Thursday, 07 April 2016 20:16

Sour Beer Spotlight: Where to find sours in West Michigan

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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A handful of West Michigan craft breweries have started producing sour beers. Here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of some of the locally made sours and wild ales. 


Harmony Brewing Co.

As the kickoff for its newly launched sour beer program, Harmony Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids released its La Gabelle, a 4.4 percent ABV gose. 

“We’ve been interested in sours for a while and we were looking to do a gose,” said co-founder Jackson Van Dyke. “I’ve been obsessing about goses for years.”

During a recent visit to Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking St. NW, Grand Rapids, Revue sampled the golden hazy brew, which features fruity esters and lemony tartness and finishes with a refreshing tang of salt and hints of coriander. 

Harmony’s Head Brewer, Benjamin Isbell, teamed up with Speciation Artisan Ales co-founder Mitch Ermatinger to develop a few recipes that will be released in the coming months. The goal, according to Isbell, is to have a sour on tap full-time going forward. 

“Mitch helped us out with five or six recipes, so we’ll have a good variety of styles,” Isbell said. 

Look for a Berliner weisse to be among the next styles to be released. 


Pike 51 Brewing Co. 

Brewer Jeff Williams loves the artistic license he gets when it comes to brewing sour beers. 

He’s not out to brew a certain style or replicate any particular recipe. Rather, he’s just interested in seeing what the barrel gives him. 

“It’s never the same thing twice,” Williams said. “I love the magic of it, when so much of brewing is precision and science. It lets the creative juices flow.”

During a recent visit to the taproom at 3768 Chicago Dr., Hudsonville, Revue sampled the 8.4 percent ABV Sour Rye Triple. The beer has juicy fruit notes in the front, followed by some not-too-acidic funk and a grainy finish. 

The Sour Rye, which started life as a Belgian tripel made with rye malt, was the fifth beer that’s been aged in a “funky” barrel Pike 51 acquired a couple of years ago from The Livery, a brewery in Benton Harbor. Williams simply adds the unfermented beer and lets the existing yeast in the barrel do its thing. 

He’s also started to culture new yeast strains for other sour barrels. All but eight of the brewery’s 26 barrels are currently dedicated to sours, he said. 

Fans of Pike 51’s sours who can’t make it to the taproom are also in luck, as the brewery started to release limited-run bottles for distribution at select shops in the greater Grand Rapids area. 

By the end of April, look for the taproom release of a sour imperial stout. 


More sour and wild beer options:

Arclight Brewing Co.

544 N. Main St., Watervliet

The Opus series of American-style sours includes Kriek, Framboise, Fraise, Fraise Rhubarbe, Reserve and Michigan Red. 


Bell’s Brewing Inc.

355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo

La Contrebassiste and The Wild One have been typically available on draft or pub-only releases. 


Brewery Vivant

925 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids

Barrel Weiss was the first in an ongoing series of sours and wild beers that will be made in the brewery’s newly acquired foeders. Past sour releases have included Escoffier, Paris and Tart Side of the Moon.


Harmony Brewing Co.

1551 Lake Dr. SE and 401 Stocking St. NW, Grand Rapids

The sour program kicked off in March with La Gabelle gose and will continue with regular draft releases throughout the year. 


HopCat Brewpub

25 Ionia Ave., Grand Rapids

The brewpub has been experimenting with sours for a while, including the recent release of Red Nymph, Lost Doses and Unicorn On Acid. 


New Holland Brewing Co.

66 E. 8th St., Holland

The Funk & Sour program has produced a series of wild ales and sours, including Blue Sunday, Incorrigible and Incorrigible Reserve. 


Odd Side Ales

41 Washington Ave., Grand Haven

The card theme is in play (pardon the pun) with Queen of Tarts, King of Tarts and Joker of Tarts.


Perrin Brewing Co.

5910 Comstock Park Dr. NW, Comstock Park 

Releases have included Cherry Capital Sour, Kettle Sour, Roeselare, Pellicle and You Bretta Run.


Pike 51 Brewing Co.

3768 Chicago Dr., Hudsonville

The growing sour program has included Crimson Chin, Crooked Rode, Funk Buddies, Golden Sour, Jolly Stave, Renegades of Funk and Sour Rye Triple.


Short’s Brewing Co.

121 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

Sours have started to creep into the brewery’s distribution portfolio with Peachy Pom Pom in March. Past “Private Stache” releases like Pinball Whispers, Alicornucopia, and The Creepster were pub-only. 


Also see: Q&A with Mitch Ermatinger of Speciation Ales (Taproom coming soon in Grand Rapids)

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