Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top 20 Beer List For Michigan Brewer's Guild Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market

Written by  Erik Smith
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Upon the release of the beer list for the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Fall Beer Festival in Detroit’s Eastern Market this weekend, I try to zero in on 20 beers I’d like to try.
I used to be one of those people who would make longer lists, prioritizing the beers and planning an exact order, but now, heading to my 8th Festival this weekend, it seems so much easier to make a short list and spend the rest of the time seeing where fate, chance and trusted recommendations take me after that. There’s no right or wrong answer here- just so much good beer to choose from.
  1. River Rouge- Cranberry Afternoon Dee-light Ale. I had the good fortune of talking with owner/brewer Ed Stencel when I visited here in August. I was impressed with his experience in San Diego, and found his fruit beers to be very well done. Cranberry should be an interesting addition.
  2. Odd Sides- Joker of Tarts. After sampling Queen of Tarts at Summer Beer Fest, I bought a couple bottles when it hit stores shortly after. We’ll see if the Queen, which is a raspberry sour and also on their list this weekend, can be outdone by Joker, which is a Blueberry Sour.
  3. Dark Horse- Cocoa Bourbon Nibbler Cream Stout. This brew finished first at Dark Horse’s Staff Brew-off in February and has been receiving rave reviews from many of my Untappd friends who’ve had a chance to try it at the brewpub in Marshall.
  4. Tapistry- Nelson’s Empire. This Imperial Pale Ale has one of my favorite hops, Nelson Sauvin combined with Michigan grown Warrior hops, which should make for an interesting combination from a brewery that knows their hoppy beers.
  5. Stormcloud- A Yooper and a Troll Kissing in a Tree. Hops from Empire Hops Farms, Malt from Pilot Malt House, and a yeast strain ‘indigenous’ to the Upper Peninsula in the hands of a talent brewer like Stormcloud’s Brian Confer, and this is sure to be a winner.
  6. Bastone- Coffee Stout. Winner of the 2014 Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF, Bastone’s Belgian inspired beers seem to slide under the radar. I inexplicably missed them at Summer Beerfest, and I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
  7. Batch- Sensitive Machine. Since Batch’s opening earlier this year, I find myself wandering down to Corktown more than ever. With a constant diverse list of styles on their tap list, it’s exciting to be able to try one I haven’t had from them.
  8. Short’s- What'cha What'cha What'cha Want. I try not to pick beers based solely on their imaginative names, but I love this one. I’m a fan of many of Short’s Pale Ales and IPAs, so I think it safe being lured into including this one because of it’s name.
  9. Canton Brew Works- I tried this one as a mug club member at it’s release event, and I can’t wait to drink it again. Brewer Barry Boggs keeps impressing me with his balanced beers, even in a beer where the bourbon would usually be overpowering.
  10. Griffin Claw- Imperial Porter. There are loads of imperial stouts out there, but imperial porters are a little harder to come by. As ‘dark beer season’ approaches in Michigan, it’s not bad to be looking for a nice roasty porter to beat the late fall blues.
  11. Greenbush- Galaxy Nitwit. A Galaxy hop Barleywine? I can even guess how this one is going to taste, but I’m both intrigued and excited to find out. I’m guessing it’ll be described as big & aromatic.
  12. Eternity- Red Currant Order 66. Imperial Red IPAs are awesome, and I can’t remember having too many beers made with currants, much less red ones. Eternity is just had their first year anniversary, and it’s been an impressive start for them.
  13. The Livery- Love Pump. This Russian Imperial Stout with espresso, coco nibs, vanilla, and cinnamon is served from a firkin Friday at 6pm. Wait… maybe I shouldn’t write about this one as I’m sure the line of fans of The Livery will already be long enough….
  14. Blackrocks- Flying Sailor. It was really hard picking just one beer from the impressive list being brought by the only UP brewery attending this festival. This Red Rye IPA seems like a pretty safe bet to satisfy.
  15. Grizzly Peak- October Ale. This isn’t going to be an Octoberfest beer, instead it’s described as a ‘Historical English Estate Beer’. I’m guessing there not going to be another beer quite like this one on anyone else’s lists.
  16. Kuhnhenn- BTBBAAIS. This acronym stands for Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Aged American Imperial Stout. Even as someone who usually shies away from the bourbon beers, this one sounds like a winner.
  17. Bitter Old Fecker- Arlen. There are many quality breweries making their MBG Beerfest debut at this festival, but it’s hard to imagine many coming in with the cult-like following that Nathan Hukill’s rustic, non-traditional brewery has. This might be one to hit early, folks. I picked the autumn rye with toasted hickory bark for this list, but I could have easily picked any of the four offerings here.
  18. North Center- Headless Horseman Pumpkin Pie Ale. These guys have come a long way since their opening last spring, and now they’re attending their first festival. This one’s been getting good reviews on Untapped so far, and it seems to be a little stronger than your typical pumpkin beer.
  19. River’s Edge- Dubbel Entendre. This beer recently won a sliver medal at the 2015 GABF in the Belgian-style Dubbel or Quadrupel category. This doesn’t surprise me as people have been telling me for months to get out to the brewpub in Milford and try this one.
  20. Unruly- Tropic Thunder. Big hops combined with noticeable tropical fruit notes coming through? This hophead says ‘yes please’.

Be safe, hydrate well, dress for the weather. See everyone this weekend!

Erik Smith

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a relative newcomer to craft beer, having first been turned on to the scene by a chance encounter with "The End of The World" (Unibroue's La Fin du Monde) during the summer of 2011. Since then, he has increased that love of beer by serving as the 'un-official' photographer for the many beer events at Ashley's in Westland, MI. His goal is to visit every Michigan brewery. An avid traveler, beer tourism has played a prominent role in his travels since 2012. 

Find him on Untapped at eriksmithdotcom and at his blog at http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/