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Schmohz Brewery N

by Kelly Quintanilla |

ESTLED BETWEEN Patterson Ice Center and Babies ‘R’ Us is Schmohz Brewery, an unassuming and unpreten- tious brewery serving up a basic-yet-fine-tuned board of brews. “We brew what we like,” says Brewer Chas Thompson.

“Which means no Belgians.” Thompson – who Winter Beer Fest patrons know as the man with

the coyote pelt on his head and the massive flask in his hand – has been working alongside Owner Jim Schwerin and his beertending wife Laurie since the brewery opened in the former Robert Thomas Brewery site in 2004. The three attended Michigan Technological University, which

explains why the walls are covered in Michigan Tech jerseys and pen- nants. There are typically at least a handful of alumni bellied up to the bar, which is topped with copper as homage to the university’s history as a school for copper mining engineers. Patrons can choose from among the 12 beers on the board, which

includes Schmohz’s seven staples and a rotating list of seasonal and specialty brews. “We don’t follow trends,” Thompson said. “We try to be more unique.” The brewery’s most inventive beer to date is Zingiberene Ale, a

malt-based ale that replaces hops with fresh ginger. Thompson says it’s a natural energy beer that doesn’t have the sedative effects of beers produced with hops. “We started brewing it during the hop crisis when we were trying to

ABOVE: A wall of Schmohz’s mug club member mugs. Most interesting name: Nomar the Blue Parrot. PHOTO: CHAS THOMPSON


figure out what we could do without hop,” Thompson said, referring to the 2007 hop shortage and ensuing skyrocketing cost. The beer is brewed, bottled and stored in the spacious room

behind the bar. Schmohz distributes its beer along Michigan’s west coast, and has slowly started to creep across the state. Pretzels and popcorn are the only snacks available at the brewery,

but outside food is welcomed. As the weather begins to warm, the beer garden offers a relaxing place to soak up the sun while sipping a pint of Pickle Tink Ale – brewed with 300 pounds of strawberries – or a hoppy Hopknocker Imperial IPA. Schmohz mug club fees are $45 for the first year and $40 for

subsequent years. Perks include $2.50 mugs every Monday, member- only parties with $1 drafts, and discounts on growlers and kegs. To check it out for yourself, visit Schmohz at 2600 Patterson Ave SE. (616) 949-0860, n

BEER OF THE MONTH: Bell’s Amber Ale

them all equally.” But, word on the street is that his heart be-


Odd Side Ales will celebrate its one-year anni- versary on March 17 with $1 off all beers. The small Grand Haven brewery has brewed 400 batches of beer since it opened in the old Story & Clark Piano Factory last year, and has begun to distribute its unique beers to local bars and restaurants.

The Brew-Ski Festival will be held March 12 at Boyne Highlands. The event features more than 100 craft beers, music and entertainment at the bottom of the slopes. Weekend hotel packages are available at


Also on March 12, Founders will release the 2011 batch of its acclaimed Kentucky Breakfast Stout during an all-day release party. The brewery will have several versions of the brew on tap and cases available for purchase before they’re available at retail locations.

Right Brain Brewery partnered with Grand Traverse Pie Company to create Pie Whole, a beer made with caramel apple pies. The beer is now available at the Traverse City brewery.

Saugatuck Brewing Company will host a

“Different Barleys/Different Flavors” tasting event March 31. Patrons will taste five beers brewed

with identical hops, yeast and water but featuring different grain bills to discover how malting and roasting techniques affect color and flavor. Visit for details.

Michigan beer lov- ers will appreciate Schmohz’s new t -shi r ts, which feature an outline of the state and the phrase, “it ain’t a mitten, it’s a beer holder.” The black

cotton shirts are available for $10 at the brewery.

longs to Amber Ale, one of his eldest offspring. “Amber was one of the first beers that we

brewed and it’s our oldest brand that is still brewed and packaged today,” said Laura Bell, Bell’s marketing director. “It is considered the flagship of our portfolio.” The Munich and caramel malts add a touch

of sweetness to the medium-bodied red, and a very slight hint of citrus sneaks its way into the taste and aroma. The initial sweetness is bal- anced evenly by the hops, making it a very mild, drinkable beer. Amber Ale is


American Red Ale OG: 1.056 ABV: 5.8%

Cost: $4 per pint

nowhere near as fruity as the brewery’s fan-favorite Oberon, which will be released March 28 to celebrate the long-awaited re-

turn of sunshine and warmth for Michiganders. Bell’s first began brewing Amber Ale in

1985, and has been serving it by the pint since Bell’s became the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass in 1993. It is available year-round across the brewery’s 18 states of distribution and at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave in Kalamazoo, bellsbeer. com, (269) 382-2332. n

HEN PRESSED TO name his favorite Bell’s beer, Bell’s founder Larry Bell diplomatically replies, “they’re all my children, I love


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