Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Strange Brew vs. Traditional
. . . .

Strange Brew vs. Traditional

The days of Bud and Miller Lite ruling local beer taps are long gone.

Patrick Sullivan - March 10th, 2014  

The craft brew scene has matured and beer makers have developed their own personalities. In recent years, two camps have emerged – some beer makers strive to push boundaries. Others want to stick to tradition.


Beer from Short’s Brewing Company could get even stranger soon.

Joe Short, who began his career as a home brewer before he launched his beer empire in Antrim County, hasn’t had time to brew at home since he was in college.

“I have this whole new dimension I want to add at some point, I’ve been trying to add over the last couple of years, to get the home brew set up in my house finished, so we can get really crazy,” Short said. “I think we’ve covered a lot of bases as far as exploring unusual ingredients – fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, yeasts, beer styles, teas. I think there’s other elements that need to be explored.”

Short’s made its name exploring the creative limits of beer making.

Take Nicie Spicie, a wheat ale with a jolt of coriander and peppercorn; or Key Lime Pie, made with limes, graham crackers, and marshmallow fluff.

Perhaps most of all, Short’s is known for beers that put the hops front and center.

Huma Lupa Licious is known for that.

So is Liberator, a double IPA brewed for Joe Short’s 30th birthday with an even bigger hops punch.

“We’ve established a pretty good benchmark, and have a wide portfolio, probably two, three hundred beers, that are pretty tried and true,” Short said. “And, of course, the ideas are a never-ending thing.”

But before they get weird, brewers need to master the tried-and-true, said Matt Drake, Short’s chief operations officer.

“One thing that I think is not widely known, necessarily, is that our [Germanstyle] hefeweizen and kölsch are a couple styles we brew fairly to style, and when people come to festivals and they’re German or they’re European, a lot of times they’ll seek out those beers because they’ll think they are very authentic to their pallets,” Drake said. “I think having that understanding of traditional styles allows us to be successful in our experimentation.”

Even the strangest beer, if it’s going to be successful, has got to taste good, he said.

“A lot of people are trying to figure out how we use the ingredients that we do without making our beer turn out really weird in a bad way,” Drake said. “It turns out weird in a good way.”


Russell Springsteen, who owns Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, said he knew if his Mangalitsa Pig Porter got lots of attention, that might lead to some other attention.

And so it happened – the concoction won a gold metal two years ago at the Great American Beer Festival.

The Pig Porter is one of Right Brain Brewery’s successes and strangest inventions. It’s actually brewed with pig parts – a pig’s bones and head go into the vat and infuse the beer with a smoky flavor.

That’s what brought federal regulators to the Traverse City brewery’s door.

“It immediately got me attention from the feds. When I tell other brewers that, they don’t believe me,” he said. “When they got there, all they wanted to talk about was formulation, formulation.”

Springsteen said the Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate beer production. If brewers are going to use pigs and pies, then the government will treat them like food producers.

Springsteen said he understands the move.

“If you are brewing in a nontraditional way, using pig or asparagus or whatever it is that we put in our beer, there’s going to be new oversight,” he said. “It’s not the worst thing. I eat food everyday. And I drink some other beverage other than water everyday. And even when it comes down to water, I want that to be safe.”

Right Brain also offers a chipotle porter and a collection of “whole pie” beers, made with entire pecan, apple or cherry pies.

But Springsteen said that while he believes weird beer gets people in the door, many just want to drink something normal. He said he sells a lot of samplers of the stranger beers and a lot of pints of less strange beers.

That doesn’t mean Springsteen isn’t looking to push boundaries.

“I like asparagus beers. Over the last four or five years, we keep tweaking that. But last year I think we totally dialed that beer down,” Springsteen said. “It’s a nice clean, crisp, easy drinking beer. People have this whole impression of asparagus and beer, and then they taste it, and I always love it, because then they’re like, ‘Well, that’s not bad.’ Aww, thanks! I don’t think they know what to expect.”


The communist motif at the Workshop Brewing Company in Traverse City is the craft brewer’s design identity; owner Pete Kirkwood says he does not endorse a Soviet-style workers’ revolution.

But there is something in that iconic Soviet style that relates to the beer served at the pub. Workshop sticks to traditional, triedand-true Old World recipes that have proven as solid as a neoclassical Lenin statue in a Russian square.

One of Workshop’s tenets is “to honor traditional craft,” said Kirkwood, who ran a brewery in Pennsylvania for serveral years before opening up Workshop in the Warehouse District.

“You’re not going to find dessert products or cuts of meat in our beer,” he said.

“Those are really cool, and I take my hat off to all these cool brewers who are doing radical things with huge hop content and innovative ingredients.”

Workshop offers a concise menu of traditional beers. There is a saison. There is a blonde ale. There is a porter.

There is also an IPA, but the description on the menu seeks to distance this hoppy brew from the kind of hops-explosion of other beers, Kirkwood said.

“It boasts the wallop of hops that craftbeer lovers have come to expect without the aggressive attack characteristic of many American-style IPAs,” he said.

Kirkwood’s brewing interest veers more toward heirloom-quality recipes, he said.

“I talk about the beers we make as being heirloom beers,” Kirkwood said, “and what I mean by that is that the same way a treasured piece of furniture might be handed down from generation to generation, these are recipes that have been handed down for centuries.”

Just because his beers are based on traditional recipes, however, doesn’t mean they are boring, he said.

“I don’t think people should equate traditional with uninteresting,” he said. “Something like a Flemish Sour Brown Ale, it’s a very obscure and rare beer to have in this country, even though it’s been made for centuries in Europe.”

Kirkwood also values local ingredients.

Peasants would have used whatever sugars were available to make beer, he said.

Take the Workshop’s saison, a beer named after the French word for season.

“They would have put in anything they had into that beer. If they had squash, if they had rutabaga, whatever they had,” Kirkwood said.

So in the fall, Workshop makes a pumpkin saison.

“It’s a super popular beer that comes in here as Michigan pumpkins. They come in here and we chop them into pieces and it comes out as the Reaper, our pumpkin saison,” he said. “Again, if Flemish peasants had a bunch of pumpkins on their hands at harvest time, I promise you they would have made a saison out of them.”


A beacon for European beer lovers opened last summer in Frankfort.

Stormcloud Brewing Company designates itself a maker of Belgian-inspired ales.

They also offer non-Belgian ales – a porter, a vanilla blond – but the heart of the menu consists of those high-octane Belgian brews like a dubbels (eight percent alcohol) and tripels (nine percent).

In brewing primarily Belgian ales, partner Rick Schmitt says his team adheres pretty closely to the traditional recipes and that the “reaction to the brewery has been good so far.”

The brewery has attracted brewery tourists – Schmitt says Stormcloud regularly sees customers who are on a beer tour through Michigan and they stop there before heading to Traverse City and beyond.

“We seem to be heading down the right path as a new brewery,” he said.

To shake things up a bit, Stormcloud just began an 11-beer brewing experiment using a single recipe for one of their favorite Belgian pale ales.

Using 11 different kinds of hops grown in Leelanau County, the expectation is that each batch will have a unique flavor.

Schmitt said most people don’t realize how many varieties of hops are grown in the area. Most of the hops Stormcloud will use come from Empire Hops Farm.

“We’ve got one batch done and it was really good,” he said.

By diving deep into tradition, Schmitt says his group’s aim is to find something new in the old ways.

“God bless Joe and the Short’s team for what they’re doing,” he said. “We have decided not to step into that genre of beer.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5