Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mr. MBR Goes To Michigan

When we talk about beer in the Midwest, I humbly submit, there are two states that stand above all others: Wisconsin and Michigan. Each contains about 20% of the breweries in the Midwest; Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri share the remaining 60%, with Ohio being the next closest with more than 20 fewer breweries than Wisconsin (42 to 66, respectively) despite a population almost twice the size. Michigan, with a population slightly smaller than Ohio has 70 breweries.

Wisconsin has New Glarus, Central Waters, Tyranena, Lakefront and Capital leading the pack (not to mention an incomparable brewpub culture that has almost twice as many brewpubs as breweries). Michigan has such amazing breweries as Bells, Founders, New Holland, Dark Horse, Atwater and Jolly Pumpkin.

So earlier this year a trip was planned for this coming weekend. MBR's step-brother is getting married and to celebrate the occasion, a beer trip through Michigan is being executed. First up is Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter, MI. Brewmaster Ron Jeffries will show us the magic kettles and even magic-er wooden barrels where the golden sour elixers known as La Roja and Bam are created. From there on to the converted hardware store, brew-your-own shop, and generally badass brewery Kuhnhenn Brewing Company in Warren, MI.

Next, we run the gauntlet starting at Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founders creates some of the most original and tasty beers out there - from the Kentucky Breakfast Stout to Red's Rye IPA to Centennial IPA to the Ambrosia Tart. From Founders, on to Holland and the home of New Holland Brewing Company. While New Holland is oft over-looked they are well-loved and they create the ever-solid Mad Hatter IPA, and not only a schwarzbier, but also a kolsch, rye doppelbock, and Belgian dark, among countless others.

I'm not sure I need to tell you about our next stop, Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ubiquitous, omnipresent, unerring, and the undisputed king of Midwest craft beer; we'll be stopping in at the brewpub in downtown Kalamazoo to see what crazy libations can be had on tap direct from the source that can't be found anywhere else. I'm betting dollars to donuts that a growler or two will be filled.

Finally, we end our trip in Marshall at Dark Horse where we will attempt to drink all five stouts in succession and then chase them down with a Double Crooked Tree IPA.

For this reason, posting on Friday may or may not happen. I will try to get up some pictures as I have internet access throughout the weekend. Stay tuned here, or at our Facebook page our at MBR Twitter where you'll be updated on our progress through Michigan.

As you can see, a great trip can be done in a long-ish weekend with minimal expenditure and maximum beer. The only downside is driving, so make sure at least one of you is a designated driver for an appropriate period of time. Hope to see you on the road!!


  1. I'm jealous, sounds like an amazing trip! All the stouts and a crooked tree at Dark Horse? Try to stay alive.

  2. This reminds me of a Michigan beer trip this winter with a couple friends. We hit The Livery in Benton Harbor first, since you can only get their wonderful beer on tap. Other than all the boarded-up houses, Benton Harbor was beautiful. Next was Bell's, where we got our Hopslam fix.

    We timed our around the Michigan Brewer's Guild's Winter beerfest in Grand Rapids and got to try all sorts of wonderful Michigan beer. We hit Siciliano's liquor store in GR that night (everything in the store is mix-a-six...seriously) and Founder's afterwards (Canadian breakfast stout on tap...yum). When you make it to GR, try to stop at Siciliano's--you won't regret it.

    Finally, we swung by Three Floyds in Munster (okay, so it's not MI) for a drink before heading back to Madison.

    I think the whole weekend cost like $250 (not counting what I spent at Siciliano's). Not bad.

  3. Pick up (or at least try) some of the spirits at New Holland if you are so inclined. The gin was just great. Tell all those small MI brewers to make a trip across the Lake more often to meet their devoted Wisconsin fans.

  4. Even though Kuhnhenn is decent, I prefer Dragonmead in Warren. I was there last Tuesday and they were still selling bus tickets to the Michigan Summer Beer Festival on July 25th.

  5. Bill over at Malt House also recommended Dragonmead. May have to assemble a rogue side-mission.


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