Man Crushed by Giant Novelty Hop Cone! Experience Leaves Him Bitter

Rate Beer recently came out with their list of the top 50 beers in the world and Michigan had two in the top ten. In at number four was Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and just two spots lower was Bell’s Hopslam. Of the two only Hopslam will be available on Friday.

Hopslam is one of those beers that is loved by geeks and nongeeks alike. As someone who has recommended a lot of beers to people I used to be hesitant to suggest such a big beer to a macro drinker but not anymore. Sure, it’s a big in ABV and flavor but it’s also extremely drinkable with a comfortable mouthfeel.

You can’t ignore a beer this great especially when it brewed in your own state. I know the beer geek reading this will buy it but please think about sharing it with a newbie. Because the best ad campaign is word of mouth and that mouth should be filled with Hopslam.
Hopslam will be available in good beer stores in Monroe on Friday.

Monroe Beer Events for June 16

This Saturday, June 16 2012, there are two big local events. One is Original Gravity’s 4 year anniversary party and the other is the 2012 Monroe Pub Crawl. Both will be good times in completely different ways.

OG’s 4 year anniversary is made for hop heads. Eight different IPAs will be released including a Mango/Pineapple IPA. Also beer inspired BBQ from Erie Bread Company will be served starting at 1pm. Here are the details from the website…

6.16.12 – OG 4-Year Anniversary Party!!!   Come celebrate our 4-year Anniversary all day!   8+ IPA’s on tap…including Mango / Pineapple IPA, Citrus IPA and others….  Beer Inspired BBQ from Erie Bread Company from 1pm -til gone… Live Music from  Valentiger wsg Johnny Lunchbox @ 7pm…

The Monroe Pub Crawl visits 9 bars starting at 3:30. It is a blast and a chance for me to get snobby with bars that don’t serve Michigan beer. Actually the list of bars shrinks every year. Regardless this is a fun time with friendly people that will make you feel like a long lost friend. Here are the details…

Join us for the 6th annual Monroe Pub Crawl!  There’s no charge, and we’re not raising money for anything. It’s just a fun summer night out to tour bars you might not otherwise see.  The crawl is open to anyone and everyone. Get a group of friends, come on out and have fun!
 June 16, 2012 – Schedule:
ClamDiggers 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
SideTrack Saloon 4:45 – 5:30 p.m.
You & I 5:45 – 6:30 p.m.
Uptown 6:30 – 7:15 p.m.
McGeady’s 7:15 – 8 p.m.
Senior Cactus 8 – 8:45 p.m.
129 Lounge 8:45 – 9:30 p.m.
Roarks 9:30 – 10:15 p.m.
Beeks 10:15 – 11pm

March of Dimes Beer & Wine Tasting

March of Dimes Beer & Wine Tasting
Saturday, March 24
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Harbor Inn & Ale
13993 Laplaisance Rd   Monroe, MI
30.00 per person for twelve 3oz. pours featuring Michigan Beer and Wine. Plus there is a buffet!
Tha March of Dimes Monroe Advisory Board and Harbor Inn & Ale are proud to present a Michigan Beer and Wine Tasting. Beer and wine supplied by Rave Associates.
For tickets call:
Pam Levin, 734-761-6331
Darcy Merritt, 734-457-4445

Where to Find KBS in Monroe

The Founders Kentucky Breakfast release date is upon us! Tomorrow (March 16) KBS hits the stores but since it is a limited release that is in high demand not every store will have it. That is why I am saving my fellow Monroe County citizens some time and effort by letting you know which stores will have it. PLEASE! do not use this information to buy KBS with the intent of selling it on ebay. Let us beer geeks have our beer.

Here are the three stores that will be selling KBS…

Flick’s Package Liquor in Lambertville

Jake’s in Monroe

Broadway in Monroe

Founders is placing an 1/2 case per person limit on KBS but some places may limit you to less than that. I’ll see you tomorrow in the beer aisle.

Learn to Make Beer Event in Monroe

The Muskrat Mashers are having a “Learn to Make Beer” open to the public event this Thursday, February 9, from 6pm to 9pm at Harbor Inn & Ale. The event hopes to encourage new people to brew by having educational displays, a Q & A session with experienced homebrewers plus one lucky person will be walking away with a brand new starter kit from Adventures in Homebrewing!

Click here for the facebook page. Here is more information about this event from the Muskrat Mashers website.

If you’ve ever kicked around trying to make your own beer, we invite you to stop out to our February gathering. Our plan is to have some equipment set up, some fliers to hand out, and members of the club will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about getting started brewing. Also if you haven’t checked out Harbor Inn and Ale, they have a fantastic lineup of Michigan made beers!

The Muskrat Mashers is an informal homebrew club that meets once a month to discuss one thing: How to make beer. The group isn’t made up of a bunch of chemists or master brewers, we’re just regular people, that get together to enjoy quality beer and talk about how we made it. The club has a mix of people from newbies to seasoned brewers. We love helping new people get started with brewing, because somewhere along the way, someone experienced helped us get started.

Learn to make Beer!Thursday, February 9th 6-9pm @ Harbor Inn & Ale – Monroe, MI (click for map)

Public Welcome! Ever wonder how beer was made? Ever consider making it yourself? Stop out for an evening dedicated to how to brew your own beer. Members of the local homebrew club Muskrat Mashers will be on hand to discuss the basics of making your own beer from buying equipment and choosing a recipe to bottling or kegging the final product.

  • • Equipment and ingredient displays/discussions/handouts
  • • Discussions on how easy it is to make your own beer
  •  • Already brewing? Meet other local homebrewers!

I Break for Jake’s

Most everyone with a passion has the ability to spot things associated with that passion while ignoring all else around it. An example of this is when I drive down the street close to zoning out and all of a sudden I say’ “Look! a kegerator!”  This happened the other day while driving on North Dixie just south of I-75 when I saw a sign that read CRAFT BEER above new store in Monroe. The sign had other things written on it too but I didn’t get any further than CRAFT BEER. I then thought,  “yeah right! I’ll see about that! This is Monroe, they probably just sell Summer Shandy! I’ll go in just so I have something to complain about for the next week.” So I entered the store named Jake’s Liquor and I was happy to see that this is a real craft beer store.

Not only do they have a good selection of craft beers, they have a great selection of Michigan beers with almost every distibuted brewery represented. Plus they sell a variety of singles for mixed 6 packs. Still not convinced this is a good beer store? Well this Friday July 8 they are getting the only case of Founder’s Blushing Monk that will be sold in Monroe County. It should be there sometime during the afternoon.  Blushing Monk is essentially an “Imperial Rübæus.” This ale contains four times the amount of raspberries as Rübæus and is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Even if you aren’t interested in fruit beers you still need to get to this store.

Jake’s Liquor is located at 1094 North Dixie in Monroe, Michigan. Like them on facebook and let Jake know that you like what he is doing.


Learn To Make Beer

Our homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers, is holding a membership drive/homebrewing demo this Thursday, February 10. Sarah wrote a press release that does a great job of describing the event so I will let her take it from here. 

 The Muskrat Mashers will host an informational session on home brewing on Thursday, Feb. 10 from 6-9 p.m. at Harbor Inn and Ale in Monroe, Michigan.
Have you ever wondered how beer was made?  Have you ever considered making it yourself? Would you like to meet and share ideas and experiences with other home brewers?  If you answered yes to these questions, then stop out for an evening dedicated to home brewing.  Members of the Muskrat Mashers homebrew club in Monroe will be on hand to discuss the basics of home brewing from buying equipment and choosing a recipe to bottling or kegging the final product. This gathering will feature equipment and ingredient displays as well as discussions and handouts on how to begin home brewing. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet and network with other local home brewers.
“The Muskrat Mashers is an informal homebrew club that meets monthly,” says Muskrat Mashers founder and President Rob Gorczyca. “The group isn’t made up of a bunch of chemists or master brewers. We’re just regular people who get together to enjoy brewing and drinking craft beer. The club has a mix of people from beginners to seasoned brewers. We love helping new people get started with brewing because somewhere along the way someone helped us get started.”
This event is free and open to the public. Harbor Inn and Ale is located at 13993 Laplaisance Road in Monroe, Michigan. For more information about the Muskrat Mashers go to

Facebook page:

Featured Homebrewer: Fred Rouse

 When we started this blog we talked about highlighting local homebrewers in the hope of encouraging people to get into the hobby.  Four years later,  I realize we haven’t done one since we started the Muskrat Mashers, which is shameful. We now know more homebrewers than ever before. So, I am bringing the feature back in a plan to highlight some of our Mashers.

Fred's Brew House

Sarah and I have met some great people through the Muskrat Mashers, many of whom have become friends. It has also been a true learning experience for me.  It has pushed me to try to be a better brewer in two ways. One is by being encouraged by fellow brewers and the other is by increasing my enthusiasm by learning new tricks. This post features homebrewer Fred Rouse. I have learned so much from him already.  He loves brewing right down to the minutiae, perfecting even the smallest detail that will affect the flavor of his beer and is always looking to make his beer better. Fred is the rare person who knows a lot but is not a know-it-all. I try to prepare my brain to be absorbent when he is around.

I went on long enough it is time to let Fred speak…
How long have you been brewing? 16 yrs.

How much has homebrewing changed in the last 16 years? Everything you needed to homebrew was available. You just had to search a little bit to find it.  Now we have quite a few places within a short drive to get anything and the info you can get from local homebrew stores is excellent now. The shop owners and employees are more knowledgeable today.  I would say the biggest change I’ve noticed is the equipment that’s available. Just about anything a pro brewery uses we can get but on a smaller scale.  But one thing that has stayed the same. Most of the homebrewers I meet build their own systems as much as they can and buy just what they have to.  I think we like to be engineers as much as brewers.

Why did you start brewing? I’ve always had an interest in doing everything from scratch, from raising a garden and putting food up, raising chickens for eggs and meat and anything that took me back to the old way of doing things. I definitely didn’t start brewing because I liked craft beer, I was a die hard Stroh’s fan!  The first time I walked into the local homebrew store, I told them I wanted to make beer and that I needed some barley and hops.  They told me I wasn’t ready to make beer this way and needed to start with an extract kit.  I left the store without anything, but I still wanted to make beer.  Well, at Christmas my wife got me an extract kit and a book, “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.”  I made the beer and read the book.  The beer was the best beer I had ever tasted at that time. I was hooked.  It wasn’t long after I started brewing that I was at Frankenmuth and a tornado had come through and destroyed the brewery.  They were selling 1/2 barrel kegs for 5 bucks.  I loaded my Ford Aspire with as many as I could fit. I had the material for my all grain brewery!   Over time I upgraded to a 20 gallon system, temp. controlled conical, completely updated 100 yr. old grainery building with restaurant sinks, shelves, prep tables and all the toys.  My wife had no idea what she was starting. Good thing she likes beer.
You brewed professionally. What is your experience? I was an assistant brewer at Grizzly Peak for just over a year and a brewer at Blue Tractor for about 3 months.
How did brewing professionally change your homebrewing? It opened my eyes to open fermentation and repitching yeast.  After seeing beers fermenting like this I bought a food grade 32 gallon Rubbermaid container with a loose fitting lid and ferment beers in this as long as the temp. in the shed doesn’t climb above 60 degrees.  I always repitch yeast from batch to batch as long as the previous batch tastes good.

Favorite batch?  I have 2 favorites.  There used to be a homebrew competition at Rochester Mills Brewing Co. that was pretty big and my pale ale took best of show and ended  up winning the ultimate award, a two tap fridge with 5 gallons of Final Absolution from Dragonmead.  This was the last year they did the competition. I guess this makes me the reigning champion.  The other favorite batch was my first brew at Grizzly Peak.  I started with a smack pack of yeast from wyeast and brewed 20 gallons, I harvested the yeast and pitched it into a 7 bbl. batch of pils and then into my 7bbl. batch of maibock.  This yeast has fermented 31 – 7bbl. batches!

Suggestions to others considering brewing? Do it!  The best hobby ever!  If we could have taken this as a science class in high school we would have all excelled!  The best advice I could give is to pay attention to cleanliness (lots of PBW and Starsan). Join a homebrew club and enjoy the ride. Even the mistakes usually turn out good.

We went out to Fred’s place to sample some of Fred’s beers and to get some pictures of his brewing house. All were excellent, of course, but my personal favorite was his pilsner. It is such a rare treat to be able to drink a flawless classic pilsner that when I get one I really enjoy it. It is a difficult beer to brew but  he hits it out of the park.

Hombrewing is as complicated as you want it to be. You can make good drinkable beers with a small investment in equipment or you can do what Fred has done and make great beers. Homebrewing is a rewarding hobby so in Fred’s words, Do it!

Hopslam Arrives

<div class=\"postavatar\">Hopslam Arrives</div>

Bell’s Hopslam makes it’s return this week and it’s just in time because this January could really use a hop infusion. And for the first time ever Hopslam will be available in mini kegs. Beware: That much Hopslam needs to be shared since it is 10 % ABV.

Hopslam is ranked as the #3 American Double / Imperial IPA by Beer Advocate and #4 byRatebeer. It is hoppy and big tasting without being heavy. The citrus hops and the warming alcohol tricks you into thinking you are vacationing in the tropics. Not thirsty yet? Here is Bell’s description of Hopslam from their website…

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

Some places had their release parties last night  but for the most part it won’t be available in Monroe till Friday. But I did put in a phone call and found out that it will go on tap tonight (January 10, 2011) at  Harbor Inn and Ale. Needless to say that we are eating there tonight.

Below is some good reads that will tie you over until you can get a glass of it…

Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread

<div class=\"postavatar\">Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread</div>

Erie Bread Company in Monroe, MI will be selling bread baked using spent grain this Tuesday, December 28,  from the local homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers. The grain came from Craig Laginess, an avid beer lover and our club treasurer. He brewed a wheat and rye so the bread will include four pounds of each grain.

It is fantastic to have a local bakery that is so willing to work with a local group like us. The fact that they are so good at what they do is an added plus. Thank you for choosing Monroe to be your home.

I can’t wait to try the bread and Craig’s beer. You can drop off a bottle when it’s done.