"Sea Salt Stout" is the recipe for the Black Perle beer from Harmony Brewing Company. I had to practice several times before I could say sea salt stout without sounding a touch of the aphasia. As I had a neurological examination Wednesday, I'm sure it's the vowels that make it hard to say. I also verified every letter of perle, rather than pearl. "It's name after the Perle Hops", says my fast moving, fast speaking bar tender, who dispatched about a hundred dollars worth of waitresses orders in the time required to answer my question. I was a quick young man once and yet I was never that quick. He reminds me, with his big frame glasses and his knit cap, of one of the young men who rave all night long to the music of Mux Rec bands like Skee Town Stylee or Buffy the Beat Slayer. He wears a second hand cardy open to reveal his vintage Nirvana tee, slacker uniform, and yet his productivity outpaces that of Spring robins building nests with materials flown in clenched between upper and lower beaks.
Today at the crossing of Wealthy and Lake streets in Grand Rapids, the final day of February arrives sunny and the sky hints at blue hues of summer to come. The crossing has almost all one could desire on a "loose ends" high noon, a barber shop, sandwich shops and a brew pub. The thermometer declares today a day in a cold snap week. The sun declares today a turning point after Chinese New Year has celebrated the return of the sun to the land. There's no beating this sun, even cold air as spinning tops snapped off a polar vortex whirling south over the Midwestern landscape can't beat that sun. I can feel the harbinger spirit of Spring as much as the skinny branches on top of sugar maples feel pulses of sap. We can deposit the hope of a totally unused Spring and brand new Summer into our emotional banks.
Space is at a premium at Harmony Brewing Company. Park in the Subway lot next door and expect to be towed. Arrive at the western door and step into the waitressing hutch. Expect to be swiftly given a seat at the bar or table as the snug, cozy even harmonious space has no room for loitering or even standing around dumbstruck by the three tiers of beers, the complete menu or the fairly complete bar with call liquors. I erred. As Unruly Brewing Company and Pigeon Hill Taphouse are both capacious, spacious and exceptionally gracious, the two house allow outside food to the tables, even arranging special deliveries from Whistle Punk Pizzeria. Harmony has a kitchen tucked away that serves farm to table pizzas to salads with biodiversity that rivals a rainforest. I ordered up a bowl of soup and I'll go back to Subway to enjoy the tuna grinder I carried into the taproom.