Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brewery Review: Hideout Brewery - Grand Rapids, MI

This was the last of the breweries in the Grand Rapids area that we checked out during the weekend I biked up. That morning Eamon and I went to check out Schmohz, went back to his house for some recovery and then biked the long arduous road (literally, lots of hills) to the little nook of the town where the Hideout was located. So far since moving to Michigan just over 2 months ago, I've heard great things about this Brewery, so it was a must hit. And it definitely did not disappoint. These are the beers we tried:

Falcons IPA: Heavy looking amber. Strong cream colored head. Malt heavy with Belgian cane sugar and caramel. A bite of rich bitterness handles the second half. Thick mouthfeel. The stout body of an IPA.
Pale ale: Copper colored with a tint of amber. Minimal head with a speckled wet lacing. Subtle haze. Light body and medium sweetness of malt and brief biscuit. Bitterness is subdued, but still on the higher end of the spectrum. Drying semi fruit based bitterness with notes of grapefruit and a touch of the tropics.
Alley Cat Black Lager: Dark and approaching black.  Thin ring coats the glass. A neutral sweetness. Lacking the roast but still maintains an element of chocolate without the bitter tannins. Toasted malt bill.
Smuggler's Hazelnut Stout: Jet black with. Beige foam head. The mellow coffee roast makes up the aroma complimented by come toasted. Sweet malt base. Thinner base. Some smoke to the aroma. Medium carbonation and body.
Bitter Brown: Sweet biscuit toast base followed with a very appealing fruit bitterness. Reminiscent of pine and grapefruit rounding out dry. The deception falls with the color, primarily similar to a basic pale/IPA Cement Shoes: Chocolate and sweet. Very palatable stout boasting chocolate and assorted toasted malts. Clean at that. Lighter body and a crisper finish. Easy to throw down.
Crusaders' Seized: Big time opaque yellow with a dense white film set across the top of the beer. Cream flavor with a compliment of yeast and cloves. Heavier on the malt. I don't get too much of the banana, but some vanilla flavor. Very enticing flavor and fuller than most wheat beers.
The menu on the back wall
The Bar
1) Pale ale
2) Alley Cat Black Lager
3) Crusaders weizened

The Bar Setting:
My first impression of the establishment was "could this really be a brewery?" The outside was in the corner of an industrial lot at the end of a winding road that cut through a small tree grove, and then through college looking sub divisions, finally ending at a small dumpy (no negative connotation intended) looking building hidden behind some conifers and rocks. The sign was peeling and somewhat covered as well. I didn't know what to expect as we entered. We parked our bikes right outside the door and walked in. What we found was pleasantly surprising. The atmosphere took a subtle British pub style look. We were greeted in a entry room which merged with the front of the bar. Posters layered the walls of beer and brewery related material. We sat down at the L-shaped bar that, though small, allowed for easy conversation with publicans at all seats. The vintage looking taps layer the corner of the wall parallel the bar (two of them with Nitro). Seating is minimal, and intended so. I enjoy the fact that this bar keeps their customers close. No television in sight and the entertainment is everyone's own company.
Though the bar itself comes off as small, the establishment is anything but. Just walk upstairs over the brewhouse and you can find yourself staring at a large game room complete with darts, table hockey and several other involving games (No electronic games - keeping it traditional). The room is also lined with 55 Ibs bags of Ruhl 2-row giving customers a more acquainted look at the raw ingredients that go into the beer they are sipping. Then, just look out the window and a rather large courtyard is visible with a grassy in-ground/concrete lined trough-like field (quite a description - eh?) for those interested in playing horse-shoe. Chairs and benches line the horseshoe playing field for spectators. I myself never went outside to get a better look, but it is certainly worth a go.
The Grain Case
I didn't get a too in-depth visual on the equipment, but a large display window just to the right of the bar was about everything I needed. A two barrel system (3-5 bbls I'm guessing) with a wood lined mash tun that pivots? and a typical stainless kettle. What really caught my interest (and potential idea for my own brewery one day) was the converted grain surge tank that was set upstairs above the mash tun. Converted from a septic tank it holds the grain prior to milling in. What a ingenious and sustainable idea! I never got a chance to see the fermentation room, or the cooler, but I'm guessing the majority of the taps are supplied through kegs (correct me if I'm wrong).
Pale Ale
Well, Eamon and I arrived and we were immediately greeted by Theresa, new Co-owner (The Hideout was recently purchased from its past owners) and bartender. We tasted our way through a few beers and Eamon decided on the Alley Cat Black Lager and I settled on the Pale Ale. It was during this time that we took a gander around the place. Following, we sat back down ready for our next round. Tasted a few more and we resorted to two 12 Oz glasses of the Smugglers Hazelnut Stout and the Bitter Brown. At this point we talked to Mr. Wanhatalo, the head brewer/Co-owner about locally sourced hops, the Michigan Brewery Scene and other craft beer oriented banter. Finally we finished our pints, tasted a few more and checked out. I really wish I lived in the locale, as I see this place with its calm atmoshphere, pub oriented spirit and fantastic beer as a integral part of defining GR as the Craft Beer City, USA. Thanks to Theresa for making the experience so enjoyable. I'll be back!
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