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Talking Hops With Hopcat

Beats And Brews

Image result for hopcatPhoto credit, Realypsinow.com

Since 2008 when Hopcat’s first location opened in Grand Rapids, this cat has clawed its way to a big name in the beer world with accolades such as, ranked the #3 Beer Bar in the world as ranked by Beer Advocate Magazine, CraftBeer.com ranks Hopcat the #2 beer bar in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. On Monday, May 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmeline Jurek, Beer Program Director for the 2 ½ year old Hopcat-Ann Arbor about the variety of different factors that attribute to the success of the growing franchise.

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Photo credit, Ron Askew

“This is a pretty IPA heavy city, we do a ton of Bell’s Two Hearted, Short’s Huma Lupa Licious, I would say they say the best as a steady sale, but, as the seasons change, people’s pallets change.” Emmeline said when asked what would be the most popular beers…

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Talking Hops With Hopcat

Image result for hopcatPhoto credit, Realypsinow.com

Since 2008 when Hopcat’s first location opened in Grand Rapids, this cat has clawed its way to a big name in the beer world with accolades such as, ranked the #3 Beer Bar in the world as ranked by Beer Advocate Magazine, CraftBeer.com ranks Hopcat the #2 beer bar in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. On Monday, May 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmeline Jurek, Beer Program Director for the 2 ½ year old Hopcat-Ann Arbor about the variety of different factors that attribute to the success of the growing franchise.

DSC_0887.jpg

Photo credit, Ron Askew

“This is a pretty IPA heavy city, we do a ton of Bell’s Two Hearted, Short’s Huma Lupa Licious, I would say they say the best as a steady sale, but, as the seasons change, people’s pallets change.” Emmeline said when asked what would be the most popular beers Hopcat-Ann Arbor offers on tap. “Right now we’re seeing a huge influx of flavored light ales like Strawberry Blonde from Arbor Brewing Company and the flavored wheat business around this time to such as Oberon (Bells) she continued.

Besides their beer selection, Hopcat offers a variety of delicious food options, one of which are the appropriately named, crack fries. Crack fries have become a fan favorite among the patrons of Hopcat and has even earned a spot on Food Network’s top ten fries in the United States. “From what I can remember from our training, is pretty much the exact way one might think about when they were playing around with menu ideas, someone piped up and said, ‘Wow, these are like crack they’re so good!’ so that’s essentially how they came to be.” She said when asked how crack fries got their name.

Image result for crack friesPhoto credit, dailydetroit.com

“Honestly too many to count, it’s something new every day. We don’t deal with just the large beer companies distributed through the many distribution companies in the state of Michigan, at this store and the one in Detroit does do deal with a lot of smaller self-distributed breweries as well. At least once a month there’s a new small brewery that will bring in samples.” Emmeline responded when asked about how many different beer companies Hopcat works with. “For example, Eternity Brewing (Howell) they make fantastic beer, Drafting Table (Wixom) is another one, we work with Acoustic Mead (Traverse City) who does fantastic draft mead, and Farmington Brewing Company (Farmington) is another favorite we do a lot of work with, so, pretty much if the liquid is good, we buy it.

DSC_0879.jpgPhoto credit, Ron Askew

Honestly, Hopcat has always been one of my favorite bars to go to whenever I’m in Downtown Ann Arbor or Detroit, even before I decided to start this blog. With six different locations in the state (Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and newly added, Royal Oak) and seven more located around the country, this is definitely a franchise that does beer, food and customer service right.

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Photo credit, Ron Askew

Generation Young Presents: Drinko De Mayo

On May 6, 2017, Dozens of young adults filled the popular downtown Detroit venue, Club Bleu as Generation Young Entertainment hosted, “Drinko De Mayo” a showcase of some of the best Hip Hop and EDM in the state of Michigan. drinko.jpgPerforming acts included, Apropos, Jade Lathan Music, Jahi, Anwar Sadot, Cyrus King & Mocha Jones, D $cholar, @IAMKRAAY, (yours truly) E-Man Bates and headlined by Generation Young Co-Founder, Kevin “Historik” Schechter. The event also featured several EDM DJ’s as well such as, Lord Monk, Chris Tha Cat and Chris Hesano.  Through past events around the city I was familiar with a few of the acts on the bill but there were a few I haven’t seen before that were a pleasant surprise, one of which was Cyrus King & Mocha Jones whose stage presence brought an energy to electric the crowd.

“Ever since I was a child, music has been natural for me from inception.” Said by Cyrus King when asked what got him into music, “Beat boxing-or what they call beat boxing, singing, writing melodies, just being musical came natural to me and is powerful enough to evoke the musician inside of you should there be said musician in you” he continued. Cyrus King based out of Novi, MI took a break from performing for a bit, but at 31-years old is determined to make a name for himself in the hip hop world alongside producer and performing artist, Mocha Jones.

Mocha Jones, based out Remus, MI(in the Central Michigan area) is a dual threat as a rapper/producer combination. “I’ve always been into music, I got my first rap CD when I was 7 or 8 years old, I stole an LL Cool J CD from my dad and that was the first rap I’ve really heard and just ran with it.” When asked what inspires him musically. “I stared off as a rapper but really didn’t start making beats till about five years ago.” He continues. Mocha Jones currently attends Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI for sound engineering. “He pushes me musically, there’s shit that I didn’t even know I could do, and five years ago, I would’ve never said I had bars. But, because the craft and the genius of this person, he gives me the green light to be myself and just spit good shit.” Said by Cyrus Jones regarding Mocha Jones. cy and moc.jpg

The EDM sets were amazing and there seemed to be a style of music for everyone to enjoy, from the hip hop heads there for the lyrics to the bachelorette party that were there for drinks and dancing. All performing acts had their logos projected on the big screen above them as well for an added touch.  The was a mix of Trap and Dubstep EDM among the DJ’s which added for a nice mix in variety. One of the standout DJ’s who had the crowd asking for more was Lord Monk.

“When I was young, I kept wondering what that noise was, then I started to listening to it more and more and staring going to shows, saw those guys up top and decided I want to be that guys making everyone have a good time so I got into playing dubstep about 2 ½ years ago.” Said by Lord Monk when asked how he got into the dubstep scene. Lord Monk, based out of Waterford, MI has played two prior events with Generation Young. His next plan is to enter competitions to play festivals. “I go for that really heavy whatever helps me get rid of aggression, like hard core metal but with dubstep electronic sounds, throw it on the dance floor and get your aggression out.”lord monk.jpg

Histork headlined the event performing songs off his new project, “Curved Appetite” which gave energy to a crowd that was there until the venue closed for the night. historik  I didn’t have the chance to interview Historik or Korey Sweet of Generation Young, but if their next event is anything like this past event, then word of Generation Young will spread around the state very soon.

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All photo credits courtesy of Ronald M. Askew.

Pairing with Perrin

perrin(photo credit, Mittenbrew.com)

This past week I have been reluctant to get a hold of Lindsay VanDenBoom, public relations of Perrin Brewery for questions about some of the aspects of beers from Perrin. Perrin, based in Comstock Park, MI  is a big name in the craft beer world and it was a pleasure to be granted this interview. Unfortunately, we could not do an in person interview due to scheduling conflicts but she was happy to answer questions via email about Perrin.

Emmanuel: I am a fan of the creativity that goes into the naming of a lot of the beers brewed by Perrin , such as, “Damsel In Distress, Poop your Pants, Caesar’s Gimp” and others. I read the blog Written by Sheldon King entitled, “The Difficult Stage of Naming a Beer” and was curious on how getting into more detail on the stages of naming certain beers such as the three mentioned above. Was it the style of beer, is it trying to pick something edgy to make it stand out or is it completely random?

Lindsay: A lot of the beer naming is crafted by the Brewers. For example, “No Rules” came above when a Brewer was having a tough day at the brewery and shouted “There are no rules around here!” and from that, the theme “no rules” stuck and that eventually became a beer name. The imagination of each brewer is what makes the naming process fun. Depending on the style of the beer and the ingredients that go into each batch becomes an inspiration in the naming process.

Emmanuel: Craft beer is a big thing in the state of Michigan, how does Perrin stand out from the other breweries in the state?

Lindsay: At Perrin Brewing, we utilize a unique water filtering system that is very rare in the brewing industry. It’s the Reverse Osmosis System, a system that removes all impurities from brewing water and allows the most consistent, true to style beers possible. After the water is stripped of all its impurities, brewing salts and acids are added to build the water back up. This allows us to make each water profile specific and unique to each style that we brew.

Serving over 20 beers on tap, we intend on finding a beer fit for anyone!

Emmanuel: What would you say is your favorite style of beer? (IPA? Pilsner? Porter? Or other)

Lindsay: My personal favorite style of beer is either a light n’ crisp pilsner in the summertime and a rich, flavorful stout in the fall/winter.

Emmanuel: What would you say are the three most popular beers created by Perrin?

Lindsay: The Perrin flagship beer is Perrin Black Ale, a light-bodied dark ale with hints of semi-sweet chocolate and soft nuances of fresh coffee.
No Rules, Vietnamese Imperial Porter was ranked one of the top beers in the world by RateBeer in 2016. And sells out within hours of releasing!
The Grapefruit IPA and Michigan Cherry IPA are the top seasonal brews released during spring and summer.

Emmanuel: It’s very interesting concept to create a beer without hops because it has been such a core element in beer for so long, so, how did the idea for a “Gruits” style of beer come about?

Perrin has never particular brewed a Gruits beer, only research on the style.

Emmanuel: How did the idea for the No Problem Session IPA come about?

The thought process in this beer was crafting a light, crisp, session-able beer that you can enjoy several of during warm days. This crush-able beer has a complex hop profile by layering hops in the brewing process, yet the beer still remains light with intense hop flavor. With a cold beer in hand, there is “no problems”! Plus it played a role in our Pack of Problems, IPA Variety Pack featuring 4 cans of No Problems Session IPA, 4 cans of 98 Problems IPA, and 4 cans of Lotsa Problems IPA.

Emmanuel: How long have you been with Perrin Brewing?

Lindsay: I have been working at Perrin Brewing for one year.

Emmanuel: What tips would you offer to anyone looking to get into brewing their own beer?

Lindsay: Start with a pre-packaged brewing kit and work up from there. The first homebrew will most likely not turn out the best. It can be a trial and error at first but with a quick guide at the beginning and experimenting after that, you’ll be amazed how tasty a successful homebrew can be!

In short, Perrin has and always will be a standout name in the beer world and their style of brewing along with creativeness is what separates them from the pack. I appreciate Lindsay for taking the time out to get back to me on the details of Perrin Brewery and I appreciate everyone for reading along.

Stay tuned for more updates for Beats and Brews, 2017 will be a busy year!

DAMN, KENDRICK

At Beats and Brews, we pride ourselves at celebrating Michigan based musicians….but, I’ve been a Kendrick Lamar fan since his debut on the XXL freshmen 2011 class and have followed his career ever since, in fact, his debut Aftermath album, “Good Kid, M.a.a.d City” is one of my favorite albums of any genre. So, on April 14th, 2017 when his third Major label album , “DAMN” was released I was refreshing my Spotify till it was updated.

I have listen to this album about 5 times straight through now to get an accurate grasp of the meaning of the lyrics on each song, the album’s intro, BLOOD, seems to be him grasping the fact that he became this superstar and with that you can never go back to having a normal life, with the line, “Oh yes…you have lost something, you’ve lost…your life” gave me that impression upon initial listen. The album contains base heavy hitting singles such as, “HUMBLE and DNA” and more mellow songs such as, “YAH, LUST and PRIDE.”

One thing that always stood out to me about Kendrick Lamar besides lyrics is his vocal range, there are songs where he could go from a complete baritone voice then manage to hit a soprano, such as on the Travis Scott single, “Goosebumps” featured on Scott’s album, “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight” released in 2016. On tracks such as, LUST and Pride, he seems to accomplish this feat once again.

There are three features on this album, one from Rihanna on the song, LOYALTY, one from a lesser know but talented, Zacari on the song LOVE and an eyebrow raising feature from U2 on the song XXX.

XXX, FEAR and DUCKWORTH are the three songs that stuck out to me on the album all for different reasons.

“At 27, my biggest fear was losin’ it all
Scared to spend money, had me sleepin’ from hall to hall
Scared to go back to Section 8 with my mama stressin’
30 shows a month and I still won’t buy me no Lexus
What is an advisor? Somebody that’s holdin’ my checks
Just to fuck me over and put my finances in debt?
I read a case about Rihanna’s accountant and wondered
How did the bad girl feel when she looked at them numbers?
The type of shit’ll make me flip out
And just kill somethin’, drill somethin’
Get ill and fill ratchets with a lil’ somethin'”

Referring back to Rihanna’s 2015 hit single,  “Bitch Better Have My Money” the song was inspired by Rihanna’s accountant got her to make a bad investment and left her $9 million loss, as you can imagine, a lawsuit occurred shortly after and she won the case. Going back to the song, FEAR Kendrick is saying that with all this new found success, he doesn’t know what to do with it because in the music industry, you can easily lose it all.

XXX Stood out to me mostly because of the beginning of the song then the drastic tone change  where it cuts back to vocals from Bono and U2. The song goes from a high energy lyric heavy story about his friend called him and asked him advice about how to cope with the murder of his son. Kendrick gives is input by saying, “”I can’t sugar coat the answer for you
This is how I feel—if somebody kill my son
That mean somebody’s gettin’ killed”
Tell me what you do for love, loyalty, and passion of
All the memories collected, moments you could never touch
I wait in front a niggas spot and watch him hit his block
I’ll catch a nigga leavin’ service if that’s all I got
I’ll chip a nigga then throw the blower in his lap
Walk myself to the court like, “Bitch I did that” Before cutting back into a mellow tone, this bit ends by Kendrick saying, “Matter fact I’m bout to speak at this convention, call you back….Alright kids we gonna talk about gun control” Which I feel is a play on 2015 “To Pimp A Butterfly” single, The Black The Berry when calls himself, “the biggest hypocrite of  2015” putting himself in a form of cognitive dissonance where he knows that violence doesn’t solve anything and you shouldn’t hurt another man but that anger and lust for revenge overtakes you can causes you to make irrational decisions.

Finally, DUCKWORTH was the last song that really stuck out to me because of the story  behind the song. Top Dawg, head of Top Dawg Entertainment, home to Kendrick, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Isaiah Rahad and SZA apparently almost killed Kendrick’s father, referred to as “Ducky” in the song and could of set of a totally different outcome in all their lives. The fact that that one decision could have affected so much is incredible and goes back to the theory of everything happens for a reason. To me, and probably alot of other people it’s just a crazy think to think about how that could have played out so differently than it actually did.

In hip hop, I always look for storytelling in artist as well as clever lyrics and beats and this album had it all. damn Highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so all ready.

 

Founders Comes to Detroit

When you think of Michigan Breweries, there are a couple names that stick out. Founders Brewing Co. based out of Grand Rapids, known for such beers as, “Dirty Bastard, All Day IPA” and many others is opening a tap room in Detroit’s Cass Corridor. Founders CEO and Co-Founder Mike Stephens told the Detroit Free Press that, “”We’ve been coming down to Detroit now for two decades, selling our brand, and we’ve watched Detroit go through its struggles.” Detroit, of course has been through it’s ups and downs over the years with negative press such as political corruption, bankruptcy, and one of the highest crime rates in the country, but, brand new additions such as this and the new Little Caesars Arena is surely making the city of Detroit into a city on the rise. “Having been born and raised in the metro area, Detroit has long held a special place in my heart,” Founders vice president of retail operations Mark Dorich said in a news release.

Founders new taproom will be 14,000 square-feet and and will be in great company with other Detroit attractions such as, the Masonic Temple, Fox Theater, Comerica Park not being far. The taproom plans to hire around 100 employees, including brewers in the summer.

We at Beats and Brews hope to be granted an interview with staff members upon release so stay tuned for more info and welcome to Detroit, Founders Brewing Co.

 

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Beats and Brews day off

I’m proud to announce the launch of my 3 leg summer showcase series entitled, “Beats And Brews Day Off.” Leg one will take place Saturday, May 20th at YpsiAlehose in Ypsilanti, MI, leg 2 will take place June 17th at Plymouth Roc in Plymouth, MI and Saturday, July 15th we will have the final leg at Crossroads Pub in Ypsilanti, MI. As of now we are in the process of booking acts for all three events and will post our lineup for each day soon via the site and our Facebook page. If you know someone wanting to play an event, please contact Emmanuel Bates via email at batesemmanuel@yahoo.com with your genre of music and date you’re inquiring about. It looks like this will be a great summer for Beats and Brews and we’re glad to have you apart of team!

World of Beer “Drink It” Intern

For those who don’t  know, I’ve recently entered World of Beer’s, “Drink It” internship contest to find people to travel the world sampling brews from different counties. As a person that started a blog dealing with beer, you can imagine That I jumped at the chance to once again enter this contest. Last year, I decided to write a verse about one of my favroite seasonal brews, Bell’s Oberon. This year, I decided to do something a bit more clever. You can check out this year’s video here

as well as last year’s video in this link

Hopefully you guys share these around and we can take Beats And Brews, worldwide!

St. Patrick’s Day Recap

In America, St. Patrick’s day is known to be the second biggest bar day in the country(first being the day before thanksgiving) so you can imaging, I have been planning my bar hopping route out all week. The night before St. Patrick’s day I ran into an old friend and he informed me of this bar in Ypsilanti named Powell’s Pub that was opening their doors at 5 am to St. Patty’s day participants so naturally, I decided that this would be my first stop of the day. Since I’m a man who appreciates his sleep, I didn’t wake up the next day till about 7 and I ended up getting there about 10 a.m. We pay the $5 cover and the room was packed shoulder to shoulder with college students looking to party, outside there were pitchers of green beer and beer pong; gotta love beer pong before noon. I ended up staying there for a few hours until I ventured to my default spot, Downtown Plymouth. As expected, the place is packed with a mixed crowd of 20-somethings and people in their middle age. We ventured between 336 Main, Post Bar, Penn Bar & Grille Hermann’s Old Town Grille throughout the course of the night, all of theses places I frequently go to on any given weekend. It’s funny because of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because I post about this blog all the time, I happen to be running into a lot of people,from friends I haven’t seen in awhile, to local musicians I’ve met as an artist to bar staff that starting asking questions about this blog so I’m grateful that the word is getting around and blessed to have the backing from all of you.Overall, my St. Patrick’s day was pretty great, good food, good drinks, good friends can’t really complain. st patsST PAT 2 If you’re reading this, I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Hopslam!

For those of you who don’t know, I live and die by IPA’s. I love the hoppy taste that seems to jump right out at you on the first sip and the bitter taste is second to none. I’m all ready a fan of Bell’s Two Hearted, Amber Ale, Oberon and others so I decided to check out of the rarest of their collect which is, Bell’s Hopslam. Hopslam is a double IPA with the ABV(Alcohol by volume) coming in at a whopping 10.00%.  Because this brew is rare and only specific retailers can get their hands on it, trying to find it is about the equivalent of trying to find bigfoot, but, one of my favorite local beer stores (whom shall remain nameless) decided to hook me up with a 6 pack. On Ebay, Amazon and other sites, a 6 pack of Hopslam is currently averaging around $40.00.

One thing I will say is that this is one brew that I’d pour into a pint glass rather than drinking out the can, just to get the full experience. That first sip was just as expected, hoppy but not too overpowering. Being 10% ABV, I usually expect some sort of bitter aftertaste or overpowering amount of hops, but, with this one it was as smooth as can be. The only downside to Hopslam is the price and rarity, in the stores(if you can find it) its averaging around $19-20 for just a 6-pack.

Would I drink this brew on a regular basis? No, solely based on price and alcohol content( If you have something to do later that day, please do yourself a favor and stay away from this one) but I definitely recommend every craft beer lover try this, especially if you’re a fan of IPA’s.