Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beer Trip III-Part Two

Sorry it's taken so long for the rest of the Beer Trip III. Here you go. Hope you enjoy and please comment.

Day Three

The next day we set out early for our first destination of the day, Arbor Brewing in Ann Arbor, MI. College towns are always cool and Ann Arbor didn’t disappoint. Arbor had some great brews and a nice bar and restaurant in an area not far from campus. From there it was on to Kuhnhenn Brewing in Warren, MI. This is the closest I’ve ever been to Detroit, and it was close enough. All I know about Detroit is what I saw in RoboCop as a kid, and that’s some scary shit! Kuhnhenn was located in what looked like an industrial area and I wasn’t expecting much. We were all pleasantly surprised though and they had some fantastic beers and had some cool people there.

Next on the tour was Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, MI. It felt like this place was out in the middle of nowhere. The building itself was really impressive with a big entrance into a reception area. Off to one side were offices and the other a huge tasting room. The brewery was through some doors on the backside of the building. We met our tour guide and went through some doors into the lab type area where they handle the yeast strains and the sort. They gave us leis w/ Michigan Brewing Co logo tags on them. We did our brewery tour and headed to the tasting room. They had several beers on tap and the place, to sound douchey, was hoppin’. There was this hippie-type couple singing songs with an acoustic guitar. They were really fun though and we hung out there for quite awhile. At one point I was talking to the brewer and telling him how amazing their Pumpkin Ale is, and he said to hold on, he’d be right back. He came back with a case of low/high fills for us. Surprisingly I didn’t hug him in my drunken state. That was way cool of him, but he knew who we are.

From there on to Founders in Grand Rapids, MI, the cultural center of America (inside joke, sorry). We were all feeling pretty good with the exception of our DD, Jerry. Founders has fantastic beers, and the Kentucky Breakfast is probably in my top 10 beers. We tried to get growlers of it, but they wanted like $70 for one so that was a no-go. Oh well, it was still great to have it there. Founders is also where we first met Mr. and Mrs. Cock-knocker. The name will be explained shortly. They were locals and enjoyed having a good time to say the least. They said they’d meet us at out next stop; we kinda laughed it off and went on to New Holland, MI. This is where the “incident” occurred we blogged about earlier.

Holland Brewing Company was very modern, very nice, and almost pretentious. They do make excellent beers though and we enjoyed them greatly. We were shocked to find Mr. and Mrs. Cock-knocker did actually drive to New Holland to party with us and brought their friend, the ginger Amazon. Chick towered over all of us. Now, I started calling the wife Cock-knocker because she was a fan of….well…she liked to smack, grab, reach for, etc, the “fellas.” Constantly. Her poor husband just accepted it I guess. I think she got us all. Dan claims she never grabbed him, but I can’t imagine she missed anyone. She did make the night funnier and her cuckhold of a husband was cool. From there I think we went to a bar across the street, but it’s hazy and then back to the hotel where we all collapsed from drinking.

Day Four

We started the day a little later this time and headed to Kalamazoo, MI to visit one of my favorite breweries, Bell’s. Kalamazoo is an eccentric town, so Bell’s Eccentric CafĂ© is a fitting name for their bar. I was bummed they didn’t have beers on tap unique to the brewery, but you can’t complain when you’re getting Two Hearted and Expedition on tap. The brewery was a trip, and had some crazy art and sculptures around. Very cool place and definitely worth the stop.

From there it was on to Arcadia Brewing in Battle Creek, MI. I really wanted to tour the Kellogg factory, but alas, no such luck. Someday Tony the Tiger mascot, I will meet you! Arcadia wasn’t able to set us up a tour in advance because they were getting ready for the Michigan Brewing Festival. So we expected to just go, have some samplers and then move on. While we were there though, the bartender was talking to us and found out what we were doing. Dan was talking to him about their beers and said, “I like your flagship beers, but your big beers are phenomenal.” As he said that, head brewer Bryan Wiggs came by and heard him. He started asking us which of the bigger beers we liked best, with almost all of us saying Shipwreck Porter. He then took us on a private tour where he let us climb up and look into the open fermenters, very in-depth stuff. We get back to the bar and he said he’d be right back and went downstairs and comes back up with some seasonals that weren’t available yet because they were still aging, as well as a couple of bottles of two-year old Shipwreck Porter. He opened them up, shared them with us, and hung out talking beer. Very cool experience. He’s at Dark Horse now, and brewing excellent beers for them. Oh, and the bartender had a signed bomber of their Big Dick’s Olde Ale that he let me buy from him! Great time and Kelly and Rob have actually gone back to volunteer there to help them bottle.

From there we went to Benton Harbor, MI to try out the Livery. Benton Harbor is, to be PC, “economically depressed.” It was sad. Talking to the people there most of the population reads at a 4th grade level and unemployment is rampant. This is before the current recession, btw. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the Livery, but their beers were really good. Definitely stop by there if you’re in the greater Benton Harbor area. As a funny side note, I’m sitting there drinking and some dude at the bar keeps looking over at me. I’m pretty hot, so I’m used to this, but this was different. He comes over and goes “Did you go to Olathe North?” And it hit me. This was a dude I graduated from high school with! Who now lives and works in Benton Harbor. Small-ass world out there, luckily this was a rare friend from high school and I enjoyed getting to see him. We left the paradise of Benton Harbor and drove on to Munster, IN and the famous (at least to beer dorks) Three Floyd’s Brewing. We ate dinner there and bought an obscene amount of their beers to take home since we can’t get them in the KC metro. It was really crowded there so we honestly didn’t stick around too long. We bought a lot and left after we ate. From there was our last stop of the day, Flossmoor Station in Flossmoor, IL. This was in the Chicago ‘burbs and was more restaurant than brewery. Really good beers though, and they didn’t kick us out when Dan grabbed the microphone when the band was on break and started talking and I believe singing. Yeah, we’re that cool.

Day 5

We set out on our final day of BT III. There always seems to be a cloud over day five. Most of us ‘cuz we’re upset it’s almost over, some ‘cuz they’ve been away from their families too long, generally not the best day of the Trip. Our first stop was a few hours down the road at Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House in Iowa City, IA. Located not far from the famous John’s Grocery Store it too was in an old building in a college town. Decent beers, but samplers were in plastic cups which was odd to me.
We made a stop at John’s Grocery store to check out their beer selection and pick some up that we weren’t able to get elsewhere on the trip.
Next stop was the Amana Colonies, IA and Millstream Brewing, the oldest brewery in Iowa. It’s located in an Amish village and looks almost like an old school house. Beers were good, and they had a great set up where you could get your beer and sit out on a front porch or in a gazebo. Our last stop was kind of a downer. It was the chain brewery/restaurant Rock Bottom in West Des Moines, IA. They’re ok, but you don’t go there for great beers. But a brewery is a brewery, and it added a stop before going home. Nothing stood out there really, pretty much all middle of the road stuff. We headed back home to KC, and pulled into town just as a huge storm hit our convertible EM-50. Luckily Dan has huge oak trees over his drive and we were somewhat covered while Kelly re-patched what had blown off on the highway. We were all soaked trying to get our hauls sorted and into our respective cars. We wrapped it up and another Beer Trip was in the books.


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