Fall is upon us. Football is in full swing, school is in a routine, and the temperatures are starting to drop (I love sweatshirt weather). It’s my favorite season. Yet, Summer is great too. It’s a time to spend with the family. Since we didn’t go on a trip for our 16th anniversary, Wifey and I decided to get out alone more on “dates”. One of the places we decided to go to for an afternoon was Frankenmuth Michigan.
Frankenmuth holds a special place in my heart. A dark place. My best memory of Frankenmuth is beating their football team in a huge rivalry game as a senior in high school . . . and playing the Chicken Dance song. You see, I grew up near Frankenmuth (otherwise known as Chicken City). They were rivals. They hated us. We hated them. They looked down on us. We called them snobs. They called us hicks. We thought they might secretly be brilliantly disguised aliens with orders to take all of us prisoners and make us their pets. At least that’s what my teammates and I came up with.
It’s funny, you would think that time would erase those feelings. You know, time heals all wounds and such. It may heal wounds with those you are around every day, but those you don’t see anymore? Not so much. One of the things I have noticed being a teacher is that I remember my students as I had them. I get former students that come back to see me and I’m always impressed how they have grown and changed. Much like my former students, I still picture that town like I remember it. Just like in the glory days, the tourists are still lined up like sheep to take a picture of the glockenspiel. The year round Christmas store Bronner’s, and the restaurants Zehnder’s and The Bavarian Inn (hence the nick name Chicken City) are still the heart of the town. My son’s youth football team played Frankenmuth a few years ago and I think I was more pumped than they were!
Well, I found out much has changed in 21 years since I graduated high school. They had an art fair going on. They have a whole new outdoor mall area with some interesting shops (Grand Traverse Distillery and a shop that won an episode of Cupcake Wars, Sugar High). They have a Military and Space Museum. Many of the shops I remember are gone, replaced by new ones. It has grown tremendously. I’m ashamed to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Frankenmuth. I suppose I will take some gruff from my former team mates for this post, but I would return with Wifey.
One of the places that has grown is the Frankenmuth Brewery. They have put in quite a nice restaurant and they give brewery tours. We took the tour and than I tried out one of their brews, a black ale called the Tornado.
On my notes I took:
Taste – Malt beginning and end with a hoppy bitterness in the middle. Slight hint of chocolate in the aftertaste.
Smell – Bitter chocolate, malt, and a hint of floral tones
Mouth Feel – Smooth, full bodied but not thick, feels like a stout, but not as heavy, foam has almost a creamy feel
Look – Great look. Dark with thick, beige foam.
They give you a great beer list and what to look for in their beer (I didn’t use this, just sayin’).
It’s a very satisfying beer. Then again, I do love black ales, but this is one of the better black ale’s I have had. Brewed right on the premises, it was fresh and flavorful. The tour was great. The Brew Pub, sits right on the Cass River, so the scenery was beautiful (we did sit at the bar inside).
The only issue I have with the beer is that it’s only available at the restaurant. It would be a regular of mine if it were available at my local purveyor of fine malted beverages. Are you listening Frankenmuth Brewery? Maybe bottling Tornado would go a long way in putting a bright light in that dark place in my heart.
Hopslam. The name is gold for many a beer snob. I’ve seen people on facebook and talked to people who look forward to the day it’s released. Actually, it’s a mad rush to the store to purchase it. Well, I had never had one before the Wifey and I had our annual tax day date. We ventured to the Fenton Hotel and had a very nice meal. During that wonderful evening, I tried a Bell’s Hopslam. Wow, was it good. I’ve had some pretty exclusive Michigan beers before. In my opinion, Hopslam bests them all.
It has a very hoppy taste (duh, the name tells you that), but it’s not overly bitter like other pale ales (it’s a double India pale ale, for you beer snobs out there). It has a strong hop taste at the start. The middle has a slight tart, citrus taste while the finish has nice, mild hoppy bitterness to it. Now, I am a fan of the Two Hearted Ale by Bell’s as well, but this is much smoother. If drank from a glass (like all quality beers should be), the aroma has a strong but pleasant bouquet of hops, citrus, and even a slight floral tone. One note: this is a very strong beer. It contains 10.0% alcohol, so you have to be very careful as it doesn’t taste like it’s that strong.
This beer is not cheap. I found it at my local market for $17.99 a six pack. I bought one and it was well worth it. If your local purveyor of quality malted beverages has any left, buy a six pack and enjoy. I did.