Pouring Out

It started with a gift from my wife. We were staying at the family summer cabin, running out to the local brewery every night. It was my birthday so I was opening, those “Dad presents”. All were lovingly purchased and wrapped just for me – all were very sensible practical gifts.

There was one last present, so I opened it with care. I peered into the partially opened box to see just the red top of a lighthouse! It’s not often grown men get to enjoy a surprise. Correction, make that a nice surprise. It’s a warm memory and one that kicked me off towards my tap handle collecting hobby. The bar was set high with that first handle. The challenge, and there has to be one because it’s a hobby, is to find tap handles that have meaning.

Brewery: Cheboygan Brewing Company – Cheboygan, Michigan
Why it’s Special: My first tap handle from my “Up North” brewery. It was also the first brewer that I interviewed for Sommbeer.
Beer they make for me: Light House Amber – the best Altbier that I’ve ever had.

Cheboygan Brewing Co. – My 1st tap handle

Brewery: Guinness – Ireland
Why it’s Special: If you have to ask an Irish American beer nerd why he likes Guinness… I fell in love with this beer when I lived in Texas and wanted something flavorful on those hot summer evenings.
Beer they make for me: Their draught beer is my favorite summer beer because, while it looks dark it’s actually light to medium bodied and finishes dry.

Guinness – The best summer beer

Brewery: Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids Michigan
Why it’s Special: Had an incredible family meal and drank world class beers on my first visit there. Duck nachos! We chatted with the waiter and he took the time to talk to my daughter and gave her advice about choosing the right college. She ended up going to a college nearby.
Beer they make for me: Pumpkin Tart

Brewery Vivant

Brewery: Witch’s Hat Brewing Co. – South Lyon, Michigan
Why it’s Special: Yes, they are my hometown brewery but they are special for a different reason. John and I helped promote their first charity event. The experience helped me to realize the positive impact Sommbeer could bring to the world. It’s more than just the beer, it’s always been more than the beer.
Beer they make for me: Sweet Lou Milk Stout w/ Coffee

Witch’s Hat Brewing Co.

Brewery: River Dog Brewing Co., – Okatie, South Carolina
Why it’s Special: After years of marriage, my wife and I finally had a “date night” and we ran into this place. It was a hot muggy summer night and their AC was broken – it didn’t matter. We were only halfway through our beer sampler and realized we were in love (the beer is good too).
Beer they make for me: Perkolatte – a sweet milk stout brewed with local coffee.

River Dog Brewing Co.

Brewery: Bells Brewery – Kalamazoo, Michigan
Why it’s Special: I was one of Bell’s brewery’s first customers back in the late 80’s. I even had the chance to meet Larry. They make my favorite beer. Darn you Larry!
Beer they make for me: Expedition Stout – aging 120+ bottles from 2012

Bell’s Brewery

Brewery: Wolverine State Brewing Co. – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Why it’s Special: I scheduled an interview with their brewer who asked what I liked. “Anything but lagers” I promptly told him. They only brew lagers. Dang it, that was embarrassing. He then spent time to educate me on just how good and flavorful a lager can be. Ever had an IPL?
Beer they make for me: Massacre – an imperial barrel aged lager that is highly under-rated. I buy it every year.

Wolverine State Brewing Co.

Brewery: Drafting Table Brewing Co. – Wixom, Michigan
Why it’s Special: Ever have a place that makes you feel welcome every time you set foot in it? They also brew a lot of beers that are “true to style” but never boring. This is the brewery that made me actually enjoy a Pilsner for the first time in my life. Most important of all – John Fahrner and his better half got married there.
Beer they make for me: Only Fools Russian – Russian imperial stout. If you go there, don’t try it. They don’t brew enough for me.

Drafting Table Brewing Co.

Brewery: Samuel Adams – Boston, Massachusetts
Why it’s Special: I remember vividly, my father and I sharing a pitcher of the original Sams Boston Lager. It was so good and spicy but really it was great because I shared it with dad.
Beer they make for me: Cold Snap – white ale

Sam Adams

It’s been a great hobby. I’ve lined them up at my home bar to look like they all work (only 2 actually dispense beer). Unlike a lot of hobbies, this one is inexpensive as most handles run from $5-40. Finding the right handle is the challenge and I have a few more targets in mind.


The duck photo-bombed me
DG Barrett
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