Winter Warmup at Grand River Brewery, Jackson

The November chill has officially arrived, which means it’s time to get ready for this year’s Winter Warmup at Grand River Brewery in Jackson, MI! On Wednesday, November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, Grand River Brewery welcomes you to sample from eight specialty brews made to warm you up and bring you together with friends and family. The beers will be stationed in the Barrel Room, where the brewers will be available to chat and talk shop. The event kicks off at 5:00PM and goes until we either run out of beer or close, whichever comes first! This blog post is dedicated to the eight specialty beers and the brewers behind them, so read on if you’d like to consider your selection early. And did I mention that pints of the specialty brews are only $3 all night? Sounds like a beer session hangout to me!

I’ll run you through the craft options for the evening in three categories: one-offs, re-works, and throw-backs. Starting with the smallest category, we have our throw-back Rollin With Cinners, a Double Pastry Stout coming in at 11%abv. One of the highest abv beers in this bunch, the Rollin with Cinners stout is sure to warm you up AND fill you up. A delicious cinnamon roll flavor elevates this craft beer into a dessert like experience, so this beer is a great after-dinner cap. We’ve had this brew on tap before in the GRB taproom, and when we ran out we saved just one sixtel for this exact occasion.

Moving on to the re-works category, here we will find some of GRB’s staple beers re-worked or flavored differently. This set of brews is truly for the home brewers and beer lovers, those who want to hone their senses and craft. With some of these brews, you can order both the re-work and the original to sample the difference in flavor. To start, we took the Drive Thru Brew and added espresso to give the natural roasted malt flavor an extra kick. Czech saaz hops were used in the original brew for that easy drinkability, and the low abv of 4.3% means you can have more than one. This dark lager is taken to a whole new level with the addition of the espresso, bringing out the darker flavors for a heartier drink overall.

Next in the re-work lineup is the Dead Man’s Mallow, another high abv beer at 11%. The brewers added marshmallow to the original Dead Man’s Hand beer, a Bourbon Barrel Imperial Aged Stout. The malt and bourbon flavor combines with the added marshmallow to create a beautiful and delicious medley of campfire roasted marshmallow goodness. Another excellent choice as a dessert, this stout is both hefty and sweet. I personally think the DMH Marshmallow would be an interesting followup to the Drive Thru Brew Espresso, a kind of scaling up in both abv and flavor profile.

The final beer in the re-work lineup is the Blue Blanc at 5.5% abv. To craft this beer, the brewers added blueberries to the Blanc Stare Brew. The original brew is made with coriander and orange peel to give it that true Wit flavor, and the addition of the blueberries is both an ode to Michigan’s agricultural development and a delightful sweetener. Bringing this traditional brew into a fruity flavor profile makes for an easy drinking beer that pairs well with any of GRB’s delicious appetizers, especially the sweet potato fries or any of the salads.

Finally, we come to the one-off category, which contains the beers that the brewers made in small batches especially for this event. The Dune Grass is a pale ale dry hopped with lemongrass, orange peel, and chamomile. The hop-forward profile combined with the herbal flavors makes for a very natural and earthy tasting beer that maintains a refreshing lightness. At 5.7%abv, this Pale Ale is easy drinking with loads of flavor and pairs especially well with the Santa Fe Wrap as well as the Classic Caesar Wrap. Both of these dishes are seasoning forward, a perfect complement to the herbal flavors in the Dune Grass Pale Ale.

A great followup to the herbal and hoppy flavors of the Dune Grass is the Captain Stede IPA, a Pina Colada IPA at 7% abv. This fruity one-off beer combines hops with tropical flavors to make for a complex and tangy brew. The head brewer at Grand River Brewery is especially excited for this particular beer because of its unique flavor profile and high abv. This brew is truly for the cocktail lovers, those who appreciate depth of flavor and unique pairings. I personally think this fruity IPA would pair well with the Power Bowl or the Seasonal Veggie Tacos. The freshness in the veggies in both dish will help bring out the pina colada flavor in the IPA, and the hoppiness of the IPA makes the veggies all the more refreshing.

The brewers of course had to prepare a stout for this category as well, and they came up with something truly special. The Coachlight is a brunch stout brewed with maple syrup, and at 9% abv it’s hearty and warm without going over the top. The dark malt of the stout pairs with the maple syrup to make for a deliciously sweet brew that’ll really warm you up. Take one sip and you’ll feel like you’re at home with family enjoying homemade breakfast. Try pairing this beer with a fresh cup of coffee to really recreate the feeling of a great breakfast.

The final brew on our list of eight specialty beers, another one-off, is quite special because it’s actually a cider. A great gluten-free option, the Bad Girl is a double cherry vanilla cider. At 6% abv, this cider really holds its own in the beer lineup. The double cherry vanilla flavor is delightfully sweet, refreshing, and satisfying. I might recommend trying the cider as a followup to the Captain Stede Pina Colada IPA. The two pair well in their fruity flavors and tangy tastes, and the cider serves as a great refresher after all those hops. This is the first time the brewers have made a cider for the winter warmup, and they really pulled out all the stops.

The eight beers that will be on tap in the barrel room will only be available on the night of the 23rd, so plan ahead! Luckily, anyone in the taproom or main bar can order pints of the specialty brews as well, so you can enjoy a meal with your loved ones while sampling. If you’re more into a hangout vibe, feel free to enjoy your time in the barrel room chatting with the brewers. They can make recommendations for pairings, explain flavor profiles, and talk about the process. Cheers to this year’s Winter Warmup, we hope to see you at Grand River Brewery!

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