I recently visited the wonderful state of Michigan. Growing up in New England, I am used to a wicked sense of pride. Especially in the state of Massachusetts, but after my visit to MI., I think we have met our match. However, their pride is well founded. I saw a t-shirt that summed it up nicely; there was a map of the United States of America where MI. was colored in, and in big USA shaped letters it wrote: NOT MICHIGAN.
To be honest, Michigan is beautiful, majestic, filled with animals and friendly faces. What else am I forgetting, oh yes, they are loaded with BEER! If you get the chance to visit, you will notice that at most places that serve/sell beer have their shelves and taps stocked with MI beer. While there I visited three breweries and would like to share my experiences. I’ll even throw in a little bit of the other local beer related localities.
First stop, Sugarfoot Saloon a locally owned Mexican style restaurant. I did not get the chance to eat there, I was exploring while the family was back at the house. This is a locally owned restaurant that has been brewing beer for about two years now. For the cuisine, this microbrew pairs well. With a full bar, full menu and friendly staff, it’s a great local haunt. If you visit, bring your appetite, the food portions are massive!
I would recommend trying their beer before the other “regular” drafts.You can ask for samples, just in case the pour doesn’t tickle your fancy. The restaurant only had three of their libations on tap, the IPA, English Pale, and Liquid Sunshine. To be honest, the beers are pretty average, but they do hit the spot, and are quite crushable.
The IPA starts off with wafts of citrous pine in the nose. All throughout drinking it a sweet pine flavor is prevalent. It’s overall light, with a pleasant finish.
The English Pale was very light and came across watery. However it had a nice overall flavor, with a slight hopped finish.
Finally, the Liquid Sunshine, light, lemony and bready. ‘Nuff said.
On the way back, there were beautiful landscapes, cherry fields and some local establishments with live music and both in and outdoor seating. One of these locations, Market 22, serves local foods, fresh cut deli sandwiches, AND BEER. If you want local drafts, or bottles and cans, they have a small but wide variety. I picked up Bell’s Brewery, Oberon and Right Brain Brewing, Dead Kettle, and my friend picked up Perrin Brewing, Grapefruit IPA. In our downtime from adventuring, we enjoyed these local wonders. How did they taste, you ask? I won’t leave you hanging.
The following beers were picked up at Market 22.
Oberon is a seasonal American Wheat Ale. The nose, to me at least, was like a sweet orange peel. It’s character was bready with hints of coriander. A light bitterness was present but pleasant. This was quite an enjoyable sipper. Thus emphasizing my current stance on orange can marketing.
Perrin Brewing,Grapefruit IPA was not one of my favorites. Though my friend absolutely loved it! Notice the red and yellow are separate features on this can, so close. On a hot day, what comes to mind? Something lighter and crushable. Maybe crisp and refreshing too. Unfortunately, this one was thick, wheaty and heavily earthy. I was not left refreshed, and it tasted like someone poured grapefruit juice into a beer to see what would happen. But hey, too each his/her own, right?
Next was Right Brain Brewing, Dead Kettle. This is a low ABV IPA, with a great flavor. Though the can is not orange, it does draw your attention. I looked at it and just had to give it a try. It was surprisingly light for the malt-rich flavor profile. Along with notes of pine, it was clean, crisp and well balanced. Please see Right Brain’s beer list for their detailed description.
Not too bad for the week’s beginning. What I will do for you now, is share another place to purchase great Michigan beer in Leelanau County. Since we had some great experiences with the local wineries, breweries, distilleries and towns; this will be the first of a few articles about Leelanau County.
Whenever traveling, it’s always good to find out where the gas station is, as well as where to get your necessities for an extended stay. An added bonus is finding great crafts in the same location. We had the chance to visit Glen Arbor, MI. A quaint little town chock full of beaches, kayaking, coffee and eateries. One stop was Anderson’s Glen Arbor Market. I was able to find an excellent variety of local Michigan beers, as well as some rarer concoctions of better named brands. Here is a list of the brews sampled:
To Continue with the theme of Dead Kettle, Right Brain makes Deader Kettle, with similar labeling but with more “mmf,” if that makes sense. Unfortunately, there is no description on their website, but good old Untappd has a plethora of reviews.
I did enjoy the resinous piney notes, and the heavier malty flavor. There’s a distinguished fuller body, with a sweet hopped finish. While it has a thicker profile, it is a great complement to a summer day.
These next two may have familiar labeling, but these specialty flavors are not always easy to come by. Just a heads up, I am quite partial to New Holland brewing, especially their Dragon’s Milk. However, for the sake of fair reviewing, I tried to keep my views as unbiased as possible.
First off we have Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Mexican Spice Cake. Not only is the name a mouthful, but so is this delicious sipper. At 11% ABV, the booziness is well hidden in the thick chocolate aroma. It pours dark, with a quickly fleeting head, and the Mexican dark chocolate proliferates the palate with tastes of Mole with hints of cinnamon. This is definitely a treat to enjoy slowly.
If that doesn’t sound like a dessert in a bottle, try Dragon’s Milk Reserve: S’mores Bourbon Barrel. This is another one of those beers that are not listed on the brewery’s website, but here’s a link to its description on Beer Advocate.
I highly agree with their rating, which is not often the case, of this beer. Sniffing this brew brought me back to my childhood days when I was first introduced to S’mores. That unmistakable Graham cracker nose, with toasted chocolate mixing in. After your first sip, you can pick up the immediate nuances of that sweet Graham cracker taste, followed by a chocolate fudge flavor and a sweet milky finish. If you want a taste of sweet nostalgia, this is the beer to choose. Plus with an 11% ABV, who needs a campfire to keep warm.
New Holland, you done good!
Here’s a fun one, Roak Brewing, Kashmir. This strong Belgian dark ale is apparently no longer produced by Roak Brewing, which is probably why you won’t find it on their website. So, let me tell you a bit about it. Immediately the rich chocolatey scent nestles in your nose. Its body comes across thick, with a sweet richness, and malty finish. Surprisingly, even on a hot day, it’s not too heavy feeling. If you do get a chance to meet this brew, grab it while you can!
We’ve covered IPA’s, a Belgian strong, stouts, whats missing? A Lambic, or more specifically, a Kriek. Kwikriek is brought to you by Short’s Brewing company. This happens to be a simpler label, in comparison to their other bottles, but don’t let that fool you. Short’s does a great job on this style. With low ABV, its full of farm fresh flavor! It’s earthy and farmy-tart nose hits hard. Be wary of the first sip, it starts off with a strong tart spike, but mellows out to a sweet spritzer-like finish. I enjoyed Kwikriek by a fire under a late setting sun, enjoying the crisp lake air. What a great end to the week.
Yes, that’s the end of the week, but not the end of the trip. In the next article I will cover two more breweries, a local hot spot, ad maybe throw in a few wineries and distilleries. Stay tuned and don’t forget to visit Michigan, or at least drink their beer!
I love the history of beer and how its made, the whole beer experience. My philosophy is, finding your beer is like finding your soul-mate, you may have a long search, and learn some lessons, but there is a beer that’s just right for you.