With its pale-to-medium straw color, if this Grand Cru was put next to a glass of a dark beer like this month's Zonker Stout, and you asked people which one they thought was 'stronger,' most beer novices will pick the darker beer. Wrong. It's this one, with 8% ABV, which we'll just give you the heads up on now: it's well hidden; sip this one slowly. This beer actually has a mead-like quality on the nose, with notes of fermented honey. Also expect a big kick of white-raisin-like notes, coupled with candied orange peel soaked in light rum. Citrusy Cascade hops are present, as well, but deftly blended with the other aromatics. The beer's taste is even more protective of the sneaky alcohol content—goes down with very-well-masked alcohol, though you will experience some belly warming to remind you of the kick. Look for an interplay of figs, raisins, Muscat grapes, and a faint essence of lime in the flavor profile, with minor notes of banana, cloves and cardamom amidst the caramel and orange fade. Nicely done. The brewery recommends pairing with heartier foods such as beef tenderloin, smoked sausage, wild game, or enchiladas.
The Michigan Brewing Company is located about 20 minutes east of Lansing, Michigan, in the city of Webberville. It was once easy to miss the place due to its location: behind a gas station. When owner Bobby Mason opened the brewery, he did it on a shoestring budget, opting to start up in a family-owned garage/maintenance building located next to an expressway service station. Customers literally had to drive through the service station to visit the small pub at the brewery (Ding! Ding! "Fill me up Bobby!").
The Michigan Brewing Company was designed as a brewery, not a restaurant, as there was a tavern and tasting room on the premises, but no kitchen. You could always find a barrel full of fresh peanuts, but if it was a meal you wanted, you had to pack it yourself or order a pizza! In late 2006 they expanded to a new facility about seven times the size of their last brewery, conveniently located a mere 300 feet east of the old brewery. You can get a meal now—they have a kitchen—a really good meal at that, and, of course, their great brews at the appropriately named "Pub 122," their on-site tavern. Just take exit 122 off of I-96 to get there. And Michigan state law was recently revised to permit them to distill and sell spirits on site—so now you can find Michigan B.C.'s gin, vodka, and other spirits. You won't hear the "ding! ding!" on your approach to their new tavern, but with all these options, we still consider it a full-service station.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (517) 521-3600 or check out their web site at www.michiganbrewing.com.
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