Traveling Tuesday: Liberty Street Brewing – Plymouth, MI

Liberty Street Brewing is tucked away in Plymouth Michigan’s historic Old Village. It’s a neat little brewery with limited food selections and a nice relaxed atmosphere. I slipped in here one night on a business trip to sample their wares and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. It was quiet on the weekday night that I was there making it a great place to unwind.

The nice shiny brewery








The tap list












The friendly wait staff








I tried the sampler of what they had on tap at the time.








I sampled the Clementine Lemon Thyme (wheat),  Rye PA, Red Glare Amber Ale, and the Foreign Extra Stout.   The Rye is really sweet almost fruity but not extraordinarily bitter like I was expecting. All in all a very easy to drink rye pale ale. The Red has a nice caramel flavor with a light body and smooth finish.  The Stout has a smokey nose nice full Flavor of toast and chocolate with a medium body. The revelation of the evening was the Clementine Lemon Thyme wheat beer. It was a fruity ameican style wheat with a lot of citrus upfront but the addition of  thyme is amazing and something I never expected when I took the first sip. The beer all seemed to have almost a house flavor that could have been from some sort of house yeast. It was sweet but I had a hard time placing it.

I wish I had more time to spend and could have sampled some more but it was late and time to roll back to the Hotel. If you ever find yourself near Plymouth Michigan be sure to roll in for a pint. You won’t want to miss out on this unique little brewery.


– Jared


Review: Great Crescent Brewery – Dark Lager

Great Crescent Brewery is located in beautiful downtown Aurora, IN. About 10-15 minutes south of I-275. It’s not as far as it seems and I promise the beer is worth the drive. Take the family out on a Sunday drive, you come off as the All-American parent and get to fulfill your ulterior motives of hunting down great beer.

I’ve had a number of their wonderful beers recently but somehow I had managed not to try the Dark Lager. It was purchased in a 4-pack of pint cans and poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: 3/3

It’s a dark caramel reddish brown with a tan foamy head. The head dissipates quickly and doesn’t leave behind a lot of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: 3/3

The first thing that hits your nose is dark chocolate and roasted coffee and that is followed by some sweet caramel and maybe a hint of hops.

Hop Malt Balance: 3/4

The sweet roasted malt is up front but there is a hint hops that keeps it from being overly sweet. I’ve been on a hop kick for a while now and I think I’m a bit biased against beers that feature malt so predominantly like this one does, although a full flavored lighter bodied beer like this one might be enough for me to reconsider my Hop Malt allegiances.

Aftertaste: 2/3

The roasted malt and cocoa flavors linger on with a bit of astringency that makes you want to keep drinking.

Mouthfeel: 3/3

Nice and light very easy to drink.

Overall Impression: 4/4

A great local example of what a full flavored sessionable lager should be.




– Jared Whalen

Twitter: @jrodwhalen

Traveling Tuesday: Sun King Brewing — Indianapolis, IN

This week’s adventure is courtesy of Hoperative #34 Jason Siebert. If you have an adventure (or just make a little side trip) to find better beer and you want to tell the story, let us know! Take a few pictures, write us a note to tell us what’s going on in them and we’ll feature your story as a Traveling Tuesday!

My wife and I went to Indianapolis on Saturday morning and got caught in the snow storm. Our objective was to pick up some fresh beer from Sun King Brewery for our Super Bowl party. I was doubtful that the brewery would be open with over four inches of fresh snow on the ground or that they would be willing to fill two of my 1/6th barrels if they were.

It was the day before the big party and my kegerator was empty so desperate times called for desperate measures.

The roads were treacherous and automobiles were spun around on the side of the road every mile. I was tempted to call and see if they would even be open. When we pulled into the parking lot we couldn’t believe our eyes! There were over 20 cars with people all over the place carrying out growlers and kegs in both hands. We thought they must be having a huge sale. It turns out this is a normal Saturday morning for the tasting room at Sun King Brewery. I’d bet it’s even busier during the warmer months.

Tastings are free for each of their beers and they give you can lids as tokens to use for sampling their special seasonals. Sun King is unique because they can their beer and do many things to limit their impact on the environment. It was also larger than most craft breweries I have visited. Judging by the amount of beer they were selling and the number of customers I can see why they needed such a big operation to keep up with the demand.

When we entered the employees were very helpful and even took both of my 1/6th barrels to clean and fill up with any of their beers. This worked out perfectly considering it is a long drive to return one of their kegs for a deposit. The tasting room is part of the production facility that was very spacious and had tall rafters. With a handful of pub tables and a merchandise area, I immediately knew I would enjoy the experience. It was one of the most interesting tasting rooms I have been to because I could watch the brewers make beer as I was sipping it fresh from the tanks. Along with this they have a fridge packed with their canned beer and taps for growler fill-ups.

It was worth the trip and recommend anyone traveling to Indianapolis to stop by along with the many other fabulous breweries the city has. I have never been disappointed. There are so many breweries in the Indianapolis area its like the Portland Oregon of the Midwest. When visiting I recommend a bucket of steamed mussels with your fresh beer, they can be found on most brewery menus in Indianapolis. You can find more information on Sun King at

Sun King Brewing
Sun King 2
Sun King 3
Sun King 4
Sun King 5

Beer Blogger Conference Update

The Beer Table
One the tables at the beer bottle exchange. There were three others just as loaded down

The highlight of the first day was easily the bottle exchange that finished things up. There were beers from all over the country. Each one was selected by someone who thought it was a beer that ought to get some national attention. There are more than 100 folks registered for the conference and a major percentage of them brought beer. There are certainly people here who are within driving distance, but most of us flew in. It took some real effort (and money) to get the beer out here.

Several beers stood out for me. One of them, Shiner 101, is a pilsner that didn’t make it to the Cincinnati region for some reason. The other was the St. Arnold’s Divine Reserve #10, the beer that I mentioned in an earlier post that was released last week in Houston to long lines. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have a chance to try it.

Beyond that? There was a pumpkin Scottish Ale from Elysian in Seattle that leaned more on the spice than the pumpkin. There were lots of small breweries, more than I could ever remember. And I don’t remember most of them. Hey, I was drinking at the time.

We, of course, took Cincinnati beer. Moerlein and Hudepohl. Listermann. Mt. Carmel (from the Quaff Brothers series). And Rivertown. It was fun to talk to folks about what we brought and some of the stories behind them. And it was fun to hear the reactions we heard.

Here’s one of them:

Hoperatives on the Road

Boulder, Colorado

I hope this isn’t too much inside baseball. I apologize if it is.

Carla and I are in Boulder, CO right now as participants in the first-ever Beer Bloggers Conference. We already had travel plans when we heard about it, but we changed them because we knew we wanted to be here. It’s going to be an opportunity to meet a lot of folks who love beer enough to write about it. Some make money doing it. Others are like us in the Department of Labor-of-Love.

This conference is coming at a good time because we’ve been talking a lot lately about how to evolve Hoperatives. Don’t get me wrong, we like what we have going now. You don’t know how much of a thrill it is when someone walks up to us and says they plan their week off of “This Week in Beer” or that their weekend planning always includes “Growlers and Tastings.” No matter what we decide to start doing, things like that aren’t going away. We like finding out what’s going on and letting others know about it. It’s always going to be what we do.

The reason I’m bringing this up at all is that you might notice that we’re publishing more over the next couple of days. There are a lot of sessions on a number of different topics and if something strikes our fancy, we’re liable to throw up a quick post. What would be really helpful to us is a little feedback. If there’s something we write about that you really like, leave a comment or send an e-mail saying “I’ll have more of that, please.” Or something to that effect. Silence will be interpreted as “meh.” If you want to say “meh,” you’re welcome to, of course, but silence is its own message in the blogging game.

Oh, and it’s supposed to be sunny and in the 70’s here the next few days. I don’t apologize for that.

Hoperatives Guide to Better Beer at Disney’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2010

If you happen to be heading to Walt Disney World before November 14th, be sure to check out the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Despite the name, they also have some better beers too in addition to their usual offerings (remember to check out the Hoperatives Guide to Beer at Walt Disney World for what’s always available).

For Food & Wine, booths for each featured country or theme are set up around the World Showcase section of Epcot and each booth has a few food items plus wine and/or beer to purchase. For a listing of information, check out the fabulous Disney Food Blog at While some of the beer featured is a bit ho-hum, there are quite a few that we are looking forward to trying.

Also, Amanda from the Disney Every Day blog warns us that trying to carry a 15 Beers for 15 Years flight (think three plastic cups full of beer) can be a challenge. But, she tells us that when she mentioned that to the Disney cast members working at the booth, she was told that they had already “talked to their higher-ups about some kind of transportation device.” Hopefully, that will be available when we meet up with Amanda next month.

15 Beers for 15 Years (New for this year)
* Fischer Amber
* Full Sail Amber
* Key West Sunset Ale
* La Fin Du Monde
* Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
* Smithwick’s
* Widmer Drifter Pale Ale
* Widmer Hefeweizen
* Abita Amber
* Abita Purple Haze
* B.B. Burgerbrau
* Banks Beer
* Florida Lager
* Sessions Lager
* Viru Pilsner
* 15 Beers Flight (choice of any three 6 ounce pours)

Belgium (New for this year)
* Leffe
* Hoegaarden

Brewer’s Collection
* Radeberger Pilsner
* Schofferhofer Weizen
* Hovels
* Schlosser, Alt
* Altenmünster, Octoberfest
* Altenmünster Dunkel
* Altenmünster Märzen
* Clausthaler Classic N/A

* Moosehead Beer

* Radeberger Pilsner
* Hovels
* Altenmünster Octoberfest

Hops & Barley
* Samuel Adams Boston Lager
* Samuel Adams Octoberfest
* Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
* Samuel Adams 15th Anniversary Festival Beer Coastal Wheat Light
* Samuel Adams Cream Stout
* Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier
* Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA

* Guinness Draught

* Moretti Beer

* Kirin Draft Beer

* Dos Equis Beer

* Casa Beer

* Tiger Beer

It’s a Small World, but I’d Hate to Paint It

This past weekend Carla and I were in Chattanooga, TN for the 15th Annual Southern Brewer’s Festival. We’ve reposted our review of last year’s event below. That review first appeared on My Wine Education and writing it was the event that crystallized a lot of things for us and led directly to the start of this blog a few months later1. That festival and the town that hosts it are special to us, and always will be for lots of reasons.

This year’s event was as good as the last. We’re going to write it up (really!) and even have pictures and video, but it’s going to take a few days. That’s just the way we roll. I’ve switched day jobs and it’s been a bit crazed on occasion. Normal stuff. Carla’s been doing the heavy lifting on keeping our regular features up to date, and for that I owe her a beer or two.

For example, while we were out there on a pier over the Tennessee River having a wonderful time, there was another great beer event taking place here on the banks the Ohio: Brew Ha Ha. Once again the time-space continuum conspired against us. Last month we missed the Cincy Beerfest because we were at a … well … blogging conference. Oh, the irony. While we talked about both events before they happened, nothing has appeared here about how they went.

Doing this blog is really a lot of fun. We’ve met wonderful people and have had a chance to do some really fun things. We’ve found that there’s a great community out there, a community of people united in a love of beer. The beers differ widely, and, like in any collection of humans there are disagreements, but in the end it’s about the beer. It’s not curing cancer or bringing peace to the planet, but it passes the time well until we can get around to those2.

On Tuesday we’ll be having our third — and now I think we should just say “monthly” — Hoperatives Happening at Dilly Cafe in Mariemont3. Yeah, you need a Hoperatives number and you need to RSVP if you want to come, but it’s free to attend (you buy your own beer). As long as the weather holds — and it’s looking good so far — we’ll be out on the patio. It should be amazing. Nearly everyone who’s written for Hoperatives should be there. That will be cool. What’s also cool is that people who are going to be writing for Hoperatives will also be there.

Like you, for instance.

(Huh? I know your name’s not Willis, but what the heck are you talking about?)

You see, the subtitle of this blog is “Believers in Better Beer (in Cincinnati and Beyond),” not “Things About Beer (Carla and Tom (and Jared and John) Feel Like Writing About).” Sure, that subtitle has twice the parentheses, but I don’t see it as an improvement in any other way. (You may have noticed that I like parentheses)4.

If you go over to the “About Hoperatives” page you’ll find this definition of “better beer” and why this blog exists:

What’s better beer? It’s not just the beer you like, it’s the beer you love. It’s the beer you’ll search for far and wide, the one you’ll drive long distances to sample and buy, the one you’ll hoard for yourself or grudgingly share, but only with friends who get it.

That’s what this site is about. It’s about the beer, the places that make the beer, the places that sell the beer, and the places that serve the beer. Most importantly, it’s about the people. The people who make the beer, and the people who love the beer.

Chances are, you fit into one of those categories. That means you probably have something to say, and we’d like you to say it here. Here’s our editorial policy, such as it is:

  1. Spell all the words right.
  2. Use good grammar and punctuation.
  3. Be explicit about your biases. It’s OK to have them, just let your readers know what they are.
  4. You can’t take anything in exchange for writing a post — ever.
  5. You own your words and images. If you publish them here, we can use them as you submitted them, but you always have the right to use what you created as you see fit and without asking.
  6. If you have another blog and want to cross-post something, that’s fine.
  7. You’re welcome to your tastes, but you’re not welcome to tell someone else that his or her tastes are somehow wrong.
  8. We review beers. We don’t review restaurants or bars. It’s OK to talk about them as they relate to a beer experience, but we don’t rate them.
  9. We never charge for listing a location in our informational pages, but we only list those that we’ve visited personally or that a person with a Hoperative number has recommended.
  10. Since we pay the bills for this site, Carla and Tom’s editorial decisions are final.
  11. We only accept submissions from registered Hoperatives.
  12. Only people can be Hoperatives, not companies or organizations.
  13. If you work for a brewery, distributor, beer location, or anything else beer-related, we want your information! Please understand that all press releases will be marked as such.

“But I don’t have anything to write about,” you say, “I can’t do this!” Well, maybe you can’t. Who am I to doubt your self-doubt? Chances are, though, you can, and the blog will be a better place if you do. You just need a little beer and a little inspiration. It’s probably not legal for me to give you the beer, but I can give you the inspiration. Here are three things you can write about, just to try things out:

  1. Is there an establishment you enjoy going to for beer? What is it? Where is it? Why do you like it? What beers do they have? On tap? Bottles? This can turn into a post and an informational page. A win-win!
  2. So you walk into a Kroger or any other standard grocery store. Not a specialty retailer or a place you’re especially familiar with. What do you look for? This question actually came from Hoperative #135 Don Rigney at a beer dinner at Teller’s and led to a very fun discussion. Thanks Don!
  3. What’s one of your favorite beer pairings? Start with this sentence and run with it: “One of my favorite things is [insert beer name or style here] with [insert whatever you have with the beer].” Why do you think it works? Where did you first encounter it? Is it something you like all the time, or is it something you like every once in a while?

Needless to say, there are lots of other things you can write about. Still nervous? Dip your toe into the water by commenting on things other people write! But when you’re ready, send us what you have to say.

1 Thanks again, Michelle!
2 And then we can have a beer. See? It all works out.
3 Not that there’s a Dilly Cafe anywhere we’d meet that’s not Mariemont.
4 Not to mention footnotes.

Live at the Southern Brewers Festival!

We’ve planted ourselves out at the end of the pier at a table that holds eight. Just like last year there has been a parade of folks looking for a place to sit down. It’s a great way to meet a wide variety of people. Not surprisingly, most folks are from here in town (it would be news if it was any other way), but there have been people joining us from Atlanta and Kansas City. But just like last year, people are astonished that we’ve come down from Cincinnati.

“You came all the way down here from Cincinnati?”


“For this?”


The beer selection is outstanding. There’s a brewery out of Jacksonville, FL called Bold City. that has a nice IPA called Mad Manatee. Moon River is here from Savannah, as are Highlands and Asheville Brewing from Asheville, of course.

2:15 PM
Hello and greetings from the Southern Brewers Festival in sunny Chattanooga, TN! We’re going to be live blogging from the festival so watch for updates here. Also, thanks to our new Eye-Fi card for the camera and our Verizon Mi-Fi wireless hotspot, we’ll be posting photos live to our Hoperatives Flickr feed at:

Some photos are already there and we’ll be adding more of the various breweries in attendance.

Cheers and here’s to better beer!

Carla and Tom

Repost: Review of the 14th Annual Southern Brewers Festival (2008)

This review originally appeared on the My Wine Education blog and is reprinted with permission. Thanks, Michelle!

It must be said that Tom and I are travelers. And if the travel destination includes the chance for great beer or wine, so much the better! One of our favorite spots for combining great beer and travel is Big River Grille and Brew Works on Disney’s Boardwalk at Walt Disney World. We go there often enough that we have our favorite server (Ursula), and the brewer there (Evan) knows us as the “smoked porter” couple.

Our most recent beer trip is thanks to a heads up from Evan. Big River is based out of Chattanooga and in June, we did a long weekend trip there doing the touristy things like checking out the Tennessee Aquarium and also trying both Big River locations. We had a great time and quickly decided to go back for the big event this past weekend: the 14th annual Southern Brewers Festival, a one-day event that celebrates beer and raises money for Kids on the Block, a Chattanooga-based group that uses puppets to educate children on diversity and other social concerns.

14th Annual Southern Brewers Festival

Big River is part of the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group and it seemed that representatives from the entire group were at the festival, including A1A Ale Works from St. Augustine, FL and the two Rock Bottom Breweries in Atlanta that are owned by Gordon Biersch. The other breweries and microbreweries weren’t all from the South (though that region was definitely well represented). The list included Abita, Atlanta Brewing Company, Barley Mob (a group of home brewers from Chattanooga), Foothills, Good People, Heiner Brau, Highland, Magic Hat, Moccasin Bend, Moon River, New Belgium, SweetWater, Terrapin, Yazoo and Yuengling.

The festival ran from 2:00 pm to midnight on Saturday, August 23rd and was held on the riverfront in Ross Landing Park which is just west of the Aquarium. General admission tickets were $15.00 each and included a white plastic commerative mug and your first beer token. Additional tokens were $3 each. Something new this year was the Party on the Pier VIP pass. This ticket also got you admission to the VIP section on a pier out on the river where complimentary food and beer from Big River and other Gordon Biersch breweries were available. There were also lots of tables and seating for watching the bands. These tickets were $60 a person or $110 a couple in advance, but later went up to $75 a person or $140 a couple. The Party on the Pier ticket holders were given an orange mug and a lanyard for access to the private area.

Since part of the reason we were making this trip was to celebrate our new home, we splurged on the Party on the Pier passes and were very glad we did. The food on the pier included grilled chicken and steak for make your own tacos or nachos, bratwurst, beer cheese with bread, fresh fruit and grilled pineapple with a beer creme fraiche. Besides the beer, soft drinks and bottled water were available. Off the pier, the food leaned towards the typical festival fare though the Big River booth did offer Gordon Biersch’s signature garlic fries.

The first bit of entertainment on the stage was actually the Krystal Square Off Qualifying Tour for the World Hamburger Eating Championship which will be held in Chattanooga on September 28th. If you are not familiar with Krystal, it’s the southern version of White Castle (or White Castle is the northern version of Krystal – take your pick). Like Big River, Krystal is also based in Chattanooga.

After the competitive eating was over, the music started with several local cover bands whose names we never caught. The main entertainment was provided by the Stratoblasters out of Dallas, Texas; Pat McLaughlin of Franklin, Tennessee; and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies of Eugene, Oregon. You probably remember the Daddies from their song “Zoot Suit Riot” which made the Billboard charts in 1997.

When we got to the Pier, there were three bars set up with two beers on draft at each one. Bottles of Big River’s Vienna-style lager, pilsner and red ale were also available in tubs of ice. The first beer I tried was A1A’s Orange Blossom Honey Ale which was a bit disappointing. You got a nice hint of orange at the beginning but then the taste sort of faded into blandness. Or as our table decided, there was no there there.

Next was Big River’s Toasted Oat Pale Ale which was brewed especially for the festival. We liked this one better than the honey ale, but Tom thought the oats were toasted a bit too much which overwhelmed the hoppiness of the pale ale. It may have been better named Toasted Oat Ale so you wouldn’t be expecting the higher level of hops you usually get with a pale ale. Big River also had an espresso stout that was brewed just for the festival, but we somehow never managed to get that one.

As we moved to the next two beers, we were offered Rock Bottom Atlanta’s Kolsch and Gordon Biersch’s Blond Bock. The kolsch was a fine example of this beer type and was really nice on this hot day. When we were served the blond bock, we were warned to not let that beer deceive us since its alcohol content was much higher than a typical blond beer. We had a mix of hop lovers and malt lovers at our table and this beer was one that we all agreed on.

Now it was time to actually leave the pier and try some of the other beers available. We were lucky enough to visit Moon River Brewery at their Savannah, GA, location this past January so we were anxious to try them again. I’m not usually a big fan of wheat beers, but their Wild Wacky Wit is so damn good. It’s spiced with Curacao bitter orange peel and coriander… lots of coriander. I had a terrible cold when I first tried this beer in January and I swear it almost cured it. Tom went with Moon River’s Slow-vannah Pale Ale. This one made his hop head taste buds very, very happy.

Other beers we tried included Foothills’ Hoppyum IPA (big thumbs up), Atlanta Brewing Company’s Red Brick Ale (okay, but not great), Boulevard’s Lunar Ale (another hop fest in your mouth) and Good People’s American Pale Ale (not as hoppy, but very, very good. A nice well balanced beer.).

Back on the pier, the beer offerings had changed. There was a Keller Bier we think was a special offering from Gordon Biersch. It was heavy on the malty side so hop heads like Tom and I didn’t care for it, but the malt fans at our table loved it. The Gordon Biersch Marzen was a much more popular choice. It was very smooth with just a little sweetness at the end. But, I saved the best for last… Big River’s Rocket Red Ale. A hoppy red, this is my all-time favorite beer. Normally, you can only get this on draft at Big River’s Walt Disney World location or in bottles in the Chattanooga area. It was such a lovely surprise to see it available on draft at this festival.

Big River Grille
Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Chatanooga, TN. Photo © Carla Gesell-Streeter, 2008

The Southern Brewers Festival is going to become a new annual tradition for us. I’ll be buying our Party on the Pier passes as soon as they are available and hope to get some friends to join us next year. The festival seems to be thought of as a local Chattanooga event rather than a regional draw. Everyone we talked to who heard we had driven down from Cincinnati seemed amazed though Tom and I know the appeal of great beer in a great setting. The festival web site provides lots of information on getting there and helps you find the closest lodging to the park. The main Big River location is also just half a block away from the Aquarium and was the perfect Friday night kick-off to a truly lovely beer weekend.