Maui is back! Have a listen to learn more about it.
People ask Erin and I all the time if we have day jobs outside of the brewery. And yes, we both do. We both work in Environmental Health. Erin is a Food Specialist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I am Solid Waste Team Supervisor for Ottawa County Department of Public Health. Both of us have been working on the regulatory end of Environmental Health for some time now.
Friday, October 13, 2017 I had the opportunity to combine the day job and the brewery for a brief time. Over the past 3 or 4 years I have provided education to fellow health Sanitarians who have to inspect breweries. While most inspectors have dozens of traditional restaurants on their inspection roster, they occasionally may have a small brewery like ours to inspect. Depending on how much beer they distribute, they may be inspected by either local public health departments or the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Those inspectors are often very familiar with regular food production equipment but not the specialized equipment we use in brewing. This can make a very stressful situation for both the inspector and the brewery.
For about 90 minutes I was able to present the basics of beer, equipment, processes, and inspection concerns to around 50 inspectors on site at 4 Two 4 as part of the Southwest Michigan Environmental Health Association’s Fall Conference. The attendance and Q & A for this presentation was fantastic. It’s great to interact with regulators in a way that allows them learn about what we do, so both side come to a better understanding of the process and regulations.
Through events like this we hope to continue to provide education and outreach to those tasked with regulating our industry. For our part, you can rest assured that we do everything we can to always follow proper brewing practices and food safety regulations to bring you quality products served in a quality manner.
Beers brewed to style can be great. But sometimes they can box in a brewer. Sometimes you need to go outside of the box to find the cool stuff. “Washed in Black” is one of those beers. I created this beer years ago specifically to have all of my favorite things in it. Thankfully, everybody seems to like a lot of the same stuff I do. It starts with a fairly typical IPA grain bill. From there, we add a substantial amount of Rye malt that adds a great bite that balances out the sweeter malts. Finally, we add Black malt which adds a touch of dry roasted flavor and washes the beer black. Hence: “Washed in Black”.
“Washed in Black” is a great descriptor of the beer. It is also an homage to a great band. “Washed in Black” is lyrics pulled from Pearl Jam’s “Black”. One of my favorite songs from my favorite band.
As you taste this beer, try to find the subtle roasty notes up front followed by the crisp spicy rye and sweet caramel malts. And finally, the bitter punch of Simcoe and Columbus hops on the end.
A beer competition judge may say that this beer is out of style. There is no such thing as a “Black Rye IPA”. That is just fine with us. We just categorize it as “delicious”.
If you’ve visited our brewery, you’ve probably seen the sign. It’s written in Dutch, and it has a special meaning beyond the words engraved.
Many of you have asked what it says; some were even able to figure it out. Today we will go behind the words and give you some insight on the man and the story behind those words.
Good friends of ours, I’d venture to say, our Holland family, the Overway/Busscher clan, graciously welcomed us into their family circle 10 years ago when a chance reunion occurred. Erin and the “Other Erin” happened to meet at UW-Green Bay while in graduate school, and when we moved to Holland (the 424) we just so happened to move across the street from (the Other) Erin’s Aunt. We’ve been part of the “family” ever since and you’ll see them visiting their tulip glasses very often.
Now, back to the sign…Erin’s grandfather, Marv, was quite the character. He was 2nd generation Dutch-American and grew up in Noordeloos. He was a railroad engineer and a World War II Vet. He had many “Marv-isms” which he would exclaim in Dutch, much to his delight because no one would really know exactly what he was saying. He loved life and worked hard for everything he ever acquired, which meant his life was grand. He had all he would ever need in life. He always offered you a beer and he loved the Cubs. Marv also loved the water. He paid cash for a modest house on Lake Macatawa and he loved to be on the water fishing. One of his most endearing Marv-isms was one he’d always say while out fishing, and that saying is now hanging on our wall.
It says (in Dutch): “Today we brew beer, so don’t shit in the river!”
We’re not exactly sure where Marv aquired this saying, for all we know he made it up! But, we do know that clean water is important for all of us, and it extends to making good beer too. When the Busschers said they wanted to give us this sign we were honored to accept it, and to hang it in our brewery. Not only does it epitomize a great man, it also ressonates with us because our water resources in the Holland area are of upmost importance to our (collective) lifestyle and local economy. We can’t enjoy life to the fullest like Marv did if we dirty the very things that bring us joy and satisfaction. So next time you’re in the brewery, raise a glass to Marv and the great resource we have in our back yards, the Lake Michigan water used to brew the beer at Brewery 4 Two 4.
Today I thought I would take a break from brewing to talk about a question that we get asked every day: “Are you guys going to do food?” It’s a logical question and deserves our thoughts on the issue.
The quick answer is “no.” We never planned to do food in our current location. There are good reasons why we won’t do food that relates to our philosophy on things.
The main reason we wouldn’t even consider it right now is that we want to do one thing and do it really well. We are a mom and pop shop. It’s just Erin and I. We know beer. We have been brewing for well over a decade, and we have focused most of our vacations and weekends around traveling to breweries the whole time we have been together. All of that experience was based around beer. Certainly, we have eaten our fair share of wonderful food along the way, but we are beer people, not restaurant people. From the outside, it may appear running a brewery and running a restaurant are very similar. There are crossovers, but it is an entirely different animal. More staff, more equipment, more management, and a new product line would just be more than we feel we can do exceptionally. If we can’t do it exceptionally, we don’t want to do it.
The next common related question is “Can we bring food in from the outside?”. ABSOLUTELY! You can bring your dinner, snacks, and munchies to the brewery. Sluggo’s Pizza is right next door to us and makes, what is in our opinion, the best pizza in town. There are several other great options right down the street on Douglas or River Ave. So make a meal of it! Bring your favorite food, and we will provide the appropriate liquid refreshment to pair with it. With our diverse tap list, you are likely to find something to pair with your meal.
Going into our 4th weekend of business we are starting to see a few trends emerge with our beer. One of those trends is that Breakfast in Maui is the most remarked on beer. The idea that our stouts would be so popular a solid 2-3 months before the unofficial start to “stout season”, was a little off our radar. But both of our big stouts, Breakfast in Maui and Crazy Putin, have been very popular.
This blog I thought I would take a minute to pull back the curtain on Breakfast and Maui. This recipe comes from our good friend Dave Kippen who is nice enough to lend us his brewing expertise on occasion. The base beer for this is a big but drinkable stout of 9.7% ABV and 64 IBU. Complex roasty character comes from plenty of Roasted Barley, Special Roast, and Black malts. While this beer ferments we get our special ingredient started which is cold steeped Hawaiian Coconut coffee. The cold steeping process keeps all of the smooth coffee and coconut flavor without adding extra bitterness. The finished beer you are left with is a lot of big flavors that come together very well. Coffee, chocolate, and coconut dominate. Think of eating a mounds bar with a cup of coffee. We think it is one of the more unique coconut or coffee beers you will find. Come in and try one.
To pique your interest more, this is only the first of what will be a series of breakfast stouts. Coming in the not so distant future will be “Breakfast in Ireland.” Stay tuned for more on that one later!
Saturday July 15th we will have a special beer on tap starting at noon until the keg blows. Live Oak is an imperial red rye IPA coming in at 9.0% abv and 80 IBU. This is a big beer that is a touch on the boozy side but very drinkable at those numbers.
Live Oak is a special beer to us that was made to remember and pay tribute to a friend. Our good friend Scott Swingle passed away tragically on May 29th at the far too young age of 36. Scott was a big supporter of what we were doing at 4 Two 4. He couldn’t wait to come up from Indianapolis to check out the brewery. Unfortunately, that never happened.
If you knew Scott, you knew him to be a genuine, honest, and fun guy. He lived his life with absolutely no filter. He said a lot of things publicly I would only say in the most private settings. Scott was smart as hell and had wit as sharp as a tack. Somewhat of a professional instigator, his twitter handle was @ThatDickScott, where he had quite the following. And that was his public persona. Being a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan living in Indy may have contributed to his need to find entertainment on the interwebs. But beneath that, he was about as real of a dude as you will meet.
Still rattled from hearing of his death, I sat down to think about what a beer that represented Scott would be. He was a connoisseur of all fine booze. I was always jealous of his palate being good enough to distinguish good beer, good wine, and his fav—good whiskey. I also wanted to capture his in-your-face persona and bigger-than-life personality. What I came up with was this big, aggressive imperial red rye IPA fermented on sliced bourbon barrel staves that were soaked in rye whiskey. (He drank more bourbon but really loved rye). It’s kind of an out there recipe that won’t be for everybody, just like him. But if you like the things he did, I think it will be perfect for you. And if this beer is a little too strong for you, he would probably have a chuckle at your displeasure.
It will be our great honor to share this beer with all of you. We hope you all take a second to give a cheers to the man that inspired it and maybe remember someone special to you that has passed on.
Scott is survived by his wife Andrea Swingle and their larger than life Great Dane, Hugo. Scott was a huge dog lover. 50% of the profits from this beer will be donated to Forever Friends Great Dane Rescue in Indianapolis where they adopted Hugo.