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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Community > Brewing Events & Local Gatherings > Great Lakes USA > Michigan HomeBrew Forum > Michigan brewpub road trip!
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:01 PM   #1
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Default Michigan brewpub road trip!

Alright, so me, SWMBO and some buds are planning a brewpub road trip for early-mid January. SWMBO wants to stop through Hell on the way, then we're planning on going to Bell's, Founder's and New Holland. Are there any must-drink brewpubs while we're up north??

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Old 11-06-2009, 04:10 AM   #2
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Hello from Michigan!

The three you mention are great. Are you looking more for brewpub/restaurants, or taprooms, or factory tours?

I haven't been to Bell's factory (if they even do tours?), but their taproom in Kalamazoo was disappointing when I visited. It was small, empty, and uninteresting at least when I visited. They don't really have food - it's more of a bar/taproom. Their beer is good though! If you like IPAs, theirs is really good. I'd give it another chance, but not during off-peak hours.

I've visited Founder's in Grand Rapids. It's a big, nice restaurant. Good sandwiches. I'd go there again.

I haven't been to New Holland, but I like their beers. From the website, it looks to be more like a brewpub/restaurant.

In Detroit, I've been to Dragonmead. Big selection of beers, but no food, and I wasn't impressed by the staff's lack of interest in their own beer (but I was there at a random off-peak time of day). Overall, I wouldn't recommend.

Atwater Block in Detroit is supposed to be good, but I haven't been there.

Jolly Pumpkin makes sour open/cask fermented "farmhouse" beer. They've won some national awards lately. If you like sour beers, you can tour their factory in Dexter, MI, on Fridays last I checked, or go to their brewpub in Ann Arbor. I especially like their Roja, which is (as far as I know in my limited experience) like a Flanders Red and very Bretty.

I like Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti (same company). ABC is a restaurant/brewpub with consistently good food. Corner Brewery is more like a big nice bar with plenty of space to chill and have a conversation, but limited food options. I love both, but I'm biased as it's my local standby. Try their Red Snapper amber.

Also look into Dark Horse brewery, Short's brewery, and I'm sure I'm missing some good ones. But all these are the big ones off the top of my head.

And, as long as it's a road trip, you can go over into Indiana to the famed Three Floyds brewery, or over to south Chicagoland to Flossmoor Station, then up to Goose Island in Chicago, then up to Wisconsin, and over to Minnesota...

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Old 11-06-2009, 04:20 PM   #3
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There's also Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville, right off I-96. If you're going to go to Hell (been there, done that), since you're on backroads already, just head over on Hwy 36, then Hwy 52, which will take you right there.

They also have a nice homebrew shop there.

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Old 11-06-2009, 04:34 PM   #4
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Short's is worth the trip if you can get there, it is a little out of the way. Their Huma Lupa Licious is amazing. We also enjoyed Right Brain in Traverse City, lots of funky cool brews on tap. We didn't have time to get to Jolly Pumpkin but it is on the list for next visit.

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Old 11-06-2009, 06:20 PM   #5
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while id recommend against eating at dark horse in january they usually have a couple bar beer only then. last yr was a randalled version of crooked tree ipa. also if your in that area look into hitting arcadia in battle creek. the food is very good (wood fired oven for the pizza's and toasted subs). they also tend to release a killer hop beer in january, think burn your tongue off with hops type.


when you make it down to bc or marshall let me know i'll meet you for a beer or 2

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Old 11-06-2009, 07:27 PM   #6
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I live in Traverse City and would strongly suggest checking out Right Brain as well as Short's if you have the time; very, very good beers!

Consequently, hit me up and i'd pop out if I have time!

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Old 11-07-2009, 12:31 AM   #7
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While the Dark Horse pub is kind of a $hithole I love it and consider it my local. In January, without the garden open, as ErikT stated, it's very un-inspiring in atmosphere but the beer is very good. They have a great lineup of stouts in the colder months and in late Feb./eary Mar. the Double Crooked Tree IPA drops and last year they had a cask of it on the bar that almost made me &#* in my pants. The Eccentric Cafe (Bell's) is a must see (I like it when it's quiet) and I've heard nothing but great things about The Livery on the west coast. New Holland was featured a while back on the local news and looks like a great place for lunch. It's funny someone mentioned Three Floyd's because I made the (2+ hour) trip there this summer and I consider it a "must vist" for anyone traveling through the area. The pub is decent but every beer that I sampled was a beer that I would pick up at the store if I was in the mood for that particular style. I'd make the trip again just to pick up a case of Dreadnaught bombers.

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Old 11-07-2009, 01:16 PM   #8
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Regarding Bell's Eccentric Cafe, I went there wanting to like it, since I like their beers and it's a local institution, but wasn't impressed. It was an off-peak night, the rest of K-zoo had rolled up the streets. They were nowhere near closing time, yet the place was empty. They were blasting bad music too loud (which I would excuse as a normal bar thing if it had been busy) - it was empty yet I couldn't hear the person across the table. And the bartender seemed to have no interest in actually selling their beer. After waiting a while, we ended up leaving without buying anything. Granted this is probably a one-time bad experience, but I would not go out of my way to go there again, and certainly not at such an off-peak time.

cuin: I'm curious to hear a counter-point of view. What do you like about it in general, and when it's quiet?

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Old 11-07-2009, 02:19 PM   #9
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of the 3 locals, bell's, dark horse, and arcadia. i much prefer the atmosphere in arcadia. the staff tends to know the beers better and seem to want you to have a good experience. bells seems to have the attitude that we've been here for 20yrs now and if you dont like the beer we really don't need you or care about it(this doesn't however apply to the crew in the store/lhbs). dark horse has a similar attitude from the staff but they dont have nearly the experience to back it up but i think it comes from the snobbery of the town as a whole. DH is definitely the smallest bar i've been in since i was in germany(like 12x40 maybe including bathrooms and barfront).

the kicker is that all three have very good beers. arcadia is the only one with any real food. bells does their cooking on a grill outside the cafe. dark horse is basically all microwavable or toaster/pizza oven stuff for outrageous prices.

take this for what it's worth as one persons experiences.

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Old 11-07-2009, 02:43 PM   #10
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Founder's is a must-visit. Phenomenal beer, VERY cool atmosphere, and great staff. Enough said, definitely stop there.

New Holland has great atmosphere, but their beers are a bit hit-or-miss. They definitely cater more towards the BMC-drinkers-dipping-their-toes-in-the-craft-beer-water, but they have a "High Gravity Series" of beers some of which are quite good.

I've never been to Arcadia. I'm not a huge fan of any of the beers I've tried from them.

Bell's definitely isn't your typical brewpub. VERY hippy/African decor going on, pretty small, and the music can be a bit loud. You're bound to run across some interesting characters. Their beers are obviously phenomenal. In the warm months they have a nice big beer garden in the back, but it's closed this time of year. I'd say it's worth a stop. They also have a nice "General Store" where they sell merchandise and homebrew supplies.

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