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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Return of the Mikie: Day Three

For our final day in Grand Rapids, I felt it necessary for us to return to Founders, if only for the possibility of us not getting to visit again for another four years!  So, we hit up Wolfgang's again for breakfast, then headed over to Founders for my final Dave's Not Here fix.  I think I have to go on record and say it was THE beer of the trip.  Brewslut went with the Founders Fest Wheat, a mildly hoppy American wheat beer.  On this particular visit to Founders, we spent A LOT of time talking shop with a variety of locals, several of whom recommended the nearby Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, MI, just near the Indiana border.  Even one of the Founders guys recommended Greenbush, so we knew it would be a legit establishment.

Inside Oddside.
But it would have to wait because we were off to a new place recommended by my beer mentor Deuane.  Oddside Ales is situated in an old piano factory in downtown Grand Haven, MI, and offers original hand-crafted beers in extremely small batches.  The brewpub has a distinctively vintage feel with weathered hardwood floors, unique light fixtures, and a variety of seating including benches, high-top tables, a cool glass-top bar filled with barley kernels, and even a comfy leather couch!

Close-up shot of the bar at Oddside Ales.
Deuane informed us ahead of time that they did not serve food, so we planned on eating at the Livery in Benton Harbor (coming up in a bit).  There were only a few patrons when we arrived, so we procured two seats at the bar.  We always prefer sitting at the bar because we can converse with the bartender, and typically the most interesting folks in the place sit at the bar.

Pleeps is ready to dig into the sampler tray!
During our inaugural visit, they boasted seven interesting looking taps, so we decided to go with a sampler, which consisted of the following beers: Citra Pale Ale, Orange Cream Stout, Weed Party IPA, Watermelon Wheat, Imperial Coffee Stout, Jackalope Amber, and Peach Tea Blonde.  I knew I was going to love the Weed Party IPA based solely on the name.  I was right.  This was a dank, hoppy IPA with a strong herbal character as well as citrusy notes.  I knew right away that one of my empty growlers was going to be filled with this brilliant brew!  The Citra Pale Ale was also a stand-out, as was the Imperial Coffee Stout.  The others were all solid beers, although I was a bit disappointed with the Orange Cream Stout as I was expecting more of a creamsicle.  Unfortunately, it was more like a plain old stout.

More of Oddside's interior.
We eventually started talking to the bartender, Chris, and found out that he emigrated from New Holland Brewing Company (where our friend Dr. Joel recently immigrated to).  We were initially on the fence about stopping by New Holland, but figured we ought to since we hadn't been there yet.

Not only do they brew great beer, but they're also good bowlers!
After a great visit to Oddside, we made the short drive to Holland, MI, for a quick stop to New Holland Brewing Company.  We arrived at an odd time, so there was plenty of room at the bar.  I ordered Envious, an ale aged in oak on a variety of fruit, while Brewslut chose the Mole Ocho, a Mexican spiced ale we had enjoyed at the Harrisburg Brewer's Fest a few years back.  Since this was a quick one-and-done visit, I was bummed when I found out that Dragon's Milk was on cask.  M'wah to the tenth power!  Still, I HAD to try it on cask, so we got a little sample size, and man does that beer deliver!  Simply delicious!  New Holland is quite a big brewpub, and we definitely could have spent more time there.  However, the bartenders weren't too talkative, and we were excited for our next stop.

Pleeps ready to rock some Mole Ocho!
That's right, we were off to the Livery, home of the fabled bartender Mikie.  Let me provide some back story.  When Brewslut first traveled to Madison, WI, for Great Taste of the Midwest, her entourage stopped at The Livery for a few beers.  Behind the bar was a very boisterous, opinionated bartender who reminded Brewslut of Garth Algar of Wayne's World fame.  When asked about  growler-filling policies, Mikie apparently went off on a lengthy rant and ridiculed other breweries for not filling up other breweries' growlers.  The rant was apparently so epic that Mikie achieved cult status amongst our drinking circle.  Well, when we arrived at the Livery, lo and behold, there was Mikie sitting at the bar, enjoying a beer and talking to some local patrons.  I really wanted to talk to him, but apparently I was star-struck and choked.  When I finally mustered up the courage to talk to him, he got up and left.  So I missed my opportunity to meet the man, the myth, the legend - Mikie!  What can I say... I suck at life.

Enjoying a beer at The Livery.
Missing my chance to finally meet Mikie, I retreated to our table to finish my beer and enjoy some food.  The beer, by the way, was Steel Wheels, a dry hopped Oat Stout.  Brewslut enjoyed Ginger Peach, a Pale Ale brewed with, not surprisingly, peaches and ginger.  For dinner I ordered a chicken Florentine sandwich with chips and a pickle, and Brewslut opted for the delicious-sounding habanero mac and cheese.  I felt I needed some protein; she didn't.  After dinner, we decided to share a goblet of Basket Case, an Imperial Chocolate Rye Oatmeal Stout.  Wow, that was a mouthful!  The Livery was definitely a no-frills establishment.  I felt like I was drinking at a college basement party.  It was sparsely decorated and very bare-bones.  But hey, they beer was great, so there you go!

Pleeps poses with the Imperial Chocolate Rye Oatmeal Stout at The Livery.
One final destination was in store for us on this particular day, and it was perhaps my most desired stop on the entire trip.  I first became enamored with Three Floyds Brewing Company when I sampled Alpha King Pale Ale several years ago.  By the time I had Dreadnaught for the first time, they had moved extremely high up my ladder of "favorite breweries in the United States", and Dreadnaught became my benchmark DIPA.  Well, last year when Brewslut procured a growler of fresh Zombie Dust (at the time, a brewery-only draft release), they sealed the deal.  Three Floyds just makes the kinds of beer I love.  Take a perfectly fine beer style and hop the shit out of it. 

Pleeps loves the die-cut coasters at FFF... and the Zombie Dust!
My line-up went like this - Alpha King > Zombie Dust > Gumballhead.  In retrospect, I probably should have started with the Gumballhead, a hoppy American Wheat beer.  Despite its hop character, it pales in comparison to the two other aforementioned beers.  I was also unfortunate enough to arrive right after Dreadnaught kicked.  It appears that I had pulled a Dain (inside joke I don't feel like explaining, but those of you who know will get a good chuckle).  As I was drinking one of my beers, I noticed a guy sitting at a table across the room that looked really familiar.  So I eventually went over a started talking to him.  Turns out we'd never met (at least to our knowledge), but we talked for a while.  He and his friend were from Ohio and on their way to Great Taste.  Brewslut had a lone Zombie Dust, because she graciously volunteered to drive back to the hotel, as she knew how excited I was to get back to FFF after several years.  My one complaint is that they were showing the Olympics and blasting industrial metal music through the speakers.  It was extremely difficult to talk where we were sitting.  Oh well, I coped with it.  Lucky for me, the beer was amazing.  Afterwards, we made our way to the Country Inn and Suites in Tinley Park, IL, where we were staying on this particular night.  Tomorrow, it was off to Chicago to visit a few more new places... for me, anyway.  Stay tuned for Part Four - A Piece of Old Fashioned Revolution with a side of Tyranena. 

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!