Everyone loves to find a new favorite craft beer.
In this tasting session of new beers that just hit distribution in West Michigan, we’ve found two options we’d happily recommend you seek out — and a host of others worth trying as well.
Joe Boomgaard, Revue editor/beer czar and known dropper of F-bombs.
Nick Manes, reporter for sister publication MiBiz and enthusiastic lunch vibes creator.
Josh Veal, former Revue intern who, according to his Twitter header photo, is “gorgeous inside.”
Here’s what we found.
Editor’s Note: This was not conducted as a blind sampling. Bottles were procured from Riverside Liquors at 5432 Northland Dr. NE in Grand Rapids and Cap & Cork at 3924 West River Dr. NE in Comstock Park.
Bitter Old Fecker Rustic Ales LLC (Chelsea, Mich.)
Description: India pale ale brewed with chamomile, rose petals, juniper, and honey and aged in bourbon barrels. 10.2% ABV
Since Bitter Old Fecker is now distributed in West Michigan, we decided to revisit Strutter, a beer that we first sampled on a SE Michigan beer tour more than a year ago. It was all we remembered it to be. Set aside expectations for a hop-bomb double IPA. This hazy, thick, complex sipper has layers that celebrate the nuanced flavors of every ingredient. Perfect for sharing with three or four of your closest friends.
Score: 99.3 (Yes, really)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Description: Named for the Haitian god of agriculture, the Azacca hop boasts intense, tropical fruit notes. Azacca IPA includes a touch of caramel malt to provide a sweet backbone to the citrus, mango and orchard fruit notes. 7.0% ABV
This new seasonal offering from Founders will be available from January through March this year. As an IPA, Azacca hits all the right notes. It’s very tropical, mon, with a hint of orange peel on the nose, strong tropical hop flavors and a surprisingly strong bitter finish. Nicely carbonated to provide great, fruity burps.
Blueberry Maple Stout
Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Saugatuck, Mich.)
Description: A sweet milk stout with all the malt characteristics you love but with a bold, unique twist — this beer tastes like a glass full of blueberry pancakes smothered in maple syrup. 6.0% ABV
The label doesn’t lie. Blueberry Maple Stout tastes like you’re drinking blueberry pancakes drenched with maple syrup, along with a pleasant chocolate and espresso roastiness. While it borders on novelty status (and is sure to be popular among the Basics on Facebook — like, OMG!), this new year-round offering succeeds in not tasting artificial. Beer: It’s what’s for breakfast.
Perrin Brewing Co. (Comstock Park, Mich.)
Description: Our “Session IPA” bursts open with aromatics of fresh citrus fruits, ripened melon and a distinctive floral bouquet. Weaved carefully under the hop bitterness lies a light, semi-sweet malt body that finishes in a crisp and clean fashion. 4.5% ABV
Thus completes Perrin’s trinity of IPAs: More Problems (DIPA), 98 Problems (IPA) and this new offering: No Problems, a crushable session IPA. As a session beer, it passes muster with citrusy hops and a biscuity malt backbone. No Problems has some stiff competition in the session space, but it’s a worthy competitor. You’ll have “no problems” drinking it.
Brewery Vivant (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Description: This crushable slopes-inspired beer complements our winters with a hazy golden pour and a warming spice on the nose. The cardamom sets this wit apart from the traditional coriander variety. It also plays well with the orange peel, creating a soft warmth so necessary when dangling from the chairlift. 6.1% ABV
Yes, this has been BV’s January beer for a while now, but Revue’s Beer Czar saw it on the shelf and thought, “Why not?” Disclaimer: Not everyone will like the cardamom in this hazy Belgian-inspired wit beer, and that’s OK. The blend of spice and citrus from the orange peel gives this a pleasant zesty quality.
ROAK Brewing (Royal Oak, Mich.)
Description: Live Wire is our American IPA. It is a juicy beer with classic hoppy bitterness and a little malt sweetness to round out the flavor and finish.
Here’s an IPA that offers earthy and fruity hop aromas compared to the spate of dank products of late. There’s a nice hop-dominated aroma and taste, but the beer lacks the complexity (and body) to get you too excited. Definitely worth a try.
Old Nation Brewing Co. (Williamston, Mich.)
Description: Inspired by the legendary “Nain Rouge” (French for Red Dwarf), our signature beer is full in flavor while remaining very balanced and crisp.
Reviewers were split on this grain-heavy German-style Altbier. It smells and tastes like the brewing process, and seemed akin to a dark lager with very little hops present. Slightly malty, with an unexpected aftertaste.
The Kush IPA
Pike 51 Brewing Co. (Hudsonville, Mich.)
Description: American IPA
Kush has been available on draft for a while, and Pike 51 just recently started packaging it in bombers. Some of us loved this dank IPA on draft, but it didn’t seem like the same beer here, and that’s a bummer. We suspect a capping issue on this bottle, so we’ll give it a pass for now. Look for a do-over in an upcoming issue. (In the meantime, visit Pike 51 and try their kick-ass sours.)