Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wilbo Celebrates One Year of Drinking Beer at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, @PureMichigan

Logan White is the first of three acts today at Pigeon Hill's First Anniversary Party, final act starting at 7 PM, a band called Dragon Wagon. It's lovely to see the tap room garage doors up, making a beer tent part of an expanded tap room. Forget about the first robin of Spring. It's all about the first Muskegon Beer tent after Friday, March Twentieth! 

All right, it's a bit of money to be fourteen dollars in and just have my first glass of Barrel Aged Coffee Brown in my mitt. And yet, I was here their first night and I've repaired here many nights since then, always welcomed with a smile and a chat and all too often, a beer sent over by a close friend or a random acquaintance. Of course, I'll be here and hope they'll take my sawbuck and grow up big like Founders or Bell's or Darkhorse. Work has begun on the bowling alley space near the Frauenthal Theater, a space that once housed the unfortunate Club Envy and soon will host the expanded brewing operations of Pigeon Hill.

Saying that aloud, the moment got interesting. A young man in in Pigeon Hill hoodie interjected, "Grow up big like Short's, big enough to knock out PBR taps with Local's Light statewide and yet small enough to be personal, a hometown tap house in Bellaire, Michigan. And not Bell's, picking on a little guy brewer in the Carolinas". And we picked up talking about the pluses and minuses of Larry Bell, for whom I have sympathies. Turns out, I met this young man Christmas Eve when we took advantage of a few brief hours to fill up growlers. The young man has an ambition to sip his way through the barrel releases, augmenting with the five standard pours, drinking water to pace himself. This really is going to take all day. His father has plans to put in a field of barley later this Spring and he has bought a post hole digger as he's putting in a few rows of hops on his daddy's spread in Fruitport.

As much as I would love to occupy my usual stool all day and onto the evening at the corner of the walnut plank bar top, I have some ambitions for my Saturday, including a few hours of work at the offices. As friends and acquaintances touch base and catch up with me, my will to pass time anywhere else wanes. The scent of maple burning in the clay oven of Forno de Pizza has a sedative effect upon me, an ancient incense that evokes the long houses of Native Americans where scores of men, women and children, four or more generations, lived in harmony. I split my second Coffee Brown with a buddy just to strengthen my resolve to leave this kiva and enjoy sunshine shining on my windshield as I drive by Lake Muskegon. I'm facing the same sweet dilemma of the Lotus Eaters of Greek mythology. The Lotus Eaters didn't get away and, so far, neither have I.

So I'm at the bottom of my second round of Coffee Brown and I turn to wondering. What kind of beer is it? Bartender Chris has details by the barrel. Served up by nitrogen powering the tap, the foamy crema has finer bubbles to pop with flavor with those first tentative sips. It's based upon the standard brown ale known as Snoring Brown Basset Hound, coffee from Kenya added. The coffee has a slight fragrance that a guy has to thrust his nose, like a Basset Hound, into the mug to sense. Yet, it's there, subtle, like a perfume from an early Spring snowdrop. Nice when ones bartender turns out to be a poet and a bearded one at that. Coffee Brown is one of three barrel aged features today, Golden Strong at Five and Wild Rumpus at Seven, a beer line-up to compliment the band lineup.

Will Juntunen

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