A tour of Michigan’s hop industry leads to the release of Founders wet hopped Harvest Ale.
BY JACK MULDOWNEY OF THE HOP REVIEW
According to a recent report from Hop Growers of America, your next craft beer is more likely than ever to contain Michigan hops. In Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Co. is celebrating the rise of local state hops with this year’s release of Harvest Ale–a wet-hopped IPA–working around the clock to add the un-kilned hops into the brew within hours of harvest. The beer, an annual mainstay at the brewery since the early 2000s, showcases a recipe complete with 100% Michigan hops for just the second time, after last year’s batch.
We recently followed the Founders team around the Great Lakes state, as we visited the three hop farms that would supply the Cascade and Crystal hops for this year’s ale: Northern Michigan’s MI Local Hops, and Southwest Michigan’s Hop Head Farms and Pure Mitten Hops. Each of these three operations provided a unique scale and approach to their harvesting techniques, allowing us several perspectives into the beauty of American hops grown right in the brewery’s home state.
Well, it’s September which means it’s time for…Oktoberfest beers! And despite their name, Oktoberfest beers are not actually brewed in the fall. Say wha?!
That’s right, these beers are an outgrowth of the traditional, strong spring brews called March beers or Märzenbier in German. These beers were brewed in the springtime and then put aside in ice-filled caves or cellars to be stored and consumed over the summer. The leftover Märzen was usually finished off in the fall which is when a new season of brewing would begin after the late summer’s grain and hop harvest. So it was almost by default that Märzens became the official beer of Oktoberfest which made its debut in 1810 to celebrate a royal wedding in Munich.
Today’s Oktoberfest has morphed into an 18-day celebration that kicks off in September and includes parades, carnivals, music, art, and civic engagement. Want to celebrate here in the states? You can see all of our Märzen-style beers HERE.
One of the most important aspects of the beer distribution business is operations. Receiving, storing, and delivering our portfolio of products across our territory is no small task. And at the center of all this is our team of drivers and their helpers.
Starting as early as 5:00 a.m., drivers are out on the roads working tirelessly and oftentimes amidst adverse conditions to make sure beer gets delivered safely and accurately. Their job is hard — flat out.
So for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I shadowed one of our veteran drivers to get a small glimpse into his job. Micah has been driving for beverage companies for over twenty years — fifteen of those in the beer industry. He’s hardworking, loves Stella Artois, and is completely genuine. To quote one store owner I met, “He’s one of the best.”
For the second year in a row, Zymurgy magazine — produced and published by the American Homebrewers Association — named Bell’s Two Hearted Ale as the Best Beer in America. Not bad for a list that also boasts cult-favorites like Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, and Zombie Dust in its top 10. And while Two Hearted may not have the mystic and allure it once had when it was first released, there’s no denying its place as an institution within the IPA category.
There are literally hundreds of festivals in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs throughout the summer. Whether they’re showcasing a specific neighborhood, food, or beer, these festivals bring people together from all over the city. Our Special Events team is often the unsung heroes at many of these events, making sure the beverage operations run smoothly and that the beer continues to flow. We went behind-the-scenes to see what happens in order to make these festivals happen.
Shortly following the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in November 1932, the Cullen-Harrison Act was signed and enacted on April 7, 1933. The act stated that it was now legal to purchase, sell, and consume 3.2% ABV beer following Prohibition in the United States. As such, today we recognize this date as National Beer Day.
To get the full story behind this point in beer history, we sat down with beer historian, Liz Garibay (History on Tap, Chicago Brewseum) at the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.