A 10-year-old beer will be a Virtue Cider first
FENNVILLE, MI- Almost 10 years in the making, the very first beer from Virtue cider is about to be released. Inspired by both Scandinavia and Michigan, Vestland is a Nordic-inspired lager that celebrates simplicity and the next step for this popular cider house.
“Beer has been in the background for me for the past 10 years as I focus on cider,” said Greg Hall, owner and chief brewer of Virtue Cider. He founded Virtue in 2011, after leaving his role as Brewmaster at Goose Island Beer Company, which he had held for over 20 years.
This first Virtue beer is called Vestland, and from label to liquid, it was inspired by Hall’s travels through Scandinavia. “I spent a lot of time in the Nordic countries,” Hall said. “And I was inspired not only by their beers, but by the whole Nordic sense of things.” One thing that stood out for Hall on his travels was the many similarities between Norway and western Michigan, from the scenery to a lot of things that grow in both places, like the prolific juniper that ended up being there. one of the ingredients of beer. Juniper adds a new dimension to the hoppy profile of this beer, adding a “fruity and tangy” to the beer, Hall explained.
“The fact that it’s so prevalent in Michigan makes it even cooler,” Hall said, referring to the use of juniper in Vestland.
Hall has several junipers on his property, and “in Norway juniper is one of the main spices, both on the menu and in some of the drinks at the small craft brewery, as well as at Aquavit. It’s part of their land, and it’s part of our land too.
“I found it very interesting how close the two cultures are,” Hall said. “They celebrate all the deer, all the trees, all the fishing. Now they have fjords, and we have Fords, but otherwise we’re pretty similar.
Vestland is a lager, meaning it undergoes fermentation at a lower temperature, to help create the crunchy flavor profile characteristic of this style of beer. Hall describes beer as a light golden lager, but not pale. He says he has “a beautiful body, with a certain smoothness. It’s really meant to be a beer to drink.
In addition to juniper, two other ingredients common to Nordic cuisine are added to this unique brew. Rye, which is not that uncommon as an ingredient in beer, is used for its “pungency and body that it gives beer,” Hall said. They also added caraway to the beer, which “makes the beer a bit smoother.”
The goal with this beer was “to go in a little different direction than most beers out there today,” Hall said. He explained that while there was nothing wrong with smoothie beers, pastry stouts or hazy IPAs, this beer was more about going back to a solid, very drinkable beer.
The beer label has the clean lines and clean design common to Scandinavia. Virtue also turned to director Wes Anderson’s films for the label. Anderson behind the films “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Royal Tenenbaums”. “What I love about Wes Anderson is that there is always a horizon in everything he does,” Hall said, via a press release. “There is more sky than earth. I think it’s a metaphor, the earth and the buildings are what is, the sky is what could be. With lots of blue skies, the opportunities are endless. “
The beer will be available for distribution statewide from May and will come in six-bottle packs, as well as on draft. Virtue will be teaming up with West Michigan-based furniture maker Herman Miller for the release “To showcase West Michigan and all the cool things we have here, not just the beer side, not just the furniture side, the lakefront, the nature, but also that we are a design center for the world here in West Michigan. There will be a special gift from Herman Miller to celebrate the launch in May. You can check the Facebook page for updates.
Many of Virtue’s ciders are small batch offers that are not distributed. Recently, Virtue has started offering online ordering and delivery of all of its ciders, and soon Vestland beer.
Coming back to beer was a kind of homecoming for Hall, who started brewing in 1988. He made the Goose Island Beer Company one of the Midwest’s premier breweries and was a leader in the brewing industry. movement of beer aged in barrels. He brought Virtue Cider to western Michigan in 2013 to get closer to the orchards that would provide the fruit for his drinks. In 2015, Virtue Cider joined the Anheuser-Busch family of craft brands, leveraging their distribution footprint, while retaining their independence in their brewing operations and management.
It is not one and made for Virtue. They applied for their Michigan brewer’s license, in addition to the federal license they already hold. “We’re going to be brewing more beers at the Fennville farm, most of which will be in small batches,” Hall said. Look for cask aged beers, wild fermented beers. We kind of put our toe in the water with beer, ”he said, referring to Vestland,“ to get back there immediately.
While ciders will continue to be Virtue’s primary focus, the new flagship beer is an exciting development for the company and for Hall himself.
“It’s a beer I’ve had 10 years to plan,” Hall said. “So I hope it’s a good one.”
If you are going to:
2170 62nd St, Fennville, MI 49408
You can now order Virtue’s Cider, and soon their beer, online. Find the link to order here.
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