Our collaboration beer with Dark Horse Brewing Co., The German Hobo, is now available on draft at your favorite restaurant or watering hole. Also, look for it in 16 oz. cans, beginning next week. Now if you don’t see The German Hobo at your favorite bar or retailer, just tell them that you would like to see it in their establishment.
Now for a little background on this beer, including why we chose this style and the significance of the artwork, here’s a plethora of information that will help you understand this fantastic brew.
- Why a Malt Liquor?
At the Grand Valley Brewing Company in Ionia, Michigan, some time around 1937, Clarence “Click” Koerber first brewed Clix Malt Liquor. In 1942, at Gluek Brewing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Alvin Gluek had a similar idea. The grandson of the brewery’s founder, Alvin was happiest in the laboratory, tinkering. And one day, he found a way to brew a beer that would use less malt but have more of a kick. He named his malt liquor Sparkling Stite by Gluek, courting drinkers with champagne aspirations. Envisioned as an upscale product, Sparkling Stite was even promoted with score pads for bridge players. So we decided to pay homage to this story and style.
The art on the outside border is simple representations of what we brought to our brewing careers before we started them. Each one represents one of the brewers who worked on this beer, except Travis.
- Matt Gwynn – Pilot brewer, Old Nation: Tragic/Comic masks
Matt is a SAG card carrying actor, and Travis saw him in a fantastic play before he worked at Old Nation. Matt is a true, hard working artist in the fullest sense. He understands the difference between a cool idea and a workable one, and has the skill set as a brewer to take a workable idea all the way to production. Matt is the shit.
- Bryan “Wiggs” Wiggs – Head brewer/Brewery operations, Dark Horse: Baseball
When Bryan and Travis first met, 13 years ago, Bryan was a semi-pro pitcher. Raw boned, tall and lean, Bryan looked like a scouts wet dream. He was working part time on a bottling line at a brewery Travis worked at in Battle Creek. Bryan and Travis stayed in contact over the intervening decade plus. In that time, Bryan developed into what he is today: a born again badass. Bryan is the shit.
- Nate Rykse – Head brewer, voice of reason, Old Nation: Longboard
Nate is many things. A university trained brewmaster (U.C. Davis), an encyclopedia of songs you don’t want stuck in your head, a degreed Microbiologist/Biochemist and a level headed, unflappable dude. Nate and Travis have been brewing together for other folks for 8 years. Old Nation Brands are their baby. You’ll find Nate riding a longboard in our huge warehouse facility as he was a Phish following hippie skater all the way through college. He’s fine now, though. Nate is the shit.
- Aaron Morse – Owner, Brewer, CEO, Dark Horse: Wrench
Aaron is a mechanic. He’s happiest when he’s working on a machine. He’s a world class brewer, but his skill set has always been based around how his equipment works and how to make it work better. Or how to just get it through the next run. Aaron is kind and generous, even if he looks like he’d just as soon run you over as chat. Aaron is the absolute shit.
- The Paisleys are for a dude we all know who used to be a player in the brewing world here in MI. He’s not any more.
- The Shamrock represents one person for Travis, but is there to represent brewers who like what other people consider brewers to be, instead of what they should be. What the brewers at Dark Horse and Old Nation have in common is that we respect brewing as a trade. People will think what they think and say what they say, and the only way a professional brewer can sleep well at night is to study, plan and execute. The brewers that the shamrock represents don’t do that, but count on the subjective nature of craft beer and the reverence that some hold any brewer in to carry them along. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, etc.
- The State of Texas likewise represents one person to Travis, but is there to represent folks who come in to brewing with little passion or understanding for the trade. They see that the market is “hot” and want to get in as soon as all others have taken the risk and done the work to build the culture and infrastructure for the “boom”. It’s also there to represent the folks who came in early with a ton of skill and understanding who burned out and just started making beer to collect loot. First followers and those who were burned out by them, essentially.
- The TV is there for the boys at Dark Horse. You can Google that.
- The Weasel is there to represent another guy who used to be a player in the MI beer scene. He helped and hurt Aaron, Travis and Nate. Ask any brewer who’s been around for more than 15 years to explain who or what that might be. If he or she doesn’t know, they haven’t been paying attention!
- Shambhala is a mythical land where peace, logic and understanding reign. It’s from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. For the brewers involved in this collaboration, it’s Old Nation and Dark Horse, but we know that enlightenment is a path, not a destination.
- Tasting Notes
Lastly, The German Hobo is Travis. He finally found a home doing what he loves with folks he loves in Williamston, MI. And it’s incredible to share with friends like the folks at Dark Horse.