Last night the girlfriend and I headed over to Sidetrack Bar & Grill , which I like to call God’ s gift to Ypsilanti, for a beer and mini-burger tasting. They had five pairings of beer and a selected food item. This is the first one of these they’ve had but rumor has it that they might be planning on holding them either monthly or bimonthly. If they had these things weekly I would be there. In fact, if they had them every day I would probably be there at least 5 out of 7 days. Great beer, all of it local, food, and music.
Thanks to whoever organized the write-up for this. A lot of this information about the beers came from that.
There was a bluegrass band playing live music the entire time. In fact, we were there about an hour after the tasting ended and everyone had filed out and the band was still playing.
The first pairing was Full Circle Kolsch from New Holland Brew Co in Holland, MI with “Spread The Love”. Spread The Love was a spread made with Gorgonzola cheese, apricots and bacon with pieces of pita bread. Kolsch was a very light beer and was very different than any other German beer I have had in the past. I have come to associate German beer with bitterness(not a bad thing), but Kolsch was definitly a light, soft beer. Not a beer I would normally drink, but a nice pairing to begin the evening. The spread was absolutely delicious. I love Gorgonzola cheese. The mixture of the sweet from the apricots with the smokiness of the bacon made this a very enjoyable dish.
The second pairing was Olde Number 22 from Arbor Brew Company in Ann Arbor, MI with a Sidetrack mini burger topped with roasted red pepper and feta. Olde Number 22 is an Alt which was brewed in German brewpubs as a reward to loyal regulars. At a time when German brews were priced according to alcohol content, brewpubs would brew a secret alt that was richer, maltier, and higher in gravity. They served it unadvertised at the regular alt price exclusively to the regulars who new to asked for it. Number 22 was a very dark but drinkable ale. The finish was very clean and it went very well with the mini burger, which is always fantastic.
The third pairing, which was my favorite was Two Hearted IPA from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo and a handmade black bean mini-burger topped with Oaxacan cheese, guacamole and salsa verde. I honestly feel like starting a campaign to force Sidetrack to add this to their regular menu. This was by far one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. Two Hearted is exactly what you would expect from any Bell’s. I have yet to taste a beer from them that I did not enjoy. As Bell’s puts it, Two Hearted is “well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula. It has a large amount of hops which gives it a nice spice and went very nicely with the spicy black bean burger.
The fourth pairing was Smoked Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, MI with Sidetrack’s mini burger topped with blue cheese, caramelized onion and bacon. This was quite the heavy pairing. Dark Horse’s Smoked Stout is brewed with all malted barley and peat malt(smoked malt). This beer is incredibly full bodied with chocolate, roasted barley flavors, and a smokey finish that almost resembles BBQ. I enjoyed this pairing but was beginning to get pretty damn full. The BBQ pork quesadilla I got before the tasting sure didn’t help. There was a representative from Dark Horse Brew Co. who talked to us before the pairing and explained how they make the beer.
The final course was Coco Loco Stout from Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek, MI with shortcake topped with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Wow. I have never had Coco Loco, which is a milk stout, before this and I was very impressed. It is a combination of three different chocolate malts, cocoa nibs, and 63% cacao bittersweet chocolate. It has a very creamy quality almost like a milkshake, and went incredible with the strawberry shortcake.
All in all, I was VERY impressed with the entire evening. We had a great time learning about beer, sampling beers, and eating great food. If you are not on their mailing list, visit their website for a schedule of events, coupons, and other goodness.
Sidetrack Bar & Grill
56 East Cross Street
Ypsilanti, MI 48197