Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Just say no … to green beer

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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As yet another high holy holiday of the drinking variety approaches, craft beer fans owe it to themselves and their friends to remember this simple mantra: Friends don’t let friends drink green beer.

If St. Patrick were around in the 21st century, he’d certainly use his saintly powers to drive the dyed swill out of America, especially since there are so many full-flavor, lower-alcohol craft beer options on the market, even from the subset of Michigan brewers.

With that in mind, REVUE’s beer team set out to find Michigan-made beers that would be good for a day-long drinking session. The goal: Identify some sessionable beers that are full-flavored, but that don’t pack the punch — and the responsibility — that comes with a higher ABV beverage.

Three of us blind tested 12 beers that were below 5.0% ABV — regardless of style — to find out which ones were suitable for honoring the patron saint of Ireland. Here’s what we found:


Bean Flicker
Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven, Mich.
Style: Blonde Ale (with coffee)
4.5% ABV

This beer drinks more like a coffee stout than a blonde, and that disparity throws you off at first. It’s a beer that doesn’t follow convention and stands apart as a unique beverage that’s really loaded with flavor. Bean Flicker may not be a true drink-all-day beer, but it’s definitely not one to miss.

Score: 88


All Day IPA
Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Style: Session IPA
4.7% ABV

The aroma is HOLY HOPS! The hop flavors start big, but trail off and leave little finish. It’s a sessionable beer you could knock back again and again. It’s the OG all-day craft beer and it shows. It’s a staple in many of our fridges for a reason.

Score: 81


Lil’ Sunshine
Latitude 42, Portage, Mich.
Style: Golden Ale
4.8% ABV

This beer pours a cloudy golden color and has a fruity, almost cider-like aroma and taste. It’s not terribly complex, although it does get better after sitting for a minute. Overall, it’s a perfectly nice, drinkable session beer.

Score: 73


Gateway IPA
Griffin Claw Brewing, Birmingham, Mich.
Style: Session IPA
4.0% ABV

This beer has a nice pour that’s mostly clear with a decent hop smell. It tastes like a toned-down IPA with a decent finish and clean aftertaste. It’s light, but it works.

Score: 72


Hop Gobbler
Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven, Mich.
Style: Extra Pale Ale
4.5% ABV

This one lived up to its name and drank like a light pale ale. There was a nice grassy aroma with some citrusy hops and a pleasant bitter aftertaste coming from a fairly light body. All three reviewers liked this beer enough to say we’d drink it again.

Score: 69


Third Coast Beer
Bell’s Brewery Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich.
Style: Golden Beer
4.8% ABV

The beer pours with some cloudy haze and has a thicker body than some of the others tested here. There’s a bit of a sweetness to it and some hops also make a nice appearance. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a solid, workaday craft beer for an afternoon session.

Score: 67


Motor City Brewing Works, Detroit, Mich.
Style: English Style Mild Ale
4.2% ABV

Notably, this hazy amber beer was darker than the others. We were divided over the aroma. Two liked the roasted malty notes, but one reviewer noted some aromas may have been off. The flavor lived up to – if not surpassed – the aroma.

Score: 64


Full Circle
New Holland Brewing, Holland, Mich.
Style: Kolsch
4.9% ABV

This light-colored beer looks the part of a session ale, but it divided the judges. There was some sweetness in the nose that carried over to the flavor, which was only mildly hopped. One person noted off aromas in the nose here, too. The beer was sort of unbalanced and held back by its lack of any aftertaste.

Score: 58.7


Honorable Mention:

Clocking in at 5.0% ABV, Michael Faricy’s Stout from Arbor Brewing Co. didn’t quite make the cut for this story, but we all tried it nonetheless because it was a true Irish Stout and it is St. Patrick’s Day, after all. It had a smoky nose with plenty of dark roasted notes and more than a hint of coffee, all of which carries over to taste. This stout finishes dry. It’s a nice beer for the day, even if it’s slightly too heavy to be a session beer. It averaged a score of 77.



We tried these beers as part of this tasting, but their scores didn’t come close to the others tested here. For that, they get a “try again.”

• Wanderer, by North Peak Brewing Co.

• Local’s Light, by Short’s Brewing Co.

• Smooth Operator, by Right Brain Brewery

• Oarsman, by Bell’s Brewery Inc.


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