In 2009, the year I left Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brewery Vivant wasn’t yet a brick and mortar.
In December 2010, they built that brick and mortar in the same neighborhood as the house I lived in:
But thanks to Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival, Brewery Vivant’s legendary Belgian-style brews are making their way to Boston; to be guzzled by craft beer lovers eager to taste anything that can’t normally be found on the east coast. It’s three sessions of drinking frenzy that leaves festival goers gleefully over-satiated, then dreadfully hungover struggling to remember “that awesome brown ale that tasted like french toast from that one brewery in….uhh…?”
About a month ago I was CC’ed on an e-mail from Jason Spaulding, President of Brewery Vivant. Breweries participating in beer festivals outside their normal distribution territories must choose a distribution company local to where the festival is taking place. It’s all part of the Federally mandated three-tier system. In this case, Brewery Vivant, which currently only distributes throughout Michigan, Indiana, and the Chicago-area, needed a distribution company to take its beer into Massachusetts for the Extreme Beer Festival. They chose the Craft Brewers Guild. Hence, the e-mail.
This year, festival goers will have the chance to grab their favorite Brewery Vivant beers post-hangover at several Boston area package stores. The brewery plans to “test the market” with 300 hundred cases of its 16 oz. can variety pack and one log of Wizard Burial Ground, a Belgian Quad, which is going to Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville for the official pre-EBF kick off party on March 19th.
So, with a new Belgian-centric brewery coming to town, I was curious to see how the Michigan brewery stacked up against Boston’s own Belgian brewery, Idle Hands. This is a comparison of similar beer styles from both breweries, and is based on Beer Advocate (BA) and Rate Beer (RB) rating systems.
These two Belgian-style tripels tied with the same scores on both BA and RB – 86 and 76.
In the battle between Belgian style Pale Ale/IPAs, Brewery Vivant’s Triomphe scored slightly higher marks, with an 86 (BA) and 83 (RB). Idle Hands’ Pandora got 83 (BA) and 79 (RB).
Belgian-style dubbel was close. Dubbel Dimples scored just 2 points higher than Brewery Vivant’s Solitude on BA with an 84. I couldn’t count RB’s score, as Dubbel Dimples was scoreless there.
In a battle of wits, Brewery Vivant’s Ski Patrol had the edge of Idle Hands’ Blanche de Grace. Ski Patrol scored an 86 (BA), while Blanche de Grace earned 83 points. No RB scores for either brews.
Other styles can’t really be compared, but the highest scores from each brewery were awarded to:
Brewery Vivant’s Wizard Burial Ground, a 10.5% ABV barrel-aged Belgian quad. BA gives this a 93.
Idle Hands’ Klara, a 5.50% ABV Dortmunder/export-style lager. BA awards this an 86.
Obviously this method of comparison is based purely on numbers contributed by fellow beer drinkers, which is subjective. Don’t take this sort of shit seriously. Drink the beer for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.