The summer after my father died I paid a visit to one of his old up north drinking buddies at his cabin on the Little Manistee west of Irons, Michigan.
Tony Mitchell was fond of my father’s homemade wine and I brought him a case of Cabernet that my father had made the previous fall. We drank a bottle of the Cab while Tony tied flies at his kitchen table.
“Your father was a good man,” Tony said while inspecting a #10 Adams under a magnifying glass.
“Yes he was,” I agreed.
“He sure as hell wasn’t much of a trout fisherman, but he made some damn fine wine.”
“Yes he did,” I agreed again.
Tony sat back, lit a Lucky Strike and looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke.
“Is it hard?” he asked.
“Is what hard, Tony?”
I took another sip of the Cab before I answered. “You know, Tony,” I said. “Making wine is lot like fishing. Fishing is pretty damn easy when you’re sitting in a row boat going after bluegills with a cane pole. But when you’re fly fishing for trout on a river like the Little Manistee it gets a bit more complicated.” I looked out the screen door at the fast flowing river twenty yards away and smiled. “I guess it just depends on how far you want to take a hobby. My dad was like that person fishing with a cane pole, but he made some pretty good wine.”
Later while sitting on Tony’s front porch, I watched him hook into a hard-fighting brown after placing the Adams on the edge of an undercut with a perfect roll cast.
* * *
The Kent District Library (KDL) has announced the launch of KDL Uncorked, a program of free winemaking classes and wine tastings to be held this year in September and October at various Kent County library branches. In addition to the free wine-related events, the KDL Uncorked program is also giving folks the opportunity to sign up for a tour and tasting at Cascade Winery in Grand Rapids and wine, cider and cheese tastings at Kayla Rae Cellars in Rockford at discounted rates.
I will be conducting the program’s free winemaking classes at seven different KDL branches. Dates, times and venues for the Winemaking 101 classes are as follows:
- KDL Gaines/Cutlerville Branch, Thursday, 9/4/14—6:00 pm
- KDL Byron Branch, Tuesday, 9/16/14—6:30 pm
- KDL Grandville Branch, Wednesday, 9/17/14—6:30 pm
- KDL Kentwood Branch, Thursday, 9/18/14—6:30 pm
- KDL Plainfield Branch, Wednesday, 9/24/14—6:30 pm
- KDL Englehardt/Lowell Branch, Wednesday, 10/8/14—6:30 pm
- KDL Wyoming Branch, Wednesday, 10/22/14—6:30 pm
New and Returning Beer
- Sierra Nevada Narwhall Imperial Stout, $2.59/12oz - "Narwhal Imperial Stout is the latest beer in Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude Series. This malt-forward monster is bold – with notes of baker’s cocoa, molasses, and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex, rich, and intense and will develop in the bottle for years to come" (source).
- Sprecher Hard Ginger, $1.49/12oz - "Cool lime, piquant ginger and a dry finish give Sprecher's Hard Ginger Beer a crisp, refreshing drinkability that is perfect on its own or as a mixer in cocktails. Unlike most ginger beers, which are non-alcoholic, Sprecher's contains 4.7 percent alcohol by volume" (source).
- Lakefront Pumpkin, $1.49/12oz - "Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Lager is one of the only pumpkin lager available in the world; nearly all other pumpkin beers are ales. Using real pumpkin and a proprietary blend of spices made here in Milwaukee for us by the acclaimed Spice House, our brewers lager this beer for 4 full weeks. This extra time gives the Lakefront Pumpkin Lager a deep, smooth richness that no ale can match. A frothy entry leads to an off-dry medium-to-full body of intense cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and candied yam flavor on a nutty wheat toast palate. Finishes with a drier spice and light toffee fade. Caramel and Munich malts reinforce this beer's mouthfeel and lend to the malty sweetness. A nicely balanced spice beer for those cool fall nights" (source).
- Lakefront Oktoberfest, $1.49/12oz - "A malty and full bodied amber lager brewed to celebrate a successful harvest" (source).
- New Belgium Pumpkick, $1.69/12oz - "What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your tastebuds sailing" (source).
- Great Lakes Nosferatu, $3.29/12oz - "Often referred to as Burning River Pale Ale’s big brother, this stock ale is remarkably balanced for such a highly hopped beer. A rich deep blood red color makes this beer scary enough to be served every Halloween and a few other times of the year" (source).
- Vivant Agent a Deux, $3.59/16oz - "<<Agent a Deux>> has infiltrated Brewery Vivant. The 'double agent' is a dark Belgian-style ale brewed with black currants, vanilla beans and rose petals. A classic French trio" (source).
- Innis and Gunn Scottish Porter, $2.79/12oz - "This beer takes its inspiration from the history books. As well as using flavour-packed chocolate and crystal malt, we also added treacle (molasses) which gives the beer its rich, bittersweet character. 100 years ago in Scotland, treacle was used by brewers to create depth and sweetness and to give beers a richer mouthfeel and more rounded finish" (source).
- Saugatuk Continuum, $2.59/12oz - "A continuously hopped Imperial American IPA brewed with Centennial, Cascade, Nugget,and Summit hops. Experience the beauty of bitter and the serious of citrus" (source).
Michigan Bottle Opener