Wednesday, 25 September 2019 14:07

Drinking Down Memory Lane: Brewers look back on their most memorable beers

Written by  Elma Talundzic
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Jeremy Kosmicki, Founders Brewing Company. Jeremy Kosmicki, Founders Brewing Company. Courtesy Photo

Drinking beer can create lifelong memories — depending on how many you have — and brewing beer makes memories too.

We all have that one beer that was just a little more memorable than the rest. Whether it sticks out in your mind because of its taste or just what you were doing at the time while sipping it, there’s a story to share. Revue turned to the master brewers and brewery owners in the area to hear about the beer they just can’t forget.

We also heard from some brewers on the most memorable beers they’ve created, for better or worse.

BEERS DRANK

Weissbeer
David Ringler, Cedar Springs Brewing Co.

I’d been living in Germany for a couple years, having been first an exchange student and then taken a job. During that time, I’d been introduced to Weissbier or Weizenbier (what we call Hefeweizen on these shores) a couple times, but had never liked it. It smelled funny, tasted different, and had weird stuff floating around in it. I had always chosen something else when it came to beer. 

One fateful evening, I was attending a dinner party with friends in Bavaria and was offered a beer, only to discover that the only option was indeed Weissbier. Wishing to remain a gracious guest, I acquiesced to a beer on the condition that they didn’t “pour that stuff in there.” 

I struggled with the first few sips, but by the time I made it to the bottom of the half-liter glass, I was hooked. It was actually enjoyable. After a second glass (this time with the proper, full-yeast pour) I was certain I’d discovered Valhalla. This magical elixir became one of my favorite styles and I had a new mission to introduce my American friends to this wonderful alchemy.

Pink Killer
Jeremy Kosmicki, Founders Brewing Company

I had only been in the brewing industry for a couple of years when I made my first trip to Belgium. I experienced many new beer styles and flavors over there, but for some reason, the beer that really sticks in my memory is a Belgian Wit brewed with pink grapefruit juice called Pink Killer. It had a pink label with a scary pink dog on it, but at only 4.7-percent ABV, there was nothing scary or killer about it. It was delicious, refreshing and probably the coolest fruit beer I had ever had at that time. I remember first trying it at the Delirium Cafe in Brussels, then loading a few bottles in my suitcase so my girlfriend back home could try it.

Samuel Smith: Taddy Porter
Jacob Derylo, Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Local Beer

So, when you have a beer that changes the way you think about flavor, life, love and beauty, I go back to Sam Smith Taddy Porter. I had been brought up with generic American and Canadian lagers (which I still enjoy), but about 25 years ago, I put my lips on Taddy Porter and the way I thought about beer shifted. From then on, the world opened up and I dig every second of it.

Hamm’s
Seth Rivard, Rockford Brewing Co.

When I was a kid, my dad drank pretty much any American lager, but seemed mostly to drink Stroh’s as well as Miller Genuine Draft. He’d let me take sips and I always thought that was cool. He always had beer for when friends and family came to visit, and they would always have a cold one ready for him when we went to visit them. 

What I also thought was cool were the Hamm’s beer commercials, which—now federally illegal to do this—featured the Hamm’s Bear cartoons and had the best jingle for a kid to enjoy.  I would be glued to the cartoon commercials. 

I believe these commercials were fruitful in conditioning me and my subconscious. It became my favorite American lager sometime during 2011 when we were building Rockford Brewing Company and putting swear equity in and drinking cold brews to keep us refreshed. While everyone else seemed to be gravitating toward Pabst at the time — too sweet, but also a good brew — I was really finding Hamm’s to be that perfect legacy lager flavor that reminded me of sipping my dad’s beer when I was a kid. So damn cool.

BEERS BREWED

Gardetto’s Ale
Chris O’Neill, One Well Brewing

Gardetto’s Ale. It was a beer inspired by the snack. It had rye, corn, barley and rice. It was infused with garlic, Worchester sauce and soy sauce. Wow, what an umami bomb. The beer definitely mellowed with age but when it first came on tap, it was a punch of garlic to the nose. The beer was meant to wow and astound the guests that were looking to try something they had never tried before. It did just that, but the only problem was after they took a small taste, that was enough for most folks. 

I think that beer was served more as a small taste than it was ever served in pint form. We decided that a beer festival would be the way to serve the beer to the masses, so we took it to Beers at the Ballpark in Lansing and proceeded to tell everyone that walked by that this was the beer for them. 

“The most unique beer you will try today!” we exclaimed. Now, after seeing the look on most faces, we knew that they wouldn’t be stopping into the pub to grab a pint of this delicious beverage — but after an hour or so, we had plenty of return customers. (They were) not asking for another swig of the Gardetto’s Ale but just to tell us that we were right: That was the most unique beer they would try that day. 

I still have guests from time to time ask about when we are bringing that delight back. I usually laugh a little and politely let them know, next week. The answer is always next week.

Wild Rumpus
Benjamin Isbell, Harmony Brewing Company

The most memorable beer we ever had at Harmony was a beer called Wild Rumpus. This was our first attempt at a wet hop harvest ale. We were all very excited as the brew day began and the hops were delivered straight from the farm. What we didn’t think of is putting these hops in a nylon bag of some sort. As we brewed the beer, we were just dumping loose hops in the kettle — this was a disaster. There were hops everywhere. I had to use a shovel to clean all the hops out of the kettle, hoses were clogged and when it was all said and done, the beer turned out horrible and it was never served to customers.

Wheezin’ The Juice
Ben Tabor, Grand Armory Brewing Company

Grand Armory’s most memorable beer to create was our Wheezin’ The Juice, Juicy IPA.

Both owners Ryan Andrews and Ben Tabor were ’90s kids with an affection for Pauly Shore movies.

When we created our first juicy IPA, we drank it straight from the fermentation tank and Ryan said, “Wheezin’ the juice, buddy!” 

We immediately knew this beer had to be called Wheezin’ The Juice and pay homage to the classic Encino Man slushie scene. 

Wheezin’ has grown to become our most popular selling beer across Michigan. We were even lucky enough to wheeze the juice with Pauly Shore himself on a recent trip to Muskegon.

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