30 October 2009

Greetings From Michigan, A Great Beer State: Stop #4 - Founder's 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 final stop on our one-day whirlwind Michigan beer tour found us in Grand Rapids, home of Founder's Brewing Company. After we deposited our bags in our hotel, we took a scenic one mile walk across the grand river and a found ourselves a seat at the Founders Tap Room.

The tap room is a huge, airy, space; A long barn-like building featuring an east side composed of windowed garage-type doors, which I'm sure are opened during good weather, expansive wooden floors, and what must be at least thirty tables. A pool table or two and a makeshift stage filled out the space. Of course I can't forget the bar - a gigantic curvy monster that took up most of the west wall. It was there we sat down for dinner, and a pint or three.

Founders Hand of Doom - A 10% Imperial IPA might not seem like the best way to easy yourself into a night of drinking, but keep in mind we had already visited Dark Horse, Arcadia, and Bells that day. Knowing that the car was safe back at the hotel meant that we had very little to worry about.

Hand of Doom is a super coconut IPA - at least that's what my notes say. Sweet, syrupy, thick and hoppy, with hints of coconut throughout - nose, front and finish. The creamy mouthfeel reminded me of something that it took me a little while to put my finger on. And then it hit me - Hand of Doom drinks like Apocalypse Cow. If there weren't so many other beers to try I certainly would have had another. And another.

I wonder if there was any lactose in there..

Founders Newago County Cherry - Imagine Cerise aged on oak. And there you are.

Founders Honey Wheat - 5.5% ABV, cloudy, with that regular gold wheat beer color. The nose is sweet and fruity, with an agreeable sweetness that goes through the whole beer. My notes say "Upland Wheat + heft in body + honey". Very tasty.

Founders Super Gold - Another 5.5% ABV beer, Gina's notes say "an easy to drink beer that tastes watery, and yet peppery". Super Gold is a pale lager, and was probably the least interesting beer of the night.

Founders Holé Molé - We split a 4oz a sample of this one, and actually we didn't finish it. This was by far the spiciest beer I've ever had. A stout with habenero pepper, it was pretty much like sipping on hot sauce. I appreciate the experimentation and the experience, but I can't imagine having a whole pint.

While this concludes this batch of Michigan coverage at HBG, it's worth noting that we left Founder's shortly after a band of hippies (one of which may have been Founders brewer Jeremy Kosmicki) took over the music stage (that's not really why we left - I love you, hippies!), and headed over to Grand Rapid's Hop Cat, where we had a fantastic experience. On our way over toward Detroit we stopped in at Jolly Pumpkin Ann Arbor, where we sampled a few beers that definitely stand out. In Warren we visited Kuhnhenn during their Octoberfest celebration, and rounded out the night with a stop at Dragonmead, where the extensive beer menu blew us away. We'd highly recommend all of these breweries and bars, and look forward to our next trip, where we'll dig in a little deeper.

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