We have a chance to talk about local beer. I remember Bells and Founders calling on me for the first time in the late 90’s, wishing to get some cooler space in our stores. Back then the craft industry was still in diapers with entrepreneurs out schlepping their wares to party stores and grocery stores. This makes me officially old. Craft Beer drinkers, especially in Michigan, but across the U.S.A. can be thankful to Bell’s and Founders for their tenacity for making delicious beer. I am biased but if it weren’t for Bell’s and Founders, we would not have the quality craft beer that we enjoy today. If you wanted to make craft beer in Michigan, it had better taste as good as possible as Bell’s and Founders. These two companies make other local breweries better beer makers. I am very happy to have made the decision to carry these two beer brands before local was cool. %.
Bell’s Oberon is a stalwart beer brand that makes its debut every year on the last week of March. It cannot be sold until the last Monday and you better not merchandise it one day earlier or your allotment for next year is in jeopardy. This no nonsense rule has served this brand very well. We sell a boatload of Oberon each summer because of its popularity and that it is delicious. It is fermented with a “signature house ale yeast” that imparts the fruit and slight spice experienced in this beer. Bell’s describes this beer as the color and scent of a sunny afternoon. 5.8% ABV. Pair Oberon with Ham, sushi, salads, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese. The best dessert pairing used at the Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo is Orange Flan. %. Available in all Family Fare stores.
Founders has been around for quite some time, but their latest label, Solid Gold, has been one of the most interesting. It is fashioned around the popular premium lagers we are most familiar with. However, it is the best made lager and finishes like no other lager on the market. It is brewed with the highest quality ingredients. Fermented with a lager yeast and hopped with Lemondrop Hop this beer lands at a sessionible 4.4% ABV and 20 IBUs. Another beer for sushi, fish on the grill, or any appetizer you can think up. This beer is food versatile. If you are in Grand Rapids, MI and want a most impressive experience, sign up for a tour of Founders. They are constantly renovating and expanding. A bird’s eye view of their bottling and canning line will leave you impressed. %. Available in all Family Fare stores.
A local newcomer is Old Nation out of Lansing, MI. Their new M43 New England style IPA has slammed the local market and has caused many beer companies to mimic this style of IPA. Customers love it! This IPA is a beer that non IPA lovers will drink. To me, it is an amazing balance of malt and hops that provide flavors of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit with a smooth finish. This beer is hazy, but that is not a result of the yeast, but the “lipids form the malted oat oils and acids in the hand selected dry hops”. This beer lands at a 6.8% ABV and 65 very smooth IBUs. Available in Michigan.
Local to our MI eastside stores is Atwater Brewing. If you get a chance, visit the Atwater in the Park brewpub in Grosse Point Park, MI. It is in a vacated church, stained glass and all. There is a huge tent outside and the food is out of this world delicious. I had a plate of their sausages with their Blueberry Cobbler beer, one of the best food and beer pairing I’ve experienced. Our best-selling Atwater beer is the Vanilla Java Porter. VGP for short. The style of this beer is English Porter and the color is a deep brown. Chocolate malt, coffee beans, and vanilla extract are blended with U.S. Goldings hops. A most delicious beer. Available in Michigan.
Brewery Vivant is another amazing local brewery located in G.R., MI. Their new beer for us is the Hopfield IPA. This beer features Michigan hops on Vivant’s mainstay style of farmhouse beer. This beer is unfiltered and cloudy as well. A local brewery using local ingredients with the hops. The nose on this beer is floral and fruity. The palate is juicy and rustic in the perfect Vivant style. Food parings would be pizza, spicy seafood, chicken on the grill, or gouda cheese. Brewery Vivant is proud to bring this beer to you. Available in Michigan.
Local is a big part of who we are and we are very proud to be a part of our communities, whatever Family Fare you find yourself in across the Midwest stop in and check out some of the impressive beer offerings from each state.
The land of 10,000 lakes boast’s almost as many breweries today. The most well known are Schell’s and Summit Brewing. Schell’s has been around since 1860, they were among a handful of breweries that made it through prohibition. They were also the first brewery in the state to start producing craft beers. Schell’s has a number of German craft beer’s that are available all year long like Firebrick which is a Vienna Style Amber Lager or their seasonal favorites like Goosetown a German style Gose ale or my personal favorite Shocked a Grapefruit Radler.
Summit was founded in 1986. Their beers are inspired by old world brewing traditions and ingredients, and they make beer their way. Summit knew what they were doing from the start and they nailed it with their flagship brew Summit Extra Pale Ale, but you don’t have stop there they have a number of beers available year round like Saga IPA or try something seasonal, Lazy Sipper a blond ale that is brewed with local hops, malts and strawberries.
With the craft beer scene exploding around the country it wouldn’t be long before it hit the legendary state of North Dakota. Fargo Brewing established in 2010, the team there brews American style beers for the Midwesterner who can appreciate a true hand crafted product. Our favorite is a classic, The Wood Chipper IPA (yes, named after that scene in the movie Fargo) or try Stone’s Throw Scottish Ale.
The state slogan for Nebraska is sure right “The Good Life”, what better way to live the good life then with some top notch beers in the ice box to cool you down over hot summers or warm you up in the snowy winters. Like Minnesota there are too many breweries to mention in Nebraska, we will keep it short and sweet with Infusion Brewing, Nebraska Brewing and Lucky Bucket Brewing.
Infusion founded in 2012,is a small brewery that has been growing at an immense rate. This brewery is best known for their Vanilla Bean Blond and Radial IPA.
Nebraska Brewing formed in 2007, they brew quality craft beers and artisanal barrel aged products. The beer they are best known for was perfected in a moment of anger and pure frustration within the brewing process, the Cardinal Pale Ale.
Lucky Bucket established in 2008, hoppy libations, barrel aged ales, bold stouts and tart sours you name it and they brew it. They are best known for there Pre-Prohibition Style Lager, which is also where it all started.
There is more to the Black Hills and the Badlands than Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park, great faces, great places and great beer. Crow Peak Brewing was opened in 2007, to fill a void in a market of national breweries when all a person wants is an IPA. In an area where beer hadn’t been brewed locally since 1942, Crow Peak was greeted with open arms and the rev of motorcycles. They took a gamble and created 11th hour IPA and it was a win, looking for something a little different try the Canyon Cream Ale.
Wisconsin may be known for its cheese but it also known for its handcrafted beer’s. Wisconsin is home to so many great breweries, from big players to small micro-breweries. The most recognizable will probably be New Glarus but we really love what they are doing over at Rush River.
New Glarus has no desire to take over the world they are happy with what they have created and are highly sought after do to them not wanting to leave the state of Wisconsin. Best known for their flagship beer Spotted Cow a Farmhouse Cream Ale, Moon Man a bold Session or you can’t go wrong with their seasonal Stone Soup an Abbey Style Ale.
Rush River founded in 2004 specializes in unfiltered and unpasteurized ales. The Unforgiven Amber Ale is where it all started and is what they have become known for but they have a great Bubble Jack IPA and offer a mixed pack in store that is sure to please a crowd.
These are just a few of the many local breweries available in each state. I can see a very refreshing road trip in the making.
Greg VanOverloop, Beer & Wine Specialist
- Started in the Grocery business bagging at D&W in 1975. Worked at D&W for 30 years in various departments.
- Worked at SpartanNash for 11 years. Currently the Category Manager for Wine/Beer/Spirits for SpartanNash East.
- Have been a category manager since 1990 and a category manager of beer since 1997. CM of wine and spirits since 2007.
- Have travelled extensively which provided the opportunity to taste many foods and beverages from Hong Kong to Caribbean, from California to Maine.
- Love to cook, grill, and bake, snow ski, sail, and read books. Best baked item – a bourbon pecan pie with rum crust. Best grilled item – salmon with blueberry onion wine sauce and goat cheese. Best cooked item – Squash Apple soup with bourbon. Best ski slope – Go Devil at Keystone. Best book – Wonder.
- 1 wife, 3 children, 7.3 grandchildren.