Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brewery Review: Odd Side Ales - Grand Haven, MI

Odd Side Ales is a small brewery in the center of Grand Haven downtown. I had first tried their beer at 8th St. Grille and was interested in checking them out, being that they were within biking distance. I did just that. Taking a a free Saturday afternoon and turning it into a trip, I biked the 22 miles to Odd Side in a little over an hour, and a trip well worth it. I ordered a tasting flight and talked to several of the publicans to find what they felt about the brewery. Then got down to work at one of their large bench tables. Thanks to Marlawn and Eric for being great bartenders and hosts!  These are the beers I tried:

Jen visited the next weekend and I wanted to show off this newly discovered Gem of West Michigan.  Dates posed in parenthesis.

Pineapple IPA - Light amber color with minimal head, yet a slight cascade of sticky lacing clings to the glass. Some carbonation seen. Fruity and tropical aroma. The taste is likewise with undertones of fresh hops and topical fruit flavor. Carbonation foams up a lot in the mouth. Light body and quite thirst clenching. Bitter, overall, but balanced.
ESB - Glowing copper color, but more so a mellow orange. The head is dense and puffy with a strong retention. Medium hazy. The taste holds a very familiar flavor to it, I want to say roasted nuts or toffee apple. Some tannic nuttiness in the back of the mouth. The texture is very foamy with a high carbonation. Finish is bittered and dry
Hoarder's Porter - Very dark with a rig of brown around the edges. Carbonation is visibly present. Cannot see through the glass, even when held to the light. A mild chocolate aroma with hints of light roast. The flavor is sweet with an acidic bite from roasted barley. The body is light and makes for an easy drinking beer.
Dutch Chocolate Coffee Stout - Similar in color to the porter, but a bit more muddy looking. Sweet foretaste, but with a bite from the coffee. I'd like to see what this beer would be light if the coffee was cold infused, perhaps helping dismiss the acidity that follows in the finish. Tastes a bit watery.
Imperial Jackalope Amber - Dark amber bronze with some sediment laddened throughout. Carbonation looks to be very fine. Head is bubbly and soapy. Hop crumbs form a thin layer at the base of the glass. Caramel and toasted malt with undertones of toffee and brown sugar. Tasted is balanced with a complex base malt and an equal parallel with floral hops. The beer is warming going down and smooth. This is something that should stay on the menu year-round.
Simcoe Sensation - A bold yellow color, bordering the look of a Hefeweizen. Cloudy and turbid. I got a large chunk of hop floating around in this. Huge tropical grapefruit rind flavor. Citrus zest and pineapple. A bite of drying bitterness counters the familiar fruit flavors in the beginning. Medium bodied and lighter than the rest on the carbonation.
Citra Pale Ale - Golden copper and clear. Dense foamy off white head. Floral and fruity with hints of apricot. T flavor falls under a similar profile with notes of pear as well in the end. Not as much of a bite of the astringent hops that were noted in the Simcoe Sensation. Reminds me of Joe Weitlispach. This is something I could drink often.
Baltic Porter - A lighter brown color, especially compared to the rest of the "darker" beers. Head was well sustained and beige in color. I get some dark fruit in the aroma, such as cherries. The taste is equally fruity with hinds of a dark roast malt masked by age. Boasting a nice flavor and drinkability. Some ash can be tasted, but is well complemented to the overall flavor profile.
Westcoast IPA (5/26)- One of the most appealing characteristics I find in a beer at first look - Glowing Orange copper with a milky texture and an optimally turbid appearance. Flavor is citrusy and rich in grapefruit complemented with a brief sweetness and tropical undertone.
Moonlight Jester (5/26) - Hazed blonde with a sustained white head and a dense film accumulated on the sides. Vanilla is hard to pick out in the aroma. Some wheat is present. The pink peppercorn and vanilla are very subtle, if existent.
West Coast IPA
Grapefruit Wheat (5/26) - Clear golden blonde in color with a slight haze present. Very little head and visible carbonation. Grapefruit present in the scent and a rind in the flavor. Aftertaste is floral and spiced.
Fat Bottom IPA (5/26) -  Cloudy orange/copper with a dense foamy cream colored head and a wet cascaded lacing. Mouthfeel was bubbly and nearing the realm of soda. Bright orange aroma. However the flavor boasted a rich grapefruit rind taste with an appealing finishing bitterness.
Mayan Mocha Stout (5/26) - Black oil in appearance (or given the dark lighting in the room) with a clear brown coloring around the edges. Aroma is rich in sweet milk chocolate and spice. Holy cow! The flavor is full of chocolate spicing and even balance with a faint burn in the end from the habanero. Smooth mouthfeel and even a bit drying at the end. This is so unique, but drinkable and flavorful. Please keep it on the menu!?

Common to all: (1) All beers seem to have quite a drying finish. (2) I dig the fact that none of these beers are filtered. To get pieces of hops floating around in this beer makes me smile. (3) Variety: There's new beer here every week! It's ridiculous. Locals, I'm jealous.

Favorites: 1) Mayan Mocha Stout -  Too much flavor, but really drinkable. Pepper and chocolate come together to create and rich play on competing flavors 2)West Coast IPA - milky colored (you know its healthier) and full of citrusy and juicy characters. 3) Imperial Jackalope - Extremely well balanced and flavorful. Large enticing malt base.
4) Pineapple IPA - Boasting a nice hop profile without going overboard on the fruit.
5) Citra Pale Ale - Easy going, drinkable and a flavor that doesn't overwhelm

Pub: The brewery itself kind of reminded me of a cross between a local coffee house, hipster gallery and newly renovated all, something coming out of Omaha, NE art district. I liked it a lot. The exterior fit with the rest of the business' with an outdoor patio. There wasn't really any signage out front to tell you it was a brewery, one would just have to have a keen enough eye to acknowledge the tanks in the window. While one door opened to the street, another was an entrance from an interior hallway that connected many of the local business' together. Selections of art laminate the walls encouraging the modern and weathered (but well kept) thematic environment. A lot of seating is provided, at that. Colorful mugs layer the back bar walls, which are split by a chalk board menu. I dig the grain mosaic design plastered in the bar. The 3-5 bbl fermenters literally are squished right next to the bar. Nevertheless, the whole area is quite spacious. The taps come right out of the walls with a selection approaching 15 different varieties of beer!
It seemed that a lot of younger couples went there, even with their kids, as the bar also provided root beer too. Overall I found it to be a very relaxing atmosphere and a terrific way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I wish I was closer to experience the night life. Perhaps a camping trip is in order.
I could definitely draw some ideas from this place when I start a brewery. If I were to say it in one word descriptions: Simple, Spacious, Hipster, Fun.

I'll be back here for sure, especially with the variety they produce and the awesome atmosphere.
My work station

Check them out: Odd Side Ales

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