I’m kind of an oddity among beer drinkers. While I enjoy “craft” beers quite a bit, I don’t drink them exclusively like many of the die-hard folks I’ve come across while following a Michigan-based craft beer enthusiast’s board on Facebook. These folks are…something else! They go on “quests” to find particular beers in stores, they hoard them once they find them, they frequently take pictures of their beer with the original container (yes I’ve been known to do that from time to time too) and some of them will get downright butt-hurt if anyone posts anything about drinking things that AREN’T Michigan-made craft beer. Use the words “White Claw” in any craft beer discussion board and you’ll see what I mean!
I’m in more of an “open” relationship with craft beer in that craft beer and I have both mutually agreed to “drink other alcoholic beverages.” Well, it’s just me doing the drinking, not craft beer (but I think that goes without saying)!
The bottom line is price. Craft beer is more expensive than the “macros.” So I’m not going to be drinking craft beer exclusively. If that makes me a pariah in the “buy local” camp, so be it! I’ll drink craft beers at local joints that make their own (Corner Brewery, YpsiAlehouse and Original Gravity) and have happy hour glasses of Labatt at Aubree’s/Sticks for two fitty. When craft beers are priced right on happy hour – I’ll get those!
And yes, I’ll enjoy hard seltzers/mixed drinks if I’m drinking at home – or in a campground. Hard seltzers are a very touchy subject with craft beer junkies right now! Just mention the words “White Claw” or “hard seltzer” on any craft beer discussion board and wait for the hate to pour in! I actually love hard seltzers. They’re a great way to take a ‘break” from beer, don’t produce hangovers, don’t produce smelly, nasty empties and partner nicely with a little “blast” of Triple Sec (orange flavored liqueur if you want to pump them up a bit! And I’m not the only one – hard seltzers have recently become a $500 million dollar industry. You can read my hard seltzer reviews blog by clicking here. But let’s get back to beer, shall we?
One of the most popular beers in Michigan right now is Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. Bell’s recent decision to add a “Double Two Hearted” to its lineup (11 percent ABV compared to 7 percent) has been a popular discussion topic lately (I have zero interest in trying this unless it’s to use to make a fondue). While Two-Hearted isn’t one of my “go to” favorites, I consider it my “standby” beer. If I’m in an unfamiliar bar, don’t want to take too long to choose what beer I’ll have, etc.? I’ll order a Two-Hearted! It’s almost always priced right, available virtually everywhere and packs a nice ABV “punch.” You can read more about my thoughts about Two-Hearted in this blog.
Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy some Michigan craft beers more than others. Here’s a short list in no particular order of some of my favorite Michigan beers that I will grab if I see in a store and plan to drink beer – or will order in a bar. Keep in mind my tastes tend to favor easier drinking “fruity” styles, and not overly hoppy styles – and I will generally avoid any beer with the words barrel aged, bourbon barrel, or sour in their descriptions. Also, I’m only including beers that can be purchased in stores, not beers that are only sold “on premises” at local breweries.
Cheboygan Brewing Co. – Blood Orange Honey
I know this isn’t the best lighting, but judge it by its taste- not its appearance!
I am in absolute LOVE with this beer! It succeeds where (brace yourselves for a very unpopular opinion) Bell’s Oberon fails. It’s refreshing, easy-drinking and packs a very nice orange flavor with every sip. It’s also not too big with the ABV punch, so it’s very “crushable,” especially on a warm day – or on a camping trip. As an “honorable mention,” Cheboygan Brewing also makes a blueberry ale that’s quite good too (though it’s not as widely available).
Atwater Brewing Co. Dirty Blonde
Want to make some time with a dirty blonde?
This one always goes down smooth and is always refreshing. Why should drinking beer be work – or something you have to “power through?” Occasionally I’ll reach for a hoppier beer, mind you – but when you’re chilling out in your yard, enjoying the breeze, or on a beach (also enjoying the breeze) this is the beer you’re going to want! There aren’t any hops biting your tongue, and it’s definitely not a “sipper.” At about 4.5 percent ABV, you can settle in for a nice night (or day) with a nice blonde with this one!
Dark Horse Brewing Co. Raspberry Ale
The biggest recent news about Dark Horse is their recent merger with ROAK Brewery in Royal Oak, with ROAK planning to purchase Marshall based Dark Horse. Also I do not own this photo…
In addition to being a great beer by itself – with just the right amount of tartness (not enough to qualify as a sour) – and refreshing AF – this one partners nicely with stouts in “black and tans.” Maybe a bit…too nicely! I made black and tans from this beer and a 11 percent ABV chocolate oatmeal stout a few years ago and was pretty much “steamrolled” before too long! I have no regrets about doing this because IT WAS SO DELICIOUS! I hope to see Dark Horse being able to increase their production after this merger takes place so it will be easier to find their beer again (they have halted production in the past couple of years) – and as a side note, would also love to see them start canning their beers (I only buy canned beers when I travel/camp).
Shorts Brewing Company Soft Parade
I don’t *usually* day drink, but I certainly did on this lovely August afternoon in 2018!
When you want a beer that tastes great – AND will give you nice buzz without having to drink too many of them? Look no further than Shorts Soft Parade! I read someplace some time ago that this beer was designed to try to appeal to wine drinkers. Funny, I’ve never been a wine drinker, but at a little more than 7 percent ABV and wonderful fruit flavors (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries), you can pretend you’re a “normal woman” and doing a wine tour at one of the many, many vineyards in Northern MI (where Shorts is located). This beer also has a “magical” quality in that I have never had a hangover after a night of drinking these! If you want the flavor of a Soft Parade but without all of the alcohol, it also comes in “shandy” form – which I have not tried.
Petoskey Brewing’s Cranium Crush
These photos were taken at Leelanau State Park north of Traverse City, MI.
This is a beer unlike any I’ve ever had before. It packs a nice raspberry flavor – similar to Dark Horse’s raspberry ale – but adds a nice vanilla flavor profile with the waffle cone bits that have been added to the mash. This one is tasty, refreshing and STRONG! Consume with care – this one might not be as “crushable” as you’d like with its 7 percent ABV, but you’ll certainly have fun trying! In addition to being great by itself, I would love to try “black and tanning” one of these with a stout or porter sometime.
I know this was kind of a short list, and there are so many great Michigan beers I’ve had over the years! But I wanted this list to be true reflection of MY favorite Michigan beers!
Is anyone thirsty yet? 🙂