Mike Hosinski is lucky enough to live near Sawyer, Michigan, home to one of the area’s newest and best breweries, Greenbush. Around those parts he’s known as the Yankee Sipper, a nickname he earned by visiting the brewery 110 days in row, smashing what started out as the 56-day “DiMaggio challenge.” After breaking 100, brewmaster and co-owner Scott Sullivan let him take a crack at making his own beer and replaced Mike’s mug club stein with one from Scott’s grandfather’s personal collection. Quite an honor for this unassuming craft beer fan otherwise occupied with finding the next gig for his band The Vollies.
What’s your favorite beer and style?
This is a really tough one because it’s always changing. Lately I’ve been kind of an imperialist, I suppose…Imperial IPAs and imperial stouts get me excited.
What’s in your fridge right now?
Let’s see…There’s a bottle of Greenbush Delusion (Imperial Cream Stout aged in rye whiskey barrels), Lagunitas Lucky 13, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Anderson Valley Amber, Big Sky Powder Hound, and Bell’s Two Hearted.
What was the first beer that clued you in?
I’d have to say it was probably Bell’s Oberon. Living in Michigan, it seems to be the drink of choice for so many people during the summer. I’d speculate that it’s been a gateway beer for many enlightened beer drinkers.
What’s your most memorable beer moment?
That one is easy. I have two: The first time that I tasted Greenbush, and when I completed the Joe DiMaggio challenge.
I’ve lived almost my entire life in New Troy, just a few miles down the road from Greenbush in Sawyer. When I was a little kid, the Greenbush building was a Laundromat and video store. I would shake down my mom for money so that I could rent video games and get penny candy. When I heard that there was going to be a brewery in Sawyer I could hardly believe it. I tried not to get my hopes up, thinking, “well, who knows… it might not be that good.”
On their soft opening, my girlfriend Chessa and I stopped in to taste the wares. My reservations disappeared as quickly as the flight of beers I had just ordered. So I kept coming in. Every day. It didn’t go unnoticed (Jill started referring to me as Cliff) and after the first week, I was talking to Scott (the brewer/co-owner) and he asked me, “Have you been here every single day since we opened?” Except for the Monday after their opening (I wasn’t familiar with their hours yet and arrived 30 minutes after closing), I had. So he posed a challenge: If I could come in 56 consecutive days, I would win the “Joe DiMaggio” award (Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak was 56 games.
That brings me to the second most memorable beer moment. The day after completing the challenge, Greenbush held a celebration for me (video courtesy of my good friend, Eric Heiney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5xnBv23Tug). One of the coolest parts of the whole thing was probably having my “Friends with Benefits” mug replaced with one from Scott’s grandfather’s impressive collection.
Bartender or brewer?
I’d have to say brewer. It’s truly an art form. There’s a huge amount of creativity that goes into brewing beer and the fact that people can derive so much enjoyment out of drinking a good beer, may be unlike anything they’ve ever had before. It’s really amazing.
What was your greatest beer hunt?
There have been a few, but the most noteworthy beer hunt I can recall would have to be when I went to Portland, Oregon a few years ago and met up with two of my best friends. We planned a brewpub crawl, hitting around 10 locations, including Widmer, Rogue, Deschute’s, Market Street, Lucky Labrador, etc. We walked all over downtown Portland. I’ll just say this; the night ended as we carried stolen flight trays and a decent sized rock across the Burnside Bridge.
What’s a beer on your wishlist?
I’m pretty excited to taste the Yankee Sipper once it’s finished. I made it 110 days to Greenbush before I ended my streak and upon completing my 100th day, my prize was to brew my own beer. It’s a barley wine brewed with brown sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, and cherries. Preliminary tastes have been more than satisfactory, but I can’t wait to taste the end product.
Also, I’ve had them before, but I can’t get enough of Widmer Imperial IPA (Nelson) and Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout.