New Holland Brewing Company is a brewery/brewpub in Holland, MI that is near and dear to my heart. The brewery started in 1997 and I lived in Holland, MI from 2000-2007. I used to go there for beers when they still ran the brewpub on the brewery premises and would play roller hockey inside when it was slow! They eventually moved the brewpub downtown in the old Vogelzang Hardware Store and made is a gorgeous location in the heart of town, which was nice because it was an easy walk from my house!
NHBC has grown a lot and can even be found in limited supply here in Kansas City. The brewpub has always had a lot of stuff on tap that never makes it to the bottle, and I remember drinking what is now called Full Circle on tap back in 2006 or so, probably, before they started bottling it. Interestingly, Full Circle is now a kölsch style beer, but at one time it was originally a lager of some sort that tasted like Miller Lite, then the beer was pulled from the lineup and released a few years later in its current incarnation.
When I first had this beer on tap I liked it a lot. The kölsch style was just coming into vogue and this one had that nice grape-y flavor that is typical of the style. This was before I was really into beer, and I didn’t know anything about the style. I remember asking the bartender if there was fruit in the beer and he said, “No, but I think that stuff tastes like Bud. I hate it.” Not a glowing endorsement and he had no idea what he was talking about, really.
Unfortunately, in the bottles I’ve had of this beer I have not found any of that grape or “vinous” flavor or aroma that I remember on tap. It pours a cloudy gold color with a light head and has the aromas of pilsner, but no grape. As a kölsch, this beer is a little disappointing, but for a pilsner I like it quite a bit! lol It is clean, balanced but malty, little aftertaste and easy to drink. With an ABV of 4.9% it gets into session territory and it’s a nice thirst-quencher in the summertime, which is good considering that it’s going to be a heat index of 95° tomorrow at 8:00AM and afternoon heat indexes will be in the triple digits all week!
Full Circle won’t knock your socks off, and if you like kölschs for that really grape-like flavor you won’t find it in these bottles, but for a pilsner-like, light, but flavorful and altogether enjoyable summer drinker this is a great choice. It gets me excited for my August trip to Michigan. I am going to do my best to start saving my beer budget and spend it all up there, coming home with a trunkload of NHBC beers, Founders, Bell’s and anything else from up there we can’t get here (although I know we can get some limited selections of all of those I mentioned). I better have a designated driver while I’m up there, too! Good craft beer is easy to find in Michigan.