Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ode to Grand Rapids, How I Miss Thee...

Ah, Grand Rapids, it has been 4 years now since I have lived in your wonderful graces. For those whom do not know of the city that I speak of, here is a glimpse. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan behind Detroit. The city is a lively place, exhibiting (I think) more that 7 breweries (Founder's, Hopcat, The Hideout, Schmohz, Brewery Vivant, JadenJames, Harmony) within the city and up to 6 more (New Holland, Pike 51, Rockford, White Flame, Saugatuck, to name a few) within a 30 minute drive. Beside that scene of breweries in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area, home brewing is locally supported by a homebrew/beer store named Siciliano's Market. Other than that, it has many bars, places to eat and other attractions (but this is a beer blog).

The reason for this 'ode' is for one things only. It recently tied (statistically) for “Beer City USA” with Asheville, NC (their fourth year being first or tied for first). This is a pretty good feet, caused by the recent explosion of craft breweries in Michigan. Out of this title, a few of the breweries of the area collaboratively made a “Beer City Pale Ale” out of celebration.

I'm proud of my old city (and proud of the people who brew in this wonderful city).  I do miss you.  I will see you soon enough though!  Just give me a week...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Traveling, and thus having trying some local microbreweries.

Recently, I had the chance to travel. Travelling for a graduate student is mainly one purpose only, research related. This trip was to present research at the Entomological Society of America North Central Branch Annual Meeting. The location for this year was in Lincoln, NE. Now, thinking about this trip to Nebraska, the only thing that comes to mind is corn. I don't think of Nebraska as a place for good beer. But, luckily, I have two friends of mine that are currently living there or had lived there. So they know how to get me to what I want.

I had no idea how small Lincoln was. My first thought was, state capital, pretty big, maybe close to 1 million, not 250,000. Being end of the spring semester at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the city is pretty dead. No worries though, I have connecting.

The first brewery stop was on my first day there. Granite City, is a chain brewery, and because I have eaten and drank at one before in Mishawaka IN, I kind of knew the menu. For being a chain brewery, it is decent. At least you know that they are consistent. The down side to drinking and dinning in Nebraska is that nearly everything is meat. Being a vegetarian, that doesn't sit well.

For this, I am not going to go and do a complete description, because there are a few beers. First beer was the Broad Axe. I would give this 3.5 out of 5. A dry stout, that had lots of roastyness to it and was nice and heavy, plus low on alcohol. Then the second and last beer of the night was the IPA, Duke of Wellington. Again, I would give a 3.5 out of 5. Crisp, light, and very dry hoppyness. Definitely higher in alcohol content, so I went back to my friends place with a nice buzz.

After the conference starter, I made my way down to Lazlo's Brewery and Grill, home of Empyrean Brewing Company. I made it here twice, both times for lunch, so I did not drink a lot because I had to be presentable at the conference. The first day of the conference, I made my way down to Lazlo's. Being Sunday, the restaurant was open, but they couldn't serve alcohol until noon. Every state is different.

With a delicious veggie wrap with fries I had the Luna Sea ESB. Nice and fruity with English hops. The English yeast gave off the fruity esters that were great on the palate and English hops gave somewhat of a dry finish. I give it 4 out of 5.

Day three of the conference, I found myself at Lazlo's, with a few University of Kentucky people. Having the veggie wrap again (only found maybe one thing that I could eat every place I went), I wanted to finish it with an IPA, but being sold out, I had to go with the Burning Skye Scottish Ale. Sweet from the grains, but generally lack hops. I found it unbalanced, but I'm a hophead. I gave it a 3 out of 5.

The trip was successful, because I network well. Only downside to the trip being question by a security officer at the airport because I was profiled with my big beard.  Next trip, Portland OR in August!