Great Lakes Brewing News June/July 2010 : Page 1
Best if Read by June/July 2010 Summer Summer Vol. 15/No. 3 Offering the Magic Offering the Magic of Fermentation Offering the Magic of Fermentation By Staff Great Lakes region. No one lives far from a fest or two, and in fact, trav- eling to fests has become extremely popular. Nearby hotels and motels usually fill up as fest goers make a weekend of it. The larger festivals, many of them mentioned here, sell out in advance despite offering thou- sands of tickets and in many cases, multiple sessions. Sampling dozens or hundreds of beers, many of which you’ve never tried before, often while enjoying live music, good food and friends new and old has considerable appeal. Often, the people pouring the S ummer is peak season for brewfests throughout the e sti al beer, sometimes the brewers them- selves, are on hand to talk about their beers, ask what you like and make suggestions. Small samples make it possible to try lots of beers while eliminating the problem of being stuck with a whole pint full of some exotic brew that just isn’t working for you. There’s a lot to like at a brew- fest. And if all that amazing beer isn’t enough to make you feel good, remember that some of the proceeds from many fests help fund a long list of charities, special causes and com- munity efforts. Years ago, brew fests were small and rare, and attracted more men See Festival p. 6 Black Lotus Brewing Company By bil Lusa County’s seemingly never-ending commuter traffic, in the center of Clawson’s resurgent downtown business district, at the north- west corner of 14 Mile and Main sits a welcome respite from the noise: the Black Lotus Brewing Company. A small town carved out of A its bigger neighbors (Troy and Royal Oak), Clawson occupies only 2.4 square miles; however, its downtown hearkens back to a time not so long ago when you could get a haircut, a beer, mong the hustle and bustle of Oakland a comic book, and a record all within a block or two. The cozy central business district along 14 Mile Road at Livernois (known in Clawson as Main Street) is a perfect fit for a microbrewery. Heavily influenced by music and eastern philosophy, Black Lotus strays from the traditional brewpub path and provides handcrafted ales and lagers in an environment that is equal parts tea room, coffee house, art gal- lery and tavern. This is a very pleasant divergence from the brewpub norm. A fieldstone bar and wood beams reflect an up- north ski lodge feel. Yet the art is See Black Lotus p. 13 F v
Summer is peak season for brewfests throughout the Great Lakes region. No one lives far from a fest or two, and in fact, traveling to fests has become extremely popular. Nearby hotels and motels usually fill up as fest goers make a weekend of it. The larger festivals, many of them mentioned here, sell out in advance despite offering thousands of tickets and in many cases, multiple sessions. Sampling dozens or hundreds of beers, many of which you’ve never tried before, often while enjoying live music, good food and friends new and old has considerable appeal. Often, the people pouring the beer, sometimes the brewers themselves, are on hand to talk about their beers, ask what you like and make suggestions. Small samples make it possible to try lots of beers while eliminating the problem of being stuck with a whole pint full of some exotic brew that just isn’t working for you.<br /> <br /> There’s a lot to like at a brewfest.<br /> <br /> And if all that amazing beer isn’t enough to make you feel good, remember that some of the proceeds from many fests help fund a long list of charities, special causes and community efforts.<br /> <br /> Years ago, brew fests were small and rare, and attracted more men Than women. Today, all of that has changed, and it’s change for the better. The trick is to plan ahead, gather your forces, friends and spouses, and include some brew fests in your summer this year.<br /> <br /> Wisconsin <br /> <br /> With ticket sales limited to assure a highquality and relatively uncrowded experience for its patrons, the Great Taste of the Midwest, in Madison, Wisconsin, may well be the most sought-after craft beer festival ticket in the country. The festival, established in 1987, is the second longest-running craft beer festival in North America, second only to the Great American Beer Festival. 2010 will be the 24th year! Tickets sell out every year. It’s that popular, and for good reason. The Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild assembles more than 100 craft brewers from throughout the Midwest, insisting on representation by actual brewery staff, not just distributors or others who have no direct connection with the brewery.<br /> <br /> Exhibiting brewers bring out some of their best or most unusual beers not routinely found elsewhere, sometimes brewing or aging beers specifically for the festival. A separate real ale tent has become a popular feature and many people spend so much time in the real ale tent that it has become a festival within a festival. The Great Taste is the classic summer beer festival experience: outdoors, on a beautiful lake in beautiful Madison, with a festive yet laid back atmosphere and happy people who take their beer seriously.<br /> <br /> In a relatively short time the Great Lakes Brew Fest, on the Lake Michigan lakefront in Racine (which truly makes it a Great Lakes beer festival!), has established itself as one of the major regional late summer festivals in the region. Although in the early years of the festival one could fault it for relying too heavily on bottle-pouring distributors of national craft beers, it has more recently succeeded in attracting a variety of breweries from around the Great Lakes. <br /> <br /> One measure of its success on this count is that the roster now includes a fair number of brewpubs and others who don’t even distribute in the immediate area, but who make the trip because they recognize it as a high quality festival. One feature that distinguishes it from other craft beer festivals is the active participation of several homebrew clubs throughout the region who set up and serve their fine fermentations for an appreciative club. <br /> <br /> “Homebrew Island” is the place to experience some of the creativity that inspired many brewers who have since gone pro. It is well worth a visit. <br /> <br /> The festival also occurs in cooperation with the regional Schooner Homebrew Competition, which grew to more than 500 entries last year, making it Wisconsin’s biggest homebrew competition other than the American Homebrewers Association first round regional in Madison. This year the Great Lakes Brew Fest will go to a two-day format.<br /> <br /> Typically held in late September or early October, the Quivey’s Grove Brewfest is technically not a summer festival, but it wraps up the southern Wisconsin beer festival season so nicely that it merits Special attention here. With only about 30 brewers and typically not more than 100 beers, Quivey’s Grove is not the biggest beer festival in the state, but that’s not really the point. It’s a fun afternoon.<br /> <br /> In West Central Wisconsin, this year’s Clearwater BeerFestival is slated for Sept. 11. For the second year now, it will be held at Altoona Hobbs Sports Center, 2300 Spooner Ave., Altoona. What started 10 years ago as a small gathering in front of the Coffee Grounds in nearby Eau Claire has blossomed into the premier beer tasting event in the area. <br /> <br /> Since its rebirth last year as a fundraiser for Altoona hockey, the event has gained a new charm with the new Location-smack dab in the middle of hockey rink. The event typically draws the best brewers Western Wisconsin has to offer, and even a few from outside the region and the state.<br /> <br /> Pack your car, leave the kids at Grandma’s (Rover, too), and make the drive up to Eagle River for the Great Northern Beer Festival. The event will be held on June 12. No gate tickets will be sold at the exclusive event and it is expected to sell out early. They can be purchased from the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce, area Trig’s locations, or on-line. This beer tasting is worth it for the scenery alone and the chance to spend time in the great white north. A great outdoor venue and the chance to sample some fine craft beers al fresco is pretty sweet, too. Numerous camping and indoor lodging opportunities abound. Confirmed breweries so far include some of the very best the region has to offer. <br /> <br /> Illinois<br /> <br /> In Illinois, the seventh annual Barrington Brewfest is a great escape from the trappings of the city for one July Saturday, and is conveniently located at the Barrington Metra stop. Leave the car and the city behind and head west with a Metra weekend pass on July 10 as Barrington hosts dozens of great breweries. The ticket price includes a souvenir glass, all beer tastings, live music and t-shirts for first 750 through the gate. Proceeds will benefit the Barrington Area Council on Aging. <br /> <br /> Now in its third year, The Oak Park Micro Brew and Food Review is a fun way to spend a sun-splashed late summer afternoon. Oak Park’s Marion Street is closed to automobile traffic near the CTA Green Line on Saturday, August 21. Oak Park may technically be a suburb, but the Review has more the feel of a Chicago street fair, combining beer from Illinois and selected guest breweries, organic food from local restaurateurs and farmers, roving musicians, and other festive activities. <br /> <br /> Organized by Seven Generations Ahead, the Downtown Oak Park Association, and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (ICBG), all food and drink at the Review is served with utensils, plates, and glasses that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable, making this a zero-waste event. This year the ICBG will feature their ReplicAle project in Oak Park. Selected member breweries each brew the same style of beer, and you’ll be amazed how different each interpretation can be. A V.I.P. pre-event celebration is held at the Marion Street Cheese Market, and includes a select craft brew and cheese tasting.<br /> <br /> Proceeds from the festival benefit Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park organization that promotes sustainable living, and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, an organization that promotes IL beer.<br /> <br /> Indiana<br /> <br /> At America’s crossroads, following in the wake of Indiana’s holiday season (March Madness), we come To another joyous time of year-summer beer festival season. Literally the biggest Indiana fest of them all, the Brewers of Indiana Guild Microbrewers Festival (B.I.G. for short), has been bringing hopheads together from across the state and the Midwest since 1996. <br /> <br /> The B.I.G. Microbrewers Festival will take place on Saturday, July 17 on the grounds of Broad Ripple’s Opti Park and the Indianapolis Art Center. Promoters have expanded the number of tickets available this year to 5,000 and added a second entrance to accommodate the growing popularity of the event. VIP tickets will allow guests to enter an hour earlier to sample beer from more than 30 Indiana microbreweries and several out of state beers. The festival will also feature food from various local restaurants.<br /> <br /> Since its inception, proceeds from the festival have gone to a variety of charities.<br /> <br /> This is the fourth year that donations will benefit the research of leukemia and lymphoma.<br /> <br /> Minnesota<br /> <br /> The Land of Amber Waters is also home to several fine beer festivals. New on the scene is the Saint Paul Summer Beer Festival, sponsored by our own Saint Paul Saints baseball team and the Northern Brewer homebrew shop. Drive up access makes it easier for the 40 brewers to set up and take down their booths - and happy brewers make for a great beer festival. The second annual SPSBF will be on Sunday 20 June next to Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. Also new last year was the Beer Dabbler Showcase. Matt Kenevan has added his Beer Dabbler events to the Highland Fest on July 17 as well as the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.<br /> <br /> The 2010 St Paul Summer Beer Fest will occur on June 20th. Last year’s fest sold out, with over 2000 attendees. There were over 50 craft breweries from MN and beyond, live music, food, and the fun atmosphere of Midway Stadium of the St. Paul Saints.<br /> <br /> The Grand Daddy of all is The Autumn Brew Review, the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild’s showcase event, now in its 10th year. The very well run festival has grown to over 60 breweries in attendance pouring well over 200 different brews. Tickets go on sale August 1 and have sold out in the past. The 2010 Event is Saturday October 2 on the grounds of the historic Grain Belt Brewery in northeast Minneapolis.<br /> <br /> Michigan<br /> <br /> This July, the 13th annual Summer Beer Festival will take place in Riverside Park, in Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Depot Town neighborhood. The Festival is on Friday and Saturday, July 23 and July 24. The oldest and largest of the Michigan Brewers Guild Festivals, this event has sold out the last three years, drawing over 8000 in<br /> <br /> 2009. Capacity for 2010 has been increased to 9000 guests. The brewfest is a yearly celebration of Michigan Beer put on by the state’s brewers guild. All beer poured at the fest is brewed in Michigan. The 2010 Festival will include over 300 different beers from over 50 member breweries, showcasing the creativity and diversity of the state’s growing beer industry. <br /> <br /> Each of the last 13 years, the festival has grown in popularity despite the economic downturn. “One of the primary reasons our festivals grow every year is due to the wonderful beer our local breweries are making,” says Michigan Brewers Guild Executive Director Scott Graham. “We have great support from our member breweries and we are fortunate to have enough breweries to promote exclusively Michigan beer festivals. Michigan truly is The Great Beer State.”<br /> <br /> The Michigan Brewers Guild returns to the U.P. this summer for the 2nd annual UP Beer Festival on September 11, 2010. Tickets go on sale July 1. The event attracted 1000 craft beer lovers in 2009 and the guild expects the crowd to grow to closer to 1,500 in 2010. Once again, this fest features exclusively Michigan brewed beer.<br /> <br /> Ohio<br /> <br /> Somewhere in Ohio there is now a beer festival nearly every month of the year, and more are happening each year. We just recently had the first (annual?) Big Tap In beer festival near Youngstown. Coming on June 19 is another recent addition: Jungle Jim’s International Beer Fest, in Fairfield. July 11-17 is Ohio Brew Week in Athens. <br /> <br /> This will be the fifth year for the weeklong celebration featuring Ohio breweries and is a wonderful vacation destination for beer lovers. Athens is a small college town nestled in the Hocking Hills, miles from any large city. The festival includes activities such as the “Brew Choo Choo” food & beer pairings, cook-offs, homebrew competitions, brewing demonstrations and much more. It’s a far cry from the usual beer festival format of a 4-5 hour session of drinking Beer samples. The community event involves restaurants and businesses from all over town.<br /> <br /> One of the other summer highlights is the Blues and Brews at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron. Held this year on Saturday, August 7, the event features beers not only from local breweries but also from breweries around the nation and world. The setting is gorgeous. Tents are set up on the Stan Hywet grounds for the event, live blues music is provided and you are welcome to stroll through the gardens and greenhouse at Stan Hywet while enjoying your beer. VIP tickets will get you two extra hours of tasting and some special beers. <br /> <br /> Now in its third year, Cincinnati’s Brew Ha Ha, planned for August 27 and 28, is a combination of 80-plus beers and 50 comedians on three stages. What could be more fun than that? And best of all, it’s free! You pay for your beer samples, but if you just want to enjoy the comedy acts, it’s free.<br /> <br /> On September 18-19, Cincinnati is hosting what they claim is the nation’s largest and most authentic Octoberfest: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Also, the Galaxy Restaurant in Wadsworth has their annual Blues & Brews Octoberfest. It’s a smaller, more intimate event that features mostly bottled beers, but still a large selection and some outstanding live blues bands.<br /> <br /> New York<br /> <br /> New festivals keep appearing in New York State, and some established ones keep getting better. Belgium Comes to Cooperstown is a special case. It is expensive, but if you use the free camping the cost is reasonable. Expect a beautiful setting, sampling and beer sales, Belgian and local food and unmatched hospitality. If you are a Belgian style beer fan this is the one place to go to compare a wide range of these unique beers. The event is always sold out.<br /> <br /> The Empire State Brewfest on July 16 in Syracuse, has changed hands and will not be held back-to-back with the Empire State Blues Festival this year. Still, it remains one of the biggest brewfests in the state, featuring hundreds of beers and well over 100 breweries. Local food and live music round things out at the outdoor Clinton Square venue, which is set in the heart of the down town area. <br /> <br /> Pennsylvania<br /> <br /> In Western Pennsylvania, the area’s original beer festival returns this year after a one-year hiatus. The Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest, hosted by the Penn Brewery, will take place on Saturday, June 5. The festival was the longest running, and served as a model for all other local fests, with strong participation from local breweries. It will once again mark the beginning of another beer summer.<br /> <br /> The Sharp Edge Great European Beer Fest is back for its 14th year; it’s unique because it features only European beers, with an especially impressive list of Belgian beers. Last year they had 135 different beers, 40 from Belgium. It’s held at the Beer Emporium on Saturday, June 26 and on Sunday, June 27.<br /> <br /> The Millvale Brewfest is one of the newer events in the region. Only in its fourth year, it features local and national beers in a beautiful scenic river location in Millvale Riverfront Park. Millvale was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and is still recovering from the devastation.<br /> <br /> Money raised by the Brewfest helps the development of housing and businesses in Millvale. The Steel City Big Pour takes place on September 11. Tickets for the fourth Big Pour will probably sell out in a day. The event features 30 or more local and national craft breweries and food from over 20 area restaurants. <br /> <br /> Live art, kegerator raffles and Live music all enhance the experience. East End Brewing Company also creates a special beer for the event. The Big Pour takes place at Construction Junction, a non-profit building material reuse retailer that uses funds raised from the Big Pour to strengthen their organization and promote conservation.<br /> <br /> Quebec<br /> <br /> There are a number of “travel-to” events that rise to the top of any list, and one of them has to be Mondial de la Biere, June 2 - June 6, in Montreal. Set near downtown, with a large selection of hotels of all categories nearby and almost on top of the metro, there are hundreds of hotels within a short ride. You do not pay to enter this five-day event that runs from noon to well into the evening. While the main focus is tasting-size servings of beer, you can get as much as you are willing to pay for. <br /> <br /> You Can go in the classic festival style, showing up one of the days, staying for a few hours and enjoying a range of beers and foods, or you can spend a few days in Montreal and pop in and out of the festival several times. If you attend during the slack days of the week, lines are short.<br /> <br /> Ontario<br /> <br /> Craft beer bar and restaurant Volo is holding its second annual Ontario Cask I. P.A challenge. This year features 16 India Pale Ales on cask, all tasted blind. The top score from each beer pairing will advance to the next round. The event will be held on June 26 and 27 at the Yonge Street establishment.<br /> <br />
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Black Lotus Brewing Company
Among the hustle and bustle of Oakland County’s seemingly never-ending commuter traffic, in the center of Clawson’s resurgent downtown business district, at the northwest corner of 14 Mile and Main sits a welcome respite from the noise: the Black Lotus Brewing Company.<br /> <br /> A small town carved out of its bigger neighbors (Troy and Royal Oak), Clawson occupies only 2.4 square miles; however, its downtown hearkens back to a time not so long ago when you could get a haircut, a beer, a comic book, and a record all within a block or two. The cozy central business district along 14 Mile Road at Livernois (known in Clawson as Main Street) is a perfect fit for a microbrewery.<br /> <br /> Heavily influenced by music and eastern philosophy, Black Lotus strays from the traditional brewpub path and provides handcrafted ales and lagers in an environment that is equal parts tea room, coffee house, art gallery and tavern. This is a very pleasant divergence from the brewpub norm. A fieldstone bar and wood beams reflect an upnorth ski lodge feel. Yet the art isDistinctly urban, reflecting the Michigan experience.<br /> <br /> A stage for live music is in one corner (brewmaster/owner Mark Harper a member of local world music group Zap Toro) whilst the opposite corner features a cozy fireplace for the chillier months. In the center is a horseshoe-shaped bar with an open kitchen behind it - a nice touch and a very practical use of space uniting the front and back of the house in a unique way.<br /> <br /> The Beers <br /> <br /> Black Lotus has been brewing beer for thirsty Clawsonites for 4 years, and despite the small fermentation capacity (currently only four seven barrel fermenters support the Pub Brewing seven barrel brewhouse), a number of lagers are available as well as ales. Flagship beers include Detroit Hip Hops APA, a dry hopped American Pale Ale that is reminiscent of today’s popular American IPAs The beer is so hoppy you may see the occasional shred of leaf hop suspended in your glass, and packs a citrusy hoppy punch at<br /> <br /> 6. 8% ABV. People Mover Pilsner, a beery ode to Downtown Detroit’s monorail/50 cent tour, has a nice, crisp, European-hop finish and is perfect for a sunny afternoon (5.2% ABV). Red Tao Amber is Black Lotus’ take on a traditional brewpub red, versatile for food pairings with a nice mid-palate maltiness and clean finish compared to other beers of its style.<br /> <br /> Summer brings a variety of seasonal wheat beers to the tanks and taps at Black Lotus.<br /> <br /> Funkin’ A Apricot Wheat is a popular fruitenhanced variation of the 5.8% ABV World Wide Wheat. Sun Ra Summer Wheat is a fuller-bodied wheat for those in search of a bolder summer beer. Blurring the lines between summer ales brewed with wheat and Belgian beers is The Golden Gift Saison, an amped-up take on the Belgian style which checks in at 10.0% ABV.<br /> <br /> Over to the Dark Side, Black Lotus has a strong offering in the stout category, the Black Bottom Oatmeal Stout. Inky black and malty enough to chew on, this full flavored beer showcases the chocolate, bread, and coffee flavors of darker malts and simply cannot be seen through … until the glass is empty! The spring season featured an Austrian-by-way-of-Mexico dark lager/schwarzbier hybrid called Sanchez Schwarz, served with a lime (!) And a unique diversion from the usual Mexican pale/amber lagers.<br /> <br /> Spontaneous Creations <br /> <br /> Harper’s beers are brewed ‘in the moment’.<br /> <br /> “What I brew is what I have,” says the brewer.<br /> <br /> “The other day I wanted to brew a summer beer, I had ginger and coriander.” That day, as you may have guessed, a wheat beer was brewed with ginger and coriander. Additionally, Harper plays music to his fermenting ales. “Yeast are living organisms that respond to energy,” says Harper, who is known to play anything from Coltrane to Hendrix to his beers - depending on the style, of course. Yeast, actually, is what got Harper interested in beer originally. Working in biochemistry, he was intrigued by the organisms and their role in fermentation, but went on to become a psychologist with Detroit Public Schools. “Beer ferments faster than people,” notes Harper. While both react to “temperature and pressure” he notes that while it could sometimes take 10 years to work with someone as a psychologist, he now feels he can get through to someone in a mere two pints.<br /> <br /> For Harper, Michigan’s beer industry is a labor of love. He notes most of us learn brewing from “scrubbing someone else’s tanks for free.” The camaraderie and friendship and support among the state’s brewers contribute greatly to the enjoyment of his choice of employment.<br /> <br /> Alcohol Free Enjoyment <br /> <br /> Black Lotus features a variety of beverages for the non-beer drinker, or for those oh-so-rare moments when a beer may not be appropriate.<br /> <br /> An extensive collection of fair trade loose teas are available for an afternoon warmup, and for an extra caffeine boost, coffee from local roaster Great Lakes Coffee is featured (their Corktown blend is a real eye-opener). Black Lotus also features some wines and meads, a house blended Raspberry Chocolate Merlot is a smash hit with the dinner and dessert crowd.<br /> <br /> Black Lotus beer is available at a few select off-premise locations on draft only (Alvin’s in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood currently features the Detroit Hip Hops APA) with hopes to bottle beer for distribution in the future.<br /> <br /> The taproom at Black Lotus is open seven days a week starting at noon for lunch and dinner.<br /> <br /> Fridays and Saturdays, the bar is open until 2am.<br /> <br /> Monday through Friday, the Lotus has a Happy Hour from 4:00 - 6:00 pm featuring $2.50 pints of house brewed beer, and the mug club is a very affordable, recession-friendly $35 to join.<br /> <br /> Most weeknights feature local live music, with Djs on the weekends. Black Lotus was non-smoking before it was cool/before it was law; however, there is sidewalk cafestyle outdoor seating along the 14 Mile Road and Main Street sides of the microbrewery/ tap room.<br />
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