DRAFT PICKS: Good news for Michigan
The topic of the craft beer brewing industry’s meteoric growth has been previously discussed in this column. Well, the stats for 2012 are in. The numbers have been filed. It’s time to talk about it again and celebrate the successes of the craft brew industry. Things are looking good for brewers across the nation, and even better for brewers in Michigan. While “industrial” beer sales are dropping off a bit, craft beers sales are going up ... a lot. In Michigan alone, the craft brew industry is pumping a lot of money into the economy, and analysts believe Michigan’s thriving beer industry has, “ ... a total economic impact of more than $133 million overall,” according to the Michigan Brewers Guild, representing Michigan’s brewing industry. Guild researchers noted that while the direct impact was substantial, the spin — off benefits were just as great — if not greater. The jobs created in “support” of the brewing industry (e.g. distribution, trucking, packaging, etc.) are a bit difficult to accurately gauge, but a lot goes into bottling and distributing beer that isn’t handled directly by a given brewery Thankfully, Michigan is home to an industry that has grown 20 percent over the last year alone (according to report from the Demeter Group Investment Bank of San Francisco.) This means a lot to a lot of people — especially for some looking for a job. A report by the Brewers Association ranks Michigan as the fifth state in the number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, and it is estimated that more than $24 million is generated in wages for workers in this “fermenting” industry. A Brewers Association report notes, “Michigan added 17 breweries last year and outpaced the average national industry growth rate by 12 percent.” New breweries opened in Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, Marquette and Lake Leelanau, for example. “Today, Michigan boasts more than 100 breweries, and that number continues to grow.” Yessir. Michigan is a Big Beer State — for all the best of reasons. In fact, the West Michigan beer industry is prominently at the top of RateBeer’s “Best of” list. A sign of the Michigan’s beer industry growth was noted in a Brewer’s Association release: “According to Sarah Aldrich, communications manager for Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Founders is undergoing a $26 million expansion this year, creating more than 50 new jobs. Vice President Dave Engbers attributes the boom to growing interest in locally brewed beer. “There’s no question that beer tourism is becoming a bigger and bigger draw all the time,” Engbers said. “And Grand Rapids has become even more of a destination since we were named Beer City USA. We want to continue our support of the industry in our hometown by investing in it.” Regular readers may recall that Grand Rapids tied with Asheville, N.C., in 2012, in a nationwide poll searching for the “Best Beer City” in the U.S. “The Michigan beer scene is a beautiful thing to behold,” said Fred Bueltmanna managing partner of the New Holland Brewing, in the Brewer’s Association release. “I’m continually inspired by the cast of characters that make up our Michigan brewing community.” Craft brewing in the U.S. continues to grow and thrive. In Michigan, craft brewing is becoming a more and more important industry attracting not only retail customers, but also beer lovers creating their own “beer tour” events — traveling from craft brewery, to microbrewery to taste the best they have to offer, and enjoy the fruits of some of the most exciting local kitchens as well.
Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale Rogue Ales Newport, Ore.I’m always excited to try a new, (for me), Rogue offering. OREgasmic poured a somewhat hazy amber color — hazy but crisp. There was a decent layer of gently frothing head although there didn’t seem to be too much carbonation in the body. The head is light tan in color. OREgasmic is a rich American Pale Ale that is 6 percent ABV. I love the smell, very much a malt-forward brew which is, quite honestly, right up my alley. There was a rich base of caramel malt aroma followed up by some brown sugar elements, and a hidden hop tone that may promise something in the drinking, but doesn’t stand out in the scenting process. The caramel maltiness is certainly dominant here. You really have to struggle to pick up on any other aromas. OREgasmic’s taste very closely and accurately reflects the nose — distinctive malts, some brown sugar or molasses tones, a smidge of hoppy bitterness — but only a smidge — tickling the throat. There is a certain hint of spiciness, but not a standout taste like pepper or cinnamon. There is just “something” there. Good luck. Let me know what you think. Like with so many Rogue offerings, the mouth — feel is very full-bodied, and almost velvety as it washed around. There is a lot of malty flavor banging around here, and that certainly adds to the sense of creaminess. I appreciate the fact that this brew is not overly fizzy. It gives explorers a chance to really savor the more exotic back — tones, without having the delicate flavors over — ruled by the carbonation. This is a firmly planted American Pale Ale with deep roots in the Northwest brewing culture — a wonderful beer to share with good friends. Deep and thoughtful, but not too serious or brooding. Highly recommended.
ApriHop (An Indian Pale Ale brewed with real apricots) Dogfish Head Brewery Milton, Del.A rich medium brown, almost bronze colored pour, ApriHop allowed a good inch of head — thick and slightly off — white that disappears quite slowly. This was a crisp clear pour, without too much visual carbonation shooting to the top and disturbing the view. ApriHop is a 7 percent ABV American Pale Ale that has a surprising lack of apricot aroma. You kinda go into the exploration expecting ... something. There may be some fruity scent to the more discerning. I found it difficult to find the elusive apricots. This brew was, however, substantially hoppy. There also was a serious layer of malts tucked away in there, and more citrusy tones than apricot. This is quite a fizzy brew, very biting but with that refreshing feel you get from this kind of drink when you’re really looking for a crisp, cold drink. The apricot element is more noticeable than in the aroma stage, but not too prominent. ApriHop is far more hoppy than it is fruity. For some, that will be a boon. For others, it might be a touch disappointing. If you’re looking for a good apricot flavored brew, try Pyramid’s Apricot Ale. This was a bit of a let down, but only because of the name on the label. I think most explorers have already come to expect something a bit more dramatic from Dogfish Head. If this had been produced by anyone else, it probably would have more easily passed muster. I’d buy this again. It was a decent IPA — crisp and refreshing. But ... it did not taste like apricots! Oh, well.