The top-rated selection in a blind tasting of Michigan-made coffee-themed beers happens to be from a lakeshore brewery that’s making some waves of its own.
Darkstar Stout from Holland-based Big Lake Brewing LLC earned top honors in the Revue coffee beer taste off. The beer, a seasonal offering that’s brewed with Kona and Sumatra coffee and then aged on cacao nibs, slightly edged out selections from Short’s Brewing Co. and Muskegon’s Pigeon Hill Brewing Co.
For Big Lake Brewing, the victory came just as the company opened the doors of its new and expanded taproom in downtown Holland. The company invested $1.25 million into fixing up the 7,000-square-foot space at 13 W. 7th St., the site of the former Serafina’s Bar and Grill. The move also allows the brewery to offer a food menu at its new site, which seats 160 people.
That new menu includes appetizers, small plates, sandwiches and pizza, among others.
“For us, it really is all about the beer, but when we expanded into this new location, we knew the key to our success was having the right chef and the right menu,” co-owner Travis Prueter said in a statement.
While the company continues to brew at its existing off-site production space, it has vacated its former north-side pub at 977 Butternut Dr.
In 2016, Big Lake sold 634 barrels of beer in Michigan, up more than 39 percent from a year ago, according to data from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. In May, the company also started distributing several of its packaged beer brands in the Ohio market.
Big Lake Brewing Co., Holland
ABV: 8 percent
Pours black with an awesomely thick tan head. The roasty flavors pair with a slight coffee bitterness on the finish, but it’s the lovely roast that stays with you. Nice full body. It’s the one we didn’t want to ever stop sipping.
Cup A Joe Coffee Creme Stout
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
ABV: 8 percent
A lovely deep tan head sits atop a black abyss. The creaminess definitely comes through on this one, and it features a deliciously chewy body. It drank more like cold-brew coffee with cream, with less-pronounced coffee notes.
Walter Gets Buzzed
Pigeon Hill Brewing Co., Muskegon
ABV: 5 percent
Its blonde looks belie its roasty flavors. Pours with a thick cream-colored head. This beer exudes aromas of flavored coffee with just a hint of zest — lemon, perhaps. Flavors were a goldilox blend of coffee and cream.
Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
ABV: 8.3 percent
Plenty of lacing and great roasted coffee aromas. Nice and chewy, but the coffee adds some bitterness to the finish.
Bell’s Brewery Inc., Galesburg
ABV: 5.5 percent
This beer has a nice roasty aroma, but doesn’t overdo it on the coffee. It’s likable, but a little more coffee might have been better.
Morning Nightcap, Arcadia Brewing Co., Kalamazoo
Brewtus Coffee Porter, ELK Brewing, Comstock Park
Coffee Flavored Milkshake Stout, Rochester Mills Beer Co., Auburn Hills