GR Beer Week! Winter Beer Fest!

Grand Rapids Beer Week. Just the sound of it makes me quiver with excitement. There are so.many.events, it’s a little overwhelming, especially as a parent who still has to attempt to wear a Mom hat in some form this week, and fight through a medical condition, that, thankfully is numbed with a little alcohol. PHEW. GRBW_Logo_150dpi-300x285

I look forward to GR Beer Week and MI Winter Beer Fest every year — the socialization, the rare tap-takeovers — breweries come to US! There is something happening in each of my favorite watering holes, and the buzz in the air is hypnotic. You can’t help but smile when you walk into just about any brewery and brewpub. You also can’t help but run into someone you know, whether you are a regular, or not! That’s half the fun of GR Beer Week.

This year is a little different.

Grand Rapids’ collaborative nature that helped win the Beer City title is really shining through — especially with my fellow ladies of Fermenta, who have seriously rocked it, collaboratively brewing 19 craft beers to be featured on brewery taps throughout the MI Winter Beer Fest this year! That makes my heart smile — as I was a lucky gal that helped brew two of those beers. I’m very excited to taste these beers!

And hey… on that note, I will get an opportunity to taste 5 of those Fermenta brews at Harmony’s GR Beer Week event on Monday, Feb 23 — it’s all day, friends! So my kids may be doing a little after-school root beer tasting!! The adults will find the following Fermenta-made selections on tap:
Pike 51, Super Bon Bon- Honey IPA w/ hops from Hop Head Farms
Unruly Brewing, Black IPA
Our Brewing Company, Salted Caramel Milk Stout
Saugatuck Brewing, Lemon IPA
Harmony Brewing, Fermenta Ruburosa – American Amber Ale with Beets

Tuesday always seems to be a jam packed day full of activity around GR Beer Week, and this year is no exception. You will find another collaborative tap-takeover at Rockford Brewing: Grandma’s Cookies, an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale with MittenBrew.com starting at 5pm, and/or you can swing down to the SpeakEZ for a NerdNight starting at 7:30pm featuring a trifecta of awesome: Michael Willcox from Founders, Ward; Jack Rainy Monday from Brewery Vivant, and David Ringler from Cedar Springs Brewing Company! Plus — Founders Brewing Co.‘s KBS and Brewery Vivant‘s Wizard Burial Ground will be on tap starting at 7:30pm. I have a feeling you will need to arrive sooner than 7:30 at the SpeakEZ to get a seat for this event.

So, if the line is out the door… head over to Logan’s Alley, because their GR Beer Week lineup is overflowing with awesomeness. You really can’t go wrong any day of the week there. Monday-Friday tap-takeovers look like this, in chronological order; Saugatuck (which will include 2 brews the Logan’s crew collaborated on at Saugatuck!) Dark Horse, Odd Side, Kuhnhenn, Greenbush. Oh, and those last two takeovers will include 20 taps each. Uh-huh. 

Big Bob’s will also offer tap takeovers from Rochester Mills, Founders, Right Brain, Blackrocks — with 10 taps…

What’s that? It’s only Tuesday and your liver is telling you to slow the eff down?

Ok, I hear you. There are still many other events. Here. Check out ExperienceGRs full lineup of events; these are updated on a very consistent basis. Pick your poison. Take a cab. Uber. Designated-drivers. You know the drill.

If you’re not overwhelmed already, I’m about to give you the Winter Beer Fest taplist. Which has over one-thousand beers on it.

I know. wbf2015

We can breathe through it together.

Because we’re friends.

1,000 beers.

15 tokens.

Do the math, my friends. And yes, I want to try so many of them. I want to visit the little breweries I’ve never heard of. But I also want to support my brewer-friends and the beers they made especially for this event!

I always bring a list like a nerd, and I never ever stick to it, so here are a few initial nerdy thoughts I have — focusing on my Grand Rapids Beer City love — shout out to all my hard-working brewer pals!

You already know I’m looking forward to sharing my Fermenta brews from Pike 51 and Our Brewing with my out of town friends!

Next on my list?

Gravel Bottom has.me.stumped… Their entire series of Ginger and Maple Bourbon PLUS Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged series has my mouth drooling! It’s hard to believe this brewery has only been open for 18 months. They produce an excellent product. So good, I can not choose! It will be an on-the-spot decision that may be influenced by brewer Matt Michaels… and peer pressure. #truestory

I am going to try to narrow down my list a little… I mentioned a few collaborations earlier, I am going to highlight a few more, because, really, that is something that makes Grand Rapids so incredible. We don’t compete — we collaborate!! The smiles you see in the photos we post? That is a deep respect, mutual admiration and appreciation for one another. I’m telling you… this love shines through in the beer! So, along with what I’ve already mentioned, I am looking forward to the following…

Harmony, Black Perle 6.8%ABVMomma drinking an ice mug
100% Michigan Hop Sea Salt Stout

Hopcat, S’more Sassiness 9%ABV
Imperial S’more Stout (PussyCat Beer Guild Collaboration)

Osgood, Tequilla Blonde Firkin 5.6%ABV
Tequilla French Oak Harvest Blonde

Perrin, Pale Ale 6%ABV
Pale with Mosaic & Motueka Hops
(Woohoo! Hop on the Perrin Bus!!)  

Rockford, Heavy Medal 10%ABV
Belgian Golden w/ Cider & Honey
(American Homebrewers Association Collaboration)

White Flame, Hot Kevin 5.5%ABV
Smoked Jalapeno Porter with Bacon

I will be attending Winter Beer Fest on Friday this year! Look for me in a long black coat, red boots, and dark-red curly hair — boisterous laugh. Yes yes, the big laugh will help you find me best! If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, there are still Friday tickets available!! I’ll also attempt to make my way around town for GR Beer Week if I can trick the hubs into taking the kids for a couple hours here or there. Shhh. But I will be as active as possible on a multitude of social media accounts, so follow the hashtag #GRBeerWeek for all the fun!

Posted in beer, Grand Rapids | Tagged , , | 1 Response

MI Women Brew it Up!

I have made no secret of my long love affair with beer. Since my first sip from my dad’s can of Bud-heavy as a child to my first [legal] sip of Tucson’s Nimbus Nut Brown in ’98… beer and me? We go waaaay back.8am Cheers!

I started this humble little website in 2009, and a few doors started opening for me as Momma Needs a Beer slowly morphed from a parenting blog into… well… sing it with me: it’s all about that beer, ’bout that beer, no babies. Ok, ok, so I still talk about my babies on occasion. It’s my space — whateva — I do what I want. 

Local brewers and bartenders are not only fellow craft beer lovers, but some are parents themselves, and can relate to my words; they know I’m not just writing for the sake of that so-called “free beer” — I actually enjoy talking about beer, the people behind the beer, learning about the craft, and wrapping my brain around the process. And, maybe the biggest shockers of all, I enjoy hanging out with people who can kick back and celebrate with a craft beer in hand.

This wonderful world of craft beer has led to many opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. I love that.

Less than a year ago, I was introduced to a new Women’s Craft Collective here in Michigan: Fermenta. Check it out, whether you’re in Michigan or not, even if you’re not female. It’s pretty badass. Michigan, as a whole, favors collaboration over competition. A concept that has trickled down into this new female-empowered-collective — which I am geeked about.

I recently had the opportunity to brew 2 beers [out of 20 total Fermenta brews] for the upcoming Michigan Winter Beer Fest. Brewmasters Manda Geiger at Pike 51 in Hudsonville and Ed DeGalan at Our Brewing in Holland did a fantastic job walking us through the brewing process. Some of us had experience with home-brewing, a few were brewers at other breweries, others had never brewed a day in our lives. It didn’t matter. We were in it together. We boiled the water, stirred the mash, sanitized and cleaned the tanks, dropped in ingredients like barley, malt, hops, oats, chocolate, caramel, salt, etc! We got our hands dirty, talked dirty, (ok, so maybe that was mostly me) broke a sweat, and damn, it felt good to be a brewster.

Hey, if you’re a woman in Michigan, you can sign up to be a member of Fermenta here!

Manda Mash Pike 51

Fermenta Pike Mash

Fermenta At Pike 51

Fermenta Pike DIPA Preview

Fermenta OBC MashFermenta Mash Mix

Happy Brewers at OBC

OBC

Fermenta OBC Brewers

Posted in beer | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Girl Walks Into A Bar…

This post could go in many directions… get your heads out of the gutter, it’s not going in *that* direction. Sorry, guys.

But wait a second guys, not so fast. How many times have you taken a lady, or a non-beer-drinking-friend* to a brewery, and heard “but there’s nothing for me to drink there!”**

Let me help you with that.IMG_4303.PNG

I truly feel there is a beer for every pallet. Craft beer is full of many different flavors — you just have to find the flavors that you enjoy.

Tasting is key. Many bars and breweries will offer tastes of what’s on tap so you can try before you buy a full pint. This is super helpful for someone a little leery about a full pour of something they have never drank before. And yes, I have experienced full flights (typically 4-5 3oz pours) of crap before. But the thing is, the experience of tasting each of those beers was important for me to know that… hey, I don’t like these beers… glad I only tasted them! Check. Tasting is key for newbies and aficionados. It’s also super fun to do with friends.

Girl walks into a bar, and enjoys coffee and/or chocolate… 
Taste whatever stouts and porters are on tap. If there are enough for a flight, go for it. Stouts and porters may seem intimidating to non-beer drinkers, but they are among the most flavorful in the craft-beer world, and these age very well. Featuring levels of chocolate, coffee, smoke, spice, and beyond.

Girl walks into a bar, and wants something tropical… 
While I personally do not lean toward the sour or belgian beer style, when someone tells me they love tropical flavors, like pineapple, mango, banana, etc, I have them try a flight with a couple different belgian beers, and maybe a fruit-infused beer or two if that’s available. While it’s not my favorite style of beer, I know that everyone’s palate is unique!

Girl walks into a bar, and she’s watching her figure… 
This is a tricky one, especially if she’s keeping this information to herself. But waist-line-watching friends, here’s the secret –> the bulk of the calories are in the percentage. Stay under 6% and you will typically stay under 150 calories. There are a few breweries who are creating yummy 3.5% ABV craft beers now — and I love them for it. Of course, these same breweries still make a mad 12% — so they’re cool. Gotta keep the balance! All about the moderation. When in doubt, a Cream Ale (if available) is almost always the lowest caloric option, and typically smooth, light and delicious. But, also, don’t count out the surprisingly low-cal Oatmeal Stout! I’m telling you, there’s a lot to explore under 6%. Enjoy!

Girl walks into a bar, and likes something a little caramelly and rich, maybe with a hint of smokiness.
How about a little scotchy-scotch-ale? Or anything aged in a barrel? Bourbon or oak-aged anything can pack a surprisingly sweet punch of flavor. Just keep an eye out for these bad boys, because unlike the last category I mentioned, some of these can also smack you in the face with high alcohol… which isn’t only high in caloric bullshit, but alcohol, which can sneak up on ya, and-  yowza – anything above 9% is a one and done for me. Another nice bonus about flights: 3oz of a 10%-er won’t knock you out!

Girl walks into a bar, and enjoys the citrus side of life…
Oh, hello IPAs!! Here is where you can go crazy with a flight containing IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs, and maybe even a Pale Ale or two. YesCraft Beer Samplers, this is MY favorite style. :) Sure, the flavors of pine in certain IPAs can taste bitter to some palates, making it an intimidating style for some. But fresh IPAs with aromatic hops like Cascade, Centennial, Mosaic, etc have surprising amounts of citrus. Double and Triple IPAs are surprisingly smooth, and were fun gateway IPAs for this chic. So if flavors and scents of grapefruit, orange and pine suit your fancy, IPAs may be for you.

Girl walks into a brewery, and wants a Bud Light…
OK, so here’s the deal: breweries only serve what they create — drink local! It’s awesome! If you really want something *like* a light lager, your closest bet may be a cream ale. Again, tasting is key. If you already know that you enjoy the taste of a beer, try a few of the brewery’s ales,go a little out of your comfort zone and test the waters, try a stout. You never know what you may fall in love with. You may have a new favorite, and may never go back to the mass produced, watered down swill again. HA!

Girl walks into a bar… and enjoys a little bit of everything. 
Oh hell yes! Girl, we must be friends. Pick one of each of the styles from the categories from above and have fun. I will do the same, and we will share each of the 10 beers, compare notes, laugh, express joy, love and/or disgust at one or more of our beers, and be bonded for life.

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

*I know there are guys out there who don’t like beer, too. For the sake of argument, and general flow of conversation, I am using the female pronoun for this article instead of, oh, I dunno, “Dude walks into a bar”. I am very well aware that more women are drinking beer these days, and there are men who don’t like beer as well. I am gender neutral, so if this is an issue for you, feel free to replace “girl” with “dude” in your heads as deemed necessary.***

**I know some of you have legit gluten allergies. Many breweries have begun catering to your needs with either gluten free beer and/or cider. The options are growing! Happy Drinking!

***Yes, my inbox was attacked on this obviously incredibly sensitive topic. Ya know how beer and gender stirs up controversy.

Posted in beer | Tagged , , | 1 Response
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    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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