Location: New Holland Brewing Company
My wife and I are vacationing on the Western Michigan coast. We are staying in Saugatuck/Douglas, known as the "Art Coast of Michigan" due to its high concentration of artists. The towns of Saugatuck and Douglas are nestled on opposite sides of Kalamazoo Lake and are less than a mile away from Lake Michigan's eastern shore. If you've ever been to Nashville, Indiana, that town should give you an idea of what Saugatuck and Douglas are like, except I'd say that the two Michigan towns aren't as rustic as Nashville and have the bonus of nearby beaches. Suffice it to say that the towns offer a great place to have a mellow, relaxing vacation with plenty of things to do if you wish to do more than just lie on the beach. Highly recommended if you're looking to chill and not go bankrupt with vacation expenses.
On the hunt for good beer, we decide to drive about 20 minutes north up the Blue Star Highway to Holland, known for the world famous Dutch Village, Hope College, and New Holland Brewing Company. New Holland's pub is located in downtown Holland on Eighth Street, which is Holland's main drag and a block away from the Hope College campus. On this Thursday evening, downtown Holland is a vibrant place. Hope students are returning for the fall semester, and Eighth Street is packed with people watching street performers, to whom the city turns over the downtown area every Thursday night during the summer months.
Those of you who came to our second anniversary party at Brugge Brasserie might remember that we had New Holland's Dragon's Milk Ale on tap. That was a damn good beer, so I know that good things are in store at the pub. As far as brewpubs go, New Holland has sort of a classic brewpub vibe, with a pressed tin ceiling and exposed brick walls.
We settle in at the granite-topped bar. Because I want to experience as many New Holland beers as I can without getting plowed, I order a beer flight. The flight consists of six four-ounce pours. The great thing about New Holland's beer flight is that you're not restricted to certain beers; you can order any beer from their extensive beer menu. I decide to order two "mainstay" beers--Mad Hatter IPA and The Poet Oatmeal Stout--three high-gravity beers--Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Black Tulip Trippel, and Brother Jacob Dubbel--and one of their "specialty" beers--Copper Pot Vienna Lager.
My quick thoughts on each beer--
Mad Hatter IPA. Has an orange-brown color with a frothy white head. Heavy on the citrus and pine in the nose and the flavor. As far as American IPAs go, this one is of the dry variety, not the malty variety. A pleasing beer that is on the sessionable end of American IPAs.
The Poet Oatmeal Stout. I'm eager to try New Holland's contribution to my second-favorite style of Stout (the first being Imperial Stout). Dark brown with surprisingly very little head. Very smoky in character, with coffee notes in the nose and flavor. Not as sweet as other Oatmeal Stouts I've had. A good beer, but a bit too smoky for my liking.
Night Tripper Imperial Stout. Midnight black with a small tan head that fades quickly. Nose is full of coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, and cherry. Flavor and mouthfeel are phenomenal--silky in the mouth, with the dark chocolate and cherry notes dominating. The alcohol is hidden very well. This beer takes a place among the best Imperial Stouts I've ever had (no joke, folks). The lovely wife, who does not drink much beer but digs Stouts, dubs the Night Tripper "amazing." Unfortunately, this beer is released by New Holland only during Mardi Gras season, so there is none for me to take home in the bottle. In hindsight, I should have taken home a growler.
Black Tulip Trippel. Cloudy golden color. Nose ruled by clove, banana, and apple. Wonderful full but slippery mouthfeel. Flavor is a bonanza of spice, bananas, and Belgian candi sugar. Quite sweet for a Trippel, which is just to my liking. An outstanding representation of the style, and yes, there is a bottle of it available for me to take home.
Brother Jacob Dubbel. Dark brown with a slight reddish tint and a smallish tan head with a bit of staying power. Nose reminds me of nutmeg and sugar cookies, with a hint of Belgian funk. Mouthfeel is chewy. Flavor is slightly spicy, with caramelized sugar and biscuit notes filling out the taste profile. Another excellent representation of the style.
Copper Pot Vienna Lager. I'm a sucker for Vienna Lagers. They really satisfy my palate with their butterscotch notes and roasted malt character. After cleansing my palate with some tortilla chips, I try the Copper Pot and find it to be outstanding. It pours with a gold-orange hue. Nose is bread-like with a faint presence of fruity hops. And as expected, I get butterscotch out of this with a slightly sweet, malty back. A very easy-drinking beer and one that I could drink a lot of.