Greetings from the extended Simpson family vacation in southwest Michigan. More specifically, the bucolic town of Union Pier, which is barely in Michigan from Indiana, just off of Interstate 94. We visited the local (relative) boomtown of New Buffalo to get some amazing ice cream and, of course, beer provisions. The local beer scene here is robust.
Yes, only three of these four beers is from Michigan. The third is from Wisconsin, which is basically Michigan if you’re from Missouri. Whatever… I’ve never seen any of them.
Saugatuck Brewing Company – Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde Ale
About an hour north of here, Saugatuck Brewing Co. is in or near Douglas, Michigan. Apparently I bought their best-seller, the Oval Beach Blonde Ale.
What a great beer! Crisp wheat ale flavors. (I originally typed wheat ale flames, so I was clearly several local beers in when taking notes… the perils of my duties.) There’s a subtle sweet finish. The beer is cloudly and fully of body. Great for a hot day, or an unseasonably cool late July day apparently. You pick up a modest fruit aroma that doesn’t really make it into the flavor of the beer.
Berghoff Brewery – Dortwunder
I guess Michigan and Wisconsin aren’t the same thing? Northernish states that get too damn cold in the winter, one on either side of Chicago.
Although it’s been around for 120+ years, I’ve never heard of Berghoff Brewery out of Stevens Point, WI. Their contact page says it’s a Chicago-based beer, and the brewery history lists a long lineage of ownership and locale changes. So, although it’s not a Michigan beer.
The confusing brewery history aside, I had never seen the Dortmunder before when I bought it.
Smooth mellow beer with a wonderful balance of malts. The malts seem lightly toasted and provide the right German beer richness. Worth seeking out again, perhaps in STL.
Shorts Brewing Company – Huma-Lupa-Licious
Bellaire, Michigan, though not the TV home of one Fresh Prince, instead houses Short’s Brewing Company and their hoppy Huma-Lupa-Licious beer.
Nothing says vacation house like beer in a plastic cup. Nothing says IPA like having a gigantic hop on your label.
As expected, this was quite hoppy and bitter, but not overpowering. There’s a light fruit flavor and mild body, and it smells more flowery than fruity. Great orange / amber cloudiness, with essentially nonexistent effervescence. I’m no hop-head, but this is another good Michigan brew.
Round Barn Brewery – Kolsch
I’ve had some beers from wineries, and they can be amazing. Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan is another winery that makes some good beers. (There’s a tasting house in Union Pier, apparently… perhaps I’ll be visiting.) How is their Kolsch?
For a Kolsch beer, this is quite malty, giving me a somewhat surprising flavor profile. Tasty, but a little surprising. Lots of Kolsch-style beers are lighter and crisper, but I enjoyed Red Barn’s. Dark for a Kolsch, with a minimal effervescence. It had many of the typical German ale aromas and flavors. Instead of something unique and poignant, it is just a good German-style ale. Not quite what I was looking for, but a tasty treat nonetheless.
Future Local Beer Plans:
So, having barely scratched the surface of Michigan beers, I have more work to do. I see a Bell’s Brewery tour and tasting in my future. I’m going to check in on this Round Barn tasting room in Union Pier. Shore Line Brewery is on the way back home, as is the Journeyman Distillery. Basically I have a lot of sights to see while I’m up here.