Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Carriage House Ale

Rockford Brewing Company
Rockford, MI

Style: Ale
ABV: 5.9%

Rings’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Rockford Brewing Company finally opened this past couple of months with much fanfare after a nearly two year wait from the project announcement. They started things with a pub crawl in their hometown Rockford, a small suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the day before Thanksgiving.

A month later, the doors finally opened to their beer hall and the taps began flowing. On the pub crawl, I noted all their beers were clean, relatively to style and delightful. All were above-average efforts, particularly for a “new” place. Brewer Jeff Shaheen is well experienced, with most recent service at New Holland Brewing Company, and his craftsmanship is evident in both their mainstay brews and the first seasonal he’s released.

Their two level taproom has a pub type setting on the lower level, next to the 7 Barrel brewhouse and a full German-style beer hall on the upper floor, with long, social tables that have seldom sat empty since their doors were unlocked.

The one criticism I’ve heard—although it doesn’t bother me in the least—is that they’re only pouring one “hoppy” beer so far, their IPA, and hopheads, such as Eddie, have found this lacking. The supply of their IPA has dwindled and they sold out as early as last week, as all the hop-seekers have concentrated on this single brew. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m sometimes a bit fed up with the constant barrage of hops in every craft beer, so I find the diversity offered here to be refreshing, but I’m sure they’ll have to up IPA production or add a few other hop juice choices going forward.

Toward that end, their mainstay beer is their Carriage House Ale, an American Ale which is basically a session brew. It’s pale orange in color with a thin, lacy head. Clean, it has a mildly malty aroma with a middle-of-the-road sharp, crisp bite—but not nearly to the level of a hoppy pale ale as it checks in at only 23 IBU. There are notes of pine and citrus on the nose with a balanced palate. This beer is very quaffable and mild enough to appeal to the non-craft beer drinker, yet nuanced enough to find favor with craft fans.

I find it outstanding, and I’ve stopped in as often as possible just to be sure, although I truthfully sample most of their offerings on a regular basis.

Reviewed by Rings on April 11, 2013.
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