Brite Eyes Brewing Company
More beer. Seriously, Kalamazoo. Don’t stop. Grand Rapids can claim to be “Beer City, USA,” but Kalamazoo is right up there and maybe even ahead of our neighbors to the north in terms of quality and breweries per capita.
This past weekend, J, L, and I ventured out before the MSU/U of M game to check out Kalamazoo’s newest entry in to the brewery field. Although in this case, the word “brewing” in their title has a double meaning.
Brite Eyes Brewing Company is both a brewery and a coffee shop. It’s located on the corner of South Burdick and Crosstown Parkway. The building has been a couple of different things but none of them a restaurant. Most recently, it was home to the Kalamazoo Foods Market and before that, Rainbow Rentals.
The large, two story building provides a large, open dining room in the front of the space. There were quite a few people eating lunch when we walked in just before 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. We quickly found a four top near the entrance then started looking at the menu which is written in chalkboards hanging from the balcony that hangs over the kitchen area.
We were unsure if it was counter service or waitress service, so J asked as employee was busing a table next to us. She directed us towards the counter to order, so we set L up with some crayons and a coloring book while J and I went to order.
We started out with our meal orders first. The food option during the afternoon is sandwiches and salads. I’m not sure if you caught it earlier, but Brite Eyes is also a coffee house, so they are open for breakfast too. During the morning hours, your choices are scramblers and biscuits and gravy.
I went off the “From the Grill” section which is toasted sandwiches. My choice was the Hot Ham & Swiss. What’s interesting was just how good this sandwich was and what made it so good was the buttered, toasted bread. Between those two thick slices of white bread was ham, Swiss cheese, and stone ground mustard. The sandwich also comes with green peppers which I asked to leave off. The sandwich was very filling and also very delicious. It’s a simple combination of pretty basic ingredients, but the bread is what really tied this whole sandwich together for me.
J ordered The Grilled Club which is also from the “From the Grill” section. Her sandwich started with buttered, toasted Wheat bread that was filled with turkey, bacon, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. J liked her sandwich for a lot of the same reasons I liked mine. The bread was a huge reason for both of us and just the simple act of buttering and toasting it made so much difference with these sandwiches.
There isn’t any sort of a kids menu that we saw or were offered, so we just asked to modify one of the sandwiches for L. We ordered her the Three Cheese Grill. Now, typically, this comes with cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, pepper jack cheese, green pepper and tomato on white bread. We asked to get rid of everything but the cheddar cheese and just make her a grilled cheese sandwich. L was still being pretty stubborn about eating, so she only had a few bites. Once again, her loss because even just as a cheddar cheese grilled cheese sandwich, this meal was delicious. Once again, I go back to the bread preparation as the thing that really tied this whole thing together.
Sandwich sides are pretty basic as both J and I got chips while we ordered carrots and celery for L. The only other option was for pretzels.
Drinks were interesting and I’ll actually start with J’s because it’s one of the more unique and interesting thing about Brite Eyes. She ordered an Ethopian Nitro Coffee. The coffee is pulled from a nitro tap that would normally be used for beer. I don’t know anything about coffee and really neither does she, but it’s the thing that she has really heard people talking about when talking about this brewery. It’s served in a snifter and it came to the table looking like a really dark beer. Coffee fans would probably enjoy this a lot more than she did as she needed cream and sugar to dilute it. It was a (for a casual coffee drinker) very strong coffee, but she told me she enjoyed it.
Now. Beer. They had five beers on tap and I decided to try them all. I did a flight of 2 oz pours of all five selections they still had left. There was an IPA that they ran out of the night before that I would have liked to try….next time.
I started with Dagwood’s Wife..it’s a blonde ale…Dagwood’s wife’s name (and the comic strips name) is Blondie. If you read the funny pages…you get. The beer was pretty good….an average blonde ale. Not my favorite style, but a nice light start to a lunch flight.
Beer two was The Merry Traveler. This one’s a porter that’s a little on the thin side, but it does have a got a good robust chocolate flavor.
Beer three was Batch One. This is a Session American Pale ale which I’m assuming was their first beer. I don’t particularly like pale ale’s, but this one was very drinkable.
The fourth beer was Crosstown Pale ale. Again, very drinkable, but not sure I would order a full glass. I think it was better than Batch One, but pale’s just aren’t always my thing.
The final beer was, as usual, the one I was looking forward to. It’s called Mango A-Go-Go. Guess what it was….yeah, you know me…it’s an American IPA and, as the name suggests, it’s brewed with Mango’s to give it a really sweet, citrus-y flavor to go along with the bitterness of an IPA.
Another great brewery in Kalamazoo….that’s all I need to say. Our bill was a little high at just over $40, but my beer flight alone was $10. I usually end these blog posts talking about the need to do something to stand out in a crowded field and Brite Eyes does that by being a dual brewhouse. If you’re a big coffee fan, you should probably check them out…and if you do, let me know what you think of the whole Nitro thing. Not being a coffee drinker I’m really not sure what that adds to it, but I know if it’s anything like beer, it will make it even more delicious.