Archive for January, 2012

Brewery Vivant – Belgium Meets Michigan (Awesomeness Ensues)

Monday, January 16th, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, I end up in Western Michigan from time to time visiting the in-laws. It seems as though each time I visit a new brewery or brew pub has miraculously appeared in the interim. On this occasion I visited Brewey Vivant, another oasis in the desert of macro brew hell that has plagued our friends in the middle of the country until recent years.

But even with the advent of such great players as Founders, New Holland, Shorts, and Bell’s, Brewery Vivant stands out as unique. Offering up Belgian tradition in the land of Miller Lite is daring to say the least, but Brewery Vivant has several great things going for it, not the least of which is its location inside what used to be a funeral home that looks strikingly like a Belgian monastery. My wife and I were able to sneak away the day after Thanksgiving for a few rounds, which turned out to be a perfect time. There were only a handful of folks in the taproom and we happened to catch one of the managers at the taps. We had a great beer geek conversation about what they were doing and, after talking for a while, we scored a private brewery tour through the beautiful towers of stainless steel and wooden barrels behind the taproom. It always inspires me to see the operating floor of brewpubs and how they can create great brews in a small space.

While their beers obviously tend toward the Belgian malty and yeast-forward flavors, they are brewed with a certain (I hesitate to use the word) restraint. This is not to say they are timid about the Belgian style at all, but rather have created a line up of beers that can be both enjoyed for their complexity without being so overwhelming that you only want one. I have been handed more than my share of “Belgian Triples” that made my eyes dilate with intense sweet or ester flavors. Brewery Vivant has not fallen into these practices in the least, opting instead for a refined, very drinkable compositions.

Another point of note for Brewery Vivant is their use of cans over bottles. Not just any cans, mind you, but 16oz “pint cans”. I’ve been a fan of the can for some time now, and it’s great to see another brewery going that direction, not just because cans keep out the light, but also for the better environmental impact. In another nod to the environment, they offset their energy use by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits. All of this makes the California Hippie in me very happy, all the more so after a few of their Farm Hand and Solitude ales. I’m already looking forward to my next trip!

Yeah, I Know, Been Too Quiet Lately

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

So it’s that time of year where holidays lead to ski vacations, lead to whatever else imaginable to keep me away from my brew rig, but that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about brewing! I have a couple of reviews in the can of some new spots I was able to visit over vacation and a few new recipes to get in the mash tun. And of course, I still have the new brew system to build, so yeah, I’m getting there. Stay tuned, I’ll be more prolific soon!