TRAVERSE CITY — Northern Michigan breweries mark the autumn season with brews to delight, inspire and challenge the tastes of the region’s beer lovers.
On Thursday Brewery Terra Firma tapped its Indigenous Wet Hop Rye IPA.
According to brewer/owner John Niedermaier, whole cone hops were hand-picked in the brewery’s south field for a 60-second turnaround.
Brewery Terra Firma also uses fresh hops in its Hopping Chicken Harvest Ale, currently in process. Other fall brews include Wicked Garden Honey Rye Beet Wheat and Hallow-giving Honey Oatmeal Pumpkin.
The area’s newest microbrewery, Farm Club brewery in Cedar, makes its mark with farmhouse beers brewed from wild yeast harvested from its own orchard. The yeast, which represents the living ingredient in beer, ties Farm Club’s brew flavors directly to the good earth of the “Land of Delight.”
“No other beer tastes like this,” said owner Gary Jonas.
The 35-acre Farm Club operation includes the brewery, marketplace and seven acres of fruit, vegetables and herbs for creating a hyper-local brand. New fall brews incorporate peaches and ingredients from the field.
The Leelanau County microbrewery focuses on producing low-alcohol brews. The brewery’s line-up includes a pilsner with natural carbonation to create a thick, full head, a dark lager and fruity ales.
“The market is overblown by beers that are too big and overblown,” Jonas said. “We want to go back to traditional beers that are nuanced, and which don’t overpower the palate.”
But Jonas said, in the end, the best ingredient for a quality beer experience is good friends.
Silver Spruce Brewing Company in Traverse City honors traditions dating to the launch of Germany’s Oktoberfest in the 1800s.
“In fall, when it starts to get cold, people want more than a light, easy beer,” said owner/brewer Scott Stuhr.
A regional leader in lager production, his Continental brewing style features ingredients imported from Europe. He brings to the brewing art a Molecular Biology degree from the University of South Florida and Brewing Science from the University of California Davis. Wife Leah graduated from Siebel Institute with a degree in Brewing Technology.
Sturh is a patient brewer.
“It’s not uncommon for us to have a beer that takes a year,” he said.
This fall he brings back the amber-colored “Oktoberfest.” The German-style Marzen bier, defined by malt, links to early days of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Sturh conditions the sweet, dry, malty lager for three months. The season at Silver Spruce also features “Bavarian Dunkel,” a dark, full-bodied lager formulated with German hops and barley.
Fresh Coast Beer Works welcomes beer fans to a new Park Street location in downtown Traverse City this fall.
Co-owner Chuck Green said the move allows Fresh Coast to increase its brewing system by five times. It provides additional seating and enhances the brewery ambiance.
Fresh Coast plans an October release for their whiskey barrel imperial stout.
Green and business partner Aaron Spangler maintain a democratic brewing approach.
“All employees are brewers,” Green said. “Everybody can brew. We open the palate to brewers to do whatever they want.”
Fresh Coast also invites the public to brewing adventures. The new location continues the brewery’s hosting of two levels of UBrewU classes for home brewers.
“Customers can see what’s happening and learn to do the same fun stuff,” Green said.
Fresh Coast’s onsite UBrew Homebrew Supply resource offers 70 different malts and hop varieties, 90 yeast strains, dry and liquid extracts.
Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort introduces a twist on modern practices for their fall Belgium brew.
“The harvest beer uses hops fresh off the vine,” said Stormcloud’s Kiersun Scott.
Scott said breweries generally craft beers from processed hops, but working with Michigan Hop Alliance in Omena, just picked hops delivered by truck go straight into the brewing vat.
“The light-flavored harvest bier is made with Saaz hops from Omena,” he said. “Saaz is a distinctive, earthy, spicy flavor.”
Stormcloud plans to release the brew during the seventh annual Frankfort Beer Week October 5-10. Group events for this year’s Beer Week have been canceled because of COVID-19, but beer, food, and merchandise specials are still happening at participating locations. Visit www.frankfortbeerweek.com/ for more information.