Beer City USA

Woah there hillbilly

Just saw my waitress deliver a tray of three Miller lite beers with three shots of whiskey.

Maybe they should just step up their beer choice to a beer that has more than 3.5% alcohol in it. We are the craft brew capital afterall.

These kids these days. Amateurs.


Bookworks’ longstanding relationship with the Wood Engravers Network (WEN) has recently given way to an exciting collaboration to be completed in September. As an ode to our city’s unique craft beer industry, twenty-six members of the WEN have used their vivid imaginations - and talented wood engraving skills - to create intricate labels for fictional beers. These labels will be adhered to one-of-a-kind prints of beer bottles that will be completed by Bookworks co-op artists. Finding my description hard to visualize? The photos accompanying this post should give you a better idea of this ingenious printmaking marriage. 

Sandy Webster, whose beer bottle print is pictured above, is the first of twenty-six Bookworks co-op members who have completed her part of the equation. For all of you lucky folks out there: mark your calendar for Bookopolis (September 21st and 22nd!) where you’ll be able to enter into a raffle to win a compiled and bound print portfolio of the final collaborative pieces. Unlucky folks, don’t despair: you’ll still be able to view these prints in an exhibit that will be hung during Bookopolis.

1st photograph: Climax Beer, Earl Nitschke. Buckwheat Ale, Nikki Vahle. Occu IPA, Colleen Dwire. Quick Gold Pale Ale, Fiorella Mori. Wall St Stout, Sandy Webster. Silver Springs Lager, Gale Mueller. 2nd photograph: Sandy Webster. 

My final entry in Asheville Brewing’s coaster art contest, aptly titled “Beer City USA.” Pen and colored pencil on a coaster. In case you can’t tell, it’s supposed to be a map of Asheville on a keg, with the river flowing out of the tap, and some mountains in the background.

When I turned in my entries, the waitress saw this one and exclaimed “I want a tattoo of this!” She said they were the best she’s seen. Hopefully that translates into me winning, or at least getting honorable mention. Fingers crossed…..

Kenosha Ballers down GR Fusion 132-114

In the home opener of their second season here in Grand Rapids, the Fusion entertained the crowd but came up short against the Kenosha Ballers, 132-114. 

As the crowd settled into their seats, DJ Word warmed up the atmosphere with some of today’s hottest beats as mascots Sparky the Astronaut and the yet-to-be-named “Dog” worked their way through high-fives with kids and parents alike. Rodney Guyton, in his debut as the announcer for the Fusion, welcomed the crowd and introduced the teams before getting to work during the contest. 

The game got off to a quick IBA pace using a 22-second shot clock, but a bit surprising because of the limited number of players in uniform for each team. Ty Motley(Aquinas) and Darren Washington(GVSU) helped Derrick Brooks(Davenport) get some easy shots early as the lead changed hands many times before they settled at 26-25 to end the 1st quarter. 

The Fusion scored the first 7 points of the 2nd quarter, taking a six-point lead before the teams continually tied the game on consecutive baskets. Kenosha’s Thomas Cobbs(San Diego) was key for the Ballers in the 2nd quarter as they took a 56-51 lead in to the halftime break. 

Ballers’ coach Tony Moore started out the 3rd quarter by double teaming the Fusion’s ball handlers while taking a 9-point lead and forcing Fusion coach DeMarco Wilkinson into using a timeout. With the score 81-73 and2:20 left in the quarter, Cobbs and the Ballers used a 9-5 run to take a 12-point lead entering the 4th quarter. 

After a GR turnover on a fast-break attempt, a three-pointer by Kenosha put them up 93-78. The Fusion fought hard, but after a Brooks technical foul with 10:03 left, the Ballers hit a three to stretch the lead to 20 points at 101-81. GR couldn’t do much to shrink the lead the rest of the way. Even Motley’s late highlight basket (below) didn’t deter the Ballers from keeping the up tempo style active.

Although they would lose 132-114, the Fusion should know that their fans and those newcomers in the crowd were very happy with their effort and the product on the floor. Some even spotted former NBA players Reggie Jordan (Fusion GM) and Dennis Bell (Rec Debut) in attendance. 

Knocked another brewery off the list last night, Asheville Brewing Company, in downtown Asheville. While browsing the chalkboard drink list, I inquired about one the Escape Artist. Asing the bartender what style it was, he responded, “It’s a Jalapeno Pale Ale.” Completely thrown off, I was stoked! That is the exact same style I just brewed at home and so of course I had to give it a shot (turns out all it would end up being was a shot). 

He placed the pint glass under the tap and not even halfway full the tap stopped. He said he would be back, he had to go switch over the keg. When he came back he said to me “Well unfortunately there are no more kegs in the back.” Marginally disappointed I asked if there would be more brewed and he assured me with a confident “yes.” If fact, he mentioned that it had been so popular that Asheville Brewing Co. (ABC) was considering canning it. A recent initiative in the Asheville craft beer scene, ABC had begun to can their brews for sale. Up until this point canning was an expensive process and harder for small breweries to break into. In a turn of technologies and encouragement for more sustainable approaches to the distribution of beer, canning has become more and more popular with larger microbreweries such as New Belgium and others. 

Back to Asheville though, the Jalapeno Pale Ale, what little bit I had, was incredible. A great deal stronger than my homebrew. When I asked how it was executed, I found out that through secondary fermentation, the pepper heat was extracted into the beer. A big bag of roasted and freshly cut jalapenos, gave the beer it’s distinct taste and set in even stronger during that second stage of fermenting. It’s a great thing to be able to taste a professional brewer’s beer and compare it to my own batch. It’s also very encouraging to taste that my 3rd beer ever brewed isn’t too far off from a popular selection in Beer City USA. 

With a full pint of the Escape Artist out of the question, I went with the reliable Ninja Porter, a classic ABC beer with all the characteristics of a porter. First time having a beer at the Downtown ABC, I typically enjoy their drafts at the Brew n’ View in North Asheville. Nice venue downtown, with a great spot to sit outside and enjoy a cool summer night. 

Asheville Brewing Company is a strong proponent of Hunter S. Thompson’s opinions on beer, so much so that they put it on their merchandise. What better quote to finish off this brewery right up with than his famous one, “Good people drink good beer”

Beer City, USA

Toured 3 breweries in Asheville: Highland Brewery, Green Man Brewery, and Wicked Weed Brewery. Sampled a lot of beer and found out that I liked much more than I realized. Highland was probably my favorite, I liked everything that I tried, Highland Gaelic Ale is outstanding. Wicked Weed was by far the trendy place to be it was packed with the young “trendy” crowd.

Did I say I drank ALOT of beer?!