Ice Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

This past Sunday Julie and I headed down to the new Maggie Daley Park to skate on the Ice Ribbon. The park is only partially complete but the Ice Ribbon is open for about the rest of the season. The ribbon is a winding, 20-foot-wide path that is a quarter-mile long, with slight inclines and declines. The inclines help dissipate the crowd quite a bit so that once you get through the ice opens up quite a bit.

Be sure to check the Zamboni times and try to get there right as they finish the ice. It took about 40 minutes for the whole resurfacing process to take place but once it’s complete the ice is in good shape and if you get on quickly enough you can really get ahead of the pack. As you can see in the video above there were only a couple of skaters on a head of us.  It really is a cool experience and the setting right off Michigan Avenue is hard to match.


B1G Championship: Ohio State – Wisconsin

The first week in December Julie and I headed down to Indianapolis for the BIG TEN Championship game between Ohio State and Wisconsin. This is third time we’ve gone to the game and much like last year, a chance for a National Championship was on the line. The crowd was probably 75% Ohio State fans, this being Ohio State’s second consecutive title game; Wisconsin has played in all but one championship game. Ohio State jumped to an early lead and never let up winning 59-0.

Chilly Waters Brewing Company
UntitledUntitledOur first stop in Indianapolis was Chilly Waters Brewing Company just southeast of downtown. This was probably our favorite brewery in Indy so far. The bartenders were great, the food was decent and the beer was better than most. My favorite being the White Room Cream Stout.

Two Deep Brewing Co.
UntitledUntitledUntitledAfter Checking into our hotel we made the walk over to Two Deep Brewing Co. primarily because it was near our hotel. If there really is a Craft Beer Bubble this is the kind of place that will go under. There clearly was a lot of money put into the place: massive space, over the top equipment setup, bartenders who couldn’t have cared less and a really odd/limited beer selection. There wasn’t anything that stood out to me and they didn’t have any Pale Ales, or IPAs which isn’t really a deal breaker but then have something else that’s approachable.

Indiana City Brewing
UntitledUntitledUntitledWe didn’t have a ton of time to spend at Indiana City Brewing but I would definitely like to go back. Probably the largest and most diverse beer selection of the breweries I’ve been to in Indy. I really enjoyed the Black Lantern which is a Black IPA.

Side Notes:
* The view from my seat.
** Previous B1G Championship games:  2011 and 2013
*** On the way out of town we tried to stop at Plump’s Last Shot but they weren’t open yet and we wanted to hit the road. We decided on checking out a breakfast place in the same neighborhood, Broad Ripple. We rolled the dice on the Northside Kitchenette. I can’t recommend it enough. The place was packed but we managed a seat at the counter with no wait.

Grand Rapids: A beer tour.

This past Saturday Julie and I made the drive up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out several of their breweries. Grand Rapids has more than 15 breweries in the city proper and we were able to visit 8.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
Our first stop in town was Grand Rapids Brewing Co. which is located downtown and was within walking distance from our hotel. When all things were said and done, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. was one of my favorite stops during our trip. The bartender was great, the beer selection was good and they had ample TVs. Their Beetlejuice IPA was one of my favorite beers and the Cranucopia is probably the only foodstuff that I’ve ever liked that contained cranberry.  Also, the chicken wings were great.

Next we headed a couple doors down to HopCat which is a regional chain of brewpubs that mainly serves as a great beer bar.  HopCat is located near the Van Andel Arena  where a minor league hockey game was going on so we were lucky to grab a seat at the packed bar and being that it was a chain we didn’t want to spend much time there but we did have a couple of beers, including the house pale ale: Light Side Of The Sun.

B.O.B.’s Brewery
Not sure what to make of B.O.B.’s Brewing. It seemed like something that should have been in a mall instead of a warehouse. Multiple levels, multiple restaurants. Julie thought their Peanut Butter Porter was one of the better beers she had all weekend. I don’t mix peanut butter and beer.

Founders Brewing Co.
Founders Brewing Co. was one of the main reasons for going to Grand Rapids.  We planned to end our Saturday there so we had dinner and a couple of beers.  I must say we weren’t really impressed with the beer selection, by that I mean there wasn’t much on tap that isn’t available back in Chicago.  The brewery is massive.  On the scale of Victory Brewing in Philly or close to the size of Lagunitas in Chicago.  They have a stage with live bands, good food and several outdoor spaces with heaters and fire pits.

The Hideout Brewing Company
On Sunday, after breakfast at our hotel, we decided instead of stopping at Bells in Kalamazoo on the way home we’d try to do a couple more breweries including The Hideout Brewing Company.

We decided to start the day with The Hideout because it was a ways out of town and off the beaten path.  As you can see in the photographs above it was down a winding road near an apartment complex, hence the name.  The Hideout is known for their large selection of uniquely flavored beers.  When we arrived the doors were locked and there were only two other people in the brewery getting growlers to go.  We had to knock for the bartender to let us in, this isn’t part of their stitch, it’s just that the Saturday night crew left the place a disaster and he was still cleaning up. The beer was ok, once again I’m not into flavored stuff but Julie was a big fan of several of their stouts.

Mitten Brewing Co.
I had wanted to stop by Mitten Brewing Co. since last years Ohio State – Michigan game where a growler was brought to the tailgate. Like a lot of the breweries we hit Sunday morning they were out of several of their beers from the night before. We had a great strombolie and did a flight of their beers. If it was possible I would have had another of the Rye Baby IPA.

Elk Brewing
Elk Brewing might have been one of my favorite stops all weekend. I believe they are one of the newest breweries in Grand Rapids.  The bartender was helpful, we had a flight and I thought their Light Ale was probably the best light beer I’ve ever had.  It was somewhat refreshing to visit a brewery that wasn’t just about extreme hopping or barrel again.  I also enjoyed their ESB.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
The hotel we stayed in was the historic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids which was originally built in 1913.  We stayed in the modern tower section of the hotel facing the Grand River across from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.  The hotel was really packed for a weekend in November, I believe there were several weddings and a couple other events.  The service was great and it couldn’t have been located in a better place.

We were also surprised about the ease in which we were able to hail cabs in and around the downtown breweries.  We walked to most of them but when we needed to get out to Founders (and more importantly back, there were cabs waiting).

A great time in Grand Rapids.