Michigan Craft Beer Craze

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Is it a down economy for Michigan right now? Yes. Is the information about the car companies confusing? Sure. But one bright spot, a shooting star in Michigan’s recovery, is our beer industry. The best part about the growth in this industry is that it’s from the ground up–literally. Last weekend, I was up on Old Mission Peninsula, enjoying a casual drive with beautiful views of vineyards and orchards, when I spotted a hop farm! I made my husband pull over so I could check it out.

From the hops to the wheat, from the brewers to the bloggers, the beer industry is employing more and more Michiganders every day. What’s more, our state is making waves in the beer community worldwide. If you go to Ratebeer.com, you will see that not only does Michigan hold the #2 and #3 spot for the best breweries in the world–Bell’s and Founders respectively, but the very local Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. also rounds out the top ten!

First Toast on the Coast Beer Festival

Next week, Kuhnhenn will attend our first annual Toast on the Coast beer fest, featuring some of the other top Michigan breweries, including Shorts and Dark Horse. Tickets are only $25, and there will be up to 75 different beers there (also food and entertainment).

I’m excited to see two of my favorite local breweries, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.  and Dragonmead Microbrewery, sponsoring the festival.

Many of Michigan’s 100+ breweries are nearby, including Motor City Brew Works, Royal Oak Brewery, and Rochester Mills, but some are a little harder to get to. A four- or five-hour drive will take you to highly regarded breweries like Shorts in Bellaire as well as Right Brain in Traverse City. Even further out, you have Keweenaw Brewing in Houghton.

The craft beer boom has ignited the Michigan craft beer bar concept to help get some of these hard-to-reach beers to consumers. Lockhart’s in Royal Oak and Mitten Bar in Ludington feature only Michigan beer on draft while 7 Monks in Traverse City, One Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, and The Club House in Rochester Hills all have extensive draft beer lists that boggle the mind (up to 46 different beer and craft ciders on draft–a beer nut’s dream). Demand for Michigan craft beer is so high that some the top-producing Michigan Breweries, including Arcadia, Bell’s, Founder’s and Atwater, are expanding their facilities this year to meet demand to the tune of $70 million!

Many of the most revered brewers, such as Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewing, started out as home brewers. The Toast on the Coast Summer Beer Festival will have a Home Brew Challenge. Are you the next Larry Bell? Join us, compete, and find out!

Here’s a small list of my favorite Michigan craft beers:

  • Founder’s All Day IPA, Grand Rapids $10.49: The color of sunshine, the All Day IPA is floral and grapefruit-like. This India Pale Ale was designed to be lower in alcohol for those long days at the lake.
  • Arcadia Ales Sky High Rye, Battle Creek $9.99: Crisp, with a nice amount of rye toast notes, the Sky High Rye is the perfect compliment to hamburgers off the grill.
  • Shorts Huma-Lupa-Licious, Bellaire $10.99: The floral hops leap from the pint on this one! The bitterness of the hops is kept in check with balancing malt. Perhaps it’s not for the IPA novice, but the Hop Heads love it!

All of these are available at Nino’s, so next time you’re in one of our stores and go to grab a six pack of one of those high-volume macrobrews, pick up a locally produced beer instead, and enjoy pure Michigan!

See you at the Toast on the Coast!

– Jennifer Laurie