New Holland Brewing Company
66 E 8th St
Visited on November 12, 2011
Although you can’t tell by the placement on this blog, New Holland Brewing Company was my 200th brewpub. It was a good selection for the honor. They make one of my favorite beers of all-time – Dragon’s Milk – and have an excellent lineup of regularly bottled brews. I was really looking forward to trying their food and small batch, brewpub-exclusive beers. I may have had a bit too high of expectations, though, as I walked away a bit disappointed. I didn’t love any of the limited release brews and the food didn’t quite deliver to the level of promise described in the menu. Still an excellent stop, however.
New Holland holds a special place in my heart. Why?
*Cheering, Clapping, Much Fanfare!*
But outside of that special place, the food and beer didn’t *quite* live up to my hopes and expectations. Then again, perhaps no place would have on my 200th celebration.
The one thing that did live up to all expectations was the location. Downtown Holland is an extremely cute, clean, and quaint downtown with a ton of beautiful historical buildings and storefronts, and New Holland is one of them. The interior is massive. Two gigantic dining halls, one of which features one hell of a long bar, and even an upstairs and merchandise room makes this place perhaps the largest by square-footage I’ve ever seen. Most everything is exposed brick and beautiful woodwork. New Holland and other brewing paraphernalia is all over the place. They’ve done quite a number with it.
The menu left a little to be desired. Before coming, I was expecting a bit more flair – a bit more creativity. Instead I was greeted by a solid yet standard pub lineup. Traditional steaks, fish, sandwiches, and salads are the staples here. While they’re all well-done, nothing seemed to jump out at me. In the end, we settled for a Farmer’s Plate appetizer and two pizzas – a bacon and potato as well as a Greek. With the spent grain crust, the pizzas were certainly above average, but again didn’t blow me away.
The beer at New Holland is notoriously great. Most everyone in Michigan is familiar with their sampler that features The Poet (stout), Mad Hatter (IPA), Sundog (amber) and Full Circle (kolsch). Plus, who can forget their strong and delicious Dragon’s Milk Ale? Based on these five beers alone, the pub blows 70% of the other breweries I’ve been to out of the water. But to truly stand out, I was really hoping for some outstanding brewhouse-only selections.
I was not disappointed by the selections, there were at least 12 (if not more) non-standard selections – but none of them really blew me away. The high gravity ales were all great – double Hatter, Hopivore (wet-hopped harvest), and Dragon’s Milk aged in Oak were all just fine. And the beer infused with hot peppers, their version of a bock, rye, milk stout, and Belgian were all great – just not outstanding. For some reason, I just walked away slightly disappointed. I think my standards were too high, though, so they’re still getting an (almost) perfect score here.
The service was a bit slow and unremarkable, but we were upstairs and it was extremely busy. Perhaps on future visits I’ll find a server I absolutely love. But for now, mediocre marks.