Michigan brewpub road trip!

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greencoat

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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??
 

Retroviridae

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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...
 

pjj2ba

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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.
 

HarkinBanks

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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.
 

eriktlupus

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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:D
 

MriswitH

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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!
 

cuinrearview

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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.
 

Retroviridae

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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?
 

eriktlupus

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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.
 

hopvine

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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.
 

cuinrearview

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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:D. 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:drunk: It's laid back, the people keep to themselves, and the beer is good.
 

tszetela

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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".
 

Homercidal

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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.
 

xiang

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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. ;)
 

Homercidal

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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).
 

thesanch

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+1 for Right Brain Brewery.

Definitely hit up Jolly Pumpkin brew pub in Traverse City.
 

no1likesme

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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.
 

AubreyR6

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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.
 

comstockfire

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I'm kinda late posting but Olde Peninsula brewpub has pretty good beer.
The food is very good and if you go during the day, you can watch them brew
while you eat/drink.
 

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I don't know if you've gone yet, but in case you haven't and for anyone else who comes across this thread in the future, New Holland has a stein night on Wednesday nights where you can bring any sized stein and get it filled by one of their mainstays or seasonals (right now I believe this is their kölsch, amber ale, oatmeal stout, IPA and american brown ale) for five dollars, so if you have a stein, it's a great deal. If you come early enough to have dinner, you can usually ask your waiter or waitress and they will let you sample everything before you choose which one you want.

If you have a bigger stein (mine is two liters) I would suggest coming for dinner or going to the cash bar in the back room because they will always fill it for $5 while the front bar will sometimes charge you $7 or underfill anything too much more than one liter. Also, it's popular with nearby Hope College (my alma mater), but it doesn't really start to fill up with the college crowd until 9:30 or later.
 

BadBreakfast

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I may be from CA but i spend summers in MI. Shorts brewery in Bellare is by far the best beer ive ever had. Right brain is amazing too. someone said something about "Huma Lupa IPA" and i second that. its amazing. so is "the Magician" and at right brain try "ethel the frog" have fun! wish i was there.
 

thesanch

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Ethel The Frog was my favorite beer that I had at Right Brain. I tried to get Niedermaier to cough up some of the recipe but he was unwilling. :(
 

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