Howdy, Chris here.
At the beginning of May, I headed to the States with my wife to attend our daughter’s university graduation ceremony. We also did some traveling around Michigan and down to Chicago — and I managed to sneak in a few visits to brewpubs while I was there. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. I managed to go to 12 brewpubs in the 12 full days of our trip. Luckily we had our son and daughter with us for most of the time — you know, built in designated drivers! So, without further ado, here’s a photo blog of the places we went.
On the way from the airport to my brother’s house, we stopped at Siciliano’s Market and picked up a few Michigan beers. All this for ~$20. I also bought a bunch of non-Michigan beers. I mean, after all, I have to have something to drink when I’m not . . . er, drinking!
1 After the graduation ceremony, we went to HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI. I stuck with the beers brewed on site. Good way to start my 12 in 12 quest.
1 The HopCap brewhouse.
1 My brother’s lunch. I call it the American Heart Attack Burger. Hugely huge!
2 Although most of the others were getting tired, my father, bless his heart, suggested hitting another brewpub before heading home. And since we were in his car, it was hard for anyone to refuse. Brewery Vivant, also in Grand Rapids, MI, is Belgian-themed and very good.
2 I got the sampler with a nice farmhouse ale, a rich milk stout, a very smooth Belgian IPA and the star of the show, a beer called . . .
2 . . . about halfway down the page, Big Red Coq. Great name for a very wonderful beer. It was especially fun to see the waiters face when I told him, “I’d like to try your Big Red Coq.”
3 A couple days later, we drove down to Chicago to visit our son. Luckily he lives just a few blocks from Goose Island Wrigleyville Brewpub. When Anheiser-Busch bought the Goose Island Brewery, they left the pubs independent. They brew some beers on site, and that’s what I stuck with. This is a picture of me with my very tolerant wife — who was still smiling at this point.
3 Shiny Goose Island equipment making very nice beers.
4 Piece Pizza in Chicago. I was so wowed by the beers and pizza that I forgot to take a picture. Luckily a drunk guy on the way to the toilets volunteers to take a picture of me, son, nephew and cousin. Unfortunately he was a drunk guy on the way to the toilets, so the picture came out a bit blurry. Which is how we felt as well.
4.1 Not a brewpub, but a tradition — drinking an Old Style at Wrigley Field, watching the Cubs win for a change. I was very disappointed to see Bud/Bud Lite vendors all over the stadium, but only twice did an Old Style vendor pass by. I would have drunk more, but there was no way I was drinking a Bud at Wrigley Field (which fits in very nicely with my life goal of never drinking a Bud ever again)!
5 On the way back to Chicago, I had big plans to stop at three or four brewpubs, but my son got sick and had to stay in Chicago instead of being our driver. Instead, we made it to just one, the hard-to-find-but-very-worth-the-effort Three Floyds in Munster, IN.
5 An IPA (forgot the name) was a perfect way to get ready for the drive home to Michigan. My wife loved the artwork on the wall and the artwork on the labels. I loved the beer.
6 On our way up to Mackinac Island for a bit of relaxation, we stopped Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, MI, a small town near the top of Michigan’s lower peninsula. It was a nice treat. Choose any five out of 20 beers for your sampler. I enjoyed these plus a pint of . . .
6 . . . you guessed it, IPA.
7 After two days in northern Michigan, we started making our way back. And about halfway was Big Rapids Brewing. It was hard to find mainly because there was no sign anywhere on the building to indicate it was a brewpub. The greeter at the door ended up being the brewer. He confirmed that they did indeed make beer, and then he pointed us in the direction of another newly-opened brewpub two blocks away. Thank you! We stayed long enough to have some hummus (which my wife fell in love with) and a couple beers.
8 Crankers Brewpub was one of the more interesting brewpubs I stopped at. They had just opened the day before, so I was expecting the beers to be just a little not quite right — you know what I mean. But the beers were wonderful, especially the Irish Red and the Stout. When I commented about how clean and delicious the beers were, the server told me that a few weeks before opening, the brewer decided that one tank of beer wasn’t good enough, so he dumped it down the drain — which backed up the sewer system forcing beer out of the toilets and sinks. Pretty cool.
8 Crankers’ Irish Red.
9 My favorite Michigan brewery is Founders, and near the end of my vacation we took a drive to Grand Rapids, MI to sample some of their beers. My pale ale next to my son’s barrel-aged rye stout. Mine was good, his was sublime.
9 Since my wife doesn’t drink, I had to sell her on the idea of going to “restaurants”, not “brewpubs”. She’s no dummy, though, and caught on before we even went to the first place. Still, I kept trying and she stayed relatively happy.
10 With the trip winding down, and still needing to hit three more places, we drove down to Holland, MI, to New Holland Brewing, where we shared some pizzas with former Baird Brewer Molly (sitting next to my daughter’s boyfriend and daughter). I had several lovely beers, but their images exist only in my mind now.
11 On the last day of our trip, we stopped by Odd Side Ales in my hometown of Grand Haven, MI. During my previous trip, I wasn’t very impressed. As the name implies, they tend to focus on odd beers, and I found most of them barely drinkable. This time, however, I had a very lovely Citra IPA and a good red ale. They’ve gotten better and that’s a good thing.
11 Odd Side’s Citra IPA. Mmmmm.
My final beer in America was a Goose Island Honker’s Ale at the Goose Island pub inside O’Hare Airport in Chicago. It was a nice way to say goodbye to the US.
So, I know what you’re thinking — you’re thinking, But Chris, that’s only eleven brewpubs, not twelve. Well, I did go to a 12th, twice even — Old Boy’s Brewpub in Spring Lake, MI — but forgot to take pictures both times. You’ll just have to trust me on that one. And if you don’t believe me, I really don’t care. ;-)
And what did this trip to the States cost me? It cost me a weight gain of around 3 kilos and a lot of “wife points”! Hopefully I’ll have them both worked off by the time summer bikini season arrives.
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