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Old 09-16-2008, 01:28 PM   #1
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Default Michigan Brewpub Tour

My new wife and I stopped at five different brewpubs on our honeymoon trip through Michigan’s UP and mainland. I thought I’d write a mini-review for anyone considering a trip. BTW, Yooper, we got so busy we never had time to call and hook up! But we are already planning another trip soon. We fell in love with the B&B we stayed at near Ahmeek!

These are in the order we traveled:

Red Jacket Brewing, Calumet
Located in the Michigan House Café, their ‘signature’ oatmeal stout was not on tap. We were told it would be back on tap “next week”. Too late for us. We had an amber which was not brewed onsite and it was severely smacked with diacetyl! The bar itself was great and the bartender very friendly. It was an old Bosch Brewing bar (like the old Schlitz bars in Chicago) with lots of dark wood and a great Northwood’s mural behind the bar of men and women in German garb drinking and dancing. But the amber was so badly infected, my wife, Kelly, wanted to pour it out! We ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted ale to kill the taste. I’d like to go back and try the Oatmeal stout sometime.

Keweenaw Brewing, Houghton
Okay, we didn’t actually go here; otherwise I would have stopped at a place called The Library which was supposed to be great. But their beers are everywhere in the UP. We had them in colorful cans (yes, cans!) and they are all decent. We had the three signature beers, Pick Axe Blonde, Red Jacket Amber and Lift Bridge Brown. One night at a restaurant we found the Pick Axe Blonde and Lift Bridge Brown on tap. The Lift Bridge Brown had a touch of diacetyl (again, what is it with these Yoopers?), but the Pick Axe Blonde was much better on tap than in the can. I could have sipped this all day on a summer day and been happy.

Jasper Ridge Brewery & Restaurant, Ishpeming
The atmosphere is more like a Denny’s. It is behind a BP station in a cluster of other businesses, so it doesn’t face the street, making it a bit difficult to find. But they have decent beer. We had the Amber Kolsch, which was decent and a very nice blueberry wheat. They dropped fresh blueberries into the beer after pouring and the berries would rise and fall in the beer like a lava lamp. It was a nice touch!

Mackinaw Brewing Company, Traverse City
We had two large pints here, then shared a flight with a couple we met at the bar from Holland, MI, who happened to be brewpub enthusiasts. The best of their selections was the Peninsula Pale Ale, a nice, slightly hoppy ale, Harvest Moon Oatmeal Stout, "The Bridge" Nut Brown Ale and Belgian Whitecap. The Beadle's Best Bitter and Red 8 Ale were nearly identical, with the Red 8 having just a touch more malt backbone. It was a Saturday night at 9pm and the place was busy!

North Peak Brewing Company, Traverse City
Located in a converted warehouse, this place has a sleek look, was very busy and looks to be a place ‘to be seen’. Had a Steelhead Red, which was an Irish red not quite to style, but still decent. However, they had a cask conditioned IPA that was very good. They have a large selection of 10” pizzas. We had the white cheddar & bacon, which was quite good.

Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City
This place was our last stop on the last night of our trip. It was recommended by the couple we met at Mackinaw Brewing. It is not easy to find. We had to ask someone at North Peak where it was and it turned out it was very near there. It is co-located in a building with a hair salon called Salon Saloon and you have to go in their entrance to get to Right Brain. For those of you in the Chicago area, if you’ve been to Two Brother’s Tap House in Warrenville, then imagine that place, only smaller and with no food service. If you only have time to stop at one brewpub in Traverse City, make it this one. They have a large selection of beers and unfortunately, we were at the end of our night and needed to rest for the next day’s journey back home. We had the Stuck Truck American Oatmeal Stout, which was excellent and a cask IPA which was one of the best I’ve had in awhile. Our bartender, Gavin, an ex-Brit with in-laws in Huntley, was great to chat with. Kelly & I plan to go back to TC for a long weekend and this will be our first stop.

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Old 09-16-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
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Glad you loved the UP, but sorry about the beer! I kinda thought Tim (at Michigan House/Red Jacket) might be out of beer, because others have told me that he rarely actually has the stout on tap. I don't know how often he brews, but it's not enough!

The best brewpub in the UP is the Library, so you have to try it next time. I'm not a huge Keweenaw Brewing Company fan, but I'm glad they have it available since we're in a beer starved area of Michigan.

Jasper's is ok (I'll be there next Friday) as you found, but the brewmaster there is a bit afraid of hops. Nice wheats and stouts, but not much in pale ales.

I think I told you that there is a nice brewpub in Marquette, about 10 miles from Jasper's. It's on the shore of Lake Superior, and it's in an OLD building, build around 1890, I think. The brewmaster there is a nice guy who says, "Dude" all the time. They have good food, too, so it's worth a stop. They usually have about 6 brews on tap, all of them good.

We're sorry to have missed you two- hopefully you can stop by on your next trip up, and visit and stay at the cottage for a while.

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Old 09-16-2008, 02:36 PM   #3
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... I think I told you that there is a nice brewpub in Marquette, about 10 miles from Jasper's. It's on the shore of Lake Superior, and it's in an OLD building, build around 1890, I think. The brewmaster there is a nice guy who says, "Dude" all the time. They have good food, too, so it's worth a stop. They usually have about 6 brews on tap, all of them good.

We're sorry to have missed you two- hopefully you can stop by on your next trip up, and visit and stay at the cottage for a while.
Yeah, I think that's Marquette Harbor Brewing (inside a Restaurant?). At Red Jacket we picked up a Michigan brewpub map put out by the state brewing assoc., otherwise, I wouldn't have remembered that. That map was very helpful! We went south (down Hwy. 2?), so we didn't go that way. And most places had Bell's on tap, so you aren't hopelessly beer starved there!

Speaking of which, I picked up a 6-pack of Big Porch Ale, which Bell's brews exclusively for the Grand Hotel. It was the most expensive 6'er I've ever bought. But we had one in the bar there ($6.50/bottle) and it was good stuff. So I thought, "What the heck?!"

Next time we'll try the one's we missed. And we'll definitely get in touch!
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:44 PM   #4
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I was always a much bigger fan of the KBC while I was up there. Don't get me wrong, I think the Library's beers are better, and I hope the KBC continues to get better as they grow, but as a student, the atmosphere and customer treatment was always better at the KBC ten-fold. There's a reason the KBC is growing as fast as it is.

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Old 09-16-2008, 08:05 PM   #5
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Damnit, Rhoobarb! I would've bought you a beer at Northpeak had I realized you were heading this way; thats one of our main watering holes. I live in Traverse City and am a brewclub member through them. (I suppose that goes for anyone - look me up if you head through this neck of the woods )

Another place that is a must visit if you ever return is Short's Brewery in Bellaire, MI, which is about 30 minutes east of Traverse City. They have about 10-15 beers on tap at all times and probably one of thee best IPA's i've ever had. Joe Short, the owner, is a genius; the guy's a real beer wizard.

Edit: Durrrf.. Congratulations by the way.

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Old 09-16-2008, 09:01 PM   #6
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Damnit, Rhoobarb! I would've bought you a beer at Northpeak had I realized you were heading this way...

...Another place that is a must visit if you ever return is Short's Brewery...
I'll hit ya up next time. The wife & I are already planning a weekend there. We saw Short's on our map and I had never heard of it. We'll definitely give them a try when we go back.

Thanks!
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Old 10-09-2008, 03:21 PM   #7
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it seems funny to hear of the library being referred to as a brewery. when I was going to school in Houghton, the original Library burnt to the ground my softmore year. While the name might be the same the new building is no where near the same as the 100 year old one that burnt.

There is a brewery at Tequmanan falls also. I may have spelled that wrong.

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