Michigan is the fifth largest craft beer state. It is a fascinating subculture that has inspired generations of beer connoisseurs, both drinkers and brewers. The growing interest in craft beers created such a market within Michigan, it can be likened to a modern day parallel of the wine culture in Napa Valley. It showcases a blooming passion, not only about the experience of enjoying beer, but the sheer effort, hard work, and pride Michiganders take in their breweries. Our craft brews aren’t about enjoying the simple things, but appreciating the things that make life better. Michigan has breweries that have started from nothing and grown to national levels because of dedication, determination, and passion for beer. Here are ten amazing craft beers from Michigan and where you can find them this St. Patrick’s Day.
Larry Bell made his first brew in a 15 gallon soup pot. This began a career of award winning beers and a business that would help shape the future of brewing in Michigan. Their Hopslam Ale is a double India Pale Ale that has an underlying sweetness that flirts with your taste buds. With six different hop varietals from the Pacific Northwest, it is a big, bold undertaking as Bell’s most ambitious combination. It is nicely complemented with a touch of honey and fruity waves. Its distinct taste will make you want more than just one. You can buy it from the Bell’s General Store in Kalamazoo or visit their Beer Finder to locate the closest distributor.
The Petoskey Brewing Company started in 2012 by Patrick Dowd and Lou Gostinger. They renovated the building known as the “old brewery,” originally built in 1898. The beer, Petoskey Sparkle, was brewed there until 1915 when it shut its doors. The building was used for a variety of reasons over the years until it was brought back to life and restored to its brewing glory. Their Belgian style ale, Horny Monk, has six different types of malted barley with Belgian candied syrup and yeast. It has a silky texture with a taste that mingles nicely between rich hoppy and a little sweetness. Head north to Petoskey for a frothy glass or check out their map for a closer location.
Ever want to quit your job and do what you love? Well, Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers did just that and started Founder’s Brewing Company. However, it wasn’t exactly an immediate success. The demise of their business endeavor seemed inevitable when their beers were too plain and without character. Ultimately, they decided to turn the tables and start making the complicated beers that they enjoyed drinking. It paid off. Those intricate, bold beers have won them a variety of accolades, including six World Beer Cup medals. Their Dirty Bastard lives up to its name, and it is not for the light beer drinker. It is brewed with seven varieties of imported malts, and it hits you with tastes of smokey goodness between a heavy, hoppy, curtain and creamy, malt undertones. Head to their taproom in Grand Rapids or download their app so you can find your next glass.
The Mountain Town Brewing Co. and Steakhouse opened in 1996. In 2007, a new separate brewing company formed. They have grown through the years, using the same artfully crafted recipes that have accompanied their dishes in the steakhouse. Their Train Wreck Ale is an Amber Style Ale made with Michigan Maple Syrup and honey. It has a smooth body with a soft sweetness that rounds out the flavor. Get it on tap in Mount Pleasant or find its availability here.
If you are looking for different, Dark Horse is your kind of breed. Their ‘in your face’ beers and bizarre label drawings will either make you love them or hate them. They are just fine with that. Aaron Morse built his brewery on the ideals of back-breaking work and a “you get it or you don’t” attitude. This attitude has drawn many to their intense beers and interesting aura. The Crooked Tree IPA has a big taste to it that is both earthy and citrusy. It rolls across your palate with a bitter, full bodied taste and ends with a crisp, refreshing finish. Check out their taproom in Marshall or check out their list of distributors.
While it has been known by many names, the Frankenmuth Brewery has been around since 1862 making it America’s oldest microbrewery. It’s Gold Medal Taproom serves customers seven days a week. A wide variety of beers are always on tap. As a Gold Medal Winner in the 2016 World Expo of Beer Competition for Best German Wheat, the Hef is a unique brew with keynote flavors of clove and banana. The German style beer also has a foggy appearance from its unfiltered and lightly hopped, top fermentation. The brewery in Frankenmuth has the Hef on tap.
Over on the west side of the state is New Holland Brewing. Here, beer is all about inspiring the creativity in everyone. Their Carhartt Woodsman is made with locally grown cascade hops that give this American Pale Ale a crisp bite, and hinted smokiness with a touch of light sweetness. It has an oak-y, earth-y taste that is easy drinking and clean. Have a glass at The Knickerbocker Brewpub in Grand Rapids or search for them on their beer finder.
Mayan Mocha Stout
Odd Side Ales in Grand Haven started in a piano factory less than a decade ago. They have never lost sight of their desire to create intricate tastes for the people that truly love the experience of craft beer. The Mayan Mocha Stout is creamy deliciousness with Dutch chocolate coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and habaneros. This mimics the spicy goodness of Mexican hot chocolate. It is an amazingly sweet beer with an unexpected warmth. Head over to their pub in Grand Haven or download their mobile app.
Young, 22-year old Joe Short built the wildly popular Short’s Brewing Company from the ground up. It was his sheer will to succeed (and the help of some friends along the way) that has helped create this iconic brewing company. Their flagship beer, Soft Parade, is one of my favorites, especially with approaching spring. It is a fruit rye ale that includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Originally created to capture wine drinkers, this beer is remarkably fresh and smooth tasting. It’s name is a throwback to the Door’s album, The Soft Parade. Visit their taproom in Bellaire or enter your zip to map out your next stop.
For over 18 years, Dragonmead has been brewing quite an array of microbrews for the adventurous beer drinker. Visitors can try over 40 beers in their taproom…40! However, the deep tones of the Belgian style Sin Eater are beyond decadent. It has fruity flavors that play well with the rich Belgian tones. You will even taste flavors of caramel and raisins when you sip on this strong brew. You can enjoy a glass at their pub in Warren.
Have you been to these Michigan breweries? What are your favorite Michigan craft beers?