Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Brewery Review: Pike 51 Brewing Co - Hudsonville, MI

I came upon this brewery while browsing directions to get to Hudsonville’s White Flame Brewing Co.  It took me about 30 minutes to get there down Chicago drive.  Located right off Chicago drive next to a gas station. I’m unfamiliar on the history, but I know that the business originally started as a winery, but with demand for beer so high, they finally started producing. Beer was unfortunately served by ticket only and they refused to give me any type of sample (Wahh Wah). But, in any case this is what I tried:

Bavarian Hefe – Bright yellow with an orange hue. Extremely cloudy. The nose was represented of bread and a strong scent of cloves. To taste, the beer pushed the clove to the extreme but nevertheless represented the style. I found my mouth very dry from the phenols.
Kush IPA – Copper colored and mildly hazy. The head is dense and white, leaving behind a wet speckled lacing. The aroma is quite floral and pungent of pine. I found the flavor at first overbearing of a grassy leafiness, but gradually as the palate numbed, subtle notes of familiar hop based pine and orange rind develop. Carbonation is fine and encourages a soft Mouthfeel.
Belgian IPA - Amber colored with a hazed appearance. Head was sustained, even half way into the glass. Caramel and biscuit perfume from the surface complimented by a typical Belgian yeast scent. The Flavor is similar with a caramel base and strong Belgian farmhouse presence.  The finish left the palate in a similar manner the Kush did, dry, grassy and leafy. The beer was a lot smoother in feel, however.

Common to all: Can't really say much to this (I only had three!) but there was nothing wrong with any of the beers.

The brewery: Is an extension of a winery, and still taking on that characteristic. It seemed that the bar became dedicated to the beer while the wine was pushed to the front of the store. The theme came off to me like it was still undecided (it was, of course still their grand-opening party). There wasn’t anything on the walls and it all seemed very plain. Seating was plentiful inside, and I liked the small, half barrel (literally) tables that caressed the walls. Nevertheless the place was packed. I arrived along the side of the building where I was ID’d and given information, a wrist band and raffle tickets. I made my way to the bar to inquire about a tasting flight…denied. I then asked if they could at least give me a taste of a couple beers, or half pints of anything…denied, denied. I gave up and took a seat at one of the wall barrel tables and went and got a ticket for a beer. Oh, and when I asked what the internet password was…no one knew. So, I sit here writing this in Microsoft word. Overall I felt the staff (or temporary help) knew little about the beer, but again, I'm sure that will change in the coming months as the brewery establishes a name for itself.
Where the magic happens
Minutes later, I saw Ron from Saugatuck and his Girlfriend. They were more aggressive than I in respect to getting a showing of the brewing system. As I finished up the review of my Kush IPA, they went outside to ask for a tour. Minutes later they came back in with the brewer (Please, if you know - Insert his name here) and called for me to attend. That's where Andrew (from New Holland) and "Little Jon" enter as well.  We explored the 3 bbl system and admired its modern appearance. The Fermenters were about 6' tall. This is the kind of system I'm interested in, for one can open a brewery with limitless potential towards variety, and that is what I value the most (well, and quality). We also were shown the wine bottler (a one head bottler!) by which they do 4 bbl sessions at a time (~6.5-7 hrs straight) - Yikes, it's like full time homebrew bottling sessions.
Andrew was fortunate to get a taste of all their beers, being that he was in a larger group. Fortunately he gave me a taste of his last one so I could at least get at LEAST three beers jotted down. Check them out (Pike 51) I'm unsure of their weekday schedule, but things should be a be a lot less hectic. Hudsonville is now a new beer destination, thanks partially (Whiteflame is only two - three blocks away) to them.
That's all I have to say thus far, but I will be back in the coming weeks to see how things have developed.

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