2012 in Review, Part I: Michigan beer & mead.

Compared to the ongoing tumult in the whiskey world, the world of Michigan beer and wine was an ocean of calm in 2012. Calm, but not dull. Optimistic, joyful, or hopeful might be the best words to use. The world of craft beer, Michigan continues to be a leader despite increased competition. Bells is taking its place as one of the largest and most successful microbrewers in the country. Founders and New Holland confirmed their positions and justified their positions as leaders in the movement as well.

Many brewers experienced various sorts of growth in 2012. One of this blog’s favorites, Arcadia Ales, announced that they are expanding their operation and moving to the belly of the beast, as it were, Kalamazoo, Michigan, home to Bells. They will keep their pub and restaurant in Battle Creek, but the majority of the brewing operations will be moving into the new facility. They also expanded their canning operation to include their delicious Sky High Rye. Also expanding was Jolly Pumpkin. They are set to open a new pub and restaurant in Royal Oak, Michigan, Sipology’s home town, sometime soon. The place was rumored to be opening last fall but the Jolly Pumpkin never appeared. The bankruptcy of the former owner of the building the brewery has its eye on may be to blame for the delays. Real estate problems aside, the growth in popularity of sour beers has brought a lot of interest to Jolly Pumpkin. Milking It Productions is already in Royal Oak, and has also been slowly expanding their range and their reach. Their Jet black lager and Sno White Ale (recently reviewed) are both excellent and quick sellers judging by the short amount of time they spend on shelves. The “up north” brewers, like Short’s, North Peak and Keweenaw have continued to expand their offerings and distribution as well.

B. Nektar meadery in Ferndale, currently just a mile or so from Sipology HQ, is also moving and expanding. The new facility is a five minute walk from the old one and will include a tap room. It will no doubt be an improvement on their current set up for tastings: three card tables with bottles and a cash register. B. Nektar continued to release interesting meads with mass appeal this year, like Zombie Killer, Evil Genius and Naughty Ginger. Their most intriguing release this year was Sleeping Giant, a wildflower mead aged in former rye whiskey barrels. They were expensive ($24 for a 375 ml bottle) but promise to be one of the coolest things they’ve done. Maybe I’ll review it soon. Maybe I’ll just let it languish in the cellar for a few years.

2012 in wine and cider next.

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