22 October 2009

Greetings From Michigan, A Great Beer State: Stop #2 - Arcadia Brewing Company

This past week Gina and I took a couple days off to visit family in Michigan. Of course no vacation is ever complete without enjoying a beer or two, so we also visited a few of Michigan's finer craft beer establishments.

Our second stop along the way was a random detour - we knew that we were headed to Bells in Kalamazoo, and we also knew that we had a hotel reservation in Grand Rapids. The question then became "how much can we (responsibly) fit in before we get to Founders?"

The Michigan beer map showed on slight detour on the way west along Interstate 94 - Arcadia Brewing Company. Knowing very little about the brewery (apart from recognizing a few of their beers from somewhere along the way) added a little mystery to the detour.

If you want to get the attention of the staff at a brewpub, just pull out a camera. As soon as I did, I was met with a greeting of "no photography, please". I turned around and said "oh, OK" and was met with a smile and a "just kidding" from Arcadia brewer Kevin Becraft.

As I sauntered off to the restroom Gina struck up a conversation with Kevin. When we had walked in the bar I noticed a large group of Marines taking a tour of the brewery, which is located in a warehouse space just behind a bank of windows on the wall across from the bar and restaurant. When I returned to the bar I asked Kevin about the tour.

"You want to jump in?" he asked. We quickly jumped on the back of the tour group and learned about the process of brewing and bottling Arcadia's award winning English style beers. For example, Arcadia uses open fermentation in the brewing process (something we hadn't seen in practice before), and bottles on a bottling line produced in the 1950s.

Unfortunately we were on a schedule, so we couldn't spend more time with Kevin and his co-brewer Josh Davies. They were kind enough to answer some of our questions and also make some suggestions on where else to visit while in Michigan.

Brewers Kevin and Josh

And of course - we had a couple beers.

Arcadia Golden Harvest Ale - Recommended by Kevin. My first thought was "this reminds me of Broad Ripple Brewpub". This is a bold English pale, with a nice malt balance bringing up the back. The use of fresh hops is evident in the snappy hop bite in the finish. I wish we could have stayed for more.

Gina had Arcadia's ESB, but her notes are unclear - being on vacation meant that she was easily distracted.

Next up, a stop at Bells. And another stop at Bells. And a return to our original stop at Bells.

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