Over-the-top beers for the adventurous drinker.
Beer wasn’t always so exciting. Back in the day, the Bavarians — ever the sticklers for restraint — issued the Reinheitsgebot, a set of regulations that decreed brewers must only brew with water, barley and hops. No doubt this helped the Germans dial in their recipes, but these centuries-old styles won’t be shattering expectations anytime soon.
American brewers, on the other hand, have always gone whole hog when it comes to ingredients, tipping the scales with extra hops, extra malt, extra everything. This playground of excess has allowed the brewing community to experiment with the boundaries of what beer can be. Now you can literally purchase and consume Ranch-flavored beer. Some might argue we’ve gone too far, but perhaps the fun has just begun.
In this list, Revue takes a look at some West Michigan selections that go over the top with flavor, break norms, and create something new in the process.
Mylk | Rake Beer Project
In February, Rake Beer Project, Muskegon’s finest provocateurs, introduced the world to Mylk, a line of “Atomic Milkshake Sours” that are either an elaborate troll or a stroke of genius. Maybe it’s both. Essentially, they’re a mashup of craft beer’s hot-ticket trends: fruited sours and big-ass stouts.
First up was Raspberry Mylk, conditioned on vanilla beans and exploding with the namesake berry. Seriously, there’s a ridiculous amount of fruit packed in this thing — two pounds of fresh raspberries per gallon of finished beer. And did we mention this bad boy clocks in at 11.7%? The smoothie-esque mouthfeel hides the booze well, so exercise caution while drinking. After a couple Mylks, the cows will tip you.
For those who missed the first release, expect more variants to pop up in limited quantities but epic proportions.
Condor Valley | Wax Wings Brewing Company
The fellas at Wax Wings get to stretch their wingspans with Condor Valley, a series that feeds into nostalgia by replicating food experiences in liquid form. Condor Valley Brunch for instance reads like Willy Wonka chewing gum, laced with blueberry, tangerine, maple syrup, vanilla and waffles. It drips with a thickness that can only come from real fruit — no pipettes of artificial flavor necessary. For brewer Rob Hopkins, it’s all about flexing his creative muscles to concoct new confections.
“We’re trying to give our consumers something they don’t even know they want yet,” Hopkins said. “But once they hear about it, their imagination tangles with ours.”
This month, Hopkins celebrates his birthday, and he teased the possibility of ice cream and cake on the Condor Valley menu. Far too kind to share this gift with the rest of us.
Rollie On My Wrist | City Built Brewing Company
When it comes to stouts, few push the posts of flavor further than the folks at City Built. We’ve discussed their Fibonacci Sequence “Hour” Stouts in the past, now let’s shine a light on this pastry creation: Rollie On My Wrist. Named in honor of hip-hop’s obsession with Rolex, Rollie relishes in the luxury of excess.
For this collaboration with Ascension Brewing Company, they basically dropped a dump truck’s worth of cinnamon rolls in the mash, along with some Ugandan Vanilla and brown sugar for good measure. The aroma swirls with a mélange of bakery smells and the flavor nails that richness of cream cheese frosting. As it warms, chocolate emerges.
Ultimately, this beer has all of the decadence of a Cinnabon, in liquid form, which means it’s fine! OK, it might make your blood sugar spike ever so slightly, but if that’s not a guilty pleasure, what is?
No Regrets When You’re Drinking Piquettes | Speciation Artisan Ales
Alright, so this entry isn’t actually beer, but it feels beer-ish enough and it’s made by a brewery, so there. We’re talking piquette, the love child of wine and seltzer. Mitch Ermatinger, owner of Speciation Artisan Ales, explained the eco-friendly process piquette undergoes as spent grapes steep in filtered water, effectively rinsing the remaining sugar and alcohol from the grapes.
“The resulting beverage is fruity, dry, low ABV, slightly acidic, usually bubbly, and super-duper crushable,” Ermatinger said. “It’s a great way to get the most out of your grapes, when normally we would just dump them after we make wine with them.”
This month, Speciation debuts a mixed sixer of piquettes, cheekily titled No Regrets When You’re Drinking Piquettes. The pack features just about every color of the rainbow. Revue was lucky enough to sample a test batch and Green was the showstopper. This dry-hopped piquette breaks the barrier between the vitisphere and the beer world. Also, it kind of tastes like Sprite, so you know it’s extra quenchy.