From the ubiquitous Oberon to the smirk-inducing Dirty Bastard and Big Red Coq, Michigan beers are making a name for themselves across the nation. While most beer drinkers know the flagship beers of Michigan breweries, there are some tasty brews to be found in their less famous offerings. Paul Starr, founder of I’m a Beer Hound, takes us on a tour of some of his favorite lesser known beers from Michigan’s best known breweries.
Founders Brewing Co.
The beer you know: All Day IPA
The beer you should know: Blushing Monk — Belgian-style ale
Blushing Monk is one of Founders’ Backstage series. They re-released it this year, and it hadn't been in the market for four years. It’s made with “a ridiculous amount of raspberries” and a Belgian yeast strain. It pours a stunning deep berry red and, at 9.2% ABV, has a surprising kick. It’s a perfect dessert beer.
The beers you know: Oberon, Two Hearted Ale
The beer you should know: Hell Hath No Fury…Ale — Belgian dark strong ale
Originally conceived along the lines of a Belgian Dubbel, Hell Hath No Fury Ale morphed during development into something entirely different. Blending a pair of Belgian abbey-style yeasts into a recipe more akin to a stout, Hell Hath No Fury Ale offers up warm, roasted notes of coffee and dark chocolate and has fruity and clove-like aromas.
Short's Brewing Co.
The beers you know: Huma Lupa Licious, Soft Parade
The beer you should know: Good Humans — double brown ale
Good Humans is a double brown ale made with Carabrown Malt and dry hopped with Simcoe hops. The brew has sweet, malty aromas that are met by huge toasted caramel and toffee flavors. The finish is dry, with a bouquet of hops.
Dark Horse Brewing Co.
The beer you know: Crooked Tree IPA
The beer you should know: Smells Like a Safety Meeting — IPA
Smells Like a Safety Meeting has lots of hop aroma with just the right amount of bitterness. Between the secret blend of the “most dank” hops and a more than healthy dose of double dry hopping, this beer gives off an aroma strongly resembling a “safety meeting.” (If you don’t know what that term means, I suggest a visit to urbandictionary.com.)
The beer you know: Sky High Rye, Whitsun Ale
The beer you should know: Hop Rocket — imperial IPA
Hop Rocket’s complex flavor profile includes notes of grapefruit, lemon peel, spruce and cellared mushrooms. Though the flavor focus is on hops, a trio of malts provides a balance to the beer. Hints of caramel, toffee and freshly-baked biscuits are also apparent in the flavor profile.
The beers you know: Farmhand or Big Red Coq
The beer you should know: Wizard Burial Ground — bourbon barrel-aged quadrupel
Once a year, Brewery Vivant brews its special quadrupel ale and ages it in freshly drained bourbon barrels. Something magical happens to this beer during its long contact with the wood. The alcohol content of the beer pulls the bourbon, vanilla and charred oak notes out of the barrels and melds it with the caramel richness of the quad.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
The beer you know: Dripa
The beers you should know: Fourth Dementia Olde Ale (4D) — strong ale
The intense, sweet caramel malty flavor and aroma of 4D develop into rich toffee and toasted marshmallow notes. As the beer warms, a light sherry note becomes apparent, along with a hint of warmth from the high alcohol content. Despite the high ABV (13.5%), this beer is brilliantly balanced.
The beers you know: Dirty Blonde, Vanilla Java Porter
The beer you should know: VooDoo Vator — doppelbock
VooDoo Vator tempers the sweetness of caramel malt with the crisp, more nutty flavor of Munich malt. Despite the dark color, burnt flavors are not present. Traditional extended lagering makes the VooDoo Vator smooth, though high in alcohol.
Arbor Brewing Co.
The beers you know: Sacred Cow IPA, Strawberry Blonde
The beer you should know: Velvet Hammer — sour
Velvet Hammer is a Belgian dubbel-style base beer aged in an oak cask for a year and then bottle conditioned. Each vintage of the beer has a slightly different flavor composition, as the oak barrels age and mature. But it is always vinous and tart with dark fruit flavor, a moderate acidity and subtle earthy undertones.