sip you get  a lot  of flavors combined all at once which actually kind of makes it hard to pull out the various aspects of the  taste. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy yet with a prominent carbonic bite. Nuttiness  and tart cherries predominate in the flavors but the base beer is almost hard to define. It’s  not sweet like the dessert beer that you think it would be but might make a nice tart compliment to a very sweet dessert.

Kevin and I enjoyed this beer but it wasn’t as exciting as we expected it to be given how interesting the concept of modeling the beer after the dessert seemed. We’ve had other beers from brewers who’ve used this formula (like Kuhnhenn’s creme brulee stout or the Apple Strudel Tripel from Copper Canyon) and ended up with fantastic results. At the same time we’ve both had a long day and are having trouble really getting into tonight’s post but couldn’t bear to break our 19 day streak. So we hope we’re not being too harsh or blase given our mood tonight.

However, in conclusion, precious holiday dollars might be better spent on one of these other great beers which are closer to home and much more reasonably priced.

Pickled Santa

By Kevin and Sarah Nash

As we were out and about driving this morning we heard on the radio that today is Keith Richards’ 67th birthday. We’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to him in honor of the occasion. And what beer could be more fitting than the aptly named,   “Pickled Santa.” This beer is exclusively made in the U.K. for U.S. import for Shelton Brothers’ out of Belchertown Mass.

The beer is a bright, clear golden color with splashes of autumn red and gold. It poured a nice white foamy head which quickly dissipated into a small island of bubbles which floats in the middle of your glass.  Rich carmal malts dominate with perhaps a hint of  a toffee-like butteriness. This may be a slight flaw in the beer or it may be intentional. In either case it seems to work given the style.  This is a spiced beer (cinnamon, coriander and nutmeg) but the spices are subtle and almost undetectable.

The mouth feel is dry, crisp and very bubbly which fades into a  sweet and bready malt character and then gives way to the British noble hop bitterness.  We  detected the spices a bit more in the taste than in the aroma, primarily the nutmeg, and again pleasent toffee-like notes. More flavors seemed to emerge as the beer warmed, so we recommend serving this only slightly chilled. I was concerned by the name of the beer because it seemed gimicky but I did enjoy this beer. It was easy drinking and flavorful and the spices did not overwhelm the malts. 

There are two celebrities  that never cease to amaze the people: Santa and Keith Richards. How can Santa fly arounnd the world in one night and deliver all those presents at his age? One, he’s smart and uses time zones so he gets 24 hours  of a night time and two, maybe they really do pickle him. With Keith Richards, I simply wonder how is he still alive? He fell out of a tree at the age of 65 and was so out of it in the 70s he wasn’t even aware that he recorded the Black and Blue album. If you ask me, that’s more than pickled. In any case, both seem to be alive and doing great!

Happy Birthday Keith!

The Hop Grinch Who Pilfered Noel

<div class=\"postavatar\">The Hop Grinch Who Pilfered Noel</div>


‘Twas the seventeenth night of our advent beering. Sarah sat typing, squinting and leering. “Bah” she exclaimed, “I’m tired of spice, of big fruity beers and although they are nice I can’t take one more, nada, zip, no not one, I need something different or this blog will be done. Something must change to prevent me from stopping. I’m in desperate need of some serious hopping.”

Okay, I contemplated trying to write this whole post Seuss style but I would imagine that it would take the whole  night to complete. In any case, I think you probably get the picture of my state of mind right now. Although we have sampled some wonderful beers since the beginning of this endeavour, I think three consecutive nights of big, Belgian spicy holiday beers is really starting to take it’s toll on me. So when Kevin asked me to pick tonight’s beer I naturally went for one of the hoppiest  in our cellar. That’s right. I’m being a hop grinch. I don’t want anything overly sweet, malty, spicy or remotely Christmasey this evening. My choice? Hopivore, Michigan Wet-Hopped Harvest Ale from New Holland. (Ah, as exquisite as our journey to Belgium was, it’s good to be back home.) Actually the label itself  was partially my inspiration for this hop grinch post. The vivid green hop illustration on the bottle reminded me of the  color of the Grinch’s matted green fur. 

Hopivore is a wet hopped  American Pale Ale with fresh hops added to the brew just hours after harvest. It is  a bright medium copper hue with nice clarity. It poured a decent off-white head with  some lacing on the surface and around the edge of the glass remaining. The aroma is fresh, grassy and slightly vegetal with little to no fruit esters (Yes!). This beer has a bright, fresh and crisp taste and mouthfeel. The hops are abundant in the flavor but are mellow, not in your face,  and well balanced against a  dry biscuity malt and at times almost tea-like  bitter hop profile. This beer is incredibly refreshing and drinkable and I think I still would have the same opinion about it even if I wasn’t just admiring it for being the antithesis of the beers I’ve tasted over the past few days.

My challenge to any of the Michigan brewers who are out there reading this post, is that next year you brew a wonderful hop grinch beer as your Christmas seasonal when everyone else is dousing their ales with candi sugar and spice. I even give you full liberty to use the title of this post as the name. I’m pretty confident it’s convoluted enough that you could avoid copyright infringement. Todd Parker, my money’s on you to jump on this idea. Let’s see if you’re reading.

Fah who foraze, dah who doraze!

Another Noel

<div class=\"postavatar\">Another Noel</div>

We will be enjoying another high ABV Belgian beer tonight but this one is at 12% so it is a little bit higher. This beer is brewed by Brasserie Dubuisson in Pipaix, Belgium and over there it is beer is known as Bush De Noel but due to a trademark issue it is sold here as Scaldis Noel. 

I have heard a lot of good things about this beer so I am excited to taste it. It will be nice to compare the flavor of the Noel beers having Deliruim fresh in my memory.

Here is the brewery’s description… 

A product made exclusively from malt, hops, candy sugar and water, Bush de Noël is a high fermentation, filtered beer and has an alcohol volume of 12%.

The substantial use of caramel malt gives it a coppery red colour and an exceptional roundness. Particularly carefully studied hopping gives Bush de Noël a consistent, fruity flavour with a delicately hopped aroma.

A limited edition beverage, Bush de Noël is an indispensable reference among the end-of-year beers.

The color is a burnt red and is very clear. It poured with a lot of off-white head but that quickly dissipated into the rim. As I swirl legs form on the glass. I always like to see the legs cling to the side of the glass as the head slowly shimmies down the glass. The high alcohol content is evident in the first smell. I am surprised by the spicy aroma given that no spices were added to it. Sarah described it as reminiscent of coriander with some fruitiness.

The body is full with a lot of tingling on your tongue. This beer starts out almost syrupy sweet with heavy doses of  sticky sweet belgian yeast flavor (almost like cotton candy or bubble gum) but it quickly and surprisingly fades into a smooth and somewhat dry, nutty and bready malt body with a nice and not harsh alcohol warmth which lingers behind. The floral hops are present but almost in the background to the big malt body.

Last night I said, all this beer blogging is getting in the way of drinking a beer. In truth I should be slowing down and thinking about every one I drink as much as we do with our advent beer. It helps you apprecaite the artistry that goes into brewing a beer as complex and as tasty as this one. My only problem with this beer is that the bottle is only  8.48  ounces. That was five for me and 3.48 for Sarah.