Written by Ron DeGregorio
Written by Ron DeGregorio
In my life, I have been lucky enough to travel all over our great country. I’ve gone North, South, East, and West, and after all of my travels, the place I enjoy most is a close neighbor to my home-state of Ohio. If given a choice of a vacation destination, I would absolutely pick Northern Michigan.
Recently, my fiance and I took a trip up North to enjoy the fall foliage, the crisp weather, the shores of Lake Michigan, and especially the amazing craft beer scene. The following is a summary of my beer adventures and a little mini reviews of some different beers I was able to try.
My first stop was to picturesque Traverse City, Michigan. Resting on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, there is no better place to visit in October. The cool weather, the awe-inspiring colors of the leaves, and the friendly atmosphere, it is a MUST-GO if you live anywhere near. They have an awesome beer promotion called the Traverse City Ale Trail, where you are given a passport (a map of local TC breweries) and a mission to check them all out. If you succeed, you are awarded a prize! Spoiler alert…I was not going home without this prize.
The first brewery we stopped into was Mackinaw Brewing Company. http://www.mackinawbrewing.com/
Founded in 1997, MBC has a prime location in the heart of downtown Traverse City. MBC has a great food menu. I enjoyed a Bleu Cheese Burger that was delicious. As this was my first stop, I thought the only logical thing to do was to order the flight of their beer. The beer at MBC is not terrible by any means, but nothing really stood out as beer I would buy and take home. The highlight for me personally was their Peninsula Pale Ale. It was the best beer in the flight, and really an exceptional Pale Ale! Check them out if you get a chance!
Next on the Ale Trail, we hit a restaurant called the Om Cafe which was tucked away on a side street in TC. This quaint eatery is home to Big Toe Brewing; a homebrew-turned-brewery venture. They offered up four beers, of which I chose the 86th Minute IPA. Though it did not smell like most IPAs, it was delicious.
As I ventured on the Trail, my travels took me to The Filling Station. This was an especially memorable one for me. The Filling Station, formerly a functioning railroad station, is home to a TON of different beers and some EXCELLENT pizza. We enjoyed many samples of their fabulous beer while I and some other gentlemen exchanged some friendly smack-talk over college football (Ohio State Alumn, here). Here, I enjoyed their Oktoberfest, which was pretty good, and their Omena Harvest Ale, which was excellent. The pizza was to-die-for and the establishment overall was just plain awesome.
Our next stop was Jolly Pumpkin, which is way up on the Old Mission Peninsula. Just to get to JP, you have to take a stunningly beautiful drive on winding roads that are lined with vineyards and wineries. Jolly Pumpkin holds a special place in my heart as it is where I enjoyed my first beer after proposing to my fiance on the beaches of Lake Michigan.
The environment at JP is vibrant. It has amazing food (we enjoyed some pizza) and killer beers from both Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak Brewing. Here I had the pleasure of drinking Oro de Calabaza, which is a former Gold Medal Winner at GABF. It was sour and spicy all at the same time and every bit deserving of the Gold Medal it won. This is where I called it a night. The next two days were just as full of beer-drinking fun, rest assured.
Stay Tuned for Part Two!