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Thoughts on Beer & Food, Home & Away

Experience Pure Michigan
Posted Friday, October 19th, 2012 by thewimperoo


A little Tool Man to start things off

This past weekend TheodorHerzl (Matt) and I took off for a weekend in Western MI.  We’ve been talking about making this trip for over 2 years and finally got our shit together to make it happen. 

This weekend would be a list of firsts for me as I hadn’t been to any of the places we were visiting.  First stop of the day was the Livery. 

I’ve had many a specialty beer from the Livery at Great Tastes though the years.  However, I’ve never really had anything from their more standard lineup.  Since there weren’t any real specialties on tap, this visit gave me a great opportunity to rectify that. 


Ginger Peach, I thought this was very nice.

Sampler…really enjoyed most of them.  String of Ponies , Bier Munro and Poor Freddy’s were probably the best.


The food here was also quite good.  I had the Spicy Pork Carnita sandwich.  Roasted pork, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, spicy Thai slaw, chipotle cream on a pretzel roll. 


The atmosphere at the Livery was awesome.  The bar in a basement was cozy.  Mike, one of the owners, was manning the bar.  He was a stitch.  Tons of stories, knowledge and humor.  We could have stayed and chatted with him all day long.


Next stop was Bell’s.  The taplist at Bell’s was particularly awesome on this day.  Tons of choices.

Matt started with the Exp Hop 2012-4, hefeweizen.  This was a great hefe.  Crisp, refreshing. 


I rolled with a sampler

Highlights were This One Goes to 11, Kal-Haven and BA 9000.  The Ravissant was way too much lemon verbena and the other 2 were solid but not noteworthy. 

For a snack we ordered a pretzel plate.  Woof.  Nasty microwaved soft pretzel and some pretzel rods for like $5.  Not good.

Once we finished our beers we took a look around the General Store.

No, 750ml for sale, but they did have a new glass that I hadn’t seen before.  A high quality snifter for $7. 

From there we hit the road to Grand Rapids.  After a quick check into the hotel, we decided to make Perrin Brewing our next stop.  A bit of a drive from downtown GR, Perrin is up in Comstock Park not too far from the 5/3 ballpark.  Matt and I were surprised at the amount of cars in the parking lot for 5pm at a place only a month old in a location that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. 

Everything at Perrin seemed to be brand new.  23,000 square foot facility with the capacity to brew 20,000 barrels right out of the gate.  They said that the plan was to hit 5,000 barrels by the end of the year, despite only opening in September.  The brewery equipment was sparkling.  A kegging line and canning line were all in sight.  The back wall of the pub was clear glass so that you could see into the brewhouse.  Large wide open space with plenty of tables, a moderate sized bar considering the space of the room, a smaller loft area with seating for 20-30 people and a stationary food truck acting as the kitchen.   An impressive space indeed.

Onto the beer, which ended up being even more impressive than the space itself.   They had 10 beers on tap, structured in a similar fashion to Founders’ tiered approach.


We asked for a sampler of everything they had, and out came a wooden tray cut out into the Perrin crest holding 9 mini snifters.  These guys had really thought of everything. 

All of the beers were clean and well made.  A few stood out as exceptional.  The Extra Pale Ale, Imperial Stout and Double Raspberry.  The EPA was very similar to Founders All Day.  A citrusy, hoppy light bodied ale that you could just crush all night long.  The Imperial Stout was roasty and had a great mouthfeel.  The Double Raspberry was a less cloying version of New Glarus Raspberry Tart, a real winner. 

After we made quick work of the sampler tray, I ordered another EPA and a plate of naan & hummus.  The food was really good.  You could tell the hummus was made fresh and with tons of garlic.  The service was outstanding.  Attentive, knowledgeable and attractive.  Not much more you could ask for.  This was another spot where we could have spent a lot more time.  Unfortunately, since it was so far away from our hotel we could indulge for too long.  Maybe next time we go up there, we’ll get a hotel up that way for one night and then stay downtown another night. 


So from Perrin, we made our way back down to our hotel and caught a cab to Brewery Vivant for dinner and another round of drinking. 


As has been documented many times, Vivant is in an old chapel.  It was quite busy by the time we got there and had a 15 minute or so wait for a table.  As we were waiting around I walked around to take some pictures.  One of the hostesses walked up to me and asked if I would like her to take a few pictures of the place from the choir loft for me.  I said sure and she got a pretty nice one.

Not long after that we were seated.  The first beer I ordered was Blossom, a wood aged farmhouse.  They were working through all of the leftover beers from the Wood Aged beer festival that took place the weekend prior.

Matt ordered a sampler that included the Farmhouse, Triomphe IPA, Solitude Abbey and Big Red Coq.  The Farmhouse was the one that stood out the most.  Really enjoyed that one.

The food menu consisted of French, Belgian and German classics sourced from local farms.  I decided to go with the Moules Frites.  A very well done rendition, although a bit pricey as was everything on the menu.   Matt had the burger, which looked very good.

I ended the night with a sampler of Zaison, Escoffier, Ancho Rauchbier and Rye Porter.  The Rye Porter was really good.  Rauchbier was very smoky.  Zaison was not good, tons of nail polish.  Escoffier was unmemorable.  By the time we finished those beers we felt it was a good point to call it a night as we had a long day of drinking to come.

Where's that goddamn Red Shirt guy!


Saturday morning started as a wet dreary looking day.  We were up and moving relatively early.  For breakfast, we drove over to Marie Catrib’s.  Marie Catrib’s is a restaurant, deli and bakery.   There was about a 5 minute wait before we could get a seat at the counter, so I took a few pics of the baked goods and deli case. 

Just as I love to sit at the bar of drinking establishments, I really enjoy sitting at the counter/kitchen seats so that I can observe all of the action.  Our seats gave us a prime view of the juicing station.  Orange & Carrot Juice combo

Onto the food, I decided to go with the Hearty Miner’s Omelet.  Eggs, bacon, in-house made sausage, mushrooms, onions, cheese and potatoes.  Homemade Rye bread with honey butter and mixed berry compote.  So so good. 

Matt had the Rock the Hashbah, which was also great.  In-house made chorizo, diced potatoes, corn, onions, cayenne, cumin, peppers and eggs. 

After a highly enjoyable breakfast that set a good base it was time to get to business.  The plan for Saturday was to hit Founders and Hopcat.  No need to worry about driving anywhere as they were both within walking distance from our hotel.  We arrived at Founders right when they opened and there was a line of about 20 people waiting to get in.  It just happened to be Harvest Party day at the brewery so it was a bit busier than what I’d guess it normally would be. 

 Lots of hoppy beers on tap and a couple of malty ones


We started off with a pint of Harvest Ale

Oatmeal Stout on Nitro

Eventually we needed to get some food.  Founders has a wide variety of sandwiches.

I decided to go with the Castro…their take on a Cuban.  It was a decent rendition.

For my fifth and final beer, I needed to end with a Breakfast Stout straight from the source.  Such a great beer especially on a cool rainy day like it was.

From there we walked the half mile through the rain to Hopcat.  Hopcat was doing brisk business when we arrived around 3:45, but we were able to easily grab a couple of seats at the bar. 

Tons of interesting beers on tap, I decided to start off with some Hopcat beers. 

Hoppopotamus IPA was solid

Worked my way through a Short’s Huma, Hopcat Zugspite Weizen, Hopcat Dictator and a White Flame POP!.  We decided to peruse the bottle list and order a Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Mars.  This was excellent.  For some reason, Chicago didn’t get any bottle of this year’s vintage so it was nice to see this one available.

For food, we started with a free order of crack fries due to a fortuitous Foursquare check-in.  A decent selection of sandwiches to choose from, but I had to go with the Grand Royale.  Sloppy Joe, jalapenos, crack fries covered in beer cheese sauce on a brioche bun covered in more beer cheese sauce.  It was great. 

As the night got later and Hopcat got much busier, we decided to take off and head back to the hotel.  Since it was still only about 9 and we were completely hammered yet despite drinking for 10 hours already, we figured why not hit the hotel bar for a night cap.   Hard liquor…yes please

A couple of glasses of Basil Hayden’s later and it was time for bed. 

Woke up early again feeling like shit.  We checked out of the hotel and hit Cherie Inn for breakfast.  Quite an interesting spot.  A little restaurant that looked like it a bed and breakfast.  I had a grilled cheese, sausage and egg sandwich that was good.  They weren’t stingy with the butter as my sandwich and hash browns tasted like they were griddled in a generous amount of butter.  After breakfast we hit the road back home.  The initial plan was to stop at Greenbush on the way home.  Unfortunately, we left earlier than I figured we would so we were passing Sawyer about an hour earlier than Greenbush opened.  Additionally, I was really fucking hung over and more beer sounded awful anyways.   Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back that way to try them relatively soon. 

I bid Matt farewell so he could get back to Indy and I made a quick detour at Floyds to get a glass before heading home.  Final beer haul from a trip to Siciliano’s on Saturday morning.

It was a really great trip.  I loved everywhere we went and could have spent an entire day at just about all of them.  I can’t wait to see what Perrin does in the future.  They were easily the highlight of the trip.    

More pics here: