Category Archives: Beer and Food

Beers for a Michigan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to share with others and enjoy time with family and friends.  Michiganders have much to be thankful for, and with over 200 breweries, there are many great beers to celebrate the holiday with.  Here are a few recommendations on a few of my favorite Michigan beers for you to enjoy throughout the day:


Founders Breakfast Stout– Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so on Thanksgiving Day, why not treat yourself to this iconic breakfast beer?  Brewed with copious amounts of chocolate, coffee and flaked oats, it’s the perfect way to start your day.  Simply replace your morning cup of coffee with one of these tasty brews, and start prepping your turkey so it’s in the oven well before the Lions game starts.

1475679500323Speaking of the Lions game, kickoff is still a few hours away  and you’ll want to pace yourself.  Perrin No Problems is a session IPA that delivers great hop flavor at a modest 4.5% abv. You’ll have “No Problems” crushing a few of these whether you’re tailgating in The D, or watching from home.  The can even matches the Lions uniforms! Let’s hope we all hear “Gridiron Heroes” early and often.  GO LIONS!!!


Now it’s time for the big Thanksgiving feast, and there are a many great beers that will pair well with your turkey and all the fixings.  Brewery Vivant Farmhand is a French style farmhouse ale that is not overly bitter or sweet.  It’s crisp and on the lighter side, with a nice effervescent mouthfeel that will enhance your meal without filling you up.


If you’re more into the stuffing and gravy or simply prefer something a bit more malty, Saugatuck Bonfire Brown Ale is one of my favorite brown ales that I highly recommend. It has a light to medium body with a bready malt backbone, with a nutty hint of maple and a slightly smoky finish reminiscent of great times around the bonfire.  This beer has won several prestigious awards, including the Gold Medal for American Brown Ales in the 2014 World Beer Cup and Best in Show at the 2013 World Expo of Beer.

scotty-karateAfter the main course and the traditional cat nap on the sofa while watching more football, it’s time for dessert.  If you’re having pumpkin pie, Dark Horse Scotty Karate is a nice match.  The rich malty caramel flavors are a nice complement to the roasted pumpkin and brown sugar in the pumpkin pie, and at 9.75% abv, you can savor this well after the pie is finished.


ad_bottling_final-absolution-shieldFor fruit pies such as apple or cherry, Dragonmead Total Absolution is the perfect match.  This Belgian-style Trippel ale yields hints of banana and clove from the Belgian yeast and a slight sweetness from the Belgian candi sugar it is brewed with.  These flavors along with a  high carbonation level provide a nice effervescent complement to  the fruit flavors in the pie.  This brew is dangerously drinkable at 10% abv.


dm2016_bottlemuMy personal dessert of choice is Pecan Pie, and one of my favorite styles of beer is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout.  New Holland Dragons Milk is one of the few selections that is readily available on store shelves, and is an ideal  choice here.  Dark roasted malt flavor with hints of dark fruits, vanilla and oak emerge with a nice boozy bourbon finish that warm the insides and will take your pecan pie experience to another level.  If you’re fortunate to find any Dragon’s Milk Reserve, the Coffee Chocolate and Rum Barrel Coconut variants will also pair well with this decadent dessert.  What can I say, I like big beers and I cannot lie…

raggedyass-2683webLast but not least, you’ll need a good Michigan beer to wash down those leftovers leading up to the big game on Saturday vs. Ohio.  Griffin Claw Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA is one of my favorite local selections that I highly recommend.  Fresh hoppy aroma followed by a burst of tropical fruit and citrus balanced by a slightly sweet malt backbone and a pleasant creamy mouthfeel.  A delightful beer to wash down that turkey sandwich that tastes even better when accompanied by a rendition of Hail to the Victors!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Beer Destinations: Minneapolis/St. Paul-The Twin Cities

Recently I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area to attend the Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest.  While the festival was certainly a blast, the beauty of the Twin Cities is that you can visit any time and experience world class beer.

There are so many bars and breweries in the area.  From intimate neighborhood bars to the modern (and huge) new Surly facility, there is truly something for everyone.  I saw a little bit of everything, and took notes to share with you.  Here are my thoughts on a few places to go…


Town Hall Brewery,

Downtown Minneapolis brewpub with above average food choices and good beer.  Town Hall produces it’s own beer and maintains a few guest taps.  The whiskey selection is a nice bonus.  Great place to stop during happy hour for a beer and appetizer.   Try their Masala Mama IPA.

Lake Monster Brewing,

St. Paul brewery located under a water tower.  This newer brewery is starting out with a hip-feeling facility and a line-up of solid beers.  If you are in the mood for food, there is usually a food truck right outside.  I enjoyed the Empty Rowboat IPA.

Wicked Wort Brewing Comapany,

This brewery in Robbinsdale is unique in that all the beer seems to be lower abv.  The Geno Stout was solid, and only 3.6% (really!).  The tap room has bit of a night club feel, which I did not enjoy.  If you are having dinner nearby at Travail, it is worth stopping in for a quick drink.

Surly Brewing Company,

Modern and shiny, Surly’s new Minneapolis facility is absolutely huge.  There is a downstairs beer hall featuring 20+ taps, an upstairs  Brewer’s Table restaurant, and over an acre of outdoor space to hang out with your beer.  If you are the type that likes brewery merchandise, the store is well stocked with lots of cool gear.   Try any beer that appeals to you, it’s all good.

Indeed Brewing,

This brewery is home to one of my favorite Minneapolis beers, Let It Ride IPA.  The taproom is fairly small, the service was great and felt personal.  Taps change frequently, try the Wooden Soul series if you get a chance.

Able Seedhouse + Brewery,

It’s simply cool.  The Minneapolis tap room has a clean, hip vibe that somehow still feels warm and welcoming.  The beer is good, really good, especially the Blk Wlf stout that I was able to try.  If I hadn’t been to two other breweries before this, I could have spent the whole evening here.  Dogs and kids are welcome (kids until 9pm, but the dogs can stay late).

Dangerous Man Brewing,

Located in NE Minneapolis, this brewery was the surprise of the trip.  This taproom has the feel of a neighborhood bar and the beer of a great brewery.  If you don’t want beer they have cold press coffee on nitro, soda, and Kombucha too. The Big Watt Coffee Porter was my favorite, but mad props to the Black Kolsch and Calypso’s Promise IPA.  Go around back to the growler shop for a crowler or three to go.  You will want more later.

The Happy Gnome,

Located in the Cathedral Hill area of St. Paul, this refined neighborhood bar is usually packed with good reason.  With 89 craft drafts, you are bound to find something you like.  It has an upscale food menu to compliment your beer choices.  I enjoyed the steak tartare and ramen bowl.   They hold lots of beer events and even host weddings too.

Many thanks to my friend Ben, the “beer guy” at Lakeridge Liquors in Vadnais Heights  for showing me around his hometown.  You can find him @Ben_TheBeerGuy on twitter if you’d like to learn more about Minnesota beers.









Beer My Valentine!

Beer My Valentine

February has arrived, football season is officially over, and the groundhog did not see his shadow predicting an early spring! It’s now time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, which is just a few days away.

Each day through Valentine’s Day, will be featuring a recommended craft beer selection to help you find the right brew for your special someone. These are suggestions that will appeal to a wide spectrum of sweethearts, ranging from the novice craft beer drinker to the sophisticated connoisseur. Cupid will also recommend food pairings to add some romance to your experience.  Everyone focuses on flowers and chocolate; step up and treat your honey to some delicious craft beer!

On to the beers… Cheers!

Feb 14: Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

Feb 13: Greenbush Brother Benjamin

Feb 12: Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Feb 11: Southern Tier Creme Brûlée

Feb 10: Arcadia Cocoa Loco

Feb 9: Founders Breakfast Stout

Feb 8: O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer

Feb 7: Dark Horse Raspberry Ale

Feb 6: Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale

Feb 5: Short’s Soft Parade

Feb 4: Stone Enjoy By 2.14.16

Feb 3: Cheboygan Blood Orange Honey

Feb 2: Saugatuck Neopolitan Milk Stout


Feb. 14: Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

5.0% ABV, 20 IBU – Milk Stout

IMG_3856_2 Brewery Description: The combination of four different malts, along with a low hop level creates a deep dark beer featuring rich, sweet roasted flavors. The addition of lactose (milk sugar) adds complexity, body, and a residual sweetness lending a smooth creamy texture to this full-flavored brew. Once a Seasonal offering in the pub, now prominently featured due to popular demand.

Tasting Notes: Aroma is malt forward coffee, chocolate, and a bit of roasted nuttiness. Pours black with a thick tan head that dissipates rapidly. Tastes just like a chocolate milkshake, sweet with a light body and low carbonation. Finishes with subtle roasted malt and milk chocolate; no hop bitterness whatsoever. Delicious and very easy to drink with a relatively low 5% abv, Milkshake Stout is sure to please everyone!

Food Pairings: Brie, Camembert, Cheddar (aged), Goat Cheese (Chevrè), Swiss Cheese, Beef barbecue, spicy Asian dishes, chocolate cake and other chocolate desserts.


Valentine’s Day suggestion: Visit your nearest Hopcat location and pair this with their “I Am the Pork Sandwich Who Knocks” Pork Tenderloin sandwich.  Hopcat’s menu description: This sandwich is  totally “Breaking Bad.” Beer battered, pretzel-encrusted pork tenderloin, topped with Swiss cheese, blue cheese – BBQ slaw, lettuce, tomato & haystack onions. Served on a jumbo English muffin.

If you’re in SE Michigan, stop by the new Ann Arbor location today and celebrate their Grand Opening on Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart!

Availability: Available throughout Michigan and selected stores in Northeast Ohio.

Beer My Valentine

Feb. 13: Greenbush Brother Benjamin

Greenbush Brother Benjamin

10.1% ABV, 114 IBU – Imperial India Pale Ale

Brewery Description: Prepare to be Mystified

Be prepared, be prepared I say, to receive the mighty powerful taste of this truly heavenly Imperial India Pale Ale! It is a true force of nature my children! It’s a mystification!

Tasting Notes: Hazy copper appearance with a thick two-finger head. Orange, pineapple, caramel malt, and honey in the nose. Resinous pine and citrus fruit up front, with a distinct earthy caramel malt backbone. Dry grapefruit bitterness is tempered by a sweet, mellow honey finish. Hides its 10% abv quite well; brewed with clover honey and beet sugar. A fantastic Imperial IPA that flies under the radar. Comparable to Bell’s Hopslam (and readily available) with its own distinct identity. Highly recommended!

Food Pairings: Stilton cheese, smoked salmon, spicy chicken wings, jambalaya, creme brûlée, carrot cake.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Pairs well with spicy dishes. Serve with tender, fall-off-the-bone spicy barbecued spare ribs.

Availability: Available throughout Michigan and stores in Indiana, and Illinois that stock Greenbush products.

Beer My Valentine

Feb. 12: Evil Twin “I Love You With My Stout”

Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

12.0% ABV – Imperial Stout


Brewery Description: “When I copied the famous Even More Jesus, I had to ask myself as an artist, why am I doing this? I didn’t honestly know. It was just an instinct about beer as pure form… in a sense this stout is like a metaphor for freedom – the sum of all the beauty that surrounds me and my perfect contemporary existence.”
– Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Brewer and founder of Evil Twin Brewing


Tasting Notes: Pours jet black with a one-finger off-white head. Aroma of smoky dark malt, coffee and vanilla.  Bursting with robust flavors of dark fruits, cherries, plums and raisins, accompanied by notes of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and molasses that all blend together in perfect harmony. Full-bodied and smooth with a slight alcohol burn on the back end, indicative of its 12% abv. This selection may not be suited for everyone’s palate, but will be treasured by the hardcore stout drinker.

Say “I Love You With My Stout!” with this world-class gem from Evil Twin Brewing.

Food Pairings: Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Gouda, Oysters, Steak,  Cheesecake, Pecan Pie.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Sip after dinner with chocolate fudge brownies.

Availability: Available in selected Better Beer stores that stock Evil Twin beers in Michigan and throughout most of the US.

Beer My Valentine

Feb. 11: Southern Tier Creme Brûlée

Southern Tier Creme Brûlée
9.5% ABV Imperial Milk Stout

Brewery Description: “A STOUT OF GREAT CONTENTION”

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.


Tasting Notes: Pours a deep ruby brown with a half finger tan head. Powerful aroma of vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel. Rich and creamy vanilla flavor with plenty of butterscotch, caramelized sugar, chocolate malt, and custard. Very sweet, yet not cloying, this stout is amazingly balanced and stunningly unique. Finishes with a touch of malt bitterness and some alcohol warmth. A fantastic creation of liquid creme brûlée, this gem is truly a world-class dessert beer meant for sipping.

Food Pairings: Pair with vanilla custard, bananas foster, or with vanilla ice cream.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Needs no accompaniment, full-bodied, very sweet and flavorful. Pairs just fine with your sweetheart, it will take both of you to finish off a bomber of this deliciousness. Curl up in front of the fireplace with that special someone, this brew is sure to keep you cozy and warm.

Availability: Seasonal, November-February in Michigan stores and in other states where Arcadia is distributed.

Beer My Valentine

Feb. 10: Arcadia Cocoa Loco

Arcadia Cocoa Loco

7.0% ABV, 39 IBU cocoaloco_illus

Brewery Description: This triple chocolate stout is a unique interpretation of the style, combining three different chocolate malts, cacao nibs and 63 percent semi-sweet chocolate, creating a sinfully delicious brew. The addition of blackstrap molasses produces an earthy, caramelized tone in an already complex flavor profile. It’s creamy, milkshake-like mouthfeel earns this beer the reputation of being dessert in glass.

Tasting Notes: Pours black with ruby red edges when viewed through light; razor-thin tan head that disappears rapidly leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. Aroma of milk chocolate and roasted malt, reminiscent of a malted milk ball. Roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate at first, followed by some sweetness. Milk chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and subtle dark fruits emerge as it warms. Finishes sweet with no hop bitterness. Good mouthfeel, body is slightly on the thin side for a stout. Cocoa Loco is a candy bar in a glass, well balanced and not too sweet and loaded with chocolate bliss. Ideal to share with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day!

Food Pairings: Brie cheese, cherry cheesecake, seared ahi tuna, vanilla ice cream, berry pies.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Sip with a slice of cherry pie

Availability: Seasonal, November-February in Michigan stores and in other states where Arcadia is distributed.

Beer My Valentine

Feb. 9: Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout


8.3% ABV, 60 IBU

Brewery Description:
The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and two types of coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.

Tasting Notes: Pours jet black with a light brown creamy one-finger head. Strong aroma of coffee and chocolate, which mirrors the flavor. Smooth and creamy, loaded with coffee, mocha and dark chocolate flavors with no alcohol burn whatsoever. Slightly sweet finish, with lingering cocoa; low carbonation and no hop bitterness. This is a fantastic brew that should appease a wide range of beer drinkers ranging from beer snobs to occasional beer drinkers who might normally be intimidated by trying a stout.

Food Pairings: Sharp cheddar cheese, coffee ice cream, cheesecake, pecan pie.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Breakfast-in-bed on Valentine’s Day!

Availability: Seasonal, October-December in Michigan stores and in other states where Founders is distributed. There should still be some on shelves in selected stores.

Beer My Valentine

Feb 8: O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer

O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer


5.7% ABV, 10 IBU

Brewery Description: A dark wheat beer that tastes like a chocolate covered cherry…only better! Available December1.
Style: Dark Wheat Alcohol: 5.7% ABV Bitterness: 10 IBUs Color: 13.3 SRM Grain: Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 40L, Chocolate Hops:Cluster

Tasting Notes: Pours dark amber with moderate carbonation. Chocolate and cherry aroma; initially tastes like a tootsie roll, followed by maraschino cherries; just like chocolate covered cherries. No hop bitterness whatsoever. This beer may not appeal to a sophisticated craft beer palette, but it’s a nice change of pace and likely will be romanticly enjoyed by most sweethearts. Go ahead, don’t be afraid to pop that cherry!

Food Pairings: Camembert cheese, vanilla ice cream, cheesecake.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: White chocolate mousse

Availability: Seasonal, December release in Michigan stores and in other states where O’Fallon is distributed.

Beer My Valentine