This Beer: “It’s like the smell of lightly decaying leaves” (Mmmm!)

Kalamazoo Beer Week

Renee Newman is the marketing and communications director for Discover Kalamazoo. She and her husband are allowed to reside in the same house as their two cats, Coco and Kit Kat.  Renee loves hiking, mountain biking and sailing, but spends most of her time hoping one of the great perfume houses in France will agree the world needs a bourbon and brown sugar perfume.

I’ll be honest with you, the thought of writing this blog kept me awake at night. What could I possibly have to say about craft beer that hasn’t already been said? (…And with much more knowledge and eloquence, I might add.)

I am a craft beer lover. I’ve loved craft beer for more years than I care to think about (read: I hate admitting my age). My husband and I travel with well-worn, dog-eared copies of the Michigan Beer Guide in our vehicles. We’ve planned beer weekends: Spending hours poring over maps and Websites, reading blogs and reviews, plotting our course, and enjoying the adventure of discovering new places and faces along the way.

But, just because I am an old experienced craft beer lover, it does not mean I am an expert on craft beer. I know nothing about brewing techniques, designing beers, ratios, the science behind brewing, etc. I can’t articulate the subtle nuances in smell and taste, and I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I mentioned before: A lover of craft beers.

I prepared myself for my foray into blogging prior to my first beer tasting. I read about the brewery, I took notes while at the tasting; I took photos of the beers. Heck, I even stuck a tasting placemat in my purse to help me remember what beers I had tasted. I took my assignment seriously.

Then, something happened. I raised one of the Arbor Brewing Co.’s samples and inhaled the aroma of … oak. (Remember my disclaimer about not being a beer reviewer?) At about the same time, the man sitting next to me raised his sample to his nose, took a sniff and after a thoughtful pause said, “It’s like the smell of lightly decaying leaves.”

Huh?

kalamazoo beer week

The ceremonius Greenbush Brewery firkin taping at O’Duffy’s Pub was among Renee Newman’s favorite Kalamazoo Beer Week events.

His description was so expressive and so vivid; I was immediately transported to a path in the woods after a light spring rain. It brought to mind the smell of the earth, just beginning to wake after a long winter. The time when the fiddleheads are pushing their way through the forest floor, the scent of wild leeks hangs heavy in the air and mingles with the smell of, yes, lightly decaying leaves.  And when I took a second sniff of the beer, the oak was replaced by the smell of the woods on beautiful spring day.

Those eight words were not said directly to me, but I heard and was affected by them.  I stopped trying to decipher subtle flavors in the hopes of penning an interesting blog and began instead to concentrate on the people and activity around me, and what they mean to my craft beer experience.  I’ve spent the past four days immersed in the lives of people linked together by Kalamazoo Beer Week. I’ve overhead seemingly hundreds of conversations  … old friends getting together for “just one” before moving on with their hectic lives. Beer connoisseurs discussing the merits of each pint. Established brewers giving tips to home brewing hopefuls. The good-natured ribbing of new friends. I’ve witnessed dozens of people planning their evenings. Websites are checked, calendars are synchronized, routes decided.

What most delighted Renee Newman at the Webster’s Prime event featuring Dark Horse Brewing Co. during Kalamazoo Beer Week was the affordable brews!

There’s a new air of excitement in Kalamazoo this week, so join me in raising a glass to everyone who has made Kalamazoo Beer Week possible – from the planning committee, to the distributors, the host locations, the breweries, the managers, servers, and the customers. You’re the best part of my craft beer experience.

Check Kalamazoo Beer Week to watch the calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

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Love Buzz: Espresso in my Beer

"Kalamazoo Beer Week"

Jennie Bach of Discover Kalamazoo highly recommends this espresso (from Ugly Mug Café and Roastery) and beer (by Arbor Brewing Co.) blend called “Dirty Love,” which she tried Tuesday at Shakespeare’s Pub.

Jennie Bach Cook is the director of operations for Discover Kalamazoo. She resides in Galesburg with her husband, daughter and two cats.

She loves the Red Wings and Packers and is famous within her own family for being born the same day/year as Brett Favre. Jennie spends much of her free time bullying people into agreeing that Wilco is the best band EVER and watching Dance Moms.

Tuesday night, my husband and I decided to follow the advice of our new BFF Logan, brewer from Arbor Brewing Company, and attend the Arbor Brewing Company event “Espresso Love” at Shakespeare’s Pub.

I ordered a Brasserie Blonde, which was citrusy and reminded me a little bit of Oberon – it was very good. My husband ordered the Espresso Love, a stout that smelled and tasted like rich coffee (I know this because I kept stealing sips).

Logan arrived at Shakespeare’s with some friends in tow from the Ugly Mug Café and Roastery (based in Ypsilanti, Mich.). He stopped by our table to say hi and to gave us a sample a specialty brew that Shakespeare’s had on tap for the event.

"Kalamazoo Beer Week"

“Espresso in my beer? GENIUS!” said Jennie Bach, of Discover Kalamazoo. Jennie noted that the beer tasted a little like bananas and chocolate.

The beer was named “Dirty Love,” and it’s a version of Espresso Love that has been bourbon barrel-aged and has flavors like vanilla, cocoa and chipotle pepper. (Note: If you have never tried a beer like this, run to Shakespeare’s and see if they still have it on tap. It is delicious and coffee-ee and rich, and it makes you feel warm all the way down to your belly.) I made my husband order a pint so I could sip away at Dirty Love while also trying Logan’s next concoction: The guys at Ugly Mug poured a shot of freshly-brewed espresso into my Brasserie Blonde, changing it into a “Dirty Blonde.”

I’ve had a lot of things that are not beer poured into my beer during my life – some good, some bad. Espresso in my beer? GENIUS! Logan said that it had been described as “tasting like chocolate and bananas.” And it did taste a little like that combination, but there was so much more going on in my mouth! It was magic!

I would have had another if I didn’t have to go to work in the morning. So, I did the responsible thing and called it a night … When I was still awake at 2 a.m., it hit me that maybe espresso in my beer isn’t such a good idea at 9 p.m. But I can’t wait to do it again!

Check Kalamazoo Beer Week to watch the calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

How Kalamazoo Beer Week Made Me Ditch The Detox

"Kalamazoo Beer Week" "Chef's Table"

Kayla Kiley is the communications & digital manager at Discover Kalamazoo. She loves adventures, chapstick, unicorns, the ‘90s board game “Dream Phone,” and having lots of fun that is funny.

I have to admit: I’m a newbie to the craft beer scene. It was only last year that I started paying attention to the difference between IPAs and Stouts. But one thing is for certain: I sure do love beer.

Now, I happen to be on my second-annual, strict, 21-day detox, which excludes from my diet all things I love: Chocolate, pizza, and – of course – alcohol, among others.

But after looking at Zazios’ “Beer Dinner” with Arcadia Brewing Co. for the millionth time, I could no longer resist it. In last-minute-decision mode, I called Zazios a few hours before the event began, and low-and-behold Zazios had room at the Chef’s Table! Yes, I ditched my detox for the night. And boy, was it worth it.

So, here I am – a few minutes early, which is in part because Zazios is just the type of place you want to hang out. It’s swanky and brightly-colored, yet low lit and subtly/appropriately seductive.

The Chef’s Table sits in the middle of the restaurant. It’s visible to the surrounding diners, yet tucked into the left side of the dining room. Dinners happen around you, people are laughing, you can see the TV at the bar (MSU vs. UofM game anyone?) – but this is no ordinary dining experience.

"Kalamazoo Beer Week"

Three Kalamazoo Beer Week enthusiasts enjoy brews and paired food during Arcadia Brewing Co.’s Beer Dinner at Zazios Tuesday night.

With stadium-style seating and a few-dozen people watching every move of Chef Sean Kelly of Arcadia Brewing Co., we’re in the middle of what feels like a show on The Food Network. The chef works his magic on the large cooking surface in front of us while cameras zoom-in to show live video on the monitors hanging above.

During “the show,” I chow down on sesame crackers and Italian bread in front of me – complete with hummus and olive tapenade. The appetizer is paired with Arcadia’s Nut Brown Ale, which was so buttery and smooth! My first brew in two weeks! I can hardly contain myself.

Next, as Chef Kelly shows us how to make candied walnuts for the “Nut & Berry Salad,” another beer appears! The “XV.”  Immediately, I taste cherry with a hint of something deeper. Turns out, the beer was aged in bourbon barrels for six months with tart Michigan cherries and hibiscus petals. I’m not one to pride myself on my taste buds, but I was close!

I have to mention that I’m a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats seafood), so half of my beers aren’t picked to pair exactly with my courses. But my food is only a slight variation of the original menu.

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Zazios’ Chef’s Table diners enjoy the “Nut & Berry Salad” with Arcadia Brewing Co.’s “XV Anniversary Ale” during the Beer Dinner Tuesday.

Up next is the “Shipwrek Porter,” which I have with striped sea bass (others enjoy seared beef tenderloin) topped with capers, shaved parmesan, and cracked pepper. I’m not usually a fan of porters, but this 12%-alcohol-level brew is robust yet subtle. The beer-info card at my table said: It’s aged for nearly two years in 22-year-old Kentucky Bourbon oak barrels and thus has notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and spice. But what most stands out to me is this beer’s milky, coffee flavor. I’m not a coffee fan. This isn’t my style.

After one sip, the “Hop Rocket” is one of my favorites. I don’t immediately pick up the grapefruit, lemon peel, spruce, earthy mushrooms, and dew-covered grass… but I sure notice that it’s hoppy! It also has a warmth to it – with notes of toffee.

"Kalamazoo Beer Week"

Kayla’s “Cuban ‘Cigar’ Sandwich” was made of shrimp, collard greens, spicy roasted red pepper sauce with sesame seeds for dipping (the “ashes”). The entree paired with Arcadia Brewing Co.’s “Hop Rocket.”

Hop Rocket is likely a beer that’s good anytime, and it’s definitely nice with my “Cuban ‘Cigar’ Sandwich” (shrimp or pulled pork wrapped in collard greens with a spicy roasted red pepper sauce)!

The evening wraps up with the last pairing: Cherry Crumble with “15,” a brown-ale anniversary beer aged in cabernet barrels with tart Michigan cherries and hibiscus petals. It’s like drinking tart cherry nectar. Mmmmm!

Check Kalamazoo Beer Week and watch the calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

OMG-MEGANG — Great beer paired with great meal at Old Burdick’s

Burdick’s is one of the many Kalamazoo restaurants that’s offering Beer Dinners. View all events at http://www.KalamazooBeerWeek.com.

Nate Melvin is a sales manager at Discover Kalamazoo. He resides in Kalamazoo with his wife, two dogs, and a goldfish. When not enjoying a pint, he enjoys competitive eating and music.

My first pairing dinner of the week! First off, let me just say how excited I am that Kalamazoo Beer Week is on its second successful year. I love living in a town that values the craft beer industry. And with several local breweries to choose from plus all the out-of-towners in for the week, how can you lose?

Last night I attended the “Beer Pairing Dinner” at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill in the Radisson. It was a Brewery Ommegang pairing event, however the lineup also included two other Belgian-style breweries as well: Duvel and Liefmans. Our fearless leader was Shawn Williams, who represented all three brewing entities. Shawn spoke at the head of our family-style table of around 20 eager tasters.

The first course of Nate Melvin’s Beer Dinner at Burdick’s in downtown Kalamazoo.

The first course was a golden ale from Duvel called La Chouffe paired with a meat and cheese board featuring smoked Virginia ham, salami, aged cheddar, Danish bleu cheese and a walnut-encrusted chevre. Also on the board were some Mediterranean additions such as roasted garlic, sweet gherkins and an olive display, which actually were the best overall pairing with the beer, in my opinion. La Chouffe was nice and light with a hint of spice to it, which Shawn said was due to the cultivated Belgian yeast strain used during fermentation.

The second course featured our first Ommegang brew: Hennepin Farmhouse Saison. This was the only beer on the lineup that I was formerly familiar with, and, although I’m not generally a huge fan of saisons, is one of my true favorites. Named for Father Louis Hennepin, a 17th century missionary and explorer who discovered much of New York state—including Niagara Falls—it was paired with a mixed green salad with candied orange peel and a citrus vanilla vinaigrette that was quite pleasant and refreshing. Be warned: this beer tastes light but hides it’s 7.7% ABV very well, so its effects may sneak up on you.

Our main course featured thin-cut roasted sirloin with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans paired with Ommegang’s Belgian Pale Ale. The beer was noticeably hoppy for a Belgian-style beer, and due to the mushroom demi-glaze on the meat the pairing may have benefited more from something a bit maltier, however I enjoyed the contents of the plate and the glass thoroughly.

Dessert paired a double shot of blueberry and raspberry cheesecake with Liefmans Fruitesse—another brew to note, as it tasted like juice (very, very good juice). Shawn explained that the open air fermentation used to brew this red concoction gave some sourness to this Lambic-style beer, which translated to a tartness to compliment the sweet flavors. In one word, “Delightful.”

At $30—which included tip & gratuity!—this pairing was an outstanding event. My three companions and I left very satisfied and checking the calendar for events to attend later in the week. Burdick’s, along with many of the downtown restaurants, will be hosting a good half-dozen pairing events this week, so additional activities will not be hard to find.

Click on Kalamazoo Beer Week to watch the calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

First-time blogger, long-time drinker!

"Beer" "Kalamazoo Beer Week"

Jennie Bach’s husband shows the T-shirt Right Brain Brewery (RBB) handed out to people who ordered RBB brews at Shakespeare’s Pub Sunday.

Jennie Bach is the director of operations at Discover Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

According to Jennie: What does a sour beer taste like? It’s a sour that makes your mouth water and dries your tongue out at the same time.  I think I love it for the same reason I eat salt and vinegar potato chips until the roof of my mouth hurts. I love sour! 

Let me start by saying: I’m not a beer snob.  I enjoy a cold PBR as much as the next guy. But, when I first started dating my husband one year ago, I was introduced to the world of craft beer.

This past summer, we went to Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City.  Many times, when choosing a beer at a brewery I am unfamiliar with, I will choose by the name of the beer.  I chose “Sour Owl.” I figured that owls are awesome, so the beer probably would be, too.  I was right!  I had never had a sour beer before this, but now it’s my favorite.

So, imagine how excited I am when the Kalamazoo Beer Week calendar comes out, and there is an event on Sunday at Central City Tap House entitled “Sour Sunday!”

The Tap House was PACKED, but we managed to get a table by patiently staring at some people, who I’m pretty sure were getting ready to leave anyway.  Arbor Brewing Co. was hosting the event, and I ordered a flight (a small tasting of several beers) of their sour beers.

The brew Sodibo 2012 was by far my favorite. It was like biting into a lemon. I was in heaven.  A somewhat close second was Demetrius 2011 – it wasn’t as sour as Sodibo, but it was good.

While we were drinking, one of the brewers, Logan from Arbor Brewing Co., introduced himself and started explaining how sour beer is made:  Usually by using oak barrels, but it can also be created by using lactic acid.

Logan told us that he would be at Shakespeare’s Pub for the “Espresso Love” event Monday night, and he would be accompanied by a guy on the east side of the state who brews exceptional espresso and will put a shot of espresso in any beer you want.

Our next stop was Shakespeare’s Pub so we could try the two Right Brain Brewery offerings that they tapped: “Black Eye PA” and “Will Power.”  There were also a ton of people at Shakespeare’s, but it seemed many of them were there to watch football (which made me feel less self-conscious about yelling at the TV while the Packers continued to lose).  I ordered the Will Power, and my husband ordered the Black Eye PA.  The Will Power had a buttery taste and was pretty good; then I took a sip of my husband’s Black Eye PA. Normally I don’t like IPAs, but this was different, it tasted more coffee than hoppy, and I had to order my own.

While at Shakespeare’s, we got to meet Russ, the owner of Right Brain Brewery.  I told him about my love affair with Sour Owl and was heartbroken to learn that Sour Owl was a one-time deal … typical.  However, the T-shirt and bumper sticker he gave us made me feel a little better about never tasting my most favorite beer in the world ever again.  Then the Packers lost.

To avoid any misunderstandings with the guy who had been rooting for the Giants, we headed to Bell’s, because my husband heard they had a Sweet Potato Stout. Bell’s was the perfect place to end the evening; there were several people, but the atmosphere was more relaxed.  I ordered the Cherry Stout, which was fantastic!  I love when a cherry beer has the tart cherry flavor (sweet cherries remind me of wine coolers).  My husband ordered the Sweet Potato Stout, which I tried, even though I loathe sweet potatoes. Surprisingly, it was really good!  After that, we gathered my daughter and her boyfriend (read: designated drivers) and went home.  I can’t wait for my second day of Kalamazoo Beer Week!

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

Kalamazoo Beer Advocates: Tim Surprise, Owner Arcadia Ales

Whitsun or Sky High Rye? Decisions, decisions…

Tim Surprise is the owner of Battle Creek’s Arcadia Ales. He will be quite the busy man during Kalamazoo Beer Week as Arcadia has over 8 events going on!

We will be brewing 15 years this year.  The concept for Arcadia developed in 1994 while on a family vacation along the southern coast of Maine.  I wandered into Gritty McDuff’s Brewpub in the Old Port area of Portland, Maine and our future in craft brewing was illuminated. My family and I were living in Michigan at the time and at the time, just as it is today, there was an appreciation for local, sustainable and high quality artisinal products.  Until Arcadia was established, the last brewery in Battle Creek closed its door in the 1940’s.  We were filling a need…

Our senior leadership team, together with our sales and production team, all come together regularly and reach consensus on new product development.  We sample a number of beers that fit into the style or general category that we’re considering, stack those characteristics that we are targeting along with our “quality & value” approach, and the result is typically a distinctive product.

We’re in the planning and development stages to increase our capacity and build a new brewing facility that may combine a very special location with a sustainable approach that is consistent with our mission of distinctive
and quality focused production.

My favorite beer is the Arcadia in my hand at the time I’m answering, but more specifically, my personal tastes lean more toward the maltier side of the beer spectrum, and during this time of beer, I find myself with an Arcadia London Porter quite often.

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

Kalamazoo Beer Advocates: Owner of O’Duffy’s Pub

This is Mack, the official O’Duffy’s mascot. If you’ve ever been there, you’ve definitely seen Mack.

Jamie Kavanaugh is the Owner of O’Duffy’s Pub and Cosmo’s Cucina located in the Vine neighborhood. Known for their beer selection in the Kalamazoo community for years, O’Duffy’s offers Irish favorites and cask-conditioned ales for thirsty bar-goers. 

O’Duffy’s has always been a place where great craft beer is available. Why has it been important to your location’s concept/design?
Our interest in craft beer started with the desire to support local and regional breweries. When I tasted my first cask conditioned ale, we’ve served cask or “real” beer ever since. Occasionally, we’ll have a cask and a keg of the same product on at the same time. It’s exciting to share the two side by side when introducing the cask ales to customers.

My favorite [beer] would be a moving target. Other than the obvious beer of choice at O‘Duffy‘s, Guinness Stout, my current favorites are Arcadia’s Nut Brown on cask, as well as their IPA. I’m also excited to have Greenbush “Anger” Black IPA on tap soon! Out east, Pemaquid Ale from Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company.

It’s great to see be part of the expanding appreciation of craft beer, converting those big brand beer drinkers is a great pleasure!

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

Kalamazoo Beer Advocates: Beer Royalty

Pour! Pour! Pour!

Laura Bell is the Marketing Director for Kalamazoo’s very own Bell’s Brewery (and yes, her last name is Bell, as in Larry’s daughter, she is Beer Royalty).

My history with beer begins about two months after I was born in the summer of 1985. My Father, Larry Bell opened Bell’s in September of 1985 and I’ve grown up around a brewery ever since. One of my favorite beer memories from childhood was when my brother and I would go help my Dad pick hops on various farms in Michigan. We’d spend a late summer afternoon cutting down hop vines that would be later used for brewing different Bell’s beers. After we returned home from the farm, the brewing staff would come over to our house and spend the evening (and I’m sure well into the night) picking hops off the vine. The next morning, I would open the door to our garage and find hops drying on large screens and the scent of freshly picked hops was so pungent and wonderful. I often associate aromas on some of our beers with that particular memory.

Now, as an adult and working for the brewery I have had some incredible beer experiences and continue to fall in love with beer and our industry a little more every day. One of my favorite things to do is to tour other breweries. While we are all making beer, the amount of creativity not only in flavors but in the processes by which beer is created is outstanding.  I feel fortunate to be a part of an industry that is creating such cutting edge products and processes and challenging the beer status quo in the Country.

[of her favorite style of beer] This is too hard. I really enjoy a wide variety of styles, especially as my beer cravings change seasonally. So, this winter, I’m looking forward to drinking porters, sours, and am going to force myself to try to get into barleywines (my least favorite style). If it doesn’t happen this winter for me and barleywines, I’m afraid it never will.

[of her favorite breweries] This is also a hard one as there is so much awesome beer being brewed in the country (especially Michigan). Because I am having a hard time picking, here are some beers I’ve enjoyed for the first time this year that are not brewed in our fine state. Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, Green Flash Silva Stout, Crooked Stave’s Pure Guava Petite Sour, and Dry Dock’s Hefewiezen.

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

Kalamazoo Beer Advocates: Manager, Server

Patti during her month-long trip through Europe. And yes, you should be jealous.

Patti Scarff is a server/manager at downtown Kalamazoo’s Central City Tap House. She has earned title of being the ultimate trivia queen, knowing everything from beer to geography (seriously, just ask her).

I started drinking beer for the only reason anyone  in a new town starts doing anything—to impress the cool kids.  Admittedly, I’d had my share of Natural Light (which is gross) and Yuengling (not gross) going to college and its requisite frat parties in Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t until my summer in Maine that I realized not only that I liked beer, but that there was more to it than bubbles and a faint bread-like flavor.  It helps that the people I wanted to befriend were avid microbrew consumers.

The first beer I truly liked was the Atlantic Brewing Company’s Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.  In my nostalgia-hazed memory the beer is sweet without being cloying, refreshingly effervescent, has a strong fresh blueberry aroma, and yet still tastes like beer.  Of course, I haven’t had any Blueberry Ale in the intervening years, but I did segue from there to other, equally sugar-ridden concoctions like Long Trail Blackberry Wheat and Magic Hat #9. I have since realized that, similar to pies and breakfast cereals, fruity beers are not the only good beers. A combination of reading about beer, listening to people who know more than me talk about beer, and of course tasting beer have allowed my preferences to expand beyond stereotypically “chick beers.”

My favorites these days, based on rigorous sampling and many pompous sounding conversations in bars, are tripels (and their similarly malty siblings dubbels, and the rarer quadrupels) and anything smoked, whether an actual German rauchbier or an American smoked stout (Darkhorse Fore Smoked Stout being a prime example).  Working as a server in a beer-focused restaurant, I get to taste new things almost daily and occasionally get to meet the brewers, thus furthering my knowledge and conviction that I’m an excellent judge of any pint placed before me.  The other neat thing about my job now is that I get to help my guests find new beers and new styles that they enjoy, especially the patrons who want to impress the cool (but not necessarily older) waitress.

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events. Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hops

Tasty Beauty

There are those who love the piney, spicy character hops lend to a great IPA, and there are those who would rather be as far away as possible from these little beauties. No matter your taste preference for the herbaceous clusters of the Humulus Lupulus, knowledge is always power!

Hops were cultivated around the 8th/9th century throughout Europe, but the first documented use of hops in beer wasn’t until the 11th century. Before hops, brewers often used dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound, ground ivy, and heather as bittering agents for their beers (which was safer to drink than water back then since beer had to be boiled, killing the bacteria living in the untouched water). Today Germany is the #1 country for hop cultivation with  34,438 tons a year, followed by the U.S. with 23,494 tons a year (followed by China & Czech Republic).

Fun Fact: It is rumored that Henry VIII tried to outlaw the use of hops in the late 14th Century in England, which is untrue. During this time there were attempts to keep a division of Ale (an unhopped, malted cereal drink made in England) and Beer (a hopped, malted cereal drink brought into England by immigrants). To keep this distinction, ale was forbidden from using hops, but beer could hop to their hearts content.

A few different types of hops “at a glance”:

  • Amarillo hops comes from Washington state. The aroma is described as flowery, spicy and citrus-like with a distinct orange bouquet. Beers with Amarillo Hops: 3 Floyds Gumballhead, Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA, Magic Hat’s Circus Boy, New Belgium Mighty Arrow
  • Cascade hops, released in Oregon in 1972, are the most widely used hops by craft breweries in the USA. The notes are pleasant and flowery with grapefruit. Beers with Cascade hops: Anchor Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Harpoon IPA
  • Saaz hops accounted for more than 2/3 of total 2009 hop production in the Czech Republic. They are very mild, earthy, herbal and spicy. Beers with Saaz hops: Pilsner Urquell, Bell’s Oberon, Hansa Pilsener, Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Citra hops are a relatively new breed with fruity/tropical notes such as pineapple and papaya.
  • Nelson Sauvin hops come from New Zealand. Nelson refers to the region is it from, and Sauvin is shorthand for Sauvignon Blanc…that’s right, the grape! This hope has notes of lychee and mango
  • Centennial hops came about from a 16-year labor of love starting in 1974. These are deliciously floral with dry bitterness. Beers with Centennial hops: Bell’s 2 Hearted, Founder’s Centennial IPA, Stone Ruination IPA.
  • Simcoe hop was released in 2000 by Washington State’s Select Botanicals Group, it is known to offer both bitterness and aroma into beer (piney and woodsy with a bit of citrus). Beers with Simcoe hops: Kuhnhenn Simcoe Silly Ale, New Belgium Ranger IPA

Hops for your Health! Humulene (one of the essential oils made in hops) has been found to produce anti-inflammatory effects. Hops are also antimicrobial, which makes then useful for making natural deodorant (try this experiment at home, we won’t help you with that…).

What makes the hop bitter? It’s called Alpha acid. Want it bitter? Try beers that utilize these types of hops in their brews with high acid %: Columbus 14-18%, Summit 17-19%, Apollo 20-21%

But as a caution to hop lovers, if anyone at a brewery offers you a hop pellet (whole hops that have been ground and pressed into a pellet-shape) DO NOT ACCEPT! No matter your piney love, it will not overcome the intense flavor explosion that is about to attack your sinuses, mouth, and throat.

But if it’s not you, it’s hilarious to watch

Watch Kalamazoo Beer Week‘s calendar of events Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo!  Cheers!