DRAFT PICKS: Hops and Props is coming sooner than you think

It may be a little early, but I thought I’d better give a heads-up and remind faithful readers that the now annual Manistee Hops and Props celebration is coming up and is scheduled for Sept. 12-14.

This is the third annual such event in Manistee and it is growing and going from strength to strength.

Hops and Props is the brainchild of the Manistee Mainstreet DDA and there is a lot planned for the festival (more about individual events later).

Suffice it to say there will be a lot of good food, great fellowship, wonderful music and LOTS of great beer.

This year (so far), breweries taking part in the ever growing and always expanding event include: Right Brain Brewery, Hideout Brewing Company, Cheboygan Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, Big Rapids Brewing, Bells Brewery, Dark Horse Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing Company, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Shorts Brewery, Tapistry Brewing Company, The Livery, Schmohz Brewery, Founders Brewing Company, Mountain Town Brewing Company, Mitten Brewing Company and the Douglas Valley Winery.

Some are very well known, and others, such as the Tapistry Brewing Company, are making a name for themselves.

Tapistry may not be as well known up in our part of the state as some larger operations, but they are producing a wide variety of exciting beers.

From Enigma, a hearty and refreshing Double IPA, to Peck’s Porter, an elegant hearty porter (my favorite!) there is a great selection including a scrumptious Imperial Stout (Chocola Java Stout).

Tapistry is located in Bridgman and is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. (Bridgman, for those who don’t know, is south of St. Joseph and north of New Buffalo on I-94.) You can find some of their beers at the Gypsy Nickel in Big Rapids. (I’ve been told Tapistry brews are also sold in TJ’s Pub in Manistee, but I haven’t sampled there as yet.)

Hops and Props, as well as other beer festivals, are great ways to be introduced to the many new beers coming out of established breweries, and to become acquainted with new beers being produced in more local and newer operations around the state.

It is always exciting to see what brewers are trying to do, and it is always worth while supporting the efforts of brewing craftsmen and women from around the state.

Hops and Props will give an opportunity to do all that at one “sitting.”

Mark your calendars.


OK. You need to be a bit prepared for this one, but let me say right off - I enjoyed this offering.

Bourbon Peach is a American Wild Ale. It is a kombucha beer, which makes the whole tasting unique and different.

Different is not bad. Different is different.

This is a sour beer, but when well chilled is taste-filled, expressive, refreshing and exciting.

The brewing is done with organic peaches, and the peaches aren’t lost at all in the kombucha brewing.

It pours a cloudy yellow color and is quite heady - lots of foaming. (Be careful and gentle on opening.)

There is a defined vinegary quality to the scenting. Please, don’t be put off.

Once again, this is a sour beer in the best traditions of the same. For many American beer drinkers, this may come across as “off” or overly fermented.

It isn’t.

Bourbon Peach is rich and tasty, a bit puckery at the outset, but delicously refreshing when you settle in to the brew.

I have read some horrible reviews of this beer. Frankly, I think they were unfair.

If you buy a American Wild Ale that is unpasteurized and unfiltered, naturally fermented, gluten-free and vegan ... yes, vegan ... and you expect to get a Bud Light with lime, you will be heartily disappointed.

If you buy this for the experience, and give it a chance, I think you’ll find an exotic brew well worth revisiting.

Me? I love the Unity Vibration offerings. They have one with ginger that is simply an explosion of tastes.


Abbot 12 is a highly affordable, yet very complex and elegant Abbey Style Dark Ale.

Affordable, and well worth the investment.

Abbot pours a slightly, deep red color with a good amount of light beige (or just off white) head that lasts a decent while. There is a respectable amount of lacing.

At first sniff there is a HUGE amount of fruit action on the nose. A fun mix of all sort of fruit if you stick it out and dedicate a bit of time to the scenting. I found plum and raisin to the dominant but there were simply a Horn of Plenty in here! In the background, there was also a mixture of light herbs (I felt a good touch of cloves) and a hearty yeastiness. This is by no means too complex. Despite the almost noisy aspect to the scenting, there is a well considered balance.

Taste follows the nose, with big dark fruit tones, a touch of cherry and apricot, and then a fine breadiness with a touch of spice and herbal richness. The dark fruits follow through and are the most lasting.

In fine, this is delicious.

I can’t say enough about this brew.

There is a rich body and a luxurious complexity, without the sticky cloying sweetness one might expect from this very subtle fruitiness.

There is very little booziness to this well designed ale.

For under $4 for a 750 ml bottle, this may one of the best buys of the summer.