Saturday, August 28, 2010

Presque Isle's Haunted Light House

In stark contrast to my time in the U.P., my time in the upper lower peninsula, or I guess I should say the upper part of the lower peninsula, was decidedly more laid back.  Not to say that the U.P. is super stressful, but my grandparents' place on Grand Lake near Alpena is the definition of relaxing (except for the meals being at extremely specific times, but we can let that slide).  The week was spent laying by the lake, water skiing, reading, getting ridonculously sunburnt (which you would never know based on my complete lack of complaining), and playing the occasional game of euchre.  Additionally, as opposed to being packed to the brim with all sorts of family members like the farm, at the lake it was just my immediate family, my one uncle, and my grandparents.  Suffice it to say, my highest beer total for a given day at the lake was 3.  So instead of doing an event by event break down, I'll just post my beer list for lake and then talk a little bit about a couple of the beers.  Here's a copy-and-paste from my word doc I kept while I was there:

8/11 – Bells Oberon
8/12 – 2 Bells Oberons, 1 Bells Two Hearted Ale (all at lake)
8/13 – 2 Short’s Brewing Pandemonium Ales (all at lake)
8/14 – 1 Short’s on Boat, 1 North Peak Archangel at the Portage, 1 Short’s back at lake

As you can see, lots of Bell's action there.  While I have read some unfavorable reviews of the Oberon (sorry to keep throwing Jim out here, but his review of Bell's Cherry Stout is spot on), I actually thought it was the absolute perfect summer beer.  Although, I would like to try it while not on a boat or lounging by a lake, as probably any beer is the perfect summer beer in that context.  Oddly enough, the Bell's Two Hearted Ale says on the bottle that it's perfect for an adventure in the Upper Peninsula, but I only ever had it in the L.P.  Suffice it to say it was a really great.  How's that for descriptive beer writing?

But let's get to the other two breweries you might not recognize here.  I'll start first with the North Peak.  North Peak Brewing Company is a brewery out of Traverse City, MI.  You might know two things about Traverse City.  1) They have wicked awesome sand dunes (which were once featured on the venerable Tim Allen's Home Improvement!) and 2) Their cherries are quite literally internationally known.  I had the North Peak Archangel at local restaurant on the shores of Lake Huron.  The Archangel is a cherry wheat beer made with authentic Traverse City cherries, which is pretty cool.  So while I've got you here, Jim, if you're looking for a stellar Michigan cherry beer, I would look to the North Peak Archangel.  It's super cherry-y but not sickly sweet like Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat can be.  All together, both Liz (a notorious cherry wheat hater) and I thought it was great.  Plus it comes in a Red Stripe-esq bottle.  Check it out:

You can see my grandma in the back there looking just thrilled at how much beer I have consumed at her place.  Also, when we were in Ann Arbor, we saw someone wearing a North Peak t-shirt at literally every microbrewery we went to, so I take that as a good sign that their other beers are also pretty good.

And now to the not so good.  Went on a beer run on day to Alpena with my dad and Liz.  When we got to the beer store we were inundated with Michigan breweries.  It was almost overwhelming.  We could only get one six-pack (as drinking in large quantities, as you can see, isn't the type of activity that goes down at the lake) and we were sort of rushed in our selection.  I immediately ruled out breweries I could get in NY (sorry Arcadia, Founders, and Avery).  I finally decided to go with a Short's Brewing Company beer from Elk Rapids, MI.  They had a ton to choose from.  Being me, I gravitated to the extreme end of the beers, your double-this's, your imperial-thats.  There was an interesting looking beer that was describe as a high gravity berry beer, but my wife gently reminded me that other people would be drinking this as well, so I went with a six-pack of Pandemonium Pale Ale.  I'm just going to preface this by saying that something could well have been wrong with the bottle.  I have never seen a beer pour foamier in my life.  As you should know, I am well aware of how to properly pour a beer.   This beer pour about 3 inches of foam to ever, let's say, quarter inch of beer.  And here's something else: the head NEVER went away.  It wasn't even like I could wait for it go down.  Nope.  It stayed that way making the beer almost undrinkable from a glass.  So I tried from the bottle.  SAME RESULTS.  I would take a sip and then foam would start billowing out from the top of the bottle and would not stop until half the beer was on the table and what remained in the bottle was an inch of beer and four inches of foam.  It was insane.  I honestly couldn't even give you a proper recall of what this thing tasted like.  I could tell you what the foam tasted like (seemed like the beer could have been hoppy), but man.  This was nuts.  That's how it was all six bottles.  I would like to give Short's another shot next time I'm up in MI, but I would also like to know if I had a one-off six pack or if that's actually how their Pandemonium is supposed to act.  I hope not!  If any of you are in Michigan, grab a six pack and let me know the results.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion of the Michigan Beer Tales where we head to Ann Arbor and I take lots of pictures of flights for some reason!


  1. very strange about the pandemonium head. Beeradvocate reviews all say that there is very little head. must have had a bad 6 pack

  2. Hmmm, I do my best not to look at beeradvocate or ratebeer before any of these write ups. I think a faulty six-pack is likely because there is no way any self-respecting brewer would put out a beer intending to foam up like that.