Thursday, December 10, 2009

Generation Y Michigan: Staying in Grand Rapids

MICHIGAN: Generation Y Michigan: Staying in Grand Rapids (2009-12-10): "Grand Rapids does a better job than other Michigan cities keeping some young people in the state after they graduate.

Data for the Grand Valley State University class of 2008 shows that 94% of graduates that are working have jobs in Michigan.

Lauren Silverman went to Grand Rapids to talk with some young people who decided to stay in the city after they graduated."

From Michigan Radio: Your NPR News Station

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review of Original Gravity

Original Gravity Brewing Company of Milan, Michigan has nary a wall between the warehouse-style brewing operation and the wooden barstools. The unusually sculpted taps are next to the only d├ęcor in the place – an instant notification that you’re to belly-up and commence drinking.

Owner and brewer Brad Sancho opened Original Gravity just over a year ago. A University of Michigan graduate, Sancho worked as an engineer for ten years before leaving his job to follow his dream of opening a brewery. He now pours beer and offers a laid-back refuge on college football game days, just minutes from Ann Arbor.

I first took note of Original Gravity at the Michigan Brewers Guild’s 2009 Winter Beer Festival. It was a cold day even by Michigan standards, and I fondly recall sipping a Vanilla Java Porter, holding the beer in my gloves as if it were a cup of joe – as close as I could get on that chilly day at Fifth Third Ballpark in Grand Rapids. Finally, months later, I visited Original Gravity for another look at those taps of refuge. This is my take on a flight of Original Gravity Beer:
  1. SouthPaw IPA: Again, I’m predisposed to like IPA’s, but tend to scoff at super hop explosions or other gimmicks, which is precisely why I like this beer. The hops don’t pop too much, making the beer quite drinkable and perhaps more refreshing than most IPA’s. With Cascade and Amarillo hops, this beer is citrusy and balanced and doesn’t “insist upon itself,” as Peter Griffin might say. For what it’s worth, I took a growler home.
  2. Belgian Training Wheels: This light golden ale is brewed with Belgian candi sugar, wheat, and pilsner malt. Starts smooth but finishes like candy – almost too sweet for this hop head.
  3. Mason Brewer: This English style Special Bitter is full-flavored and easy drinking. Named for Brad’s son, the Mason brewer is precisely what a “lawnmower” beer would taste like if the whole world drank craft beer on Sunday afternoons. Simple and refreshing, the Mason Brewer is not overly complex, but the wheat and rye malts are obvious. Drink it fast or drink it slow – delicious.
  4. County Street Amber: Named for the street address at 440 County St. in Milan, this amber has, as Original Gravity describes it, a “pronounced roasted character and caramel notes.” The roast is serious, a little strong for my taste, but enough for a roasted malt palate. Solid for cooler weather or a rainy day. Why do I always consider the weather? Who knows.
  5. Primordial Porter: For porter junkies like my wife, this beer is very drinkable, with both chocolate and coffee flavors. After time it fell a little flat for me, but I’m not much of a porter drinker, so take it for what it’s worth.
  6. Orange Peel Wheels: OG describes this beer as follows: “Our Belgian Training Wheels infused with dried orange peel. Delicate citrus flavor and Aroma compliments the Belgian character of the already delicious Belgian Training Wheels.” I say: Wow, this beer tasted more like an orange juice-based cocktail. Very similar to the Belgian Training Wheels but with lots of citrus and lots of zip. Certainly a refreshing drink for warmer weather – distinctively Belgian and a good introduction to the style.
  7. Vanilla Java Porter: Awesome warm-you-up beer. Deep and dark, the vanilla is the perfect compliment, and at the same time, somehow the perfect anecdote to the coffee flavor. Certainly the smoothest of OG’s beers, which is saying a lot, since smooth drinking seems to be their signature.
  8. 440 Pepper Smoker: For the record, I think pepper beers in general are obscene – sort of like maxing out at the gym just to prove you can do it, but for no real good reason – but this was quite palatable for a pepper beer, with plenty of flavor and aroma from the smoked malt and Jalapenos, but without the obnoxious burn and flex I normally associate with pepper beers. I could see myself pairing with food and maybe even drinking a pint or two just for fun.

Original Gravity is only available on tap and in growlers, and has a brand new outdoor patio. They offer solid grub – I recommend the pastrami reuben – reason enough to visit. The small town location is also a plus; the patrons were all friendly, chatty, and down-to-earth. OG is currently on tap at Ashley's in Ann Arbor.