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Haunted Hops: Serving Up Michigan Beers with Ghostly Names, Legends and Lore



By Caroline Cousineau

The leaves are turning colors and the nights are getting chillier. Halloween is approaching. To help you get in the ghostly mood Michigan breweries offer many Halloween appropriate beers.

If you’re not easily scared, Jolly Pumpkin in Traverse City has a history of hauntings. Before it was the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, it was the Bowers Harbor Inn on Old Mission Peninsula. The legend goes that the original owner’s wife, Genevive Stickney, still haunts the brewery.

Genevive was an obese and jealous woman. As she got larger, and older, an elevator was installed in the inn to transport her between levels. During this time, Mr. Stickney hired a nurse to care for his wife. Genevive detested the women, fearing her husband would bequeath his riches to this younger, thinner woman. As it turns out Mr. Stickney was having an affair with the nurse and upon his death left all his money to the nurse, and the inn to Genevive.

After her husband’s death Mrs. Stickney fell into a deep depression which caused her to hang herself from the rafters of the elevator shaft. Since her death, the building has experienced multiple hauntings. The lights have suddenly turned on, mirrors and paintings have fallen off the walls, and guest have taken photos where a blurry woman appears in the background.

A former owner was up late one evening going over bills when the elevator started moving, she went upstairs to see if her children were awake, but they were sound asleep and the elevator was empty.

In 1964, a patron ran downstairs shaking, she had been standing before Genevieve’s gilded-edge mirror when she saw another woman looking in the mirror behind her. The figure had her hair pulled back in a bun, just as Genevieve had worn hers.

Genevieve’s antics have appeared on “Unsolved Mysteries” and have been featured in books documenting authentic ghost stories.

While you’re there, sample up the sour ale Cucurbitophobia — or “Fear of Pumpkins” (6.1% ABV). This collaboration with Henry of Monkish Brewing Company out of Los Angeles is brewed with blood orange zest and juice, black lava salt and a rainbow peppercorn blend. This beer can also be found at Jolly Pumpkin’s Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dexter locations.

Witch’s Hat Brewing Company in South Lyon gets its name from the 100-year-old train depot located across the street, called the Witch’s Hat after its distinct roofline and conical design. The building is now a museum and historic village, standing near McHattie Park where brewery owners Ryan and Erin Cottongim were married in 2007.

Seasonal beers from the brewery include Angry Ginger Spiced Milk Stout (6.5% ABV) — a sweet stout brewed with lactose, cinnamon, ginger, and peppers; and Night Fury (10.5% ABV) — an imperial stout brewed with molasses, available at limited times in a series of flavor features (such as Cookies n’ Cream, Dragon Trax, Cherry Cordial, Chocolate Espresso and Vanilla Bean).

For those of not brave enough to visit a haunted or spooky-named brewery, you can sit back and sip some haunted brews.

Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor produces Violin Monster Autumn Ale (9.5% ABV | 35 IBUs) in honor of a local street performer who is frequently spotted around town sporting a werewolf mask and wielding a fiddle known as the Violin Monster. Identified as terrifying yet romantic, this beer doesn’t conform to any particular style and is not limited by any parameters. Like its namesake, it strong and dark, a spiced beer using ingredients from mid-Germany into the Netherlands and Belgium regions. Brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar.

Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall serves up Scary Jesus Rock Star (6.5% ABV | 24 IBUs). With aromas of chamomile and a taste of apricots, this beer finishes dry and hoppy.

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids introduces you to its Backwoods Bastard (11.2% ABV | 50 IBUs). Flavors and scents of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, mix with earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit in this seasonal brew.

New Holland Brewing in Holland and Grand Rapids produces one of the country’s most noted craft beers known as Dragon’s Milk (11% ABV | 30 IBUs). This rich and creamy bourbon-barrel stout combines robust malt character with deep vanilla tones, is aged in white-oak bourbon barrels. Over the years, several variations of this award-winning beer have also been offered on a limited basis including a Reserve with vanilla and chai, raspberry and lemon, coconut rum barrel and coffee and chocolate.

Another year-round favorite is The Poet (5.2% | 37 IBUs). Boasting a raven on the label (think Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem), this oatmeal stout has a smooth and roasty malt character flavors. Also, check out Mischievous (5.5% ABV | 14 IBUs) and Incorrigible (4.5% ABV  2.8 IBUs) if you’re feeling especially, well…incorrigible or mischievous!

North Peak Beer Company in Dexter (part of Northern United Brewing Company, along with Jolly Pumpkin) is full of seasonal tricks with its Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA (9% ABV | 99 IBUs). As the first wet-hopped beer in the NP portfolio, Hoodoo uses raw, unprocessed hops that are used straight from the vine within hours of harvesting. Due to the moisture content, one ounce of fresh hops is much less bitter than a comparable mass of dried hops. Brewed exclusively with fresh-from-the-farm Michigan hops, this brew proudly displays an unparalleled flavor just begging to be experienced.

“Given its strong malt-backed spine, we gave this Hoodoo hops to run,” says brewer Ron Jeffries. “It starts hoppy, ends hoppy and is nuthin’ but hops in the middle. Well, okay, a little malt in the middle – just enough to keep this Hoodoo from getting fussy. But, it’s pretty much nuthin’ but hops.”

So where did the inspiration for Hoodoo originate? Hoodoo is a form of traditional folk magic that developed from the blending of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions. It incorporates practices from African and Native American customs, as well as some European magical practices. While the Hoodoo man is a trans-cultural phenomena, his roots run deep in Northern Michigan. He is often seen dancing and chanting, drinking up brew that bears his name, as if under some type of mystical spell.

Do you have other Halloween-inspired Michigan craft beers that we should know about? Share your thoughts below!


Caroline Cousineau is a recent graduate of Ferris State’s Public Relations program. She is serving a year in the AmeriCorps as a College Adviser for high school students.


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