For my first Black Friday shopping experience, I decided to wait in a line for beer. No, I wasn’t camping out in my local Meijer or bottle shop for a product made by Anheuser Busch. I was shivering outside of a brewery feeling that Pure Michigan air off of Lake Michigan on the west side of the state at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company.

Pigeon Hill’s promotion poster for the Black Friday event.

Pigeon Hill had a non-ticketed can release party called Black Friday Shenanigans at their production facility in Muskegon on Friday, November 23. The beers that were available for purchase were S’more Beast in My Cup, a Double Imperial Stout, and Cinna-Gram on French Toast, a Russian Imperial Stout. The latter was formerly known as Your Grandma on French Toast (YGOFT). It has not been publicly released as to why the name changed. There are rumors, but I’m not going to pass them along.

My unofficial party got started around 8:30 am with the brewery provided free coffee, donuts, and bacon to anyone in line at 441 W Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon. The crowd grew throughout the morning and craft beer enthusiasts traveled from all over the state of Michigan. Pigeon Hill was just the beginning of their brewery stops as Odd Side Ales (Grand Haven, MI) and New Holland Brewing (Holland, MI) were also having limited beer releases later on. “A nice west Michigan tour of Black Friday beers,” someone in line pronounced.

According to a Facebook post by the brewery, there was to be a two case limit for both S’More Beast and Cinna-Gram, but that limit was lifted when Michael Brower, one of the owners, welcomed everyone around 9:30 am. After the announcement and cheers, the doors to the production facility opened and the release began.

Hat’s off to Pigeon Hill for a courteous, efficient, and customer-oriented release!

The tasting table. Cinna-Gram in the forefront and S’more in the back.

Upon entering the production facility, one encountered a sampling table. Each of the beers that you could purchase were available in taster cups. According to Derek, the Pigeon Hill employee, manning the taster table, S’More Beast in My Cup is best served with toasted marshmallows. Both were delicious and made me burn a hole in my pocket.

Pallets upon pallets of beer!

Purchasing the beer went off without a hitch and the party continued down the street at the Pigeon Hill Taproom. The place was packed with people renewing and joining the mug club. Free pancakes, bacon, and sausage were available for any and all interested, and the beer was flowing! A special guest was there – Grandma!

The atmosphere in the taproom was electric. The large picnic tables were full of kind people sharing the space together over good beer and a hearty breakfast.

I was able to chat with Michael, one of the co-owners, for a few questions at the current production facility  regarding the release and Pigeon Hill’s future.

Ed Norton (Better on Draft): This event has been great, Michael! How many years has Pigeon Hill been open and how many Black Friday releases have you done?

Michael Brower (Pigeon Hill): Pigeon Hill opened in March of 2014 and this is our fourth Black Friday release. This was our second release of Gram-Cans.

Ed: I overheard you talking with a few people in line about the new production facility, this production facility, and your current taproom. What’s the plan?

Michael: We broke ground on our new 15,000 square-foot production facility in August. We will be moved in the offices in January and brewing everything in March. We’re looking forward to moving the taproom into this location (current production facility) and perhaps building up to provide more space for seating and events.

Ed: Any fun projects here in the current production facility?

Michael: We’re working on a few barrel aged sours.

Something’s aging in those barrels…

I cannot wait to see Pigeon Hill continue to boom both in Muskegon and the state of Michigan. Pigeon Hill’s beers can currently be found in over 1,000 stores and bars throughout the mitten and with a production facility more than double the size of the current one, I know there will be more Pigeon Hill beer for years to come. Give Pigeon Hill a try both in cans across the state or in downtown Muskegon!

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By Ed Norton

Edwin "Ed" Norton was first introduced to craft beer when his designated fraternity Big Brother Vince asked him if he knew anything about the topic. Ed admitted his ignorance and the rest is history as Ed and Vince would split six-packs of craft beers each week during Ed's probationary status. Ed is now a craft beer enthusiast who is always on the lookout for a beer he has not tried when bottle shopping or drinking at breweries and bars. In addition to drinking beer, this livelong Michigan resident enjoys a bunch of hobbies that he doubts you really care about, other than drinking beer and sounding off about it.

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