Today, Friday, November the 13th, a brand new brewery is opening. Now, you’re gonna say, “Ya Fool, breweries open every friggin’ day and you don’t say a thing. What’s so different about this?”
Okay, let’s see…
Early on, in the life of this 18 months old website, I began to get link-backs from a website called BavarianAirForce.com. Lots of links…so I wondered: since I rarely write anything about beers that could be called Bavarian, whassup? I got a friend request from the site owner, David Ringler, who lives very near to one of my favorite brewing cities in America. Recently, as Judye and I made plans to sell a rental house and buy an RV and start making some long trips, as us codgers are wont to do, she asked where I’d like to go first, “Assuming, as I safely can, that it will be somewhere with a lot of breweries involved.”
My answer? Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It was an absolute no-brainer. I am a devout and enthusiastic fan of GRMI, which is really a tad odd, considering that almost nothing made from there is available in Seattle. But, as my network has gotten established, I’ve gotten some boxes from that area and…WOW! Just…Wow.
So, into the fray comes this Ringler character, a guy who has, like me, definite opinions about life and beer and other trivial things and posts a lot of his Facebook stuff in German. He’s also been known to wear things that would make Don Cherry, the CBC hockey commentator, say, “Uh, now, hang on a minute…” and to exercise a hair-trigger and decidedly warped sense of humor in ways that occasionally border on the inappropriate. In short: my long-lost spiritual brother. Anyway, about four months into our FB friendship, Ringler messages me to say that he’s probably going to axe BaravainAirForce because he’s building a brewery. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “Here’s a guy who’s trying to go broke.” I didn’t say it but I wondered if he’d gotten hold of some bad oysters or something. Starting a brewery? In Grand Rapids? Where there are about…well, a lot of effin’ breweries? “Christ,” I thought, “Is he doing penance for the scourge of leiderhosen, or what?”
So, I waited and read his posts and watched as Cedar Springs Brewing Company sloooowly took shape. I originally wondered about it and had a fair number of questions but, because I knew damned well that David would be besieged, daily, by people asking the same questions, I asked none of ’em. Instead, totally uncharacteristic of me, I just shut up and read and learned. And what I found was rather illuminating.
David Ringler and his merry Freunde are putting together a beautiful, exhaustively researched, well thought out, totally appealing brewery that’s built upon David’s Germanic roots but not a slave to them. There’s a prominent brewery in Denver that features all German beers and, while I liked the beers, I realized that, on a daily basis, I’d want the occasional IPA or Stout or ESB and would have to go elsewhere. David’s opening day taplist features an inspired collaboration with 2012 Great American Beer Festival “Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year,” Steve Sloan, of Roundabout Brewing in Pittsburgh, PA. The result, which Sloan crafted in collab with Cedar Springs brewmaster, Matt Peterson…is an IPA, called “Yinzer’s Roundabout IPA”, made with kiwi hops, as a nod to Sloan’s wife, who is a NZ native and likes to get Steve back home whenever possible. I don’t have the opening day taplist but the fact that a freakin’ KIWI IPA is sharing the stage with the Lagers and Pilsners and Alts and Weisses an’ such is a true indication that Cedar Springs is intended to be a brewery aimed at everybody.
The main thing I know, however – and you can legitimately think “Well, you don’t really even know this character. He’s just an FB pal and you’ve never tasted his beers!” and I have no comeback – is this: I have a rather uncanny…well, I don’t even know what to call it, “ESP”? “intuition? I dunno. But, over the years, I’ve gotten a strong feeling that some new thing I haven’t tried was going to be really good, solid, and noteworthy, and that feeling is so seldom wrong that I’ve come to trust it implicitly. Cedar Springs Brewing Company, I believe, is going to come right out of the chute just damned GOOD. It was the same feeling I had with Reuben’s Brews and Holy Mountain, here in Seattle, and Boneyard in Bend, and River North in Denver and odd wineries and distilleries, too. David Ringler is a guy who knows beer because he cares about beer and he’s put in the years, the sweat, and the love to learning it. “Measure twice, cut once,” is an old carpenter’s phrase; one of the pieces of wisdom I try to live by. Think Before You Act. And David, again, is my kind of guy in that. Cedar Springs has crossed all the T’s and dotted the Is (and not, mercifully, with little hearts) and is Ready, here on this fateful Friday the Thirteenth, to start making folks do that thing which is the Academy Award, The Emmy, The Tony Award, The Pulitzer of brewing: pick up a glass, take a sip, smile, and go, “Mmmmmmmm!”
It kills me a little that I’m not there to see this first day of this brewery, just as it would if they were opening three blocks down the street. And I’m hoping, fervently, that Cedar Springs will shortly put something into a can or bottle, write my name on a box, and send those little gems to my door, so that they can appear here, in The Pour Fool.
For the nonce, however, any of you reading this anywhere in the western end of Michigan, PLEASE, go make their opening weekend, try the beers, and Let Me Know. Go to my Facebook page for The Pour Fool and write a mini-review. I’m betting you’re gonna have a flight of some truly wonderful beers. And, to clarify, my original fear of CSBC getting lost in the Big Pond of Grand Rapids booming brewing scene was premature. I openly wondered where the name “Cedar Springs” came from, thereby illuminating my C in high school geography. Cedar Springs Brewing Company is located…in Cedar Springs, Michigan, about 18 miles dead-north of Grand Rapids. Cedar Springs, the town, is not full of breweries and these guys are centrally located. Finding it, parking, all that good stuff – not a problem. Nor is that always tricky conundrum: Go to Cedar Springs Brewing or…Founders? Brewery Vivant? Hideout? Hop Cat?
Finally, I know David Ringler to be a guy whose heart is in the right place and whose head is screwed on straight. He’s opening a new brewery because he loves beer and wouldn’t want to do anything else with his life. And, like Adam Robbings at Reuben’s Brews and Tony Lawrence at Boneyard and Colin Lenfesty at Holy Mountain, that’s how you start to make really great, truly distinctive beer…or anything else.
Congrats, Ringler…”Viel Glück, mein Freund. Klopfen Sie sie tot.”