This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

State #9: Michigan

Beer: The Poet Oatmeal Stout

Brewery: New Holland Brewing, Holland, Michigan

ABV: 5.2%

Is Edgar Allen Poe the poet to which this beer's name alludes? Is that his famous raven on the bottle? Didn't Poe live in Maryland? Will drinking five of these things help me answer any of these questions?
The state of Michigan has fallen on hard times lately. A bastion of manufacturing in an economy based increasingly on pushing papers and manning fryers, jobs have been fleeing the state while our cars are increasingly being built across the Detroit River in Canada. These kinds of tough times mean Michiganders deserve a beer or two.

Industrious? Got eighty bucks lying around? Buy land in Detroit and start growing hops! Do hops even grow well in Michigan? I have no idea, but you have your pick of available lots to give it a try.
The good news is that craft brewing is alive and well in Michigan. Perhaps the can-do, industrial spirit of the state is perfect for making good beer. In particular, Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo has gained a reputation among beer snobs as being top-notch, and there are at least two dozen other breweries operating in the state.

Unfortunately, Bell’s isn’t available anyplace I ever really go. Fortunately, though, New Holland Brewing Company, confusingly based in Holland, Michigan (no ‘new’ in the name), distributes a bit further afield, and I was able to pick up some of their wares this past winter when I was in New Jersey.

It's a windmill. Because the brewery is in Holland. Get it?
It being winter, I was still enjoying an inordinate number of porters and stouts, so I opted for The Poet, New Holland’s take on oatmeal stout. It was probably about the fifth beer I had on New Year’s Eve (and the eighth, and the tenth), so I don’t remember too many details about it, but I do recall it being good. The Poet was a bit bitter, not because it couldn’t get its stuff published in any quarterly reviews (nyuk nyuk), but rather because brewing with oats imparts a bitter flavor. It also had an impressive mouthfeel! That’s about all I remember.

I promised I wouldn't be pretentious and talk about mouth-feel, but New Holland did the talking for me with the back label of the bottle.
Holland, Michigan, and its namesake brewery are so named due to a profligate number of Dutch settlers on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in the 19th century. This Dutchiness has carried on into modern times, as the town hosts a big-deal tulip festival and votes for Republicans with names like Hoogendyk and Hoekstra (the charmer who thought it was appropriate to approve this message). While Dutch beer typically attracts those with little taste (their Belgian neighbors to the south have a much better grasp on brewing), the New Dutch at New Holland are okay in my book. Besides, New Belgium was taken anyway.

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