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Crop Duster takes the title

Matt DeYoung • Apr 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

It wasn’t too long ago that Grand Armory was a newcomer to the West Michigan brewery scene.

Today, Grand Armory is kicking out some of the area’s best craft beers — including Crop Duster Citra IPA.

Crop Duster was crowned the champion of the inaugural Tribune March Madness Beer Bracket, edging out Pigeon Hill’s Oatmeal Cream Pie in the championship round.

Grand Armory’s head brewer, Jim Goodburn, said Crop Duster has been one of the brewery’s top sellers since it opened two years ago. He described Crop Duster as an “accessible IPA.”

“It’s a little lower on the bitterness scale than a lot of other IPAs,” said Goodburn, a Spring Lake High School graduate. “People who don’t necessarily like overly hoppy beer, they drink a Crop Duster and they love it. It’s not a typical IPA with all that in-your-face bitterness.”

Goodburn explained that the beer is crafted using Citra hops, which have a fruity, grapefruit flavor.

“Since we opened, this beer has been 1 or 2 on our best seller list out of our tap list, and it’s always 1 or 2 in distribution,” Goodburn said.

As for the name? Goodburn said it’s a play off the hop crop, but added with a grin that the name also has a more sordid meaning.

“At festivals, we always get asked if it smells like a fart,” he said with a grin. “It definitely has a very distinct smell – that Citra smell.”

Goodburn said they brew Crop Duster three times a week, totaling 21 barrels — or about 600 gallons — weekly.

“Since we’ve opened, we’ve made more Crop Duster than any other beer, and I don’t think it’s close,” he said.

The Grand Armory staff is constantly making subtle tweaks to its brewing process, but now that Crop Duster is being distributed across the state, they have to be sure the finished product is consistent.

“It’s been great being able to dial in a beer like this to where we can get every single batch to taste nearly identical,” he said. “When we were a young brewery, that wasn’t as much of an issue. We were just sending it to the tap room. But when you’re sitting in a warehouse looking at 250,000 cans, every one of those cans has to taste exactly the same.”

The Tribune’s March Madness Beer Bracket began with 28 local beers from seven different breweries – Grand Armory in Grand Haven, Old Boys’ and Dutch Girl in Spring Lake, Unruly and Pigeon Hill in Muskegon, Fetch in Whitehall and Trail Point in Allendale.

The Final Four were Grand Armory’s Wheezin the Juice versus Crop Duster, and Trail Point’s CIPApotamus versus Oatmeal Cream Pie. 

Grand Armory Brewing was founded by Ben Tabor, Ryan Andrews and Kyle Edwards. The brewing staff also includes Jesse Frifeldt, quality control, and Sean Alexander, assistant brewer. 

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