BREWERY OF THE MONTH
Saugatuck Brewing Company
Saugatuck Brewing was actually born across the street from its current location on the Blue Star Highway in 2005. The brewery was brought to fruition by founder and brewmaster Barry Johnson, who utilized a 3.5bbl brewhouse to bring his beer to the public in the old taproom, and from the start, the brewery had ambitious plans.
"It was part of the original plan to only be in that place for a limited period of time," said Kerry O'Donohue, co-owner and VP of marketing. "Get the brand established, a little bit of local distribution, trying to get the name out; then expand to a bigger operation, and a bigger brewing system."
In 2009, the new 25,000-square-foot facility opened its doors to the public and poured two taps out of a kegerator. The company maintained two taps for some time, but due to the demand grew the Lucky Stone Pub into the 16-tap brewery we know today.
"We remain true to classic styles, and, in the earlier days we didn't get too far out of the box with experimental flavors," O'Donohue said. "Over time, we didn't leave or lose that, but we've expanded, added more lines, and now we're making some unique styles, mostly due to [brewer] Steve, as well."
Nearly two years ago, brewer Steven Scheerhorn joined Saugatuck and assisted in the style expansion.
"Personally, my mission is to make the best quality beers I can," Scheerhorn said. "Trying to make new stuff and make different beers. You can't have good beer unless you have good quality, and that's what it's about for me."
Over the next few months, Saugatuck will release some special barrel-aged brews, including Big Swinging Richard, a Barleywine, Black Pearl Necklace, a barrel-aged stout utilizing the new Black Pearl malt, and a yet-unnamed barrel aged Double IPA.
The standard line from Saugatuck includes Oval Beach Blonde, ESB, Maggie's Irish Ale, Bonfire Brown (which took best of show at World Expo of Beer this year), Boathouse Stout, and Neapolitan Milk Stout, a milk stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla beans, and strawberries. Other standards include Pier Cove Porter, Pathfinder Pale Ale and Singapore IPA.
"A year or so ago we decided it was time to expand from our existing mainstay beers to styles that are more oriented toward the craft beer enthusiasts," O'Donohue said. "Higher gravity, different ingredients, different styles, something more out of the ordinary."
From this decision, the Brewer's Reserve Series was born. The Reserve Series includes Double Black Pale, Hop Scotch, a hoppy aggressive Scotch Ale, and Continuum IPA, a big double IPA that was continually hopped. The fourth release, upon great consumer request, was Serrano Pepper Ale.
"It's great to brew something that I would drink and like, that most people here would enjoy, and then send it out so everyone in our markets get to enjoy it, too," Steerhorn said.
There are some big changes in the future for Saugatuck Brewing, including a brewery expansion this fall, and bringing in a 40bbl brewhouse next year. Saugatuck is also planning to release 16-ounce 'tall boy' cans this summer, expanding its barrel aging program, and bringing on a new distribution market. It is also planning a great showing at Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti this month.
"We try to provide a very fun, family friendly atmosphere. Come have a good time, have a beer, play darts and shuffleboard and hang out," O'Donohue said. "It's important for us to be a place you walk into and feel welcome."
BEER OF THE MONTH
Oddside Ales' Citra Pale Ale
This summer brew is loaded with Citra hops, residing somewhere between a Pale and an IPA, perfect for a hot summer day.
This beer pours a deep gold/orange with an off-white head that is bursting with bright citrus hop notes of grapefruit and orange. The body is balanced with a soft bread-y character along with some faint caramel, and is full of bright citrus hop tones and a decent hop bitterness. It finishes slightly dry and pairs perfectly with toes in the sand.
The Grand Rapids Beer Tasting Class continues at Harmony Brewing Company on Sundays from 4-6 p.m. Admission is $10 for the class and your first beer and the class features professional brewers and Grand Rapids-based homebrewers. July 7 features brown, porter and stout. July 14 highlights Michigan cider. July 21 is extreme beers and July 28 is infection and off flavors.
On July 26 and 27, the Michigan Brewers Guild hosts Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, where beer geeks can sample more than 600 brews from more than 65 Michigan breweries. For more information, visit michiganbrewersguild.org.
The Taste of Kalamazoo runs July 25-27 and features music, cuisine from more than 30 restaurants and microbrew, wine and liquor tastings. For more information, visit tasteofkalamazoo.com.