Ultimate 6er | Pure Michigan Summer
Every summer, thousands of Michiganders make their trek to the northern part of Michigan for their “Up North Vacation.” What exactly Up North entails depends on who you talk to, as the Detroit Free Press recently pointed out.
This summer I was smart enough to listen to the advice of my father & the coolest law professor in the planet and accepted a job offer in beautiful Benzie County, Michigan located in the pinkie of the Lower Peninsula. Full of beautiful forests, lovely lakes, and quaint towns my little slice of Up North is giving me a full vacation life. Since I’m living free and loose, I thought I’d give you guys a sixer of Michigan vacation beers for sipping when you’re able to break away from the hustle.
Neapolitan Milk Stout | Saugatuck Brewing Company
Saugatuck is more of a west side than an Up North destination, but it has been a premier vacation spot for Chicagoans (“Chicago-ites?) and other folks for years. Saugatuck Brewing has the perfect summer treat for all your camping needs, no matter where you pitch your tent. Neapolitan Milk Stout is the perfect substitute for smores for those who are adverse to getting all sticky and gross without needing to wash your hands. While I’ve seen a few other attempts at the style, I’ve never tasted one that actually achieved the individual flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Save some space in your cooler for your next campfire.
Big Porch Ale | Bell’s Brewery
While Bell’s is a located in the lower portion of middle Michigan, their Big Porch Ale is exclusively served on Mackinac Island; a car-free island of bed and breakfast inns, kites, and horseback rides located between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The titular Big Porch is the 660ft covered front porch of the Grand Hotel which was at one point the longest in the world. Bell’s created a beautiful amber for you to get lost Somewhere in Time.
Fire Starter Chipotle Porter | Right Brain Brewery
Traverse City is probably the biggest city in Up North and is known as the Cherry Capital of the World. Traverse City is also giving Grand Rapids a run for their money as the beer capital of Michigan. It features a roster of great breweries in town and in the area that make it worth the trip. One of my favorites in the city is Right Brain Brewery. While their Northern Hawk Owl is offered pretty much statewide and is quite wonderful, The Fire Starter really stood out to me when I visited. It’s wonderfully zippy and smooth. The brewery is south of town and right on the banks of Boardman Lake which feeds into the, absolutely stunning, Grand Traverse Bay. Grab a Fire Starter and then drop your kayak in for a wonderful afternoon.
Soft Parade | Short’s Brewing Company
Short’s Brewing Company is the most daring brewer in the state, constantly coming out with new flavor combinations that lesser brewers wouldn’t dare to attempt. As I’ve written before, I’m partial to Soft Parade in every way and will always be willing to gush about this berry explosion of a Rye beer. The fact that this is a flagship still boggles my mind. It’s located in Bellaire where there’s something to do any season. During the summer pop over to Torch Lake, which is routinely voted the most beautiful inland lake in Michigan. In the summer it’s just a hop to multiple ski hills and where my summer roommates work.
Black Madonna Draft Mead | St. Ambrose Cellars
Taking a break from my investigation of local murder sites, I lucked out in finding this amazing gem out in the country. Located on a farm with decades of honey production history, the owners of St. Ambrose recently went into the wine and mead game and thank god they did. Black Madonna’s sour blackberry is a ticklish, light treat that helps with summer heat. A few miles away downtown Beulah sits on the banks of Crystal Lake and is close to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, a Michigan treasure.
Coconut Brown | Blackrocks Brewery
Our lone representative from the Upper Peninsula (don’t forget the UP – they get real mad when you do, just ask TickPick). Not to negate some of my previous reviews on here, but Blackrock’s Coconut Brown is probably the best iteration of its style in the state, and distributors have certainly taken note. The sweetness of the coconut cuts through the brown ale to make a great summer beer without needing it to be hoppy or bubbly. Marquette is located on the banks of Lake Superior and would probably be further north than any of us will ever go in our lives.