Let's drop a scenario on ya. You're stranded on a desert island, but luckily, your favorite custom six-pack of beer survived the ship wreck. What beers are in that sixer? We asked some of the area's brightest craft beer minds. Here's what they said.
Arcadia Brewing Company
Tim Suprise, Founder
1. Genesee Cream Ale — Genesee Brewing Company, Rochester, N.Y.
One of my all-time favorites goes back to when I first started drinking legally, back in my hometown of South Glen Falls, N.Y. I still have a particular fondness for Genesee. Although there’s nothing distinctive about this American domestic premium lager, it represents a good part of my youth. I think we all remember those first beers.
2. Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter — Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, England
The next beer had a profound impact and introduced me to better beer in general. I remember having my first Samuel Smith Taddy Porter. It opened up my eyes to fuller-flavored, full-bodied beers.
3. Smoked Porter — Vermont Pub & Brewery, Burlington, Vt.
In the late ‘80s, I discovered Vermont Pub & Brewery and Greg Noonan, the owner and brewer, became an icon in craft brewing. His Smoked Porter I credit with truly instilling in me a passion for what would ultimately become a career in craft beer.
4. Old Thumper — Ringwood Brewery/Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, Maine
Created by Ringwood Brewery, but made available in the states by Shipyard, this beer launched me into the British-inspired ales that would become Arcadia Brewing Co.
5. La Fin Du Monde — Unibroue, Chambly, Canada
A beer that introduced me to Belgian beers in a huge way, particularly re-fermented ales … La Fin Du Monde had a profound impact on me.
6. Arcadia IPA — Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek, Mich.
The last beer, the one I find in my hand most often, is the Arcadia IPA. That’s still my go-to beer daily.
Newaygo Brewing Company
Nick Looman, Co-Founder
1. Three Philosophers — Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, N.Y.
This Belgian, from a brewery that specializes in big Belgians, is equally smooth and punch-you-in-the-face. It’s a revelation and the dark flavors of cherry, chocolate, toffee, currant and licorice blend immaculately. Thankfully, you can get this by the bottle all over the country.
2. Cranberry Pucker — Wild/Sour Ale, Three Palms Brewing — Tampa, Fla.
Three Palms once made a wild ale called Cranberry Pucker. It was dry — very dry. It’s no surprise that they are making many fantastic goses these days because that Cranberry Pucker was perfectly light, sour, dry, drinkable, with enough hops to know they are there. My continuous calls to find out when it will be back go unanswered.
3. Gladstone APA — Brewery Terra Firma, Traverse City, Mich.
There are thousands of pale ales out there. Brewing one to stand out is a challenge. Gladstone APA has a malty, herb-like flavor and its hops end on a spicy note. Medium bodied with a lightly sweet finish makes this my go-to American beer.
4. Double Diffie — Union Brewing Co., Carmel, Ind.
This cask-ale-only brewery makes a fine milk stout. It’s an incredible imperial milk stout that, when served on cask, really makes me happy. Deep flavors of cocoa and roasted malt with a wonderful creamy quality. It finishes boozy and bright. Only available in their taproom, sadly. Might have to steal a firkin someday.
5. Rooftop Knights Rye IPA — Newaygo Brewing Co., Newaygo, Mich.
I chose Rooftop Knights not only for its complex spicy body and big hops, but for the memories it elicits. The name is a reference to the month prior to our brewery opening when [our brewer] Brett, my wife and I would brew beer for 16 hours a day and decompress on our rooftop overlooking Newaygo at 2 a.m. Beautiful times deserve beautiful beer.
6. Dirty Bastard — Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
This beer has everything a Scotch lover wants: big, boozy malt body, subtle, earthy hops, light smoky/briny finish and thick mouth-feel. One of the first beers I over-drank, hated, then fell back in love with. It’s been around for a while and its appreciation deepens with time.
Kris Spaulding, Co-Founder
1. Charmoy Ambree — Brasserie de Charmoy, Mouzay, France
This tiny brewery in Northern France on the border of Belgium was our favorite experience and beer on the trip Jason and I took that inspired Vivant. Being close to Orval, the brewer Alain gets his yeast from the monks there and has created a smooth, straw-colored farmhouse ale that he allows to free-rise ferment at the ambient temperature of his cellar. It is remarkable in its simplicity and something we long to drink again.
2. Blackrocks 51K IPA — Blackrocks Brewery, Marquette, Mich.
This perfectly hopped and balanced IPA from Marquette is one of my favorites and also a staff favorite whenever anyone is in the U.P.
3. Consecration — Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
I had Consecration any time I could find it while visiting the Bay Area many years ago. It led to my love of sours and my appreciation for barrel aging beers. The beer is aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels from local wineries along with black currants and a bunch of funk.
4. Spotted Cow — New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wisc.
This is such a great every day beer — we pick up a case or two any time we are in Wisconsin. It’s an unfiltered farmhouse ale that pairs well with just about anything. I also love that the people of Wisconsin buy more of it on draft than any other beer, including Miller.
5. Bell’s Porter — Bell’s Brewery Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich.
Bell’s deserves a lot of recognition for igniting the craft beer scene in Michigan 30 years ago. Bell’s Amber was the first craft that I fell in love with, but Porter is the Bell’s you will find in my fridge when I want something dark.
6. Escoffier — Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Mich.
I am so proud of what an amazing beer this was and we cherish the relationship that we have built with New Belgium, who we collaborated with for this beer. It’s a rustic recipe using spelt, which gives it a spicy sweetness. We fermented it with our farmhouse yeast and conditioned it using brettanomyces from New Belgium. It has developed over time to take on that classic Belgian funk that New Belgium’s brewmaster Peter Bouckaert lovingly refers to as “dead grandmother in the basement.” If you have any of this cellared, drink it now while it’s at its finest.
Cedar Springs Brewing Co.
Dave Ringler, Founder
1. Unertl Weißbier — Unertl Weißbier GmbH, Haag, Bavaria
An absolute classic, original-style weissbier as the Bavarian royals brewed for three centuries. Creamy, nutty and satisfying, this is one of my favorite examples of the style, before the big guys started making “blonde” wheat beers all over the place in the 1960s.
2. Bräustübl Märzen — Augustiner Klosterbrauerei Mülln, Salzburg, Austria
Poured from a wood keg under natural carbonation, this is the world’s greatest everyday “Kellerbier” lagers. Caramel balanced, with an herbal nose, there’s nothing better for a long session.
3. Bell’s Amber — Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Now often taken for granted, this is still an absolutely solid, bottle-conditioned American ale and was one of the first craft beers I fell in love with as a student at Kalamazoo College in the late ’80s.
4. Dreadnaught IPA — Three Floyds, Munster, Ind.
This is what an Imperial IPA should be — big, hearty, but tremendously balanced with a malty backbone to support the massive IBUs. Plus, there’s a little heat in here to make me forget I’m stuck on a desert island.
5. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter — Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, Ohio
We are blessed in Michigan to be surrounded by outstanding porters, including Founder’s, Bell’s and Eddie Fitz from GLBC. Meaty, nutty, chocolaty and hearty, this is sustenance in between eating coconuts and spearing fish for survival.
6. Hell-Jen Belgian Tripel — Tibbs Brewing Company, Kalamazoo, Mich.
There are so many great breweries in our state to choose from, but this one is an overlooked gem. While I’ve enjoyed nearly everything they’ve done, their tripel was amazing, with soft esters, subtle hints of fruity spice and a gentle alcohol burn to beat the heat while waiting for a passing rescue ship.
Pigeon Hill Brewing Co.
Michael Brower, Co-Founder
1. White Rajah IPA — The Brew Kettle, Cleveland, Ohio
A bartender in Cleveland convinced me to try White Rajah, which I had never heard of before. Despite going in with no expectations, I found myself blown away by the nose alone. The flavors were even more impressive. I had three before we left. I’d like another, please.
2. Your Mom On French Toast, Pigeon Hill Brewing Company — Muskegon, Mich.
I only wanted to choose one beer from Pigeon Hill, so I opted for my newest favorite: a delightfully viscous, heavy-hitting RIS chock full of maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. On the island I will drink my breakfast.
3. All Day IPA — Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
All Day IPA convinced me, and many others, that we did not have to sacrifice flavor for a sessionable IPA. I don’t recommend drinking while climbing palm trees to build a rope swing but if the urge strikes me, I’m going with All Day.
4. Utopias — Samuel Adams, Boston, Mass.
I’m too young to remember when Sam Adams was the craft option and for many years did not give them enough credit. That ended in 2014 when I had my first drop of Utopias. There’s been a bottle in my house at all times since. This is the one I share when I want to make friends with the natives.
5. Mama’s Little Yella Pils — Oskar Blues, Longmont, Colo.
In the hot island sun, I’m going to want a Pils. It took me too long to gain an appreciation for lagers and Mama’s was the first Pils to make me realize that lagers shouldn’t be confined to lawnmower cup holders. It’s ok to have a cup holder on your lawnmower, right?
6. Farthest Shore — Stormcloud, Frankfort, Mich.
I was trying to decide between a Belgian and a sour when I remembered the Farthest Shore (to be clear — not a sour!). It’s somewhat rare that I grab a Belgian Dark Strong, but I never say no to this one. Besides, on an island, the name says it all.
Rockford Brewing Co.
Seth Rivard, Founder
1. Big Red Coq — Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Mich.
This naughty brew combines two of my favorite things, Belgian and hoppy. This was instantly one of my favorite beers since day one of Vivant opening. The caramel maltiness pairs amazing with the Citra-based hop profile. I also love how people struggle with the name. It’s ok to say Coq, people.
2. 2009 Nemesis — Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
This predecessor to the Backstage Series, even in its old age, kicks ass. I am a sucker for Wheat Wines (Pilgrim’s Dole from New Holland is a must if you haven’t got you some yet) and this one was aged in Maple Bourbon barrels. Yup. Some guy named Rick in marketing told me they were going to make it again?
3. Little George — Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford, Mich.
Imperial IPA with Simcoe hops — 10 percent ABV and 100 IBUs. It’s a fatty. Bright citrus, dangerously smooth and herbal piney...get out of his way. Some guy named Rick previously in marketing told me the label should be a “Big guy on a little bike!”
4. No Rules — Perrin Brewing Company, Comstock Park, Mich.
Vietnamese Porter? Currently ranked No. 3 in the Beer Advocate Michigan list, immediately after CBS and KBS. A complex desert beer that includes coconut, cinnamon, bourbon, oak, vanilla and a delicious 15 percent burn...over the line! As a bonus, it will only get better with age. Age it.
5. Joe’s Face — Shorts Brewing Company, Bellaire, Mich.
“ANYTHING with Joe Short’s mustache face on the label!” That’s basically code for “super dank, hoppy, delicious, piney-citrus, sticky resin juice.” Shorts makes a lot of crazy delicious brews, but their hoppy ones are my favorite.
6. Westvleteren 12 — Brewery Westvletern, Vleteren, Belgium
You don’t have to be a Trappist Monk to enjoy this. Well…you kind of do. If I was trapped on an island with beer, I’d meditate all day, drink and find my higher self. If you can find this beer, it’s a sacred experience. If you get to drink one, it’s tantric bliss.