Monday, June 4, 2012

Brewery (Cidery) Review: Vander Mill - Spring Lake, MI

Vander Mill's Cidery (and now, Brewery!)
Jen and I happened upon this place while browsing the "Michigan: The Great Beer State" Magazine. I had been to Spring Lake last weekend while visiting Odd Side Ales and Old Boys Brewhouse on my bike. However, upon my return, I found that I was less than a mile away from another fermentation based establishment. We found this place after spending an afternoon walking around Grand Haven. This is what they had to try:

Apple Cider - Turbid yellow and unfiltered. No head. Served cold as a condensation rapidly accumulates on the sides of the plastic cup. Tart, but still with an undertone of earthy apple fruit and a crisp finish. Not as tart as other hard crafted ciders. The carbonation provides a bite that in a way parallels the crispness that hops would induce on a beer. Light body, crisp, drying and leaving behind a cloying feel on the roof of the mouth.
THE apple Cider
 Totally Roasted - An opaque appearance that holds the look of an inside of a pear. Kind of white, but with a haze to add to an otherwise non-existant color. The aroma is fruity...of apples obviously, but with a faint hint of roasted nuts and caramelized sugar. The body is light and the finish is earthy. Carbonation is extremely low.
Ginger Peach - Another opaque, cloudy looking liquid. The scent perfumes fresh ginger. The flavor again exemplifies ginger, but in more of a faint manner. I find a candy base leaves a sweetness in the foretaste while the ginger and a peach skin taste is left on the tongue.
Half Pint Amber Lager - Just that, a light amber color with a very strong head and lacing to follow. Very clear. Faint hops are present against a brief biscuit malt based. The flavor reminds me definitely of a cream ale. Man, it sure does. Smooth creamy, but with that cream soda flavor. Big malt base and soothing dryness to the finish. Very clean tasting.
Apple Raspberry - Appearance is similar to that of a berry based lemonade. A foamy white ring coats the sides of the glass. Some sour pungence and berry tartness. Aromatics are limited. Still, a similar apple base but with the added addition of fruit. 

A scenic view of the establishment
The atmosphere is similar to a Wisconsin cheese shop. Simple, spacious but with a country/vintage look. Nevertheless the place is very clean and modern. The outside takes the appearance of a red barn house, surrounded by a gravel lot, a child playground, and outside seating with a white picket fenced in patio. Internally, half the room is divided with seating - the tables are supported by oak barrels - and the other half has stands, displaying product, beverage utensils, and other food/beverage related to the business. The Cidery itself is also a "micro" ice cream parlor, and it serves food (donuts too!).  We didn't get a chance to sample any of it, but the menu did look very unique and inventive. Only just recently did they start producing beer! (I cannot wait to see where that takes them). There is a unused corner bar and even barrels in fermentation in front of the entrance. Jen and I sat at the table by the door. The place had maybe five curious customers perusing the shelves, asking for samples or sitting at a the tables drinking pints of cider. It was a hot, sunny afternoon, but the cool atmosphere and the refreshing bite from the cider was a pleasant reward. Samples were unlimited because a tasting flight hadn't exactly been put into a finite option. So we tasted as much as we could, and also ordered a couple ($3.50/pint!) pints to at least become respected paying customers. The place also made "liquours" from berry based ciders they produced. I didn't get a chance to taste any of them, that's for the next trip. Vander Mill is also still in the developing stages, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go.
To be continued...


  1. Vander Mill does an awesome beer/wine/cider festival in the fall "Vander Fest:The Pints of Fall," I don't recall if New Holland has participated in the past but if not I suggest you check it out! (Participating breweries are encouraged to use Vander Mill cider for a unique recipe or to bring a Fall themed specialty to the event.)

  2. Sure thing, Dan.
    I'll be looking out for that. Perhaps I can get NH to go...