Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Salt of the Earth in Fennville Launches Michigan Wine & Beer Dinner Series

West Michigan’s hottest new restaurant, Salt of the Earth, announces a four-month Michigan Wine & Beer Dinner Series at its downtown Fennville rustic American eatery.

On eight different nights from January through April, Executive Chef Matthew Pietsch will create fabulous multi-course dinners. Prepared using local ingredients and paired with the wines and craft beers from the respective wineries and breweries, each evening will be a true celebration of the region. Each dinner will be a truly unique experience, with themes to bring out the best in each respective winery and brewery style, designed to bring guests together around great food and award-winning Michigan wines and beers.

The wine dinners will be held on the second Wednesday of each month, while the beer dinners are scheduled for the fourth Thursday of each month. The schedule for 2010 includes:


• 13th Fenn Valley Vineyards (www.FennValley.com)
• 28th New Holland Brewing Company (www.NewHollandBrew.com)


• 10th Shady Lane Cellars (www.ShadyLaneCellars.com)
• 25th Saugatuck Brewing (www.SaugatuckBrewing.com)


• 10th Wyncroft Wines (www.WyncroftWine.com)
• 25th Arcadia Ales (www.ArcadiaAles.com)


• 14th Brys Estate (www.BrysEstate.com)
• 22nd Bell’s Brewery (www.BellsBeer.com)

Space for each dinner is limited to 40 people, and reservations are required by calling 269-561-SALT (7258). The cost for each dining experience is only $55 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Each dinner starts at 7pm and is expected to last approximately two hours.


Salt of the Earth is a rustic American eatery and bakery, tucked away in quaint downtown Fennville – in the heart of the Southwest Michigan’s thriving agricultural region. Under the direction of Chef Matthew Pietsch (protégé of ‘Iron Chef’ Michael Symon), this full service restaurant offers a seasonal menu of house-made entrees, shared plates, wood-fired oven pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and creative desserts – using fresh ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible. The bakery café features pastries, artisan breads, coffee and espresso drinks, lunch offerings and free wi-fi for their guests. You’ll also find a bar stocked with spirits, and an impressive selection of Michigan wines and craft beers. Seasonal wine and beer dinners are also held throughout the year. Featuring an attractive warm and homey décor, paired with a chic and modern menu, Salt of the Earth is also a popular venue for local and regional musical artists, with live music every Friday evening. House concerts are held on selected Sunday evenings as well.

Salt of the Earth
114 East Main Street
Fennville MI 49408
269.561.SALT (7258)

The Homestead Names Tara Ziegler as 2009 “Associate of the Year”

Tara Ziegler, Manager for Spa Amira at The Homestead in Glen Arbor, has been named the resort’s 2009 “Associate of the Year.” Tara has been with the resort since May 2008.

“Tara has done a wonderful job managing the spa operations.” says Jamie Jewell, Senior Manager at The Homestead. “We knew when we added a spa that we needed a manager who had the skills to operate successfully, establish unique programming and hire and train a staff to deliver excellent service. Tara has done that and more which has earned her the recognition of Associate of the Year.”

“I was certainly very surprised,” said Tara, of both being nominated and winning the award. “One of the things I love about working at The Homestead is the extraordinary team of people – we support each other and have a sense of camaraderie that I haven't experienced anywhere else.”

In addition to the acclaim that the title “Associate of the Year” holds, Tara receives a trip to any vacation destination of her choice, including two airline tickets and $500 in spending money.

“The trip is such an amazing gift, and I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity,” Tara said. “I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I am considering Nice, France on the Riviera or Napa Valley, California. With a choice like that, I feel like I can't really go wrong.”

With 200 summer and 100 winter employees, The Homestead is one of the region’s largest single employers. The team is lead by members of a core group of associates who all believe that a job done right starts with taking a Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. It’s called PRIDE.

From managers and trainers to year-round employees who do everything from taking reservations to working in outdoor maintenance, there are only 39 members of PRIDE. This special group is eligible for unique employment benefits at The Homestead – one of them being the distinction as “Associate of the Year.”

Other nominees for “Associate of the Year” in 2009 included:

• Cyndi Salisbury, Accommodations
• Dan Stewart, Accounting
• Lindy Kellogg, Group Sales
• Steve Sanborn, Service
• Craig Winowiecki, Service
• Kevin Hennessey, Food & Beverage

Celebrating its Silver Anniversary in 2009, The Homestead is Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – a unit of the National Park Service. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers guest pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; and shops, restaurants, meeting centers and the luxurious new Spa Amira throughout all four seasons.

For more information, visit www.thehomesteadresort.com or call 231.334.5100.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Robinette Cellars Scores Four Medals at 5th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition

Two New Products to be Introduced January 30 at “Release Party”

Robinette Cellars in Grand Rapids proudly brought home four medals earlier this month from the 5th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition, sponsored by the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association (www.greatlakescider.com).

Two of those products – the Apple Cherry Hard Cider and Apple Table Wine – have not even been bottled for release to the public as of yet. A “Release Party” is planned for Saturday, January 30 from 1-5pm at Robinette Cellars, 3142 4 Mile Road NE.

There were 91 entries in 17 categories from throughout the Great Lakes region in the commercial division of this annual competition, which took place December 12 in Grand Rapids.

Robinette Cellars received medals for:

Fruit Cider
Bronze - Apple Cherry Hard Cider*
Lightly carbonated, semi-sweet, made with apple juice and Michigan cherry juice.

Apple Wine
Silver - Apple Table Wine*
Non-carbonated, semi-dry, crisp, bright and brimming with apple.

Pommeau (Intensified Cider & Perry Post Fermentation)
Bronze - Dessert Apple Wine
Apple wine fortified with apple brandy.

Open Category Mead
Silver – Cyser
Honey and cider fermented with dates & raisins.

“This is a great honor for us to bring home so many medals from this competition,” says Bill Robinette – cider maker at Robinette’s. “We’re excited to maintain an active role in the growing agri-tourism industry here in Michigan. This recognition of our products – including two of our new releases – is something we’re very proud of.”

Robinette Cellars began producing its line of hard cider, mead, cyser and wine in January, 2006, and currently has a product list of 16, all made with Michigan fruit. Visitors to Robinette Cellars pay $3 per person or $5 per couple for a souvenir wine glass and samples of six of their local wines. The glass can be brought back on future visits for free tastings.

Founded in 1911, Robinette’s is a 5th generation, 125-acre year-round agricultural destination in northern Kent County. In addition to the orchard and winery, Robinette’s offers a cider mill, farm market, corn maze, horse-drawn wagon rides, mountain biking & cross country ski trails, bakery and full lunch menu. The 1800s Gift Barn features made in Michigan products, such as food items and fine art, as well as holiday decorations and custom-packaged gift boxes.

Robinette’s holds memberships in the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan Cider Makers Guild, Michigan State Horticultural Society, Kent Harvest Trails, Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, Local First and West Michigan Tourist Association.

For hours, activities and more information, visit www.robinettes.com

*New products for Robinette’s, to be released January 30, 2010.

Historical Society of Michigan Seeks Part-Time Office Assistant for East Lansing Position

The Historical Society of Michigan is seeking to fill an open position as an Office Assistant. The position is a permanent part-time position at 30 hrs/wk. HSM is looking for a detail oriented individual with exceptional organizational skills and ability to adapt to a changing environment.

Job responsibilities include processing memberships, financial deposits, mailings and solicitations; data entry tasks; support work for publications, conferences and educational programs; managing incoming phone calls and other communications; and other duties as assigned.

Some in-state travel is required as well as some weekend work on special events. The successful candidate will have strong written and oral communication skills. A high school diploma is required. Previous office experience is highly preferred. Potential candidates should be proficient using Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel, Outlook and use of the Internet. Experience using editing in HTML is a plus.

The HSM office hours are 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday. Hourly pay for this part-time position is $8.00 per hour.

Please send your resume with cover letter as an electronic attachment to info@hsmichigan.org with "Office Assistant" in the subject line. For more information on the Historical Society of Michigan please visit www.hsmichigan.org.

Historical Society of Michigan info@hsmichigan.org

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grand Traverse Distillery Named Among Top 50 Spirits of 2009 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Wine Enthusiast magazine has released its 2009 “Top 50 Spirits” list which includes True North Vodka made by Grand Traverse Distillery – Northern Michigan's original vodka micro-distillery, based in Traverse City. The list, compiled by F. Paul Pacult – an esteemed spirits evaluator and editor of The Spirit Journal, singles out only six vodkas, along with other spirits such as gin, rum, whiskey and tequila.

“Each year, I arrive at this point trying to whittle down the year’s finest 50 spirits from among all those that received high ratings reviewed in the Spirits Buying Guides,” Pacult wrote in his introduction in WE. “The increase in higher ratings is not, I assure you, due to me becoming more lenient or indulgent with age. Just the opposite is true, my peers tell me, if anything, I’ve grown even more demanding after 20 years as a spirits evaluator.”

In his listing for True North Vodka, which ranked 90-95 as Superb/Highly Recommended, Pacult wrote: “Very nice bouquet consisting of pleasant aromas of bread dough, black pepper, new leather and toasted grain. The grainy toastiness and spiciness continue at palate entry; mid-palate shows a touch of spirit heat in line with the inherent peppery quality. Finishes with tastes of fudge, egg cream, toasted wheat and toasted rye bread.”

“We are elated to be listed as one of the top six vodkas in the country,” says Kent Rabish, who began distributing the True North Vodka in June 2007. “For someone of Pacult’s caliber to critique and rate this as among the best of the best is one of the greatest ways we can think to end 2009 and toast the New Year.”

The original True North Vodka has been ranked a “Gold Medal” spirit by the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) twice (92 - 2009 / 92 - 2007) as part of its annual International Review of Spirits Competition. It also received a “Gold Medal” rating in 2008 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where Pacult was Director of Judging.

True North is super-premium vodka that celebrates the natural gifts abundant to Michigan's 45th parallel. Ingredients originate from the beautiful Grand Traverse region, where the rich soils produce the quality rye and the crystal clear glacial waters blend to create this premium vodka. With these quality ingredients and the triple distillation process, each True North Vodka is truly one of a kind.

As a Michigan distiller, using Michigan grown grains is a top priority for the distillery. As such, Grand Traverse Distillery is proud to support Michigan agriculture and has purchased over 300,000 pounds of rye, wheat and corn from local farmers since it began distilling its hand-crafted spirits.

Hand-crafted in small batches, more than 4000 cases of True North Vodka, Grand Cherry Vodka and Wheat Vodka have collectively sold in just the past 30 months. It can be found in over 800 retail outlets and 250 restaurants/bars in Michigan and is distributed in Michigan by General Wine & Spirits.

For more information, log on to www.grandtraversedistillery.com

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Spend the Holidays at The Homestead

Couples and families will enjoy endless activities over the upcoming holiday season, at The Homestead Resort – America’s Freshwater Resort, in Glen Arbor.

Discover a place that's luxurious yet relaxed, nearby yet far away. It's a place that features fine design and inviting décor, exquisite food and memorable accommodations. Skating, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding - without crowds - are a part of it. So, too, are magical moments for families, sparkling fires, candlelit dinners and romantic interludes for couples. It's unlike you'll discover anywhere else.

Activities on the schedule this holiday season include:

Roasted Chestnuts & Hot Apple Cider (Daily, Dec. 26-Jan. 2)
Enjoy a classic tradition of chestnuts roasting on an open fire while sipping hot apple cider. Complimentary. At the base of Bay Mountain. 4:30pm daily.

Cookie Decorating (Dec. 27 & 29)
Children can enjoy cookie decorating at Camp Tam-A-Rack at 7pm. Complimentary.

Storytime Reading (Dec. 28)
Storytime reading with hot chocolate at Camp Tam-A-Rack. 1pm. Complimentary.

Guided Snowshoe Hike (Dec. 29 & Jan. 2)
Fun for the whole family! Guided snowshoe hike on the Bay View trail. Meet at Mountain Flowers Lodge. 7pm. (Snowshoe rentals available at Mountain Flowers Lodge)

Storytime with Fuzz Foster (Dec. 30)
Local storyteller, Fuzz Foster, entertains at Camp Tam-A-Rack as part of the Kids Night Out from 6pm to 9pm. Reservations required. $25 per child, includes snack.

Torchlight Parade (Dec. 31)
Watch the magic of a torchlight parade from the base of Bay Mountain. 8pm

New Year's Eve Dinner (Dec. 31)
Enjoy a special five-course New Year's Eve dinner at Nonna's with Chef John Piombo. Serving from 5pm to 10pm. $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Includes champagne toast at Beppi's.

Happy New Year! (Jan. 1)
Watch the New Year's Day Bowl games on six flat screen televisions at Beppi's. Open from Noon to Midnight.

Celebrating its Silver Anniversary in 2009, The Homestead is Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – a unit of the National Park Service. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; and world-class lodging, shops, restaurants, meeting centers and the luxurious new Spa Amira, throughout all four seasons.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Get in the Michigan Spirit of the Holidays

This holiday season, put yourself in the spirit with one of the many, unique distilled spirits made right here in Michigan. While vodka seems to be the preferred product here in the Great Lakes State, you’ll also find gin, rum, brandy and even whiskey, which make great celebration drinks or holiday gifts this year.

BLACK STAR FARMS (www.blackstarfarms.com) is one of Michigan’s most respected wineries, with locations on Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula and The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City. This selection of fruit spirits is available exclusively in their tasting rooms.

* Spirit of Apple Brandy: After a brief lapse of availability, this tasty spirit is back on the shelf, just in time for the holidays and the cold weather. This brandy has a distinctive fruit-driven style, a pale golden amber color, and is well-balanced opulence with sweet-wood apple and caramel aromas and mellowed, spicy warmth. Pour a little of our Spirit of Apple Brandy into your favorite snifter, swirl, smell and sip…ahh! Warmth all over, from head to toe. It's a great digestif after a delicious holiday meal. (**Available only in the Suttons Bay tasting room).

* Pear and its Spirit: This is without a doubt the most visual of the spirits. Coming in at 80 proof, this product features an actual pear inside the bottle. In spring, a bottle is tied over a budding branch in the pear orchard with hopes that a Bartlett pear will grow to maturity, inside the bottle. The pear is harvested, cleaned and washed and then the bottle is filled with pear brandy from the same orchard and hand-labeled in this special limited presentation. This “pear in a bottle” is a true collector’s item and can be prominently displayed. When the bottle is totally consumed, just purchase a bottle of Spirit of Pear and refill the “pear in the bottle” for many years of enjoyment. (**Available only at the Old Mission tasting room).

* Spirit of Apricot: Common to Hungary, this 80 proof brandy is crystal clear, full bodied, floral and velvety. The flavor is honeyed and indulgent. The fully ripe fruit is fermented on the pits and then distilled rapidly to retain flavor and aroma. The distillate is aged in glass, providing a fruity brandy with a lingering finish.

* Spirit of the Vineyard Red Grape Grappa: Made from the fresh must of Pinot Noir, Cabernet France and Merlot grapes, this 80 Proof grappa has all the characteristics of a fine Italian grappa, but because it is distilled, without the bit.

* Spirit of the Vineyards White Grape Grappa: made from fresh must of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Vignole grapes, this 80 proof grappa is smooth and very aromatic, with flowers an spice in the nose.

GRAND TRAVERSE DISTILLERY (www.grandtraversedistillery.com) spirits are available in about 1000 retail accounts and 200 bars and restaurants around the state and in Chicago. Tours, tastings and retails ours are offered on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the distillery in Traverse City. For those who enjoy whiskey, Grand Traverse Distillery invites customers to come in and purchase a 2- or 3-liter mini-whiskey barrel, and select from 5 different grain sources, to make their own whiskey.

* True North Vodka: Distilled with Michigan grown rye, this 80 Proof vodka was awarded gold medals in the 2007 and 2009 International Review of Spirits and gold in the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Rated by F. Paul Pacullt of the Wine Enthusiast “Highly Recommended” with 90 to 95 points and included in his ‘Top 50 Spirits of 2009”, one of only 6 vodkas from around the world to make this selected list.

* True North Cherry Flavored Vodka: You can’t create world-class vodka in the world’s largest cherry production region without capitalizing on the fruit that makes our region famous. This 80 Proof vodka is an exquisite product that is light, crisp, and delicious, perfectly echoing the natural sweetness and delicacy of the fruit. Adding a hint of chocolate with the final touch.

* Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka: 80 proof, $21.97. Using locally-grown wheat, this 80 Proof vodka scored a 93 point rating and gold medal at the 2009 International Review of Spirits. A value for the price, this wheat vodka is a little more neutral in character than the rye.

NEW HOLLAND ARTISAN SPIRITS (http://newhollandbrew.com/corp/profiles/distillery) are sold throughout Michigan and Illinois and are currently available at over 150 retail outlets and more than 100 bars/restaurants.

* Dutuchess Vodka: A clean and crisp vodka distilled from organic wheat, Dutchess is an excellent companion to boundless ingredients. Whether in a martini or your favorite holiday cocktail, Dutchess Vodka is sure to please.

* Knickerbocker Gin: A vibrant, aromatic gin twice distilled and infused with flavors from more than a dozen herbs and spices. Generous amounts of juniper-berries contribute a bright citrus and evergreen body, bursting with flavor before a clean, dry finish. Named for the Dutch explorers of a new world, Knickerbocker celebrates modern exploration in the historic realm of distilling.

* Freshwater Rums: A series of rums inspired by the majestic Great Lakes and distilled from a wash of fermented cane-sugar molasses, both domestic and Brazilian.

** Huron White Rum: A clean, bright rum with a delicate sweetness and hints of vanilla. The weather outside may be frightful, but Huron Rum cocktails are so delightful!

** Michigan Amber Rum: Barrel aging in oak presents a caramel color and deep body. A rich, smooth marriage of molasses and oak, Freshwater Michigan is a classic rum excellent for traditional rum-forward cocktails or served neat, perhaps with a single ice cube.

** Superior Single-Barrel Rum: Packaged from a single “honey barrel,” Freshwater Superior showcases barrel-aging in a robust, yet elegant presentation. A hearty rum, sure to complement an evening by the fire.

* Zeppelin Bend Whiskey: A culmination of New Holland’s brewing roots and a growing passion for distilling, Zeppelin Bend is a Straight-malt Whiskey, it begins with a brewer’s mash, coaxing sugars from malted barley into a liquid wash. This wash is twice distilled and aged in new American oak, with a heavy char. Notes of vanilla and clove arise from the slightly caramelized spirit, leading to a classic American-oak finish.

ST. JULIAN (www.stjulian.com) is Michigan’s largest, oldest and longest-operating winery. Purchase their distilled spirits at their original tasting room in Paw Paw.

* Grey Heron Vodka: Distilled from 100% grape spirits. It is distilled and filtered five times to achieve its smooth texture and rich palate. It opens with neutral wet stone and cream aromas. The refreshing, clean entry leads to a round, dryish medium-to-full body of smooth cream, and delicate spice flavors. Finishes with warming anise and sweet cream, making Grey Heron Vodka an instant classic.

* A & G Brandy: Aged grape brandy made from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris & Vidal Blanc grapes. Alluring nose of vanilla, hazelnut and butterscotch intertwined with toast, chocolate and anise. Flavors from the aroma emerge through the palate, making it soft and smooth. Years of patience and perseverance have brought us a new product that, once again, showcases the world-class quality of Michigan’s fruit belt. Gold Medal winner at the 2009 Tasters Guild competition.

UNCLE JOHN’S FRUITHOUSE WINERY (www.fruithousewinery.com) sells its spirits exclusively at its tasting room in St. John’s, on site with the historic family orchard.

* Apple Brandy: Subtle fruit, vanilla & spicy notes and pleasant toasted oak flavor, at 90 proof.

* Vodka made from apples: Clean and velvety smooth subtle hints of fruit in the finish, at 83 proof.

* Apple – Cherry – Pear: These sweet dessert wines are fortified with spirits from that fruit, at 17% abv.

VALENTINE VODKA (www.valentinevodka.com) offers one of first vodkas in the world, distilled from a multi-grain recipe in Southeast Michigan. Hand-distilled from a proprietary blend of barley, Red Michigan wheat and corn, medal-winning Valentine Vodka has a uniquely warm aroma, tasting notes of vanilla and caramel and a deliciously smooth finish. Valentine Vodka is available at nearly 500 retail outlets, including 100 restaurants and bars throughout Michigan.

Add a Little Michigan Sparkle to Your Holiday Season

Sparkling wines seem to have more appeal during certain times of the year – like the winter season. Celebrate the holidays or toast in the New Year with one of these Michigan favorites.

BEL LAGO (www.bellago.com)is situated in Cedar on the Leelanau Peninsula and is the maker of two method champenoise sparkling wines.

* Brillanté: A semi-dry bubbly made primarily from cayuga grapes. This was the top sparkler at the 2008 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, garnering a Double Gold. It also received a Concordance Gold at the 2008 Indy International Wine Competition, one of the largest international wine competitions in the country. Offering loads of fresh fruit and citrus flavors which explode in a delightful mouthful of fun. Made in an Italian Asti-style.

* Brut Sparkling Wine: Tiny bubbles to tickle your tongue. Beautiful pear, apple, and toasty nut bread aromas, with a creamy mousse. Chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meniuer, pinot gris, and pinot blanc make up this dry sparking wine.

BLACK STAR FARMS (www.blackstarfarms.com) is one of Michigan’s most respected wineries, with locations on Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula and The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City. This collection of sparkling wines is available exclusively in their tasting rooms.

* Brut: This 2004 sparkler is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from northwest Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula. Made in a brut style, it is excellent as an aperitif but versatile enough to be paired with a multitude of foods. Sparkling wine is the wine of choice for all of life's celebrations. This sparkling wine is delicate, fresh, and elegant with floral aromas and crisp fruitiness. The "fresh bread" nose is typical of wine produced in the methode champenoise.

* Be Dazzled: A dry sparkling wine made from pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot blanc, from the Old Mission Peninsula. It's an affordable choice for any celebration, or just because. A fun sparkler with fresh, crisp fruit flavors and an off dry finish, Be Dazzled was the only gold medal sparkler at the Michigan Wine & Spirits competition in 2009.

CHATEAU CHANTAL (www.chateauchantal.com) is perched high above its vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula, just a short drive up M-37 from Traverse City. These three sparkling wines are available at the and at more than 250 retail outlets and 50 restaurants throughout the state of Michigan. If your favorite store does not have the specific wine you wish, ask for it, they can order it from our distributor for you. They can also be shipped anywhere in Michigan and 10 other states.

* Tonight: A dry Riesling-Chardonnay blend "Blanc de Blanc" (a white wine made with white grapes) bubbly that is delightfully easy drinking to make tonight, or any night, special! This is a fun blend that works well as an aperitif with nibbles or served during the first course of a seafood meal. A great dry character also marries well with creamy cheeses for dessert. GOLD, 09 Taster's Guild International Wine Competition

* Celebrate: Semi dry pink bubbly, made from Chardonnay and a splash of red wine. Don't wait for a special occasion- make one! Bubbles pair well with the Holidays but are great year round too! Celebrate has a fresh and crisp feel and a peachy color that is beautiful. Not too dry and not too sweet, Celebrate is an all around crowd pleaser. It pairs with a number of salty and fried appetizers or creates happiness at your toasts. Serve chilled. SILVER, 08 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition

* Sparkling Cherry: A Traverse City delight! “Dr. Montmorency” recommends 2 servings of cherries per day, take yours in a flute glass! Pairs amusingly with strawberries, popcorn, spicy foods, salty appetizers, or fried foods. GOLD, 08 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition

FENN VALLEY (www.fennvalley.com) is the northernmost winery in the Lake Michigan Wine Trail, serving up two sparkling wines from its Fennville tasting room in western Allegan County.

* Sparkling Riesling: A semi-dry sparkler made from ripe Riesling grapes. This wine has a ripe apple fruit character with a hint of orange-muscat in the finish. The wine finishes clean with no yeast or "toast" character. The big fruit character and crisp acidity make this a refreshing compliment to festive gatherings and holiday foods.

* Premier Cuvee: The wine explodes in your mouth as the tiny bubbles release the fruit character of this totally dry sparkling wine. Premier Cuvee is a blend of hand picked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and was hand crafted using the traditional "methode champenoise" process, one bottle at a time. The lively fruit and clean, dry finish makes this a great food-friendly wine.

GOOD HARBOR (www.goodharbor.com) is a third generation vineyard and winery located on M-22 in Lake Leelanau. Boasting 65 acres planted to vine, including one of the largest pinot grigio plantings in Michigan, this winery’s products are found throughout the state at various retail outlets and restaurants.

* Moonstruck Brut: Made from 100% estate-grown pinot noir, these grapes are whole-cluster pressed, cool fermented without malolactic fermentation. Using the Charmat method, this sparkling wine is held 18 months en tirage and finished off in a brut style. This wine features fresh, delicate fruit aromas with a smooth, graceful finish.

KROLCZYK CELLARS (www.kcellars.com) sells its wines out of its Freesoil tasting room, as well as at select retail outlets in Michigan.

* Frothalicious: Offers unique flavors that will make you froth at the mouth. This bubbly will surprise you with its sweet taste, but dry finish. This sparkling will be featured at the Ludington New Year's celebration called "Light Up the Lake." There will be a lighted ball drop and toast at midnight using Frothalicious.

L. MAWBY (www.lmawby.com) Michigan’s exclusive Sparkling Wine producer – invites you to spend the holidays with one of their award-winning wines. L Mawby produces fine sparkling wines, both methode champenoise (under the L Mawby brand) and cuve close (under the M Lawrence brand). All wines are available at the winery’s Suttons Bay tasting room, on their website for direct shipping, and in wine shops and restaurants throughout the state. Also offering personalized label options.

L. Mawby wines are classic…

* Cremant Classic: A brut made entirely with estate-grown vignoles grapes that are hand-picked and carefully whole-cluster pressed to create an aromatic, yeasty, nutty-note wine. The juice is fermented in oak, then blended with reserve wines and fermented a second time in this bottle and aged en tirage before degorgement. This medium bodied wine has piercing fruit flavors and well-balanced acidity.

* Talismon: An estate-grown brut with a blend of vignoles, pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes, fermented in a solera system, then fermented a second time in the bottle for a strikingly aromatic, full-bodied sparkling wine.

* 2002 Mile: An estate-grown brut made from a single’ year’s harvest, chiefly pinot noir, with some pinot meunier and pinot gris grapes. Softly effervescent mousse…lovely, creamy-rich fruit, gently supported by ripe acidity.

* Blanc de Blancs: This Methode Champenoise brut, is made with primarily chardonnay grapes which offer spiced apple aromas, zesty and crisp, that finishes in a complex, mature manner. Truly stylish!

* Blanc de Noirs: A classy, moderately full-bodied, brut made entirely of pinot noir grapes.

* Conservancy: An extra dry sparkling wine with candied fruit aromas, moderately full-bodied, with a classy, lingering fruit finish. This cuvee benefits The Leelanau Conservancy’s Farmland Preservation Fund.

* Consort: Made chiefly of hand-picked chardonnay grapes, this sec sparkling wine features ripe fruit scents, mouth-filling fruit and toast flavors that are soft and yummy.

* Jadore: A demi-sec that is strikingly aromatic, with aromas of toast. This moderately full-bodied and deeply flavored sparkling wine is a blend of hand-picked vignoles, pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes.

M Lawrence wines are fun, fruity and stylish…

* Us: This pale yellow-gold brut is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, offering a complex fruit aroma and a crisp style.

* Sex: A brut rose…pinkish salmon in hue with red fruit aromas, yeasty accents and a fruity soft style. A provocative blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.

* Fizz: A demi-sec blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes that are hand-picked and carefully whole-cluster pressed to create a bubbly with ripe fruit aromas, soft-sweet flavors and a lingering fine finish.

* Wet: A sec wine, with hand-picked Pinot Gris grapes.

SHADY LANE (www.shadylanecellars.com) sells its award-winning wines from a former chicken- coop-turned-tasting-room in Suttons Bay in rural Leelanau County.

* Sparkling Riesling: An absolute favorite – an unabashedly fun wine. Beautiful fresh peach and green apple aromas, a hint of sweetness up front and a crisp, dry finish. Try this with a splash of Looza Peach Nectar for a quick and delicious Bellini.

ST. JULIAN (www.stjulian.com) is Michigan’s largest, oldest and longest-operating winery, boasts four sparkling wines which are available at their five tasting rooms and select retail outlets around the state.

* Michigan White Champagne: St. Julian’s original and most popular sparkling wines, an extra dry wine which is actually semi-dry in champagne terminology.

* Passionate Peach Spumante: Tropical passion fruit and p each juices are blended into this signature champagne to create an alluring bubbly, full of exotic aromas and packed with flavor.

* Michigan Raspberry Spumante: Fresh raspberry aroma with a delicious, dominate character.

* Michigan Cherry Spumante: Loaded with mouth-watering flavors and aromas of fresh Michigan cherries.

TABOR HILL (www.taborhil.com) is located on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail in Buchanan, home to an award-winning winery and restaurant.

* Grand Mark: Every exquisite bottle of Grand Mark is hand made and created with only the finest handpicked pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. Enjoy what is the hallmark of Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant. Voted Michigan Best Sparkling Wine 2007!

* Blanc de Blanc: A sparkling wine for everyone! With just a touch of sweetness our winemakers model this flavor profile after an Italian Prosecco. Great to pair with stuffed mushrooms, creamy sauces, seafood, fried fare, spicy Asian entrees and even potato chips or buttered popcorn.

* Spumante: A true Italian style Spumante’. This wine is a tribute to fourth Generation Italian wine making great Angelo Spinazze’ A special blend of our sweetest grapes makes this sparkling very crisp, very clean, and very sweet. A wine to be enjoyed with your favorite dessert or with a big bowl of fresh Michigan Fruit.

TWO LADS (www.2lwinery.com) is one of Michigan’s newer wineries, located in a 10,500 square foot facility on 58 acres on the Old mission Peninsula. Currently, 13 acres are established vineyards, with an additional 9 acres planted in May 2009.

* 2008 Sparkling Pinot Grigio: Release in the fall of 2009 and a fantastic success with all who’ve tried it. It is a fruit forward American sparkler with wonderful mousse texture and bright fruit. It is brut in style and we get comments about it’s Prosecco-like qualities often. Available at the winery only.

WARNER VINEYARDS (www.warnerwines.com) is Michigan’s second oldest winery, dating back to 1938. This family-owned boutique winery and tasting room is located inside the historic Waterwork’s Station in Paw Paw.

* Sparkling Demi-Sec: A popular new cuvée that abounds in subtle blends of fruity flavors. Elegant bubbles sparkle with a touch of sweetness.

For more about Michigan wines, visit www.MichiganWines.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift Ideas for the Michigan Camper on Your Shopping List

Even though the traditional Michigan camping season has ended for the year, the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) - Michigan has come up with a list of gift ideas for the camper on your holiday list.

• A campfire poker from Camp Masters in Cedar Springs, Michigan.

• A tri-pod campfire grill, patio carpet or water pressure regulator, available at various retail outlets - including the Michigan-based Meijer.

• A hammock, outdoor fire pit, patio heater, camp stove or one of dozens of other items from NorthlineExpress.com - a company operating in Roscommon, Michigan, since 1994.

• Merrell Hiking Boots made by Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, Michigan.

• A custom-made kayak from Betsie Bay Kayak in Frankfort, Michigan.

• A hand-painted campsite sign from CraftVillage.com in Southeast Michigan.

• Cozy beading (pillows, comforters, featherbeds) from Outdoor Adventure Down Outlet based in Traverse City, Michigan.

• An original Stormy Kromer hat cap made in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

• Nordic walking poles from SkiWalking.com, based in Glen Arbor, Michigan.

• Custom-crafted snowshoes or fishing nets, made by Iverson Snowshoes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

• A hand-crafted spinning rod, fly rod, casting rod or ice fishing rod from Rick Smith Custom Fishing Poles in Portage, Michigan.

• A GPS Unit…whether hiking or biking or geocaching, a hand-held GPS (global-positioning-system) is a hot item for any outdoor enthusiast.

RV, the movie, starring Michigan’s own Jeff Daniels.

• A 2010 Wild & Scenic Michigan calendar, available at Calendars.com.

• A subscription to RV Life, Pop-Up Times or Camping Life magazines.

Michigan - Off The Beaten Path by Jim Dufresne, Backroads of Michigan: Your Guide to Michigan’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures by Robert W. Domm or Scenic Driving Michigan by Kathy-Jo Wargin. For other titles, visit your local bookstore or Amazon.com and search Michigan camping or travel.

Totally Camping Cookbook by Helene Siegel, Campground Cookery by Brenda K. Kulibert or Camp Cooking: 100 Years by National Museum Of Forest Service History, available at local bookstores or at Amazon.com.

• The Michigan County Atlas, Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer or laminated state or county Michigan travel maps.

• A gift certificate to one of the nearly 200 member members of Association of ARVC-Michigan, available by calling any of the campgrounds directly (listed at www.MichCampgrounds.com).

ARVC represents nearly 200 member campgrounds with more than 32,000 sites available throughout the state. These private campgrounds are promoted in an annual Michigan Campground Directory, available at various locations statewide, including all Welcome Centers. ARVC’s mission is to lead in the development of the RV Parks and Campground industry through education, communication and representation. ARVC Michigan is a member of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.

Warm up with Winter Beers…Made in Michigan

The winter season is upon us – and with that comes hand-crafted beers made right here in Michigan. Whether pairing with your holiday meal, warming up after a day in the snow or giving as a gift for someone special on your holiday list, Michigan brews make the perfect selection.

ARBOR BREWING (www.arborbrewing.com)
Trappist monks in Belgium have been brewing big, delicious, malty ales since the 11th century. Most brew Dubbels and Tripels which are made with candi sugar and very robust yeast to withstand the higher gravity. Tripels are bigger, drier and lighter in color while Dubbels are darker, sweeter, and a bit milder.
• Phat Abbot Belgian-Style Dubbel: is a deep mahogany abbey-style ale made with Trappist yeast and dark Belgian candi sugar for a traditional, malty Trappist character. Rich and complex with flavors of toffee, caramel, dried fruits, and subtle woodsy notes. Spicy hops and medium carbonation balance the sweetness for a very drinkable ale. Available late February.
• Phat Abbot Belgian-Style Tripel: A deep golden abbey-style ale made with Trappist yeast and light Belgian candi sugar for a traditional, malty Trappist character. Rich and complex with flavors of toasted bread, tropical fruits, and candied oranges. Spicy hops and medium carbonation balance the sweetness for a very drinkable ale.
• Espresso Love Breakfast Stout: This decadent brew combines our creamy, hand-crafted oatmeal stout with fresh-ground, dark-roast, cold-brewed coffee for a bold coffee flavor without the bitter acids. The result is a rich yet delicate brew with a great espresso flavor, soft earthy notes, and hints of dark chocolate. A great beer is more than just the sum of its parts but even the best beers are only as good as the ingredients that go into them. That’s why we use 100% fair trade coffee locally roasted and ground to order by our friends at the Ugly Mug small batch artisan roastery. Available throughout Michigan January through April.

ARCADIA ALES (www.arcadiaales.com)
• Big Dick’s Olde Ale: Somewhat of a cousin to Barleywine, this is a classic English-style olde ale. Sweet and full-bodied malt flavors are complemented by a fragrant but mild hop bitterness. Sweet, bready malt aromas combine with rich flavors of dark fruit, brown sugar, caramel and sweet nuts. This is not only a BIG beer, it is a well-endowed ale!
• Cereal Killer Barleywine: Brewed in the traditional English style of barleywines, this beer is an explosion of full-bodied, malty goodness. Huge syrupy, flavors flow over caramel, toffee, molasses and toasty notes. All of these rich malt flavors are balanced out nicely by just the right amount of citrus-like hoppy bitterness.
• Imperial Stout: A limited release seasonal offering, this is a big, boldly-flavored beer fit for royalty. True to style, this beer is full-bodied and warming, with a creamy texture. Boasting rich, roasty aromas and flavors of roasted coffee, black currants, plums and bittersweet cocoa, this beer certainly packs a punch.
• Nut Brown Ale: This fall/winter seasonal is an easy-drinking medium-bodied English-style brown ales. Six varieties of premium malted barley provide the beer with a deep, mahogany color and a rich flavor. Hints of cocoa, dates, freshly-baked biscuits, and toasted almonds come to the forefront, while the malty, sweet finish is balanced by a smooth bitterness, subtle fruitiness and mild hop aroma.
• Shipwreck Porter: Nothing like 10-year-old Bourbon to add dimension to this beer. This Baltic-style porter has a robust, roasted malt emphasis that is nicely balanced by a slightly herbal hop bitterness. Aged for six months in 10-year-old Kentucky Bourbon oak barrels, this beer is a tasty and tasteful combination of brilliant flavors. Bourbon adds notes of Earth, vanilla, brown sugar and spice, while the barrels contribute mild, oaky tones. Cocoa and coffee notes co-mingle with toasty, malty flavors and a lingering alcohol warmth.

COPPER CANYON (www.coppercanyonbrewing.com)
• Blueberry Vanilla Cream Ale (5%): This is beautiful beer to finish out the summer. A nice, refreshing cream ale. This beer is brewed with 100% Michigan grown Blueberries, pure vanilla (including beans from Mexico and Uganda), and some lavender. This beer is well balanced and not overpowering in any of it's flavors. It is light with a tart, fruity character. It is hazy from the yeast and has a slight purplish hue. The hops are very subtle.
• Elzar's Spice Weasel Explosion (5.7%): Elzar is a 4 armed Neptunian chef that is the show Futurama's homage to the celebrity chef Emeril. In stead of him doing his usual “Bam!” with his “Essence”, they use a “Spice Weasel” to spread his spices. This beer is an interpretation of what might happen to a beer should a “Spice Weasel” explode. There are 16 different herbs and spices in this beer. This is a traditional spicy Christmas ale, with maple, nutty, and roasty hints and a complex melange of spicy flavors. There is a distinct bitterness presence also.
• Apple Streudel Tripel (9%): This is what Santa drinks when he gets back from delivering toys all Christmas Eve. This beer is tart and quite reminiscent of apple strudel. The apple and the pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, allspice) are all present. It is not bitter and is very smooth with a spicy sweetness. It is quite strong at 9% abv. The Belgian yeast we used imparts hints of bubblegum, clove, and banana.

On tap in the near future:
• IPL- India Pale Lager: Imagine if Germany was India's colonial power in stead of England, what would happen to the beer styles today. My interpretation is a stronger, hoppier pilsner. Not only is it hoppier, but hoppier with traditional European hops for a nice spicy zing. This beer runs in at about 6% abv.

DETROIT BEER CO (www.detroitbeerco.com)
• Black Magic: A big and pitch-black Russian Imperial Stout, offering high alcohol content, with a strong roast/coffee flavor.
• Chocolate Schwartz: A Chocolate flavored dark lager at 5.0%.
• Winter Warmer: A rich, malty ale with a slight warming effect, at 7.8%.

DRAGONMEAD (www.dragonmead.com)
• Excalibur Barley Wine: Big, complex and thick, this beer is a meal in a glass. It warms on the way down and for quite a while afterwards. This beer undergoes three yeast fermentations and spending over 120 days in the fermenter. When you are in an adventurous mood, try this international classic.
• Copper Shield Bitter Harvest Barley Wine: This beer is produced at the lower end of the barley wine scale. It is fermented to a very drinkable level unlike heavier Barley Wines. It has a generous dose of hops added to an International Bittering Level of 103.
• Jul Ol (pronounced Yule Ole) Norwegian Spiced Christmas Ale: This spiced ale makes for great sipping. Jul Ol is brewed in the tradition of an Norwegian dark ale. It is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. This ale is only available in December and January.

FOUNDERS BREWING (www.foundersbrewing.com)
• Porter: Pours silky black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet, with a strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders robust Porter the full flavor you deserve and expect. The mouthfeel is full and luxurious…cozy like velvet. It’s a lover, not a fighter.
• Imperial Stout: Brewed with 10 varieties of malted barley, this stout is smooth as silk, yet complex and rich in body. Serve this guy at cellar temperature. Put another log on the fire and sit back and enjoy the friendship of this ultimate winter warmer.
• Double Trouble Imperial IPA: Brewed to turn your world upside down. This is a well-balanced imperial IPA hopped with a combination of Summit, Simcoe and Amarillo. Hops have got you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front, paired with a malt-balanced backbone and a smooth, bitter finish make this a delicacy in a glass.
• Breakfast Stout: The coffee lovers consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, Sumatra and Kona coffee. This stout has an intense fresh roasted java nose topped with a cinnamon colored frothy head that goes on forever.

Founders will release a new beer in its Specialty Series called Nemesis. The beer is already creating a stir amongst beer enthusiasts. There are only a handful of people within Founders Brewing who actually know what the beer is – it has been kept very quiet. This is an extremely limited release and is only available once a year. The idea is to create something that is extraordinary, interesting and unique. Every year the beer style with change. Nemesis was scheduled to be released in December, but in keeping with Founders tradition, we felt the final product will be better if it aged a bit longer. It will be released when we feel it is ready.

GRIZZLY PEAK (www.grizzlypeak.net)
The name Grizzly Peak alone just exudes rustic Michigan, and these beers are waiting be enjoyed as you warm up beside a fieldstone fireplace with a good book or a good friend.

• White Christmas White Ale: A strong version of Belgian White Ale, with the same fruity, crisp wheat and spicy character, plus a bit of warming alcohol.
• Strang Wullie: A wee-heavy style Scottish Ale with lots of toasted and caramel malt and rich molasses-like flavors.
• Yakima Biere: A Belgian ale with American hops.
• Uber-Marzen (also known as the Dopptoberfest or Lost Pants Lager): Featuring double the amount of malt and hops, with a cold fermentation followed by two months of cold aging to give this beer a clean and crisp flavor, with rich malt and warming alcohol.
• Edwyn’s Warm-up Ale: An American strong ale, perfect for winter.
• Draconus: A Strong Belgian Dark Ale with big fruit, yeast, caramel malt and alcohol character.

HOP CAT (www.hopcatgr.com)
• Oil Rigger Imperial Stout: This one clocks in at an ABV of 10.5%. Simply brewed to be smooth and dry, but sweet and strong. It'll sneak up on you! The Oil Rigger release party is Saturday, January 16. That day we will be pouring OR all day, and have it available in 22oz bottles, while supplies last. We will also be holding The Official HopCat Crack Fry Eating Contest, as well as hosting the only Michigan appearance of Black Diamond - The world's only African American Neil Diamond Tribute singer. Events start at Noon.
• Bumbles Bounce Porter: Chocolate and caramel malts with a little cinnamon and allspice. A great winter blend at 6.9% ABV. This is appropriately named after the Abominable Snowman and is scheduled for a late December, early January Release.
• Black Scratch Fever Double IPA: Made with Chinook, Simcoe & Amarillo hops. This Black Double I.P.A. has a great caramel flavor with a smooth dark roast finish complimented by citrus & pine hops. A good winter warmer at 7.9% ABV. This one is a collaboration brew between the HopCat brew team and The PussyCat Beer Guild, a group of like minded women that meet at HopCat monthly to discuss all things beer. This is their first group brew, and we are very, very excited to showcase their collective talents. This is scheduled for a December 13 release.

JOLLY PUMPKIN ARTISAN ALES (www.jollypumpkin.com)
• Noel de Calabaza: Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops and hints of fruit and spice. The perfect accompaniment for all times of good cheer! Released early December 2009.
• Maracaibo Especial: A rich brown ale inspired by the enigmatic monastic brews of Belgium, and the mysterious mist shrouded jungles of the tropics. Brewed with real cacao and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel for a sensual delight. A brew to be sipped, savored and enjoyed! Released December 2009
• Madrugada Obscura: This Belgian inspired stout, dark as a moonless night, brimming of roasted malt and bitter hops, will keep you good company in all places, be they of light or of dark. Released January 2010

• Snowplowed: A very unique ale made with oats, rye, and juniper berries and its 6.5% ABV. It's as refreshing to adults as the words "snow day" are to a kid! Available in early January.
• Kilt Tilter: A Strong Scotch Ale with a hint of smoke.
• Tart Cherry Porter: Our award winning fruit beer available in December.
• Oak Aged Tart Cherry Porter: Same great beer but aged on French Oak for bourbon and vanilla character. Bottles only – limited supply.
• Foreign Extra Stout: A rich, stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee.
• Winter Wonderland Warmer: An Old Ale brewed with local ingredients – served hot after mulled with a spice blend.
• C-Monster: A hearty barleywine-style ale brewed with the ‘C’ hops and a monstrous ABV. A warmer for sure, this small batch will go fast.
• Oatmeal Crème Stout: A Loading Dock beer brewed with Craig and Jerry from BrewBubbas.com and tapped at the launch party for their new beer resource website; CraftBeerLocator.com. Check back at LibertyStreetBeer.com for the date, yet to be determined.

For Mug Club members only - “Anniversary Ale”: A Robust Porter, the base beer for the Tart Cherry Porter, prior to finishing and conditioning.

THE LIVERY (www.liverybrew.com)
• Telewhacker: An American brown ale hopped like an IPA, named in honor of Telemark skiers everywhere!
• Special C-A Czech style Dunkel: Malty with a spicy Saaz hop finish.
• Carvana: Brewmaster Steve Berthels' ever-changing birthday ale. Always hoppy, always high gravity, always released in February and available at the Michigan Winter Beer Festival.
• 1/10th of a Mountain Tele Lager: A lighter alternative after a day on the slopes.
• Karhu: A hugely hoppy alternative to 1/10th of a Mountain Tele Lager, after a day on the slopes.
• German Dunkel: A classic dark German lager
• Liverator: Our award-winning German style Doppelbock.
• TrippelWeizenbock: Our award-winning wheat lager.

MOTOR CITY BREWING (www.motorcitybeer.com)
• Holiday Hand-Crafted Beer Sampler Tool Box (12 Assorted Beers): Includes a selection of Motor City Pale Ale, Motown Lager (Pre-Prohibition Bohemian Style Lager), Ghettoblaster (English Style Mild Ale), Nut Brown Ale, Honey Porter, 120W-90 IPA (an American Style IPA) and 90W-40 Double Pale Ale (an American Style Double Pale Ale).

NEW HOLLAND BREWING (www.newhollandbrew.com)
• Cabin Fever Brown Ale: .A toasty, smooth drinking brown ale and a hearty companion for long, mind-bending winters. Its rye, roast and raisin notes play off a subtle caramel sweetness and culminate in a dry finish.
• Pilgrim’s Dole Wheatwine: A barleywine-style ale made with fifty percent wheat malt. Pilgrim’s Dole blends warming and slightly sweet flavors with a unique carmelized character. Excellent accent to nutty dishes, fruit crisps or crème brulee.
• The Poet Oatmeal Stout: Served all year round, The Poet is a beautiful beer for the winter. Its roasty tones have hints of chocolate and coffee, while oat flakes provide a soft mouth feel and lush creaminess to its body.
• Seasonal 12 pack: Six different beers, 2 bottles of each. Available at retailers across the State, it’s the perfect gift, whether you’re headed to a dinner party or a family gathering. Cabin Fever Brown Ale, Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, Mad Hatter IPA, Full Circle Kolsch, Sundog Amber Ale and The Poet Oatmeal Stout.

OLD BOYS’ BREWHOUSE (www.old-boys.net)
• Belgian Golden Strong: Light in body and color, we brew this ale with orange blossom honey and light Belgian candi sugar. A complex beer with significant fruity and spicy characteristics.
• Imperial IPA: A beer fit for anyone with a palate daring enough to give it a try. Hops, hops, and more hops. Loads of Simcoe, Cluster, and Amarillo are added during the kettle boil and even more of the same are dry hopped in the fermenter. If you are into hops, then this is a must-try.
• Chocolate Stout: ‘Tis the season for holiday beers, so we brewed something very special just for the occasion. Deeply roasted malts, dark brown sugar, vanilla bean, and lots of cocoa nibs all help make this beer a chocolate fan’s dream.
• Wee Heavy: A traditional Scottish ale of the strong variety. Rich and malty, the overall hop profile is subdued to allow the malt sweetness to really shine.
• Oatmeal Stout: Deeply-roasted malts contribute chocolate and coffee notes to this full-bodied ale. A silky-smooth texture from the flaked oats we add makes this a wonderful beer to drink after an all-day bout with the snow shovel.
• Winter Warmer: This high-octane ale sports a deep copper hue and all the spices you would find in a slice of apple pie. The fine Belgian yeast we use imparts flavors reminiscent of apple and plum. A big high-alcohol delight brewed to keep you warm during the long, cold winter months.

OLDE PENINSULA BREWPUB & RESTAURANT (www.michigan.org/Property/Detail.aspx?p=B845)
• Portage Street Porter: A medium-dark ale with noticeable caramel and chocolate notes both in its aroma and flavor.
• Vanilla Porter: Brewmaster Dan's original porter with a touch of vanilla.
Coming in January, the 4th release in the "Whole Lotta Hops" series of beers, featuring a distinctive IPA.
ROCHESTER MILLS (www.rochestermillsbeerco.com)
• Brown Ale: A rich, malty beer perfect for taking the chill out of the air. The use of Victory and Brown malts lend a roasted, nutty flavor profile to this winter favorite.
• Imperial Stout: This big seasonal beer is full of roasted malt flavor and aroma. Full-bodied, black in color, and high in alcohol content, Imperial Stout is sure to be a popular pint during the cold winter months. On tap December 23, 2009.
• Double IPA: This bigger version of our IPA is packed full of Cascade hops to satisfy every hophead's thirst for alpha acids. On tap January 2010.

SAUGATUCK BREWING (www.saugatuckbrewing.com)
• Vanilla Nutmeg Oatmeal Stout: A dark, rich stout with notes of vanilla and nutmeg. A great winter warmer.

SCHMOHZ (www.schmohz.com)
• Mad Tom's Porter: Deep and dark, malty with chocolate undertones, blended to a mildly biting roastiness. Smooth and warming, with a nice medium mouth feel. Available now.
• Zingiberene Ale: A light malt based ale using ginger rather than hops as the preservative. Dare to get unhopped and try the energizing elixir. Available now.
• Miracle Off 28th Street: Miracle is a paradigm of the finest malts and complex hop blends to build the superlative winter ale for mature tastes. Brewed as an Olde Ale exhibiting the seasoned character of our brew house staff! Enjoy the “Miracle” with family and friends in front of hearth and home. On tap in December.
• Kiss My Scottish Arse: In the spirit of Chas’ Great Uncle McGlean, this Great Ale will not only lift your kilt, but raise ye spirit to an attitude of mighty altitude. Presented with the best of malts, grains and the select hops, it will not be for the faint of pint raisers. Bring your bonnie lass and hold on! This beer will be released at the 2010 Michigan Winter Beer Festival on Saturday, February 27 in Grand Rapids.

SHORTS BREWING COMPANY (www.shortsbrewing.com)
All Available on tap in the pub, across the state and in bottles at your local retailer.

• Cup A Joe (coffee creme stout): The perfect morning night capper. Deep aromas of malt, sweet espresso and roasted cocoa. Flavor is robust with big malt character covered with cream and coffee. It’s a favorite coffee stout, rated World Class and a top beer on the planet by BeerAdvocate.com
• Über Goober (oatmeal stout fermented on fresh peanuts): A prominent chocolate nuttiness on the nose with a big, chewy, full flavor on the palate. Creamy oatmeal fused with peanut puree compliments rich caramel and roasted malts.
• S'more Stout (as in, what you make around the campfire): Graham Crackers, marshmallows and chocolate combine to add a unique flavor to this latest experimental stout. Some serve it with a lit marshmallow thrown in to add another dimension. Over six pounds of marshmallows in every keg.
• Mystery Stout: Imperial Oatmeal Stout with cocoa and molasses. It possesses rare flavor combinations which can overload even the most experienced beer connoisseur. Capture every bit of its warmth and wisdom, as it will demand all of your attention.
• Uncle Steve's Irish Stout (classic Irish stout): Classic Irish Stout with a full bodied creamy finished. This is one of the few beers that we brew to style. Available at the pub on a traditional nitrogen line.
• Peanut Butter and Jelly Stout: After multiple people tried blending Über Goober and Soft parade we did it for you creating PB&J.
• The Liberator: Double IPA featuring a Huma base with added tones of Nicie Spicie, Hangin Frank and Stellar Ale. A powerful beer celebrating Joe Shorts Birthday.
• Good Humans: Double Brown featuring an exclusive new malt from Briess Malt and Ingredients.

Not to mention Shorts will be rolling out 5 new experimental beers in December. Some are top secret, but two are Plum Rye Bock and Pistachio Cream Ale.

WALLDORFF (www.walldorfbrewpub.com)
• Tart Cherry Cinnamon Wheat: A wheat ale infused with Michigan tart cherries then aged with cinnamon to give you a nice holiday beer. A great beer to enjoy with sugar cookies and pie. 5.5% ABV
• Mocha Mint Porter: A nice brown porter steeped with a heavy amount of chocolate coffee and bruised fresh mint. This beer always makes me thirst for some dark chocolate or maybe just another one. 5.8% ABV
• White Fir Pale Ale: Pale ale bittered with a small amount of Columbus hops. 15 pounds of actual white fir tips are also used in this Colonial American style ale to give it a unique flavor yet making a very drinkable pale. This is a good one just to drink by the fire or with friends. 5.4% ABV 28 IBU’s.
• Walldorff Winter Warmer: This ale is now a year old (aged with American oak) barley wine known by the locals as SOFA KINGDOM BARLEY WINE. This big beer is very malty yet hoppy. Best enjoyed from a brandy snifter while sitting down. 11.5% ABV 85 IBU's

At the pub there will also some rotating seasonals like CANDY SNATCHER PUMKIN ALE and KENNY'S DOWNTOWN BROWN that you will have to stop by and check out.

Sample hundreds of hand-crafted Michigan beers – including seasonal brews – at the 2010 Winter Beer Festival, February 27 at Fifth-Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, just north of Grand Rapids.

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state. For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries, log on to www.michiganbrewersguild.org

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Michigan Brothers Seek to Shake Up the Economy with the Launch of Gourmet Salt Company

Undeterred by negative economic news, Christopher and Tyler McVety, two brothers originally from southeastern Michigan, recently launched an innovative gourmet food company, Beyond the Shaker LLC.

The McVety’s, along with dozens of other Midwest business partners in graphic design, print media, packaging and photography, worked for over two years developing the Beyond the Shaker concept. The company’s unique aim is to introduce home cooks to an extensive array of natural sea salts from around the world. In addition to educating consumers with blog articles and recipe ideas centered on the use of salt, Beyond the Shaker’s website offers an original line of chef-crafted gourmet blends that pair unrefined sea salts with premium organic, sustainable and locally-produced ingredients.

Chris, a self-proclaimed “foodie,” became interested in unrefined salts when he observed their debut in the dishes of several top restaurants in Chicago and Traverse City, Michigan. The McVety’s share a family vacation home in the Traverse City region, and so they frequent the area throughout the year. After graduating from the University of Michigan law school in 2000, Chris moved to Chicago where he is a partner in the corporate group of the law firm, Reed Smith LLP. Inspired by the gourmet salt movement he observed, along with a trend toward the use of organic ingredients, Chris began to develop the Beyond the Shaker business model with Tyler, who is a Senior Producer for E-Prize, an Internet promotions company located in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan.

As part of their strategy to differentiate themselves from competitors, the brothers formulated their premium line of salt blends in consultation with Executive Chef Eric Nittolo of the highly acclaimed Boathouse Restaurant in Traverse City. Chef Nittolo is well known for his use of local and organic ingredients in the seasonal menus he prepares for his restaurant.

Each Beyond the Shaker blend is hand made by Chef Nittolo from premium ingredients. Nittolo remarks, “I approach the Beyond the Shaker salt blends like any other five-star dish I would proudly serve at my restaurant. No other gourmet salt company that I know of is approaching blended salt in the same way, and the quality and flavor distinction is striking.”

Beyond the Shaker’s Internet site, which went public in July, serves not only as a portal for purchasing unrefined salts and blends, but is also a comprehensive guide to the world of gourmet salt. Visitors will find detailed descriptions of different types of salt including cooking suggestions and recipes, as well as a lively blog entitled “The SaltScribe,” which is devoted to salt-related topics. Since its launch, Beyond the Shaker products have been purchased by several retail locations in the Midwest, and the company plans to continue expansion into niche gourmet food markets across the country.

ABOUT THE COMPANY: Beyond the Shaker LLC is a gourmet food company specializing in unrefined sea salts and salt blends that use premium organic and sustainable ingredients. The Beyond the Shaker retail website makes available for purchase over twenty different varieties of salt, including eleven original salt blends that were created in collaboration with a chef from Traverse City, Michigan. These highly versatile blends include Citrus Basil, which is a tangy seasoning that combines fluffy Murray River salt with exotic lemon myrtle, organic basil, orange and lemon peel. The Citrus Basil blend goes well with crab cakes, on the rim of a margarita or sprinkled on fresh fruit (try watermelon). The Beyond the Shaker website also includes recipes, application ideas and other information about salt for its visitors.

For more information or to purchase any of the aforementioned products, please go to the Beyond the Shaker website, www.beyondtheshaker.com.

Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance Puts Specialty Food and Beverages in the Spotlight

The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director and Grape and Wine Industry Council Chair Don Koivisto announced the launch of a culinary tourism initiative in Michigan. The goals of the project are to increase menu offerings of local products at restaurants across the state, increase sales and profitability for Michigan specialty crop producers, and promote Michigan as a destination for culinary travel experiences.

"With agriculture and tourism as the state's second and third largest industries, it makes sense to promote Michigan as a rewarding travel destination for educational, healthy and tasty food experiences," said Koivisto. "The food and agriculture industry continues to grow even in today's economy, and the economic development boost the state could see from this type of collaboration will be significant. This is a tremendous opportunity to create increased business for the state's specialty crop producers."

MDA will help develop a Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance in partnership with the Michigan Restaurant Association and Travel Michigan. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with matching funds provided by MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.

"The Michigan Grape and Wine Council is thrilled to be a part of this innovative partnership to offer visitors a taste of what Michigan has to offer," said Linda Jones, Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council program manager. "From fine wines and craft beers to apple cider, maple syrup and dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries, Michigan menus are of great interest to residents and visitors alike."

The Michigan culinary tourism project was one of 745 grant recipients selected by USDA in 2009 under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a program designed to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops. Three additional rounds of competitive grant opportunities to assist specialty crop producers are anticipated in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

"We are excited to be a part of this project as many of our members are already actively supporting local producers and offering a unique Michigan experience when people dine," said Rob Gifford, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association. "With the coordinated efforts provided through this grant, we will expand these experiences and help make Michigan known as a travel destination, allowing consumers a chance to fully experience the bounty of our great state."

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is an 11-member panel that supports the growth of the grape and wine industry in Michigan. It is housed in the Agriculture Development Division of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, which is the official state agency charged with serving, promoting and protecting the food, agriculture and agricultural economic interests of the people of the state of Michigan.

For more information, www.michigan.gov/mda

Valentine Vodka Introduces Sweet Package for Valentine's Day

The name alone is the ideal marketing campaign for Valentine’s Day, but Michigan-made Valentine Vodka has sweetened their packaging for the romantic holiday.

In early January, Valentine Vodka will release its elegant 750ml bottle with an individually-wrapped piece of artisan chocolate. Hand-crafted by Mimi Wheeler of Grocer’s Daughter, the gourmet heart-shaped chocolate was developed specifically to pair with the smooth taste of Valentine Vodka. This special Valentine Vodka package will sell for $29.99 at retail outlets around the state of Michigan.

As Detroit’s first micro distilled spirit since Prohibition, Valentine Vodka is well on its way to setting the standard for ultra-premium hand-crafted vodka with its clean, crisp and uniquely flavorful taste. As one of the first distilleries in the world to use a multi-grain recipe, Valentine Vodka proudly utilizes a blend of red Michigan wheat, two-row malted barley and corn, which all come directly from Michigan farmers and suppliers.

Grocer’s Daughter also has growing reputation for quality, hand-crafted products. Based in the Leelanau County community of Empire, this family-run business prides itself on the use of all-natural and many organic and other naturally grown ingredients for its hand-crafted gourmet artisan chocolates.

The man behind Valentine Vodka is Rifino Valentine. A native of Leelanau County and a graduate of Glen Lake High School and Cornell University, where he earned a BA in Economics, Rifino spent 11 years on Wall Street as an independent trader before founding his own successful trading firm.

It was in 2005 that he returned to his home state to pursue his passion – to form a successful and locally-focused Michigan micro-distillery. After years of intense research and study, Valentine Vodka reached the retail market in March, 2009.
Through his hand-crafted products, Rifino hopes to draw on the inspiration and history that the City of Detroit brings when it comes to distilled spirits, as he develops and grows Valentine Vodka.

“We are excited to bring back a proud tradition the City of Detroit hasn’t seen in over 70 years,” said Rifino. “Few know about the pivotal role that Detroit played in the history of distilled alcohol during the Prohibition era in the 1920s and 30s. Literally overnight, Detroit became a multi-million-dollar Mecca of liquor – albeit illegal at the time – helping to shape the city’s history during the 20th Century.”

Currently, Rifino is distilling Valentine Vodka in Webberville, Mich. It is made one batch at a time, in limited quantities. Every step of the process is done by hand, from boiling the mash to the fermentation, from the three distillation runs to the charcoal filtering. Valentine Vodka is distributed at more than 400 retail outlets around the state, as well as being on the menu at select bars and restaurants throughout Michigan.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of Valentine Vodka, Rifino has undertaken the renovation the former American Forge building, in the heart of Detroit. In 2010, this 7000-square foot building will become the permanent home of the Valentine Vodka distilling, bottling and business operations.

“We are excited to move the entire manufacturing process to the city of Detroit,” Rifino said. “Our goal is to bring an exciting new business to the downtown area and put Detroit back in the national spotlight for manufacturing world-class products.”

For a list of retail outlets carrying Valentine Vodka, as well as a menu of signature cocktails, log onto www.ValentineVodka.com