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Michigan Trip - Advice/Comments would be greatly appreciated!

Discussion in 'US - Great Lakes' started by riemster, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    I am planning a trip to Michigan this May. I already have my bachelor's degree, but I am receiving my Doctorate in Pharmacy to become a pharmacist this year. In order to celebrate, I thought I would go on a mini vacation to explore Michigan beer. I will also be going with my parents and sister. My dad and sister are also into craft beer, but my mom is not (Designated Driver!!!). My mother suggested going to Muskegon, MI to explore the sand dunes and Lake Michigan which was agreed upon due to its location next to Founders and New Holland.

    I'm making this thread in order to get any extra advice or tips to any one who lives in Michigan, has visited, or knows about Michigan beers. So far, this is the plan. I included the Stops and Map. Here are some more specific questions. Some specifics of the trip follow the pictures.
    • Missing any good breweries not too far away from the main interstates?
    • Are there any good beer stores near these places?
      • Would like to purchase > 12% ABV beer while I'm in MI (stupid Ohio laws)
    • Are there any good tourist attractions close by?
    • If you could have one beer from each of these breweries, what would it be?
    • Besides Plead The 5th Imperial Stout, I am a Dark Horse noob. What else do you recommend from Dark Horse?
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    • Only 2 days
      • 1st day: Visit the 4 breweries
      • 2nd day: Muskegon sand dunes/Lake Michigan and a nice restaurant and/or Founders again (I can never have too much Founders)
    • Staying in Grand Rapids, MI
      • Serves as a hub for Muskegon, MI, Founders and New Holland
    • Leaving from Toledo, OH (University of Toledo)
    Thank you in advance! Please do not call me lazy or think I don't want to spend time researching myself. This is just a friendly thread made to ask for some advice. I'm currently working on my thesis (seminar) to graduate, so I am a bit tied up at the moment too. Rock on.
  2. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    black note
    bbpt5
    cbs
  3. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    Also congrats... pharmD or pharmD / PHD?
    riemster likes this.
  4. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    Thanks for responding so quickly! I'll definitely have to check out those beers. I've never heard of Bell's Black Note, awesome.

    PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy)... 6-8 painfully long years depending on what school.
  5. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    Yeah, wasn't sure if you were going into research (dual pharmD / phd program) or if you were gonna be a pill pusher... Congrats on making it though! I'm sure your family is happy for you
  6. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    I could have done a residency or 2 (1 or 2 more years). We already go on rotations for a year just like medical school. A residency just builds on rotations and is another step in medical school as well. I went with no residencies because I just want to be done.

    Thank you for the kind comments except for "pill pusher!" Hahaha. While I am choosing to work in retail ("CVS/Rite Aid"), pill pusher is a misleading term. You would be surprised how knowledgeable pharmacists are compared to physicians. To be honest, I think pharmacists know more than your average family doctor or at least the same. The only thing we lack is practicing diagnosing, but besides that, I would trust your average pharmacist over your average doctor!

    Sorry about drastically changing the topic. I know you meant no offense, but I have the tendency to get distracted when I'm working late at night.
  7. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    Nah, no worries. Pharmacists have an integral role in patient care, particularly in hospitals. I'm not sure I'd agree with your perspective but to each their own. Cheers to you and your continued success! Enjoy your vacation, you've earned it!
  8. Steimie

    Steimie Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    Isn't diagnosing sort of the point?

    As far as the beer goes, skip New Holland and go up the road to Odd Side in Grand Haven.
  9. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    Diagnosing is very important, but treating what was diagnosed is equally important. I wasn't trying to downplay the role of a physician either. Sometimes I just feel the need to defend the role of a pharmacist. More often than not, people think a pharmacist is just a warm body behind a counter putting pills into bottles. We are expected to know more than a physician about most aspects of treatment.

    I'll have to look into Odd Side. This is exactly what I wanted! Thanks for the idea. It would be on the way to Muskegon, so that could work out better.
  10. I wouldn't plan around two trips to Founders - no matter your love for them, one should do it for you. Instead, try hitting up either/both The Hideout and Perrin Brewing. Failing those, food and beers at The Hop Cat should be your salvation.
  11. tommyz

    tommyz Savant (440) Michigan May 28, 2007

    In grand rapids, breweries that are a must are Founders,Brewery Vivant,Hopcat (more of an awesome beer bar), and Perrin..Founders,Hopcat, and a brewery called the BOB are all within walking distance..The BOB is not great, but they will probably have Hopsun on and that is a darn good beer

    Also,not sure if it will be open yet. But Muskegon will have a brewery opening soon called Unruly Brewing Co.. http://www.facebook.com/UnrulyBrewing?ref=stream so that might be a place to try since you would be in Muskegon..

    Also, about 15 mins (if that) from Dark Horse is Arcadia..Its in Battle Creek..They have good food and decent beer (although their IPA are not top notch)
  12. Andygirl

    Andygirl Savant (280) Michigan Jan 3, 2013

    What dunes are you hoping to see around Muskegon? Are you hoping to go to the beach? I spend the whole summer on the beach and dunes north of Muskegon. :)

    As for tourist attractions, Michigan's Adventure.
  13. fredmugs

    fredmugs Champion (820) Indiana Aug 11, 2012

    And where do you suggest he is going to acquire these beers? Seriously - I'm heading there this weekend.
  14. fredmugs

    fredmugs Champion (820) Indiana Aug 11, 2012

    I am not a fan of New Holland so I would replace it with Greenbush.
    If you are hitting the Dunes you may want to (time dependent) go further north to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes which allows you the opportunity to go to Shorts.
    Dark Horse, Founders, and Bell's are all musts.
    I would consider going to Kuhnhenn but since you are in Toledo you may have already been there or could easily do it as a different day trip.
  15. You can't, CBS hasn't been brewed since 2011, BBPt5th is a brewery only release at the Elf Party in Dec, and Black Note had about a week at the brewery and moments on the shelf. You'll have to trade for it now. However all of those breweries are fun to visit with good food. Definitely worth going to the Hopcat in GR, good beer and great food, very close to Founder's.
    fredmugs likes this.
  16. check out sicilianos for bottles in grand rapids. In my very honest opinion please skip new holland and check out odd side ale instead, it is in grand haven almost directly on the way to muskegan, it is also in a little charming down town area and right on the beach of lake michigan! also on the road leading up to odd side you can stop in at vandermill cidery and old boys brewing.
  17. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Savant (315) Illinois Nov 4, 2008

    This. Odd Side was great. New Holland is ok- but I would drive to odd side instead.
  18. I don't know why you're asking for other breweries and places to visit when you're allocating only two days for this entire trip, and the second day is for enjoying the dunes. You are really pushing it to visit these four breweries in a single day -- and to enjoy each one. That is very optimistic since your first stop at Dark Horse cannot occur until they open at 11 (noon on Sunday).

    The recommendations above are all good (well, maybe not Old Boys, but it will be convenient to go there if you have time since you'll be in Muskegon), but if you take New Holland off the list in favor of Odd Side Ales then consider that they have only snacks for food. I think New Holland is very worthy of a visit -- their food and beers are all very good, although you normally don't see their beers hyped very much other than Dragon's Milk and Pilgrims Dole (both are very good).

    For beers above 12% to search out, Dark Horse's Double Crooked Tree is on store shelves now (may also still be available at the brewery store) but may be gone by the time of your trip. I'd suggest looking for anything from Short's since you cannot get their beers in Ohio, and they put out some very good stuff that can also be unique and tasty.

    Re: you question about Dark Horse beer recommendations, grab anything that is a style that you like. Everything that they put out is very good. They're working on releasing a sampler 12-pack of 4 different IPAs, and that is a first for them to do that. Their regular IPA (Crooked Tree) is the only IPA to date that has been in bottles and in distribution, so the other three offerings will be new to the marketplace (although probably each has been on tap at the brewery).

    Enjoy your trip, and congrats on your graduation.
    craigo19 and riemster like this.
  19. Congratulations on the degree.

    Don't know if all the people that have said to pass on New Holland know that the head pub brewer now is Steve Berthel, formerly of the Livery.

    Plan your trip for what you want to do. Some would have you spending all of your limited time behind the wheel. Or your Mom behind the wheel.
    riemster likes this.
  20. yes oddside does not have food but there are numerous fantastic restaurants around downtown grand haven and you can bring food in to the pub. and it also gives him a chance to hit one other brewery and a very cool cidery which are literally 2 miles from odd side
    Mothergoose03 likes this.

  21. I agree with most of this, except anything they put out that is "sour". Stay as far away as possible from those. If you don't believe me I'll share the one bottle of Lambeak wants Blood Orange that I bought after drinking all day at the 4elf party.
    hopfenunmaltz and Mothergoose03 like this.
  22. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    He just asked what are you favorite beers from each of those breweries... Those are my favorites so far! He'd probably have to try to set up some IP trades to land any of them, but it'd be worth it to try IMO.

    Edit:

    I realize it isn't much help but I obviously took it literally. If I could have one beer from each brewery, that'd be it. As far as which beers he should not miss, I'm not sure what is on tap right now that wouldn't make distribution
  23. landrewg

    landrewg Aficionado (210) Michigan Nov 11, 2008

    I'll put my 2 cents in for Bad Bear Brewing in Albion. It's about 100 yards north of I94 and has really good stuff.
    They make a lot of different porters. The Peanut Butter is my favorite!
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  24. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    I meant pusher more in the light of drug salesman. Obviously I shouldn't try to be funny at such late hours. Carry on people, nothing to see here
    riemster likes this.
  25. StoutIrish

    StoutIrish Savant (305) Indiana Jan 16, 2012

    I had a similar brewery trip at the beginning of February. Hit up Perrin>Founders>Bell's>Arcadia>Dark Horse.
    I personally wouldn't do Founders twice. It was nice going there for the first time but they had nothing out of the ordinary and that is what I was looking for. Just the standard stuff.
    Bell's and Dark Horse were the best all-round due to the atmosphere and beers.
    craigo19 likes this.
  26. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Savant (330) Michigan Jun 20, 2012

    That sounds awesome. I'll have to look for that one!
  27. antzman

    antzman Savant (325) Indiana Feb 14, 2005

    We just completed a beer trip to Michigan this past weekend. We hit up Dark Horse, Bells, (and Beer Exchange while in Kzoo), Founders, Hop Cat, Brewery Vivant, and New Holland over the weekend.
  28. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    Incoming wall of text... sorry.

    Alright, I'll look into The Hideout, Perrin Brewing, and The Hop Cat. I only mentioned visiting Founders twice because I had no other ideas. Thanks for more ideas and options!

    Thanks! I'll definitely research Brewery Vivant, The Hop Cat, Perrin Brewing, and BOB. That's cool they are opening a brand new brewery called Unruly Brewing Co. Ahhhhh, I forgot about Arcadia! I'll think about that too, but Arcadia is probably lower than New Holland for places I want to go.

    I'm not really sure to be honest. My mother visited the area when she was younger, so she was interested in coming along and making it into a family trip despite beer being the main intention. I'll look into Michigan's Adventure. Thanks!

    Funny you mentioned Kuhnhenn. I actually have not been there. I planned to go with friends, but Detroit casinos are nasty time wasters. The details of my trip are very rough right now. I'll look into those other sand dunes and Greenbush.

    Thanks for the info on those brews. It seems like The Hop Cat is definitely a great place in Grand Rapids.

    It seems like Odd Side is a good option. (Thank you geneseohawk too) I'll think about replacing New Holland. Makes more sense traveling wise too! Also, Vandermill Cidery and Old Boys Brewing sound interesting. I'm learning there are many, almost too many, things to do! Thanks, haha.

    Thank you for your input. You definitely hit some key points about time. Right now, these are only rough plans. I will be able to investigate some real solid plans in April. I'm finishing my last important aspect of my degree this week. I may have to eliminate places like New Holland or try to make it a 3 day thing. I was afraid of cramming in too much as well. My favorite thing to do while drinking is to relax and take my time, so I completely understand your points. This thread was to get me through this last stressful week and help me organize a plan in April. I'll definitely look into Odd Side and thanks for the Dark Horse help!

    I'll post some more later. Thanks for every ones help!
  29. One of the worst beers I have ever tasted. Well it was only smelled.
    MarcatGSB likes this.
  30. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    I agree. One sniff and I was convinced that beer could kill a frail old man. Did not let it touch my lips.

    Does any one live close to New Holland, and tasted any new batches of beer that Steve has brewed? I'm anxious to try the updated Mad Hatter recipe...MORE HOPS, MORE HOPS!
  31. You talking about me? ;)
    MarcatGSB likes this.
  32. tommyz

    tommyz Savant (440) Michigan May 28, 2007

    Vivant is awesome..Its a total must in my opinion..AWESOME food too..
    vivasbeer likes this.
  33. Have you thought about going further west on your first day, rather then north at Kalamazoo? You could keep heading west towards the lake, swing into Journeyman Distillery(if anyone in the fam likes spirits...journeyman kicks major a**), then north to Greenbush, up to new holland if you must...dunes the next morning and brewery Vivant and Founders in Grand Rapids that night since you'd be staying there... There aren't any bad trips you could make in Michigan honestly. For beer, spirits, wine, cider or just getting outside. MI rocks.
  34. Did a 10 day tour in Michigan last month. 20 brewerys 10 beer bars. Your tour looks good. One day at founders is enough, they will do a sampler if you ask(at least at the bar if there not busy) Dark horse yes, lots of bottles to buy in the store (the store opens later). New holland is excellent but, you might want to head a bit north to oddside there beers were awesome, and they don't bottle, cool town, and right on the lake as well.

    In grand rapids there is the BOB as well. Hop cat was good but I was looking for just michigan beers, and the BOB is a good brewpub IMO.

    ann arbor was a good time as well.(don't stop at bad bear on your way to Kalamazo, we tossed all of our sampler)
  35. That's a real surprise, but to each his own. :( I've enjoyed most of their beers when I've visited this brewery (some are just in the average category). The last time I was there they had a Quadruple that was one of the best that I've ever had. Their food is very good too; although it's just pizzas and sandwiches, they have some unique ingredient combinations.
  36. If you don't eat at Vivant, your making a huge mistake.
    adamdd likes this.
  37. We stopped in the spring of 2012. Was not impressed, and have not been back.

    That said, they may have gotten better. They may have a new brewer, or the brewer learned the system. Quality from a brewery can improve with time, so it is often good form to try them agian after they have been open more than a year. Will do this, as some say they are good. Greenbush had beers that did not impress me when they first opened, but a friend who I trust stopped on his way to Chicago, then had to stop on the way back. They are on the list to revisit.

    A brewery can lose/fire the head brewer and have the quality go way down. I have seen that happen, too.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  38. riemster

    riemster Advocate (535) Ohio Mar 17, 2011

    Thanks everyone! I'm definitely going to be looking into this more now. Right now, only Founders, Bell's, and Dark Horse are required. I'll evaluate New Holland, Odd Side, Cidery near Odd Side, a brewery near Odd Side, Bad Bear Brewing, Arcadia, Perrin, Beer Exchange store in Kzoo, Hop Cat, Brewery Vivant, Greenbush, Journeyman Distillery, and BOB.

    Sorry if this post is just repeating places, but I'm kind of using this thread as a rubric for my trip. I hope this can help out any one else going to Michigan around these locations.
  39. adamdd

    adamdd Savant (330) Michigan May 9, 2011

    One correction to your above summary. The Beer Exchange is a bar in Kalamazoo, not a bottle shop.
    Places to buy beer in between your brewery stops: MegaBev in Marshall, Drake Party Center and MegaBev in Kalamazoo (both aren't too far out of your way when heading from Bell's to 131), Siciliano's in GR (short drive from downtown GR), The Corner Market in Spring Lake (on your way back from Grand Haven/Odd Side to Vandermill's Cider Mill). Send me a BM with when you will be in Kalamazoo and I'll buy you a beer if I am around.
  40. The Beer Exchange in Kzoo is not a store. It is a restaurant with about 20 or so craft beer taps, and there is a beer pricing mechanism that is based on the current demand for beers at any given time in the restaurant. If a certain beer is not being ordered then the price goes down. The current beer prices are scrolled on an electronic message board for the customers to watch, and base their beer order on the price. Occasionally a market crash occurs and every beer drops in price. It's a fun thing, and you can get some cool beers at a nice price. If you don't have a meal at Bell's, then walk two blocks to this place and have some fun here too.
    adamdd likes this.

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