GENESEE COUNTY, MI – Do you like more or less hops? Coffee flavored or wheat?
Several Genesee County business owners are banking on residents selecting their specially crafted beers, with a recent surge of interest locally set to more than double the amount of businesses creating their own brews for sale following a growing state and nationwide interest in the $11.9 billion industry.
The Red Baron Taproom Grill in Burton has been granted a brewpub license — following the Fenton Winery and Brewery and the Redwood Brewing Company in Mundy Township into the brewing business — while The Laundry in Fenton is seeking a brewpub license and plans are in the works for a microbrewery at the former Old Market Fire Station in Flint.
“We’re already brewing,” said Bill Gravanis, owner of the Red Baron since 2006, who labors away in the kitchen area past closing time, concocting different combinations to offer regulars and newcomers.
There are 113 active micro brewer licenses across the state, with 56 pending applications, said Andrea Miller, communications representative for the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The Laundry’s application to become a brewpub is at the state level, but the process can take from two to three months.
A brewpub license allows facilities to produce up to 5,000 barrels of beer a year, with sales only for on-site consumption or through take-out and at least 25 percent of gross sales coming through food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases, while a micro brewer license lets businesses produce 30,000 barrels a year and sales on-site, take-out or to wholesalers but not directly to retailers.
Having started home brewing four years ago and friends with other local brewers, including Konrad Connor, head brewer at Redwood Brewing Company, Gravanis has been using a rolling beer brew rack to whip up at least three different options for beer drinkers to be unveiled sometime in mid-March.
The early contenders are a regular IPA, which Gravanis described as having “a good malty backbone with a nice hop aroma,” brown IPA with “a slight, dry hop,” along with starting on a vanilla crème style brew that will have a sweet chocolate taste, with a hint of vanilla.
Gravanis said the process of completing a batch — equal to 2.5 kegs or 1.2 barrels of beer – can take anywhere from three to four weeks, with Belgium or lager styles taking a little longer, noting he would primarily be crafting ales, but with a few curveballs thrown in throughout the year.
“With seasons changing, there will always be some kind of seasonal beer,” he said, with some wheat brews during the summer and “the stouts and darks and more of your hardier beers” for the winter months.
Buying bags of hops at a time, with 50 pounds running $32-$34 for use in the 40-gallon system at the restaurant, Gravanis said, “Hops tend to get more expensive being a microbrewery,” with smaller operations lacking the purchasing power of larger brewer. “Some of the beer breweries they have a whole silo (of hops) and fill up the silo.”
Bart Watson, staff economist at the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo-based membership organization started in 1978, said the track record for microbreweries has shown they can have long-term success.
He pointed out 72 percent of microbreweries — with most producing 15,000 barrels or less — that have opened over the past three decades are still open, while 50 percent of brewpubs remain in business in comparison to 60 percent of restaurants over the same period.
We’ve seen that they can be very successful compared to other businesses,” said Watson. “There is a really strong demand for locally produced beer. If you offer high quality and operate a good business, there’s an opportunity to stay open.”
Beer production on a micro level began to blossom in the early 1980s though, Watson said, after federal law began to allow for home brewing operations and cut the excise tax on production.
Smaller-scale microbreweries paved the way from there, convincing retailers and bar owners to have their brews on tap by explaining “These would be jobs creating business and worth creating a business environment to make it successful,” said Watson.
The total number of breweries — including brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries, large non-craft and others — jumped from 89 in the late 1970s to 2,538 as of June 2013, the highest number since the 1880s. Nationwide craft beer production grew by more than 1.7 million barrels from 2012 compared to 2011, at 13,235,917 barrels.
Larger craft beer markets began emerging in Portland, Ore., central Colorado and San Diego, Calif. and began to spread to other areas such as Minneapolis, East Coast and “I think there are parts of Michigan that have seen growth as well.”
Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild, said while the brewers initially lagged behind the curve, “I think the state is reflective of the national trend, but it is more accelerated.”
“I think our beer culture and quality of our beer is going to be beyond average,” he said, likening it to markets on the west coast and Colorado, with Michigan craft beer sales in 2012 accounting for 4 percent of total sales and production at 240,000 barrels — equal to 7.44 million gallons — up 20 percent from 2011.
“There’s more awareness now and there’s more people (in the business) too,” he said, with those in the craft beer industry seeking three House bills – 4709, 4710 and 4711 — to allow for micro brewers to double the amount of beer and locations they can sell and let brew pub owners to sell 18,000 barrels and have an interest in up to five locations instead of three to help growth even more.
“There’s more opportunity and it’s probably harder, just like any business as the business develops in general,” he said.
A trend in the statewide market is micro brewers operating like a brew pub, selling on-site, but not distributing any beer for purchase by wholesalers, said Graham. For those who are looking to create larger operations, he said quality and marketing in their area are some keys to success.
He’s noticed a preponderance of successful microbreweries in southeastern Michigan — Bell’s Brewery Inc., New Holland Brewing, Founders Brewing Co., Dark Horse Brewing Co. and Arcadia Brewing Co. — while slowly spreading to other areas of the state.
“That means there is a ton of growth still,” he said of the market share and untapped markets where residents are looking to spend their dollars on local businesses, be it a beer, cup of coffee, wine or fresh and local food. “I think Michigan people are really loyal to Michigan made things.”
Graham cautioned that doesn’t mean anyone can rest of their laurels and like any another other business, noting “good food, good atmosphere and good value” are essential for brew pubs, while packaging, image, quality and production are vital for micro brewers looking to expand outside their doors.
“A home brewer is crafty and artsy and make the beer they love. Professional brewers have to make brews that other people love too,” said Graham. “It’s potential pitfall. If you become part of the community, you will find people that will openly welcome you if everyone is doing a good job.”
Watson said roughly 12 percent of the overall $99 billion beer market, is now coming from craft brews, with some locations such as Portland at 40 percent.
Industry giants, such as Anheuser-Busch, have taken note gone so far as purchasing micro brewer companies to expand their brands and evolving tastes of beer drinkers, Graham said.
“I think we’ve seen an increase and desire from beer lovers for different options,” said Watson, noting there are couple different responses from craft brew drinkers who have become more knowledgeable than ever on their choices. “Number one is normally flavor and number two is the desire to support local business.”
While over-saturation of potential watering holes possible in some larger markets boasting 20 or 30 breweries in a small area could bring competition for tap handles and shelf space, Watson said “There are plenty of neighborhoods and towns that don’t have a microbrewery or brew pub yet.”
For Gravanis, who noted he doesn’t have the capacity to reach his 5,000 barrel limit at this, in having his own microbrewery: creative control.
“I don’t have anybody telling me what kind of beer to make,” he said, while also able to keep his own schedule to look for new and unique flavors.
Traveling to beer festivals and tap rooms around Michigan, Gravanis — a self-described supporter of state breweries — keeps roughly 40 handles at the bar designated to beers from the mitten.
In regards to the apparent brewing trend in the county — including a facility in the works inside an old fire station on Grand Traverse Street in Flint — Gravanis was glad to hear about the upstarts and is friendly with the veterans in the local brewing game of which he said there is plenty of room for more interested in the process.
“Like Konrad (Connor) from Redwood. He’s a supporter of mine. We don’t look at each other as competition or competitors or anything like that,” he said. “I think people will jump around (to taste different beers), and as long as people produce good beer, it will be good for the community, keeping everything local and locally made and support each other.”
Roberto can be reached by phone at 810-429-3865, email at email@example.com, on Facebook at Roberto Acosta Journalist, Roberto Acosta on Google Plus or on Twitter @racostaJourno.
St. Louis has suffered no shortage of beer events in recent years, but few boast the pedigree of FestivAle. Not only is FestivAle now in its sixth year, but its proceeds benefit a good cause, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
This year’s FestivAle takes place March 8 at Neo on Locust (2801 Locust Street). The event features tastings from most of the local craft breweries as well as food from Pi Pizzeria, Three Kings Public House, Strange Donuts, Russell Bakery and Station House Bar.
FestivAle runs from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets (available at cff.org/chapters/gateway) cost $50, which includes valet parking and a tasting glass as well as beer and food samples.
(Tickets are $65 at the door, though the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation cautions that the event has sold out the past two years.)
VIP tickets cost $75. These score you admission at 7 p.m. for a reception that includes a panel discussion with Phil Wymore and Cory King of Perennial Artisan Ales.
Here’s the full list of participating breweries: 4 Hands Brewing, Alpha Brewing Co., Cathedral Square Brewery, Charleville Brewing Co., Crown Valley Brewing Distilling Co., Exit 6 Brewery, Ferguson Brewing Co., Granite City Food Brewery, Morgan Street Brewery, Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., O’Fallon Brewery, Perennial Artisan Ales, Rock Bridge Brewing Co. (Columbia, Mo.), Schlafly, Six Row Brewing Co., Square One Brewery Distillery and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
4 HANDS CELEBRATES HOPS
What was that about no shortage of beer events in recent years? March 8 also marks the third annual Lupulin Festival at 4 Hands Brewing Co. (1220 South Eighth Street). Appropriately enough, 4 Hands’ celebration of all things hops features the release of the brewery’s hopped-up War Hammer Imperial IPA.
The Lupulin Festival, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m., also offers samples from several local and out-of-state breweries, carnival acts (including hula-hoop performers and the intriguingly named “contact juggling”) and food from food trucks Chop Shop and Seoul Taco as well as 4 Hands’ own kitchen, the 5th Wheel.
Tickets cost $35, which includes a commemorative tasting glass. They can be purchased at the 4 Hands tasting room or through brownpapertickets.com.
The participating breweries from the greater St. Louis area include Alpha Brewing Co., Cathedral Square Brewery, Charleville Brewing Co., Excel Brewery, Exit 6 Brewery, Ferguson Brewing Co., Morgan Street Brewery, Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., O’Fallon Brewery, Perennial Artisan Ales, Schlafly, Six Row Brewing Co., Square One Brewery Distillery and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
Slated to visit from outside St. Louis are Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Avery Brewing Co., Bell’s Brewery, Scratch Brewing Co., Pipeworks Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co., Mother’s Brewing Co., Tallgrass Brewing Co., Logboat Brewing Co., Boulevard Brewing Co. and Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:39 pm
Updated: 9:39 pm, Wed Feb 26, 2014.
May Morel Fest to add home-brewed beer tasting
The Midwest Morel Fest is growing like — well, like a mushroom.
Wednesday morning, the Ottawa Visitors Center announced a new component of the event — The Morel MASH Up, where home beer brewers will provide samples of numerous types of amateur-made beer.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:39 pm.
Updated: 9:39 pm.
Key Lime Sublime Berliner Weisse, 7venth Sun Brewery
One of the hottest trends in brewing over the last year has been “Florida Weisse,” fruit-forward takes on a classic German wheat beer. Dunedin’s 7venth Sun Brewery uses key lime-infused tea to make this crisp, slightly tart version pop. It can often be found on draft in the brewery’s tasting room, and it’s a favorite at local beer festivals. 7venth Sun Brewery, 1012 Broadway, Dunedin. (727) 733-3013, 7venthsun.com.
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, Cigar City Brewing
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Consistently rated one of the world’s best beers (it’s currently No. 21 in BeerAdvocate’s Top 250 list), Hunahpu’s is the beer that put Florida on the map for serious beer drinkers. This bold imperial stout is aged with cacao, cinnamon, vanilla and Central American chili peppers. It’s released only once a year, sold at the brewery during the annual Hunahpu’s Day festival (this year’s sold-out event is March 8). Cigar City Brewing, 3924 W Spruce St., Tampa. (813) 348-6363, cigarcitybrewing.com.
Florida Avenue Ale, Cold Storage Craft Brewery
With many Bay area breweries focusing on pushing the boundaries with new, niche styles, Cold Storage’s flagship beer seems almost plain in comparison. This is deliberate, as Florida Avenue Ale is designed specifically with the typical Florida climate in mind. It’s an American wheat ale with light citrus and spice notes that’s highly thirst-quenching on a warm summer day, making it accessible for connoisseurs and novices alike. It’s widely available in bottles and on draft in many bars across the Bay Area. Cold Storage Craft Brewery, 4101 N Florida Avenue, Tampa. (813) 374-2101, floridaavenuebrewing.com.
Fixie Session IPA, Cycle Brewing
St. Pete’s Cycle Brewing is well-known for beers coming from opposite ends of the spectrum: boozy, barrel-aged stouts and old ales, as well as light-bodied, hop-centric pale ales. Fixie belongs in the latter category, representing the up-and-coming “session IPA” category. These beers are under 5 percent alcohol by volume (Fixie is around 4.7 percent) but contain floral, citrusy aromatic qualities characteristic of stronger IPAs. As such, you can safely drink more than one, and with Fixie, you’ll want to. Fixie is always on draft in the tasting room, and it’s commonly served at other local beer bars. Cycle Brewing, 534 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 320-7954.
Apricot Peach Ale, Dunedin Brewery
Long before the current boom, Dunedin Brewery, Florida’s oldest craft brewery, was churning out this fruit-forward wheat beer in large volumes. To this day, it remains the brewery’s most popular beer. And for good reason — it tastes every bit as refreshing now as it did a decade ago. This beer is a fixture at the brewery itself, and it makes regular appearances at other beer bars around the bay area. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Avenue, Dunedin. (727) 736-0606, dunedinbrewery.com
Gose, Rapp Brewing Company
Seminole’s Rapp Brewing has become known for resurrecting archaic European beer styles, and its version of the German gose — a slightly salty cousin of the Berliner Weisse, spiced with coriander — has become so popular that its now the brewery’s de facto flagship beer. You’ll find this one at Rapp’s tasting room, although bottles are released on occasion. Rapp Brewing, 10930 Endeavor Way, Seminole. (727) 544-1752, rappbrewing.com.
Saison Athene, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company
Tarpon Springs’ Saint Somewhere focuses on Belgian-style farmhouse ales fermented with the help of local microflora. Saison Athene is brewed with chamomile, fresh rosemary, and black pepper, and is then fermented with a house yeast strain, containing wild yeast from the surrounding area. The result is a floral, peppery saison that offers a taste of Florida terroir. The beer is usually available during limited brewery tours (6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday), but Saison Athene is easy to find in 750ml bottles at local beer stores, as well as on draft at local beer bars. The brewery is located at 1441 Savannah Ave., Tarpon Springs. (813) 503-6181, saintsomewherebrewing.com.
Old Elephant Foot IPA (cask version), Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Old Elephant Foot IPA has been the big seller at this Ybor City brewery for many years, but the cask version takes the beer to another level. Served with only natural carbonation and at cellar temperature, this “real ale” version of the brewery’s classic IPA is rich, hoppy and highly drinkable. A different cask beer is tapped at the brewery every Thursday, though this particular one often pops up at other area bars and at festivals. If you can’t find the cask version, the standard Old Elephant Foot IPA is readily available on draft and in 16-ounce cans in stores. Tampa Bay Brewing Company, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 247-1422, tampabaybrewingcompany.com.
It’s a big weekend for craft beer drinkers in Ohio. Not only are there are two major, long-running beer festivals taking place in Toledo and Cleveland, but there are special events planned in Akron, Cincinnati and Athens, as well.
Here’s a quick rundown with links for more details:
• The eighth annual Glass City Beer Festival is 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee. VIP entry begins at 6 p.m.
The event features 45 breweries and nearly 225 beers. All proceeds benefit the Arc of Lucas County and the Northwest Ohio Hemophilia Foundation.
For more details, including a rundown of all the breweries and beers, click here.
• The eighth annual Winter Warmer Fest is 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Windows on the River in Cleveland. The event, a fundraiser for the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, features winter and limited edition beers from more than 30 Ohio breweries.
Tickets are $45. The event is expected to sell out so don’t expect to buy one at the door.
For more details, including a rundown of all the participating breweries and the beers, click here.
• The Acme Fresh Market in Bath Township — suburban Akron — will celebrate the grand opening of its expanded beer/wine/liquor department and new growler station with an Ohio beer tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.
The event will feature: Jackie O’s Oil of Aphrodite, Fat Head’s Hippy Sippy, Columbus Bodhi, Great Lakes Chillwave, The Brew Kettle Kitka Stout and Thirsty Dog Citra Dog aged in rum barrels with mandarin oranges.
There is no cost to attend. People will just pay for the beer they drink.
• Jackie O’s Pub Brewery in Athens will hold its latest bottle release on Saturday. And the brewpub has assembled an eye-popping selection of 44 draft beers for the event.
The brewpub will offer 22-ounce bottles of Evelyn ($20), Dynamo Hum ($20), Cellar Cuvee 8 ($18) and Immizence ($14).
As with past bottle releases, Jackie O’s will open at 5 p.m. Friday and will hand out dates from a calendar so people don’t have to stand in line all night waiting for the bottle sale, which begins Saturday morning.
For more details, click here.
• Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. in Cincinnati will host a special celebratory toast at midnight Saturday to celebrate 10 years under the current ownership and the 161st anniversary of the founding of the brewery.
The taproom opens at 4 p.m. Friday. For more details, click here.
In the December Bottle Tap, I listed my favorite San Antonio watering holes and issued a plea to Current beer lovers to tell me theirs. Add this to the list: Big Hops Gastropub, at 22250 Bulverde.
It didn’t take me long to realize this is my kind of place—I immediately spied a cask (or “firkin”) sitting up on the bar top. There are few things I love more than cask-conditioned beer.
The cask this night was Ranger Creek Small Batch No. 8, a richly flavored barleywine with a wonderful hop kick. (I paired it with a mighty tasty burger topped with a fried egg, and I’m pretty sure I’d better refill my Crestor prescription.)
If you’ve never tried cask beer, remedy that ASAP. Some purists call it “real ale.” The brewer pulls aside a few gallons before the carbonation stage, gives it some extra flavor oomph with an added blast of hops or other special treatments and lets the flavor (and carbonation) mature naturally in the cask.
It’s a little less fizzy than regular beers, and pours out using only good old gravity.
And where you’ll find casks, you’ll find beer geeks. This occasion was a get-together and fundraiser for Open the Taps (OTT), a citizen group that successfully lobbied the 2013 Texas Legislature for major changes to state beer regulations. The new laws made it easier for Texas craft brewers to market and sell their delicious products. (Full disclosure: I work for a key senator involved in passing those new laws.)
Basically, the two major changes are: Brewpubs can now distribute their beer to retail or other bars, while production breweries can now sell glasses of product in their tap rooms.
Not only was I there for tasty beer, I also wanted to ask: What could possibly be left for OTT after its 2013 success?
Our host was Jeremy Banas, director of San Antonio’s OTT chapter and a regular Current contributor. In December, he wrote a Current preview of the Gastropub, and on this night was visibly excited that the culinary extension of Big Hops is off to a roaring start (Big Hops’ other two locations, on Broadway and Huebner, are “growler stations,” sans food).
Banas started the local chapter in 2011 and knows there’s more to be done. “What is incredible to me still is the passion I see in other consumers in wanting to help change antiquated laws that … prevent them from enjoying all that Texas breweries have to offer… wanting help change the climate of the law to allow these breweries to grow, thus stimulating the economy.”
After the event, I contacted Houston’s Leslie Sprague, OTT’s statewide media director, and she confirmed there is still work to be done.
“We hope to make changes that allow [production] breweries to sell beer for off-premises consumption, as well as several other issues that affect consumers and business owners, like allowing growler sales in mixed beverage licensed retailers and rules concerning beer festivals,” Sprague said. “The list of laws that needs changing is long, but with the help of stakeholders and our members we hope to keep chipping away!”
Lee Nichols blogs about beer at i-love-beer.blogspot.com.
Fresh off the Michigan Winter Beer Festival, I thought I would highlight some upcoming beer festivals, tastings, food pairings and dinners taking place around the state.
If you’re bar or restaurant manager, and you have a special event coming up, please let me know via email or use the comments section below.
And I also want to hear from the breweries, too. No event is too big or too small. Heck, it’s Michigan beer!
Now, let’s get to some upcoming Michigan Beer Events:
Founders Dinner, 6:30 p.m., TreeTops Resort in Gaylord
TreeTops general manager Barry Owens was in Grand Rapids on Sunday night, and we visited Founders to get a sneak preview of what beers will be served at the Founders dinner on Thursday. He said his culinary team — led by food and beverage director Gabe Bober — has put together a mouth-watering menu at the resort’s Hunters Grille. The menu includes a Citrus Salad served with Founders Red’s Rye IPA; Caribbean Chicken served with Founders Centennial IPA; a Pale Ale Marinated Pork Chop; Smoked Brisket Sliders served with Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale; and Chocolate Torte Fudge Cake served with Founders Porter beer. Only a limited number of tickets remain. Cost is $50 per person. Special room packages also are available for $169 for two tickets and an overnight stay. Call 866-348-5249 or go to TreeTops.com.
Beer Bites, 6-9 p.m. March 7, Lumber Barons Brewery, Bay City
This fundraiser for Bay Area Housing Inc. is a great opportunity to meet brewmaster Dave Shaw, who was part of the search for Michigan’s Best Brewery last fall. Unfortunately, he had just taken over at the former Barts Brewery location, so we did not get a chance to try his recipes. We did sample his Black IPA, which was very good. Those attending this event will get a better idea of what he’s been up to, and to help a great cause. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The price includes five 4-ounce beer samples, plus food stations offering pizza, burgers and nachos. Additional beer samples are available for $1 each. You must be 21 or older. Lumber Barons Brewery is located at 804 E. Midland St. on Bay City’s West Side. More details at (989) 893-9292 or www.bahinc.org.
Brew-Ski Festival, noon-5 p.m., March 8 at Boyne Highlands Resort, Harbor Springs
How can you go wrong with live music, grilled food, 220 beers from more than 20 breweries at lower Michigan’s largest ski resort? The outdoors event begins at noon at the base of the slopes. “Brew-Ski Festival is very different from most beer festivals,” said Erin Ernst of Boyne. “There is no admission, so you don’t have to purchase tickets in advance. You simply come to the event and purchase as many sampling tickets as you want to taste.” Each ticket is $2, which can be redeemed for beer tastings (about a 4-ounce pour), or towards food and merchandise. The Galactic Sherpas perform at the event. And then party moves indoors later in the evening with live bands. For home brewers, you can talk hops with the Michigan Hop Alliance and Bad Teacher Brewing Supply, which will both on hand for the event. More details at BOYNE.com or call 800-462-6963.
Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival, noon-5 p.m., March 8, Jackson County Fairgrounds
The 4th annual festival takes place March 8 in the American 1 Event Center and features more than 150 types of craft, specialty and import beers. New for this year’s Beer Festival will be an Entertainment Tent with the band Picks Sticks, and a Corn Hole competition. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. It includes 10 tasting tickets (4 oz.), admission and parking. You must be 21 or older. Non taster’s admission is $5. More details at 517-788-4405 or go to jacksoncountyfair.net. Some of the Michigan breweries include Schmohz Brewing, Arbor Brewing Co., Bell’s, Dark Horse Brewing, Arcadia, Mt. Pleasant Brewing Co., Founders, New Holland Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant, North Peak Brewing Co., Frankenmuth Brewing, Keweenaw Brewing Co. and many others.
MARCH 10, 18 and 24
Michigan Beer Girl Scout Cookie Pairings
What would you pair with thin mints? I’m a Beer Hound has three events that feature Michigan beer paired with 5 Girl Scout cookies. Each brewery will come up with the beer they would pair with the cookies. The events are March 10 at REO Town Pub in Lansing, March 18 at the Grand River Marketplace in Jackson, and March 24 at BAD Brewery in Mason. More information at ImaBeerHound.com.
Inspired by the gastropubs of London and infused with a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere, Aces Ales, 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., caters to beer lovers with its selection of more than 20 craft beers on tap.
Owners Ryan Johnson and Keri Kelli, former guitarist of Alice Cooper, opened the bar four years ago to share their passion for craft beer in the Sunrise neighborhood.
“For years, it was one of the few destination spots for rare beers,” said Jennilee Frederiksen, general manager. “People come here for the variety and uniqueness of our beers.”
There are 20 rotating taps, which include pilsners, porters, imperial stouts, reds, hefeweizens and India pale ales, or IPAs, according to Frederiksen.
“We normally switch them when we have an empty keg,” Frederiksen said. “We like to keep things new.”
In addition, there are 150 vintage and limited beers in bottles that range from $6 to $75.
Frederiksen said the bar attracts an older and more local crowd but has recently been gaining a younger following.
“The customers here are really friendly and laid back,” said bartender Melissa Ridenour. “There’s a good mixture of men and women that come to the bar. We also get a lot of local gamblers.”
Televisions surround the bar, with channels showing professional and college sports.
The bar includes personal sound boxes for customers who have difficulty listening to their favorite games.
Not everyone comes to watch games and drink craft beer. Some people come exclusively for the food, according to cook David Russell.
“The food is never frozen. We make it from scratch,” Russell said. “If people want something that’s not on the menu, we can accommodate them, as long as we have all of the ingredients.”
With eight types of macaroni and cheese plates ranging from buffalo chicken to jalapeno, Russell said it was the bar’s most popular menu item.
The menu also includes lunch items such as burgers, pizzas, soups and salads, as well as breakfast and dessert options.
Those with a sweet tooth can order deep-fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream or Cap’n Crunch french toast served deep-fried with powdered sugar and jalapeno-infused maple syrup.
Frederiksen said many of the food items are infused with craft beer for added flavor.
The bar hosts hoppy hour, an event that pays tribute to the hops in craft beers, from 4 to 6 p.m. and from midnight to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. Specialties include $4 draft beers and macaroni and cheese plates.
The bar also offers a broad selection of scotch and whiskey, tequila, wines and signature drinks.
For entertainment, the business has karaoke every Monday starting at 9 p.m., hosted by disc jockey Kool Katz. Rock bands also perform occasionally.
In addition, there are four competition pool tables and shuffleboard.
The bar also hosts Tuesday night tasting, otherwise known as TNT, at 6 p.m. It includes a different food specialty each week with a beer sampler for $20.
Phil Banker has been coming into the bar since it opened. He said before Aces Ales, the bar was known as Big Dog’s and then the Village Pub.
“The employees here know me really well,” Banker said. “If they see I need help getting home, they will drive me to my house. It’s a good place to socialize and gamble.”
There are eight bartenders, five cooks and a head chef who operate the bar.
Throughout the year, the bar hosts beer festivals where people are invited to taste up to 60 different beers. In the summer, the bar hosts the Stone Domination festival and the Strong Beer festival. In January, the venue hosts the Winter Strong Beer festival.
The bar’s success inspired the owners to open a second location at 2801 N. Tenaya Way, which offers 50 craft beers on tap and 150 specialty bottled beers.
The mostly local neighborhood bar has started attracting tourists staying on the Strip, said Frederiksen.
“We get people from all over the world,” Frederiksen said. “The beer we serve here is similar to wine. People enjoy smelling it and tasting it. This is the type of place where people can really enjoy a variety of beers.”
For more information, visit acesandales.com.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686.
GIG HARBOR — After two-years of planning, procrastinating, and persuading investors, a new brewery and taproom — the Gig Harbor Brewing Company — will be opening in the new year.
The brewery will be a 10-barrel, multi-vessel automated system engineered specifically for Gig Harbor Brewing Company’s beer styles. Plans for the new brewery have the first kegs rolling out in late-November 2014, with more starting to show up shortly thereafter wherever great beers are sold in Western Washington.
The new brewery is the result of co-owner and sales manager John Fosberg’s long-held enthusiasm for craft beer.
“First we got hooked on the incredibly-creative beers produced locally — 7 Seas, Harmon, Duo Brewing,” he said. “Then it was attending and volunteering at beer festivals around the Northwest — then we starting brewing our own — and before we knew it, we were producing the Gig Harbor Beer Festival. Starting our own brewery is the next logical step in our craft beer dreams.”
Fosberg said that he had been kicking around ideas for a brewing company for several years, learning as much as he could about the industry through various organizations, the Gig Harbor Beer Festival, and talking with other brewers, but start-up costs and his busy creative agency, Fosberg Media Group, kept getting in the way of moving beyond the planning stages.
“I really loved the passion this industry has for its product, and I kept feeling that I really wanted to be a part of something like that. I couldn’t shake it,” Fosberg said.
A chance meeting during a trip to Europe in 2012 was enough to finally convince Fosberg to move forward with his brewery ideas. “I was walking along the streets of Nuremburg, Germany during the Christmas Markets. It was pouring down snow, so I stopped into a local pub, and there, sitting at the bar was a 40-something bloke from England wearing a “Beer Advocate” cap. I thought, ‘it’s a sign’. We talked for a long time about craft beer, breweries, and festivals in Great Britain, and all the places he had specifically traveled to in the U.S. just to visit craft breweries and taste the beer. Now that’s passion. That was the moment I decided to go forward. The Gig Harbor Brewing Company had to happen.”
On his return and with a renewed enthusiasm for the project, Fosberg said he quickly enlisted the help of several trusted advisors, two of whom were a lawyer and an accountant to put the final finishing touches on the new venture’s business plan.
Once the business plan was complete, Fosberg started talking to potential investors, and found it easy to convince people to get involved. “Everyone loved the idea from the start. We’re still looking for a few more investors to be a part of this, but a big chunk of the money has come from a small group of people who really fell in love with the project,” he said.
Trevor Nicol, a local brew master from Tacoma will be in charge of brewing at the new company. The brewery’s first three beers will be Galloping Gertie Pale Ale, Round Rock Pilsner, and Mosquito Fleet IPA™. The beer names have been chosen to represent some of the historical local icons and traditions of Gig Harbor, Key Peninsula, and Tacoma Narrows. “We wanted the beer names to be very locally tied to the area — a real Harbor flavor,” added Fosberg. In the future, other seasonal and limited-release recipes are also planned.
The location of the new brewery and other details will be announced later this year.
CALLS have been made for more beer festivals to be held as pubs enjoyed big success on the back of Gosport’s Winterfest.
New customers packed the town’s locals as they sampled more beers after the event – and now landlords want their good fortune to continue.
Deana Geary, of The Junction Tavern in Leesland Road, saw her takings rise by 20 per cent.
Deana volunteered behind the festival’s bars, and that helped because once people found out who she was, they went off afterwards to try her pub’s beers.
‘It’s important that we see more beer festivals because they generate more interest in the local pubs,’ she said.
‘It would also help the pubs who would otherwise be struggling.
‘The E1 bus route is right outside my pub, so people were able to come and have a drink, then get back on the bus to Fareham.
‘At these kind of events, you get members of the Campaign for Real Ale from places like Southampton and when they’re in Gosport, they like to visit pubs which are in the Good Beer Guide – like mine and Queen’s Hotel.’
Patrick Noonan, landlord of The Clarence Tavern, in Clarence Road, enjoyed seeing more customers after Winterfest’s Friday and Saturday afternoon sessions.
‘Anything that helps the pub industry at the moment has got to be a good thing,’ he said.
‘We’re getting slaughtered by the supermarkets.
‘Winterfest is one of the best things to have happened in Gosport.
‘There’s always a few extra people who come in to sample the beers.’
As reported, Sue Lampon, of Queen’s Hotel, in Queen’s Road, saw takings double as punters piled in to sample more brews.
Meanwhile, the local branch of the Camra will meet in the next seven to 10 days to discuss how to revive the former Portsmouth Beer Festival, which was axed in 2010.
It comes as organiser Ben Mills, who runs the Belle Isle in Osborne Road and Little Johnny Russell’s in Albert Road, Southsea, announced another city beer festival would be held at Portsmouth Guildhall in May.
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