- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

WHITMORE LAKE, Mich. (AP) - Tim’s Triple Bypass Porter, Paul’s Mechanical Mitral Valve IPA and Jeff’s Mitral Valve Chocolate Stout aren’t your typical microbrews. There’s some heart behind their creation.

The craft beers were the brainchild of Ann Arbor homebrewer Steve Krebs, symbolic of a friendship between four guys that has spanned more than three decades and endured three open heart surgeries, The Ann Arbor News (http://bit.ly/1R4bzwR ) reported.

Krebs brought a batch of each with him to friend Jeff Spencer’s home earlier this month to celebrate their friend Tim Jarratt’s successful recent triple bypass surgery. Spencer had undergone surgery on his mitral valve just a few months earlier, while another friend, Paul Brindle had the same valve replaced in 2010.

“It’s a good excuse to brew beer,” Krebs joked. “I like doing stuff like that. We’re all pretty special friends.”

Their friendship dates back to the late 1970s, when Krebs, Jarratt and Brindle met as members of the Ann Arbor Ski Club. As their hobbies evolved to include visiting Michigan craft breweries 10 years ago, Spencer was introduced to the group and a new obsession was born.

“When we first started our brewpub tours, we pretty much worked through all of southern Michigan in the first year,” Brindle said. “Now, you can’t keep up.”

Along with their frequent trips to breweries, the group is always hanging out together during the summer months, including their annual “Brewtoon” party, which features Krebs’ craft creations on a pontoon boat at Brindle’s property on Big Portage Lake.

Brindle was the first to have a beer crafted in his honor, recognizing a successful surgery in the summer of 2010. He received a mechanical replacement to a prolapsed mitral valve after suffering from shortness of breath.

Knowing his friend was a big fan of IPAs, Krebs asked Brindle if he would be interested celebrating his homecoming after more than a month in the hospital.

“It’s a fantastic thing to look forward to. All of those horrible couple of months is now just a memory and this is what I earned from going through that - to be able to sit here and drink Steve’s beer and enjoy all of these traditions from our parties together,” Brindle said, recalling the get-together.

Krebs, who is referred to as a “gray beard” member of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, has been brewing beer consistently since 1991.

With a half-barrel system in his admittedly cluttered basement, he said he thought it only would be fitting to offer the same courtesy of a batch for Spencer when he had surgery on his heart’s mitral valve in February.

Now retired, Krebs said he is always tinkering with new recipes, offering his final product to friends to free up space for his next creation.

“I have a little brewery in my basement,” he said. “I tell people they have to either sign a waiver or get a guide (when entering the basement).”

Following Spencer’s recovery, Jarratt became the latest member of the friendship circle to need surgery, discovering he would need a triple bypass in April.

After seeing two of his friends celebrate their recoveries with their favorite style of craft beer, Jarratt hoped the same reward would be waiting for him after spending a week in U-M Hospital.

“He was jealous,” Brindle said of Jarratt. “He had this whole heart thing just because nobody was brewing him a special beer.”

The gang got together and celebrated Jarratt’s recovery with a “Tim’s Triple Bypass Porter,” a recipe Krebs concocted from a clone of Founders’ Porter - a personal favorite for Jarratt.

“I saved myself for that, because I hadn’t had a beer in three weeks. I made sure I didn’t take any oxycodone,” Jarratt said.

“That was really one of the main goals of getting out of my surgery,” he added. “I had to make sure I was in good enough shape for when they unveiled my beer. It was really one of the driving forces of getting me into shape.”

With each of the friends in their 60s, they spend plenty of time together, making trips to brewpubs and hosting social gathering on the weekends.

After going through heart surgeries, each of them admits Krebs is the key component of any social gathering, supplying beer they swear is as good as anything you’ll taste at any craft brewery across the state.

“You get a little bit spoiled and it’s something you begin to look forward to,” Jarratt said. “The one bad thing about drinking Steve’s beer is that you literally can’t drink Budweiser or Miller anymore.”

___

Information from: The Ann Arbor News, http://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor

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