It’s that time of the year when each day has a “DAY!”
You know: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
But what about Sunday? Well, it turns out that Nov. 29 is Small Brewery Sunday.
Most Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery, according to craftbeer.com, and they’re hurting right now –like so many other businesses — because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s why they want you to support “these main street businesses that give our hometowns their unique flavor.”
Michigan ranks fifth in the nation with more than 350 breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, which got us thinking:
What makes a small brewery? The Great American Beer Festival judging says package breweries that make less than 1,000 barrels of beer a year fall into the “very small” category, while brewpubs that serve on premises only, and who produce less than 750 barrels a year, are considered “small.”
Generally, most of Michigan breweries are “small,” said David Ringler, vice president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, and founder/owner of the Cedar Springs Brewery. His brewery produces about 700 barrels of beer a year on a 10-barrel system.
These “small” Michigan breweries are all about community, he said.
“Part of our mission since we opened has been to make our community a better place, so we’re really dependent upon them – along with our creativity in pivoting what we do – to get us through this,” Ringler said.
If you’re looking to support a small, community-based brewery or brewpub on Sunday — or any day of the week, really — here’s a list of places we’ve visited or have been wanting to visit.
Indoor taprooms remain closed because of the current restrictions in Michigan, but most continue with carryout and online sales, and even some delivery.
Cheers to Michigan beer!
12 small breweries in Michigan making tasty beer
Rake Beer Project
794 Pine St, Muskegon, MI 49442
Opening Sept. 12, 2019, on a 10 barrel system they purchased from their friends at Transient Artisan Ales, they produced about 250 barrels in their first year. “It has definitely been an incredible roller coaster of emotions,” said owner Josh Rake. “When the shut down order first hit, I thought that everything I had worked so hard for would be lost. But instead of closing up shop and trying to ride it out, we made the pivot towards a more permanent carryout business and aggressively branded all of our new beers with cool labels and attention grabbing flavors. Now, a couple months into this pandemic and that pivot has really paid off.” Currently they are doing “Weekly Quarantine Drops,” releasing four limited beers for online pre-sale early in the week. Pick-ups are Friday and Saturday. If beers don’t sell out, the public can walk in to see what’s available.
Popular beers: Eternal Trip, a wild saison conditioned on raspberry and peach, and Laughing at Tyrants, a raw DDH IPA with Sabro hops and conditioned on pineapple. On next week’s lineup: Big Gretch: The Return, a petite dry hopped Sour Saison conditioned on mango.
Lost Art Brewhouse Brewery
3393 Remembrance Rd NW, Walker, MI 49534
Opening July 1, Lost Art Brewhouse in Walker began doing only online sales, but finally opened its taproom and outdoor seating in the fall. People can expect unique, juicy IPAs that are extremely flavorful, refreshing, and approachable. Their goal is to brew 300-500 barrels in 2021 on a 1-barrel system. Hours are 4-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Popular beers: Dune Climber – IPA (7.2%) and Camplight – American Pale Ale (5.5%).
Presidential Brewing Company
8302 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49024
Opened on March 26, 2019, on a 7-barrel system, Presidential delivers on its red, white and blue theme, offering 12 taps that offer both variety and creativity, and many styles from Kettle sours to peanut butter porters to simple lagers. It will produce about 200 barrels of beer this year. Hours are takeout and outdoor dining from 5-8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.
Popular beers: The Kettle Sour, Sherbert Hoover (6%), and The Write in ballot IPA (6.8%).
Ironbark Brewing Co.
2610 Kibby Rd, Jackson, MI 49203
Opening in 2017 in a strip mall south of Jackson, and near Ella Sharp Park and Museum, this brewery is just a few steps away from Kibby Cobb Liquor & Deli, one of our stops for Michigan’s Best Subs in 2017. Operating on a 2-barrel system, you can expect creativity and a variety of styles. They will brew just shy of 200 barrels this year. Hours are 3-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1-6 p.m. Saturday. Check their website for updates. Oh, and you can order from Kibby Cobb Deli!
Popular beers: Spaced Mosaic IPA (7.4%), Ella’s Elegant Orchard (6.5%), a small batch wheat ale collaboration with the Ella Sharp Museum that includes peaches and cream, and Quantum Quasar (6.8%, a coffee stout on nitro brewed with cocoa nibs, lactose and roasted Colombian coffee from Ken’s Coffee.
734 Brewing Company
15 E Cross St, Ypsilanti, MI 48198
Opened in 2018, we heard about 734 Brewing Company while on the search for Michigan’s Best Mexican Restaurant, and we stopped in after an incredible meal at nearby MAIZ. The were just getting their feet wet, but we could see the vision of being a big part of the neighborhood. Plus, we loved their mission: “To serve unpretentious brews, accessible to a diverse cast of characters, in an environment that expresses our belief that everyone deserves the best.” We love that! 734 Brewing operates on a 5-barrel system. Hours are 1-9 p.m. daily. There is an outside patio. Bring your own food. Doing some delivery. Check the website’s store.
Popular beers: The Ypsi High P.A. (6.8%), which has strong citrus and grapefruit aromas and flavors, as well as its Apple Wine (10.2%), which is very much like a dry cider.
SuperNatural Brewing and Spirits
36685 Plymouth Rd, Livonia, MI 48150
Opening in 2017, SuperNatural began with three friends who met through the first robotics competition. As engineers they thrived on the brewing process. Today they strive to be all about community, offering a “Healthcare Heroes” meal donation program online “to support our brave healthcare workers who are selflessly taking care of all of us.” A a brewpub, they are known for their fruited sours. They brew on a 7-barrel system. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 2-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Popular beers: Sours are a big hit, as well as their fruited beers. Strawberry Siesta (7.5%), a Strawberry Cheesecake Sour brewed with graham cracker, strawberries, lactose and vanilla, is a top seller, as well as Hazed And Confused (7.3%), a New England IPA, a juicy drinker with massive citrus, mango and peach aroma and heavily dry hopped with Citra and Cashmere hops.
Eagle Monk Brewing
4906 W Mt Hope Hwy, Lansing, MI 48917
Not the new kid in town, Eagle Monk is probably one of those lesser known breweries despite being open since 2012. In fact, they were on our 2013 search for Michigan’s Best Brewery in 2013 when Amy Sherman and I teamed up for the very first time. A solid brewery with a lot of passion, they do a little bit of everything on a 7-barrel system. They are known for their English style beers. Hours are open 4-7 p.m. daily; closed on Mondays. They will have specials for Small Business Saturday and Small Brewery Sunday. Outdoor seating is open.
Popular beers: All Night IPA (4.3%), a very light beer, and Red Eye Rye (5.8%), made with British pale malt, and the brewer’s signature beer.
Redline Brewing Co.
5470 Lapeer Rd, Burton, MI 48519
Originally opened in 2015, the brewery closed for a bit because of a fire, and then reopened Feb. 14, 2016 in its current location. They were part of our search for Michigan’s Best New Brewery that year. Today they have about 20 beers on tap using all Michigan ingredients. “I will not serve crap. If a beer isn’t right, I will dump it before I will let customers drink it. It is just me brewing (no A.B. or cellerman). I literally have 2 bartenders and I do everything else. Pride and love for what I do is an understatement; I live for the little brewery I built from the ground up…. twice,” said owner Doug Grover. Current hours: 2-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. They brew on a 2-barrel system. They generally brew about 200 barrels a year, but this year will be much less.
Popular beers: Thunderhead IPA (5.8%), which is a straight up IPA, Fireman Dan (5%), an American wheat beer made in memory of Fireman Danny Nicholas, and Berry Razzer (5.5%), raspberry wheat. “I rotate my beers constantly. I brew for my customers, not for a medal or award. I could care less about a trophy or award,” Grover said. “I want to brew for my people. If someone wants me to make a raspberry Cayenne IPA, I’m going to give it a shot.”
Oracle Brewing Co.
122 N Michigan Ave, Saginaw, MI 48602
Opened in the summer of 2017, we stopped into Oracle for just a hot minute while on the search for Michigan’s Best Wings. (We needed to cool off after a suicide wing challenge at Sporty’s in Pinconning.) It had just opened and we wanted to see the final touches after we visited while it was under construction. Today, like everyone, they are anticipating a tough winter, but have remained busy despite the struggle. Typically they have about 12 beers on tap. They brew on a 3 1/2-barrel system, and have stayed at 100 barrels a year since opening. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; closed Sunday-Tuesday.
Popular beers: Since opening, two beers have remained as their top sellers. The Causal Loop IPA (5%), a single hop (Mosaic), and C-Beans (5.5%), a coffee chocolate stout.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Five Shores Brewing Company
163 S Benzie Blvd, Beulah, MI 49617
Yes, it’s been a heck of a year for everyone in the brewing industry, but imagine the excitement of opening in January, only to be shut down in March, reopening, and then reduced again? That’s what happened to Five Shores Brewing in the tourist town of Beulah. Though it was a busy summer, especially with a beautiful patio just steps away from Crystal Lake, brewer/owner Oliver Roberts was able to keep his head above water with some great beer, thanks to his background of working at Wolverine Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor for about 10 years. It was one of my best finds of 2020. He operates a 10-barrel system and expects to brew about 400 barrels this year. Current hours are 3-8 p.m. Thursday, and noon-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday; closed Monday-Wednesday.
Popular beers: The All Five IPA (6.7%), a DDH (Double Dry-Hopped) IPA, made with five Michigan ingredients, which produce plenty of tangerine and melon aromas; Every Five (7.2%), which is dry hopped every five minutes for 10 hours during fermentation; and SideWaves IPA (8.5%), an Imperial/Double New England, which has a fruity, smooth and creamy body. (Twenty percent from the sales of cans go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.)
Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery
450 W Lake St., Tawas City, MI 48763
On our search for Michigan’s Best Waterfront Restaurant in 2019, this restaurant wowed us with a picturesque view of Lake Huron from a restored 1850s building, tasty menu and beer! Operating a 2-barrel system, people can expect small batch, solid beers with high quality ingredients and refreshing characteristics. Top sellers include the Tawas Beach Blonde (5.8%) and the Alabaster’d IPA (7.9%) and Joie du Lac (9.3%), a creamy Belgian beer which we loved on our visit. They will produce about 70 barrels this year. It opened in August of 2017. Currently it’s closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Normal winter hours are from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Follow their Facebook page for updates. Put it on your list to visit when it reopens.
Drifa Brewing Company
501 S Lake St, Marquette, MI 49855
Opened Oct. 3, 2019, Drifa is Michigan’s first cooperatively owned brewery and located off the Lakeshore pathway of Lake Superior in Marquette. It is open to both members and non-members, and it offers a small batch beer menu that’s always changing. Their philosophy? You will find “something for every type of beer drinker.” It operates on a dual 2-barrel system and hopes to produce approximately 150 barrels in 2021. Hours are 3-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Popular beers: They don’t have core beers, but their top sellers are always a light American lager and an American or Hazy IPA.
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