The beer scene of Michigan and beyond, continued.
We headed north to the Traverse City Beer Fest. This would be only the second festival in seven years in which I had been a guest without singing the song behind the booth for five hours. Traverse City is covered with breweries (and cherries). Right Brain, Shorts, another Blue Tractor, and now another Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Distillery are there. It rained all day. It was quite cold. Usually, I am anti-flip flop. It was the first time all year I wore them. I was freezing and I was still feeling the wrath of the Hop Cat. They had a great rock-a-billy band with a lead singer that kept all the gents away from the beer booths for a while.
Shorts Cherry Porter paired with choc cheesecake topped with cherries…Joe Short is wearing brewing boots. 7:43 PM Aug 29th, 2009
Buckwheat Zydeco playing. Could barely work up the nerve to say hi to Joe Short. 9:45 PM Aug 29th, 2009
And this is why I’m lame.
We were going to do some non-beer stuff today. We headed north to Mackinac Island, the famed Island featured in the Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour time travel romance, Somewhere In Time. There’s not much to note about the beer scene of the touristy eight mile island. One word. Oberon. In our parts-The Two Hearted Ale is the most popular. Here, Oberon is almost as widespread as Yuengling. It was worth the two hour drive and 30 minute ferry ride. The popular thing is to ride bikes around the 8 mile Island. We didn’t do that. We did find a restaurant called “Woods.” How could I not go out of my way to get there? We took a carriage ride out with a few immature and intoxicated gentlemen. They made the ride more interesting than enchanting. The ambiance was nice, token fireplace and general cozy feel, but the meal was lackluster. At least I got my $10 pint glass that says “Woods.”
We were hoping to stop by Right Brain or Shorts on our way back to Traverse City, but they were both closed by 9. Hopefully, you won’t suffer the same fate. Right Brain is a well-respected, experimental brewery with a connected hair salon, Salon Saloon. I asked the brewer if we would ever see their beer in Philly and he laughed at me. You should still go anyway. The beer is tasty and their motto is “You Sip, We’ll Snip.”
Even though we get New Holland in these parts, I was really looking forward to going to the brew pub. (Edit: Due to a Microstar issue, New Holland Draft has been hard to find in recent months.) They also have a smoker and a distillery. The smoked pork belly sandwich with apple slaw is mandatory.
The Kinks, pork belly apple slaw sandwich and smoked lager at New Holland- 3:22 PM Aug 31st, 2009
The brewer gave us a rather educational tour. I enjoyed seeing the distillery as well. First one I had ever toured. I mean, it’s a small room, but it’s still a tour. They also make their own ciders. Every October, they host a festival, “Porkapalooza,” celebrating my favorite food—if I only planned my trip one month later. The brewery is located in a quaint town with a bunch of novelty shoppes. There is also a liquor store a block away with a wonderful beer selection. You can pick up some potables there you can’t find in PA.
I had heard of a small brewery called the Livery in Benton Harbor. It took a while for us to find it and the whole town was under construction, but it was also a good beer zone. The highlight was “Agent 99 Quad” aged in Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout barrels. The Livery had a distinct club house feel to it. A small brewpub supported by a community of all ages and professions sipping beers and playing picnic table board games. It was nice to be there. It’s not near anything else, but worth the detour.
At around 8:30, we headed west to the award-winning Flossmoor Station in Illinois. Flossmoor Station showed up on my beer map after winning best small brewpub at the Great American Beer Fest in 2006. It’s housed in a defunct train station. The night we were there was open mic night. I actually saw a great deal of live music throughout the trip. With the exception of Fergie’s and Johnny Brenda’s, it’s something Philly needs to work on. I do believe City Tap House is also going to have live entertainment often.
Soon to be on our way to Three Floyds. Then a brief hop down to Indianapolis. Then back to my own great beer city. 11:02 AM Sep 1st, 2009
Talking Head’s Psycho Killer was on the iPod. It was nearing Oktoberfest time so “Munsterfest” was on tap which was interesting because 3Floyds doesn’t usually do lagers, so says our knowledgeable bartender.
Similar to our local Flying Fish, the brewery was located in an industrial park in Munster, IN. It was gritty with a touch of pretty. It boasted an amazing garden kept by papa bear, Doc Floyd. As we walked through, Jonny noticed a machete placed on a high top table. He asked our tour guide, Dan, what it was doing there, and he responded, “We just leave it around to see how people react.” They are a quirky bunch, but a really likeable quirky bunch. The food was amazing. I had no problems polishing off a 14oz. Rib eye with tarragon butter at 2 in the afternoon. Board games and books are shelved on one wall. The opposite wall is covered with poster art and projected movies. During our lunch it was a western, Clint Eastwood’s Hang ‘em High.
We left high on life a few hours later and a few hundred in the hole. We headed back East. The trip was surreal. You should do it. And if your ideal vacay warrants a beach, no worries. Larry Bell named one of his beers Third Coast Ale for a reason.