Beercation in the Mitten

July 6, 2016

We like to bike.
We believe in earning our drink.
We both like to drink craft beer.
We live 30 miles west of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Michigan’s third coast is a perfect beer and bike playground.

Beer sales are on the rise in Michigan and the Brewers Association shows craft beer sales up 12.8% worldwide in 2015. As a Michigander, we compete against the likes of North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon for best beer producing states. Case in point, Grand Rapids, Michigan was named Best Beer Town in USA Readers Choice 2016. Craft suds and breweries pop up in Michigan like the signature springtime morel mushrooms in the forest. Beer tourism is a real thing and locals and visitors alike grab the ale trail map and plot a vacation around tasting this hopped up beverage. Finding your favorite brew can serve as a foundation or the stylish accessory for a weekend getaway.

Currently, there are 205 breweries in Michigan. Josh and I have been to 30 of the 205, which is only 15% of the total. We have a lot of “work” to do and many beercations to plan. Beer tourism is big business in the Mitten where you can find tour operators in beer-centric communities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Traverse City. And, not up for a road trip, statistics show there is likely a brewery within 10-15 minutes of your door. In our case, Dutch Girl Brewery is 2.2 miles away. If we continue on a radius tour from home base, we can hit Old Boys Brewing in Spring Lake, Grand Armory in Grand Haven then just 20 minutes up the road in Muskegon is our favorite, Pigeon Hill Brewing. Be sure to try a Walter Blonde Ale or the LMFAO Stout.

We’re not experts but here’s some local insight around the Mitten and a few favorites on the Holmes & Watson beercation resumé. Happy tasting and travels.

Blackrocks Brewery, Marquette
As a warm-up to Ore 2 Shore Mountain Bike Race, a Marquette and U.P. trip is all about beer and biking. And, Blackrocks 51K IPA sponsors the South Trails, so we felt obligated to patronize their taproom. Favorite beer: The Coconut Brown.

Block Brewing Company, Howell
After circumventing 10 miles of single track on the Potawatomi Trail in Pinckney Recreation Area, we drove north stumbling upon Block Brewing, just north of I-96 at the Howell exit. Try their citrus Trippel Belgian.

Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is a mere 30 minutes away so we visited this East GR watering hole and sipped a signature, Big Red Coq.

Fetch Brewing Co., Whitehall
Me and eight friends enjoyed a complete tasting flight and tour from owners, Jen and Dan Hain who restored a historic bank building. In summer, don’t miss the Apricot Wheat.

Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
There are too many outstanding choices at GR’s prize brewing jewel and its newly expanded facility is a must visit. People will wait in outlandishly long lines to get a couple of pints of the KBS Stout. Josh will steer you to try the Rubeaus.

Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
New on the scene in 2015, we are impressed with their taproom live entertainment, the Dewey Hill Amber, Black Ale and the BBQ at Righteous Cuisine on-site.

Harmony Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
Pizza and beer, what a combination at this quaint East Town bar. Order a wood-fired pie along with the smooth and mellow Tupelo Honey.

Jamesport Brewing Co., Ludington
Before taking the USS Badger ferry ride across Lake Michigan, fuel up on pub grub and Lud-suds before the four-hour cruise.

New Holland Brewing, Holland
This is downtown Holland’s social epicenter with a large bar, patio and restaurant serving up staples like The Poet and Full Circle.

Newaygo Brewing, Newaygo
Perfectly positioned near the NCT trailheads (North Country Trail), we rode a section then hit the taproom for sandwiches and a delightful coconut brown ale.

Old Boys’ Brewhouse, Spring Lake
Location, Location. Boater or biker, this taproom/restaurant with a huge deck is on the Grand River and the channel to Lake Michigan. The bike path runs along the deck too so pull-up, roll-up or walk up for a pint.

Ore Dock Brewing Co., Marquette
Marquette is full of it… beer that is. Ore Dock is a compliment to its downtown neighbor (Blackrocks), with a two-level bar and plenty of food and music.

Perrin Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
We don’t like IPA’s but the Grapefruit IPA at Perrin is one of our summer faves. Perrin rounds out GR’s amazing list of top breweries.

Pigeon Hill Brewing, Muskegon
They brew tasty beer just minutes from Lake Michigan in downtown Muskegon. Their attention to detail has garnered several awards and their signature OCP (Oatmeal Crème Pie) is now available in cans on local grocery store shelves.

Rare Bird Brewpub, Traverse City
It’s always nice to go back home and learn that my hometown is now a hotspot for good beer. There are more than five breweries downtown alone.

Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City
Another TC staple, there is plenty of CEO Stout on the shelves at your favorite retailer but my favorite is a seasonal, The Chubby Squirrel a pint of spiced-brown goodness.

Saugatuck Brewing, Saugatuck
Saugatuck Brewing has won Josh’s heart. He fell in love at first sip with the Blueberry Maple Stout.

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