|New Holland Brewery 2011
Forgetting the Ohio/Michigan rivalry, I LIKE to visit Michigan -- it has a great outdoors feel to it (rather like being in Canada) and at just a 5-hour drive away,
it also has the New Holland Brewing Co where myself and Lady Roberts spent a long weekend there during New Holland "Tulip Time".
Holland is part of what's known as the Art Coast of Michigan and the proliferation of artsy shops and galleries bears witness to this. Not forgetting, a
gorgeous sandy beach "coast-line" on the shores of Lake Michigan and a bloody great red lighthouse, now an historic site. For the botanists amongst us,
Holland boasts a Tulip Festival every May featuring over a MILLION Tulips!
But, to the beers. Our visit to the brewery totalled several hours, and with no less than sixteen of their own beers on tap - plus two ciders - one needed
several hours for some serious drinking. Having said that, I ended up sticking to the on-tap beers that I really liked, as it's rare to find any New Holland beers
on tap in the Ohio Cowtown. Mind you, the horse & cart ride that we took, followed by a midnight Latte really rounded off a splendid evening.
1) Poor Richard's Brown Ale (6.5%). This ale is brewed with help from the Brewers Association, and is a recreation of the type of beer Thomas Jefferson
brewed for his pals while contemplating plans to irritate good King George III. It's very malty, with notes of aniseed. Now, I'm an aniseed bloke and would
never say no to a good bottle of Ouzo, but Poor Richard's Ale had just too much of a malt taste for my likening. Not a bad beer, but with plenty to pick from,
this was a good one to get out of the way. 4/10.
2) Red Tulip Ale (6%). Their summer seasonal. Another malty epic, although considerably more bitter with less body than Poor Richard's Ale. Rather like
Morland's Tanner's Jack (read Greene King Tanner's Jack) on speed. Again, not really my cup of tea. 4/10.
3) Cabin Fever Ale (5.9%). A rather malty amber ale, with a hoppy undercurrent, reminiscent of the ghastly Eliot Ness Vienna-style Lager from Great Lakes
Brewing Co. Hoppy = good; Amber = dodgy. Unfortunately, the amber malts took control, giving us a decidingly dodgy beer. 2/10.
So, after three rounds we had Malts 3 Hops 0.
It had to get better, and in the second half, it did!
4) Mad Hatter IPA (5.5%). The very reason we were making this trip (at least on my part!). With Mad Hatter being a star at AleFest 2006, I really had to try
this stuff on tap -- and my goodness, it didn't disappoint! On tap, the IPA is a little softer in taste, with less need to heavily hop it (which is done in order to
survive in bottled form). Mad Hatter is every bit as good as the superbly over-hopped Three Floyds IPA -- rich and hoppy, with a delicious aftertaste. Worth
the drive alone! And, I might add, several pints of this little beauty were enjoyed by my good self. 11/10.
5) Mad Hatter IPA aged in oak whisky barrels (11%+). Gordon Bennett -- What a ripper! Did someone mention an ABV of over 11%??!! Smell the glass,
and all you can smell is whisky. Drink the liquid and after a pint you're calling for an ambulance! It's considerably sweeter than the "normal" Mad Hatter and
the whisky certainly takes full control. A nice touch from the New Holland brewers, and not for those of a nervous disposition. 9/10.
6) Black Tulip Trippel Ale (10%). They like strong beers in this part of the world. The only other Trippel I've had the misfortune to taste was the horrific
Great Lakes Brewing Co. Anniversary Ale. I mean, that ale was as rough as a badger's arse. Good job we had a clogged sink in the house, as Anniversary
Ale = Liquid Plumber.
Anyway, Black Tulip is their Spring seasonal "heavy gravity" ale. This is not a beer that you gulp down at at football match, with a bag of soggy fish n' chips
(while swearing at the opposing fans) -- I have learnt that a Trippel has to be sipped. And, it sips well. It's hoppy (a good sign), with an almost candy
sweetness to it. Quite syrupy too. I liked this beer a lot, and with my dear missus recently enjoying a bottle of St.Bernabus Trippel Abbey Ale (8%) from
Whole Foods Market, I picked up a bottle (22oz) of Black Tulip for her to enjoy at The Manor. 8/10.
7) Dragon's Milk Ale (9%). Oh shite, high-gravity ales rule in Michigan! Dragon's Milk is their Winter "heavy gravity" ale, also aged in oak whisky barrels.
It's as dark as shite, and taste-wise, it has a bitter, caramel / vanilla / malty taste. Sort of what Porters should taste like, if they didn't taste like absolute
bollocks. The sweet whiskey counterbalances the malt bitterness (I think Michael Jackson would have called this a "complex" beer). 8/10.
A bit of a ripper, I bought a 22oz bottle of Dragon's Milk back for the upcoming darts fest at The Manor. And much enjoyed it was by the drunken collection of
darts players -- "ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY!".