Friday, July 27, 2012
'Iron Chef'-like Michigan Brewers Challenge
By Garret Ellison | firstname.lastname@example.org To coincide with a beer history exhibit planned this fall, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is launching an “Iron Chef”-like challenge to determine which Michigan brewery will get to supply the museum with beer during the exhibit’s fall run.
“I hope to capture a lot of attention for what Michigan as a whole, and West Michigan is doing brew-wise these days,” said Steve Smith, the “chief beer geek,” in charge of beer purchasing and the beer menu at HopCat in Grand Rapids.
Smith has been collaborating with the museum on organizing the challenge, which is tentatively planned for Friday, October 19 and Saturday the 20th.
Brewers in the area have been prepped with some rules for the challenge, which is designed to showcase as much Michigan-sourced ingredients as possible.
Recipe rules for the challenge include:
• 80 percent of the malt bill must be from Michigan.
• 50 percent of the hop bill must be from Michigan.
Now, for the variable:
• Each brewery can have a variable of their choosing. Smith said the variable is meant to capture the audience and allow the brewers to really show off their stuff.
The variable can be either wood (staves or barrel — as longs as it’s from a Michigan distillery); a herb or spice addition such as tea or coffee that would help make the beer unique; or a yeast strain.
The sampling will tentatively take place Friday and Saturday at the Van Andel Museum Canter and the museum will purchase two half barrels of beer from each brewer for the event. Smith said they are hoping to include between 30 and 40 Michigan breweries, but confirmations are still rolling in.
Due to production schedule constraints at larger breweries like Founders and Bell’s, the majority of the brewers in the challenge will be smaller operators who have the scheduling flexibility of a small batch system.
“This will be a nice way to showcase the little guy who is doing cool things,” he said.
The first place winner with the most public votes over the two days of sampling will be asked to reproduce the beer recipe and have it sold on tap (or in bottles or cans if that’s an option) at the museum throughout the entire fall exhibit. The Top 5 finishing breweries will get to participate in a black tie beer dinner at the museum in November.