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Old 11-07-2009, 08:44 PM   #11
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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?

The things that I like about the cafe are the same things that you don't. This is a self serve operation. The reason you didn't get a beer was because they don't wait on the tables. I don't mind the music. Yes it's loud but I usually head outside and stare at the hops. I'm normally there before the hippies/lumberjack types show up for the live shows at night.

I like it because it fits my personality. I don't go out to be entertained. I'll order my own food and pick it up myself. If I need a beer I'll get up and get one. The crowd that is usually there doesn't talk too loud and there are no pretentions. I don't know why I call it a "must visit" when I know that the reasons that I like the place are the exact reasons I don't like most bars. It's just different and if you like the beers it's somewhere that you should say that you've been....I guess It's laid back, the people keep to themselves, and the beer is good.
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Old 11-09-2009, 12:31 AM   #12
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I have tp drive to Grand Rapids every other month to audit our store there and I NEVER skip my trip to Founders! Also if you go to Dark Horse, Arcadia Brewing is also in range (also close to another store i have to audit!)

To help in planning your road trip, here is a link to Michigan Brewers Guilds "Michigan Beer Finder"!

http://www.michiganbrewersguild.org/findbeer.asp

The put in a bunch of adds so either print it at work or just print pages 20 and up. Ann Arbor and Yspi also have some great brew pubs plus it is a great "town".

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Old 11-10-2009, 12:20 PM   #13
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Skip Founders and head over to Hopcat in Grand Rapids, MI. Just check out the Beer List. The beeradvocate rating.

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Old 11-10-2009, 01:42 PM   #14
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Skip Founders and head over to Hopcat in Grand Rapids, MI. Just check out the Beer List. The beeradvocate rating.
The thing with Hopcat is that they have a TON of taps, with lots of great Michigan and regional beers (and some world beers), and the place is very nice. I had the Killer Mac and Cheese and couldn't say anything bad about the experience... Except the beer.

They do brew their own beer, but this spring when we went, the Kolsch was off. The manager admitted it, and I imagine it was because they were still learning the brewery system. Plus they advertised a DIPA, but it wasn't available. Apparently it was for a charity event, and I think they were planning on selling the leftovers or something.

Hopefully they have figured out the brewing system and are now making some decent beers.

However, Founders has some of the best beer I've ever had. I like the place and the food as well. I think that is a must-see.

I've been wanting to get to Arcadia for a while now. Not just because I think the beer is good, but I've been wanting a tulip glass with the sword logo on it.

I have not been in Bell's bar, but it doesn't sound like my kind of place. I have been to the LHBS there though, and can't complain about that too much. I like most of Bell's beer, but not all of their beer suits me personally.

I have not been to New Holland, but enjoy their beer as well. Another place to add to my road trip list.

If you are going north, Mountain Town Station houses Mount Pleasant Brewing Company, and although the beer is just OK IMO, the food is pretty good and the restaurant is housed inside a working railway station (Last time we went the train arrived and people walk right off the train and into the restaurant/bar area, right next to the bar.

Further north I recommend Right Brain. Cool atmosphere and usually some very unusual and usually very tasty beers. They are always changing the beers around, but the brewmaster knows his stuff and keeps it all delicious while interesting at the same time.

Michigan Brewing Company is pretty good. I prefer the Celis White to any other Belgian Wit. They also have a decent LHBS on-site. Can't really go wrong there.

East of that I can be no help. I can say that I've had some Atwater beers from the store and have not found a good one yet. I'm talking gushers, and beers with weird flavors and strange mouthfeel. Not in a good way either.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:52 PM   #15
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I have visited Founders many times. They produce some good beer. In all honesty as an beer enthusiast, if I am driving 30min for a few beers, I'm picking the brewpub with 200+ beers to choose from.

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Old 11-11-2009, 04:42 PM   #16
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Try the Old Hat Brew Pub in Lawton, MI (SW of Kalamazoo). They have decent food too.

http://oldhatbeer.com/

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Old 11-11-2009, 06:20 PM   #17
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I have visited Founders many times. They produce some good beer. In all honesty as an beer enthusiast, if I am driving 30min for a few beers, I'm picking the brewpub with 200+ beers to choose from.
Good point. Another good thing is that I believe you can get Founders at Hopcat too, but you can get Founders at the store if you like. It's the brewpub that's the point. (nothing against Hopcat. It's a darn fine establishment).
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:52 AM   #18
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+1 for Right Brain Brewery.

Definitely hit up Jolly Pumpkin brew pub in Traverse City.

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Old 12-16-2009, 05:31 PM   #19
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I will toss another vote in for shorts.

Also if you happen to pass Mt Pleasant on the way up, it may be worth it to stop in to mt town station for lunch/dinner. Their beer is pretty mediocre, but their steakhouse is fantastic.

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Old 12-18-2009, 05:06 PM   #20
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I would give Dragonmead in Warren a shot - they are usually better when it is a bit busier. I love all of their beers, the Dubbel Dragon Ale and Final Absolution Belgian Style Trippel are my favorite... They may not have food, but you can have something delivered or pick it up and bring it in with you. There is a great BBQ place around the corner called Lazybones Smokehouse that you can have delivered to eat with your beer!

If you are going to stop in the area, I would also go to Kuhnhenn's, which is also in Warren. They have good beer but they don't have a very large selection. There is usually some form of entertainment on the weekends and it gets pretty busy in the evenings!

There are also a couple more in Detroit, if you want to venture there. Atwater was already mentioned, haven't been there but like their beer. I usually end up at Detroit Beer Co., the beer is okay but they have great food.

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