Witch's Hat shows tasty sour version of Train Hopper

Tom Gromak
The Detroit News

South Lyon’s Witch's Hat brewing is known for its IPAs and stouts. Its sours are something entirely new, and on display at the Michigan Brewer’s Guild’s Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park.

Crowds lined up dozens deep at the Witch's  Hat Brewing tent to try the variations on some of its flagship beers.

“We’re bringing a lot of crazy stuff this year,” said owner Ryan Cottingim.

There’s “Dragon Trax,’ a variation on the Hat’s Night Fury Imperial Stout, as well as additional offshoots featuring the flavors of cookies-and-cream, chocolate espresso, and vanilla bean — all featuring fair trade chocolates and flavors from Dexter’s Mindo Chocolate. The results created lines dozens deep outside the Witch’s Hat tent in the area of the Summer Beer Festival affectionately known as “the back 40.”

“We like to locally source our flavors whenever we can,” Cottingim said.

Just as big and bold is “Batch 500 Sour Train Hopper.” It’s Witch's Hat’s first major foray into the world of sour beers, so named for the brewing technique and yeast variants that lend the beers a sour, tart flavor.

“It’s very sour. You get a lot of that funkiness. A lot of hop aroma. It’s a little barn-yardy,” Cottingim said, describing the beer. It was an accurate picture of a flavor that is essentially the brewer’s signature Train Hopper IPA with a sour, tart backbone. It’s refreshing and crisp, yet nods to the original.

“My favorite thing we have here is the Sour Train Hopper. It’s so different for us,” he said.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be in wide distribution. He said there are no plans for mass production and distribution because of the disruption sours create in the brewery. But it will be on tap again at Fury for a Feast, the Aug. 27 festival at the South Lyon Brewery that raises money for Gleaners Food Bank and Blessings in a Back Pack. Last year’s event yielded $16,000 and 3,000 pounds of food for the needy.