Those words were spoken to me 2 years ago at a craft beer bar in Des Moines, Iowa. Jimmy Severino, a local lover of all things beer and food, whet my appetite for a trip to Michigan for beer. Jimmy gave me the skeletal framework for a trip with his enthusiastic and impassioned words.
Now, as I prepare to take off on a nearly 3-week beercation in Michigan, I am thankful that fate put me in el Bait Shop at the same time as Jimmy. Much planning has gone into this trip. Hours have been spent scouring Beeradvocate and BreweryMap trying to find the best places to find beer in “The Mitten.” I have tapped the expertise of brewers, bloggers, and anyone else who will give me suggestions. However, as the last few summers have shown, it will be the people I meet along the way that will steer me along on the journey. Like Jimmy Severino sitting at the bar in Des Moines, I feel that the most valuable beer travel expert is the local beer geek.
The stars aligned perfectly when I found out that the post-excursion for the Craft Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference was in Grand Rapids, MI. I figured I could take my car and have Grand Rapids be the jumping off point for a few weeks of intrepid beer travel. The Grand Rapids reputation for beer is a good one. It boasts Founders Brewing Co., which is a household name in many beer markets. It’s also home to Brewery Vivant, a beautiful brewery located in a quaint residential area. However, there are newer ones which have popped up recently and I am excited to seek them out.
After Grand Rapids, I will make my way to Kalamazoo to visit Bell’s Brewery, a craft beer powerhouse. After meeting some folks from Bell’s at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, it will be nice to have beers with them on their home turf. I also plan on seeing Arcadia and One Well. Expertise of the locals I meet to guide me through the rest of the beer options in Kalamazoo. I am sure that there are many hidden gems just waiting to be unearthed.
Thanks to a local author and blogger, David Bardallis, I have a great itinerary of things to see and drink in Ann Arbor. David’s advice on where to drink and eat in Ann Arbor will make my stay there stellar. I also had the pleasure of meeting David and his girlfriend Amy at the Craft Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference and we have plans to meet in Ann Arbor for a beer. It is always great to look forward to hoisting a pint with beer friends on the road!
Thanks to the Zucker Brothers and the economic collapse of the auto industry, Detroit is often ridiculed. However, from what I hear, this city is on the upswing. Certainly, there is some excellent beer to be had in Detroit, and in the surrounding suburbs. After learning Detroit was settled by someone named Beaubien, I am expecting a hero’s welcome.
Traverse City & Petoskey
The tail end of my journey will take me to another epic beer destination, Traverse City. Although I don’t kayak, apparently you can make it to six different building via amphibious travel. There are also other breweries in Petoskey and I figured why not break up the drive to the U.P.
The U.P. & Marquette
I could not really fully understand Michigan without venturing up to the Upper Peninsula. The drive to Marquette is one of breathtaking scenery, filled with pine trees and amazing naturescapes. I only hope my GPS signal is strong and I don’t get lost. I also don’t want to get mauled by a bear if I pull off the road to pee. To a man, visits to Blackrocks Brewery and Ore Dock Brewing are a must. There is also a nice culinary scene up there and I plan to explore that as well.
The itinerary is ambitious, I aim to average at least 3 brewery visits a day. However, I plan to soak up as much beer knowledge as possible and come away with a greater understanding of why beer culture is so important to people in Michigan. I cannot wait to get out onto the beer trail!
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