Expeditions – Volume 1 of 2
Gary, Indiana, Three Oaks & Grand Rapids, Michigan – Autumn 2013
In describing a one-day beer trip involving three pals, one might assume as an individual having a compilation of beer essays, I’d go in to illustrious detail about stopping at 18th Street Brewing Gary taproom for the grand opening. About how Drew Fox personally grilled Alex a burger on the back patio while we chatted with the guy who owns Capone’s Liquors, or about how we almost didn’t leave that glorious sanctum.
Wasted hotel room expenses up in Grand Rapids would have been the fault of Sinister IPA, Hunter Milk Stout, and Galaxy Slayer.
Perhaps a reader might expect me to delve more in to how we ended our night at Founders Grand Rapids. Hanging at the gift shop equipped brewpub sipping Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, aged on raisins, cellar temp from a firkin behind the bar – beer engine with a copper swan neck. Low carbonation, caramel-y mayhem to adjust for a tap list of all the beers we could just as easily acquire back home.
Maybe it would be mentioned that when I went to close us out at the bar, instead of showing up at our table with a receipt, I bartered a sawbuck and arrived wielding a towering glass pitcher of Breakfast Stout.
No, the focus of this essay is on the middlepart of our storied retrospective endeavor. Point B. The part where we travel a cobbler’s jaunt and landed at Pleasant House Brewing Company in Three Oaks, Michigan. The goal was to dine on classic English pies and fish n chips, while sipping traditional UK style beers brewed on site. But this would only be a part of the encounter.
We first learned of the existence of Pleasant House Brewing Company while meeting up for dinner at Pleasant House in Bridgeport. The tiny, yellow-roofed kitchen attached to Maria’s Packaged Goods allowed us to bring beer from Maria’s in to Pleasant House, as well as the inverse: savory pies and mashed potatoes delivered directly to the bar at Maria’s.
Lounging below the eight dead and gone hovering pinwheels of Old Comiskey, halos for eight angels of the Black Sox banished for eternity, we created fellowship at 31st & Morgan. The south side conversation began that night with a waxed up 750 mil format bottle of bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. A 3Floyds wood conditioned presentation of Behemoth, courtesy of Tim. A multitude of inspired British love interests were sparked that very evening. The session ended with a travel plan, and I’m here to tell you – Shoeless Joe Jackson was among us in spirit as we plotted.
My adoration for the Mushroom and Kale Royal Pie featuring assorted mushrooms and greens in a white wine and Parmesan cream sauce is only emphasized by a scotch egg. Medium-boiled and wrapped in pork sausage, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep fried. Always some grainy mustard for accent. This really has become one of my most favorite meals in the entire city.
We parked along North Elm Street, downtown Three Oaks. We sauntered in to Pleasant House Brewing with a sense of awe. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure how we timed this parlour trick since the place had only been open for a few months, and it merely existed a tweak more than two years total. Most people I talk to, even fans of Pleasant House, never even knew it existed. We thought we would be back at some point, but within the blink of an eye, it was gone.
Minty peas and cool mint green aesthetic, with prosody – enveloping a deep mahogany bartop. We pulled up stools at the corner. Just a small band of visiting souls with high reverence.
Royal Pie crust flaky and buttery, with seasonal greens from local farms. A Scotch egg I had already come to love. The beers on their six tap draught system, hand written titles, the scribe of iconography and subtlety, saluting the motherland.
An exploding scoreboard in homage to Harold Baines as he slugged a spiritual walk-off grand slam.
The brewer himself, an impresario. A maestro.
The row of taps? A playlist with no skips.
Ol’ Codger, an English Special Bitter, a dry stout – Doctor Moxon, and Snobbler, a nut brown ale. An English barleywine aged in Three Oaks neighbors’ Journeyman Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey barrels. We unlocked the cheat code.
I’m always nostalgic for the original Bridgeport location, and the Pilsen locale has become nothing less than a staple for me. The pizza kitchen at The Plant in Back of the Yards is always a dazzling journey. But our one and only visit to the short lived brewery, now resting in piece perchance to dream, will always inspire a buzz of warmth. Meager bragging rights toward the knuckleheads and chuckleheads who are so entrenched in hype they wouldn’t actually care in the first place. The memory resides with us and whether they know it or not, we’ve already checkmated the haze bros.
My friend asked the bartender if they had any Pleasant House Brewing stickers. She brought over two stickers.
But you see…two stickers are not enough for three pals. They never have been.
“Can I have a sticker, too?” I asked with a sheepish sense of high esteem.
“Awww, you want a sticker, too? Here you go!”
She may as well have patted me on the head. The adorability factor she reflected put me in the realm of a five year old asking for a cookie. But in all honesty, it couldn’t have gone any other way. Let’s face it; in that moment I was a five year old asking for a cookie. Eyes aglow anticipating in childlike wonderment. Pocketing our stickers we set sail that day from Three Oaks on our way to the Disneyland destination of Founders, and getting lost, and 2AM gas station donuts, and the rest. Not fully comprehending that the peak of the trip was actually just now in the rearview.