Comstock Park has the distinction of being neither a city nor a village nor a township, but the area has recently come to be defined, at least in part, as a destination for fans of craft beverages.
That popularity started in 2012, with the launch of Perrin Brewing Co., which made a name for itself with a widespread draft distribution and highly acclaimed beers like No Rules. Activity in the unincorporated community then kicked into high gear this year with the opening of a satellite ELK Brewing Co. brewery and pub and a new standalone location for Bier Distillery Co., which got its start inside Sparta’s Cellar Brewing a few years ago.
Additionally, Speciation Artisan Ales expects to open its production-only facility by February. The mixed-fermentation brewery specializing in sour, farmhouse and spontaneous ales will open its doors one day per month to sell its beers via a ticketed release and offer samples.
Revue hit the road to see what’s fermenting in Comstock Park, given all the new options coming online. Here’s what we found out.
ELK Brewing Co.
400 Dodge NE, (616) 214-8172, elkbrewing.com
THE LOWDOWN: ELK outfitted its Comstock Park location with a new 15-barrel brewhouse and relocated its 3-barrel system from Wealthy Street. The new capacity has ELK producing enough beer to refocus on distribution. The brewery also installed a bottling line with plans to distribute Dankalicious (IPA), Blonde Express and Brewtus Coffee Porter in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles. ELK also offers a full kitchen with salads, sandwiches and burgers, including the house special made with ground elk.
GO THERE FOR: Generously proportioned food (with quick service at lunchtime) and experimental brews — WTF is PB&J’Ale’y? — in an industrial-inspired location.
Bier Distillery Co.
5295 West River Dr. NE #100, (616) 888-9746, bierdistillery.com
THE LOWDOWN: Owner Joel Bierling has honed the craft of distilling over the last three years, specializing in making “stuff I like to drink.” Bier Distillery offers a complete range of grain-to-glass vodka, rum, gin and whiskey, as well as rediscovered spirits like amaro, an herbal liqueur. Bierling, who likes to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, also focuses on the art of the cocktail, including increasingly popular draft options. The tasting room serves snacks and limited food options.
GO THERE FOR: Rye whiskey, a friendly atmosphere and pleasant tasting room — the kind of place to stop to take the edge off on your way home from work.
Speciation Artisan Ales
3720 West River Dr. NE #20, speciationartisanales.com
THE LOWDOWN: If you’ve been to a recent bottle share in West Michigan, you’ve probably seen one of co-owner Mitch Ermatinger’s pilot brews. And if you’ve tasted one of his creations, you’re likely waiting with bated breath for Speciation to open. The brewery is inching closer to its final permits and approvals, and recently launched a membership drive to give customers first access to Speciation’s beers, plus member-exclusive barrel-aged bottles. To start, Speciation will open for customers to stop by and pick up bottles just one day a month. There’s just one rule, according to the ever-affable Ermatinger: Assholes will not be tolerated.
GO THERE FOR: Well, you can’t go there now, but when Speciation opens, basically go there and expand your palate to the wonderfully complex world of sours and other mixed-fermentation beers.
Perrin Brewing Co.
5910 Comstock Park Dr. NW, (616) 551-1957, perrinbrewing.com
THE LOWDOWN: By now, Perrin Black and the “Problems” IPA series are as ubiquitous as it comes for Michigan-made craft beer. But as of late, owner Keith Klopcic gave the team a “blank canvas” to start experimenting, so the brewers have doubled-down on making badass barrel-aged specialty brews. Check out The Hypocrite, an imperial blonde ale packed with notes of horchata, coffee, chocolate and maple, and Caesar’s Gimp, an imperial red ale — both of which spent time in merlot barrels.
GO THERE FOR: A wide selection of quality beers, killer burgers and wonton nachos. Also, the Ice Jam event on Jan. 28 will feature bands and the launch of Triangulation, a beer brewed in collaboration with Oskar Blues and Cigar City Brewing.