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Tastemakers: Caramel Apples/Right Brain Brewery Hallow-Giving Pumpkin Ale

Rick Coates - October 12th, 2009
Tastemakers: Caramel Apples/Right Brain Brewery Hallow-Giving Pumpkin Ale
Rick Coates 10/12/09

Caramel Apples
As a kid growing up I loved this time of year because it was caramel apple season. They sold them everywhere, from the grocery store to the concession stands at the football games. Even today I enjoy a good caramel apple and love going to Amical in downtown Traverse City and having one of their Gourmet Caramel Apples after dinner. At Amical they take large Michigan Granny Smith apples and dip them in rich caramel, sprinkle on the toasted pecans, and drizzle with white and dark Belgian chocolate. They are so popular that Amical even ships them all over the country.
A lot of people take credit for discovering caramel apples, from a salesman at Kraft foods to a street vendor in Philly. Affy Tapple is legendary in the world of caramel apples and they claim to be the first manufacturer of this fall-time favorite. They could be right. Founded in Chicago in 1948, Affy Tapple had a production facility in Lansing (it was my father’s first place of employment as a teenager) from the 1950s to the early 1980s. It was there that they produced thousands of caramel apples from such varieties as Pink Lady, Jonathan and Granny Smith all from Michigan apple farms. Even today Affy Tapple still uses thousands of apples from Michigan.
Regardless of who created the first caramel apple, they simply taste great and they are a fun fall treat. They make for a great family activity. Simply put some cider in the crock pot, head to a local farmers’ market, pick up some Michigan apples and make your own caramel apples. There are several recipes on the Internet, but here is a tip: the secret to a good caramel apple is two ingredients: caramel and apples, do not skimp on either -- get the best of both. To learn more about Affy Tapple (they have a great fundraising program for schools and organizations) check out www.affytapple.com.
--Rick Coates

Right Brain Brewery
Hallow-Giving Pumpkin Ale
Pumpkin Brew might at first have one say “eeew.” In fact, Right Brain Brewery proprietor Russell Springsteen isn’t crazy about their Hallow-giving Pumpkin Ale. “I don’t like pumpkin beers,” he snickers. But Springsteen leaves the brewing and recipes in the hands of his capable brewmaster John Neidermaier. “Who am I to question it; it sells out soon after we put it on tap,” said Springsteen.
But that is the case with just about all the brews these days at Right Brain. The brewery, along with Short’s in Bellaire, were the “rock stars” of the Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti this past summer. Right Brain has become a major after-work hangout in the region and is a popular gathering spot for book clubs or just friends looking to gather for conversation. Coupled with Cuppa Joe and The Inside Out Gallery, Right Brain has helped to make the Warehouse District in Traverse City a hip place to be.
Its secret is simply quality, innovative beers. Now the Hallow-Giving Pumpkin Ale has a pumpkin pie aroma and taste. It is not something you quaff, but rather this is a beer to savor while reflecting on the season.
Another great brew this time of the year is the Fire Roasted Sweet Corn Cream Ale. They use over 250 ears of fresh Altonen Orchards sweet corn that is shucked and grilled by the brewmaster. This lighter style ale is smooth and slightly sweet.
Because every beer is handcrafted and brewed in small batches, there is never any guarantee that any of the above-mentioned brews will be available by the time you make your way to the brewery. No worries as Right Brain has built its reputation on perfect batches regardless of the style. See www.rightbrainbrewery.com for upcoming events or the current beer menu. --Rick Coates

 
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