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Thursday, June 29, 2023

Michigan Beer 2023 update

I'm going to use this post to summarize my recent and prior visits to Michigan brewpubs. This is one instance when Google Timeline data is actually helpful, though this information only goes back to mid-year 2013 when I must have authorized the tracking software. I'm not listing breweries where I didn't drink. We went into Ludington's Jamesport once, but could not get a table for dinner in a timely fashion, and we quickly left Grand Armory in Grand Haven on the 2022 trip because it didn't offer outdoor seating. 

Given that Michigan has nearly 400 breweries, my personal list includes less than 5% of the total! I could move to Michigan and have a difficult time sampling all of them. 

2023 (1 new; 19 total)
Griffin Claw, Rochester Hills near Detroit
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
Founders, Grand Rapids

We dined at Griffin Claw and Brewery Vivant and the food was pretty good at both. We stopped at Founders to buy a crowler of one of my favorite beers generally unavailable in Kentucky (Red's Rye IPA) and I had a taster of Nitro Rubaeus. We had hoped to have a dessert, but they didn't offer it that night and so the smooth raspberry ale had to suffice. 

Incidentally, while we were in Ontario we visited Heritage Hops brewery in Stratford for a slice of chocolate cake (I paired it with a dark lager) before attending the play "Casey and Diana," and dined at Toboggan brewing in London on Father's Day. 

2022 (4 new; 18 total)

Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
Unruly Brewing, Muskegon
Rare Bird Brewing, Traverse City
Cherry Republic Brewing Company and Public House, Glen Arbor
Founders, Grand Rapids

We dined at all of those places, though at Odd Side we had to order takeout from a nearby restaurant. They don't have food. 

2021 (2 new; 14 total)

Big Lake Brewing, Holland
Guardian Brewing, Saugatuck
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids

We also dined at all of these.

2019 (2 new; 12 total)

New Holland Brewing, Holland
Big Lake Brewing, Holland
Clam Lake Beer Company, Cadillac (2)
Filling Station, Traverse City
Workshop Brewing, Traverse City
MiddleCoast Brewing, Traverse City (was called Monkey Fist at the time)

We did not dine at Big Lake or MiddleCoast, but both have food (I think).

2018 (2 new; 10 total)

Workshop Brewing, Traverse City
Clam Lake Beer Company, Cadillac
Filling Station, Traverse City

We dined at these.


I was on antibiotics that trip and did not visit any brewpubs and avoided alcohol. It was kind of sad. 

2016 (2 new; 8 total)

Saugatuck Brewing, Saugatuck
Filling Station, Traverse City

2015 (2 new ones, 6 total)

Short's Brewing, Bellaire
Rare Bird, Traverse City

We dined at these.

Older trips: (at least 4 visited)

New Holland Brewing, Holland
Mackinaw Brewing, Traverse City
North Peak, Traverse City
Jolly Pumpkin, Traverse City

We did not dine at Jolly Pumpkin, but they have food -- and various other locations across the state.

* It is possible my memory has failed me in recalling other brewpubs visited before 2015 as we have been going to Michigan as a family since the 1990s when my children were quite young. Then again, we didn't really take the kids to brewpubs when they were young -- maybe restaurants that happened to brew some of their own beer. 

I've also tried a good deal of Michigan beer in restaurants and taprooms, but I'm not going to list all of those here. I would put in a good word for the 7 Monks in Traverse. 

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Earlier this month, my spouse and I drove north through Detroit, entered Ontario at Port Huron / Sarnia for a long weekend in Canada, and then returned to Detroit to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts museum and to attend a Tiger game. It was my first visit to DIA and to Comerica Park. It was also our first return trip to Canada since the fall 2018 sabbatical. 

After leaving Detroit we spent several days in our usual western Michigan destinations, Grand Rapids, Holland, and Saugatuck. We managed to visit a couple of additional brewpubs, as per usual.

The DIA features some interesting contemporary work, some pieces by enduring masters, and a terrific room filled with murals/frescos by Diego Rivera. You probably recognize the artist responsible for this self portrait:

Van Gogh

"Welfare Queen" by Amy Sherald comes with an interesting backstory:

It is nearly impossible to do justice to the murals with photos.

As for the Tiger game, Detroit beat the KC Royals 9-4. KC infielders made a couple of key misplays that directly or indirectly led to a handful of runs. I liked Comerica Park, but perhaps not as much as PNC, which seems to have the advantage of being on the river with its statues of former stars outside the park and accessible to the general public. 

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Thursday, June 15, 2023


After my spouse and I departed Pittsburgh, we headed east to visit our youngest daughter in Brooklyn. She's moved to a slightly different neighborhood (Bed-Stuy) south and east of where she used to live in Williamsburg. I didn't completely master the local geography while our car was safely parked on a garage rack for nearly 72 hours, but we spent a lot of time walking the neighborhoods. 

This was a somewhat impromptu trip so our daughter was working during the weekdays. Thus, we basically met her for a late lunch Friday, stayed 3 nights in a nearby hotel almost in Bushwick, and departed Monday morning after sharing some bagels. After lunch Friday, we went for gelato not far from Malcolm X Boulevard and I noticed this school named for El Haji Malik El Shabazz, a/k/a Malcolm X: 

Saturday, one highlight was visiting the Threes brewery, which is in Greenpoint, I believe (this is testing my NYC geography). I'm not much for day drinking, but I really enjoyed my half pint of a west coast-style pale ale that they did not at the time have for sale in cans (Tyranny of Mirrors). On Monday, driving out of town, I stopped at a grocery store that had a good selection and bought a fresh 4-pack of their pilsner (Vliet). 

Throughout the weekend we ate several good meals and on Saturday night we attended an acoustic BYOB jazz club show in what looked like the sitting room of a B&B. 

Sunday we had a Mother's Day brunch and then wandered southwest over to Prospect Park to take in the Smorgasburg. Though our stomachs were pleasantly full from the late morning meal, that didn't stop us from eventually having a tasty ice cream treat. The topping was scorched with a blowtorch! It was a warm sunny day so this sweet hit the spot. 

On the way back to Bed-Stuy, I requested a stop to see the marker commemorating where Ebbet's Field used to be. There was a small home plate shaped marker in the sidewalk near what looked to be an apartment building, but no signage.  There's apparently a school named for Jackie Robinson nearby, but we didn't look for it. 

The drive back to Louisville was relatively uneventful, but it seemed quite long. Following tradition when passing through, we stopped at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati to pick up some difficult to find items for our refrigerator and pantry. Unfortunately, they were out of the dark chocolate ginger cookies biscuits that I grew to love in Dundee back in 2019 and also did not have the Dutch dark chocolate spread that can usually also be found in western Michigan and in Canada. Since we're going to those locations this summer, I'll find it!

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023


A few weeks ago we drove to Pittsburgh and took in a Pirates day game against the Colorado Rockies and then visited the Andy Warhol museum the next day. We also visited the Southern Tier brewpub in this same area.

I took a good number of photos at both locations. PNC Park is very nice and the outside area is particularly striking, with statues of Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, and Honus Wagner encircling the facility. When we got back from our travels, I read the recent Clemente bio by David Maraniss, which I highly recommend.

They also have oversize baseball markers commemorating all the Hall of Famers who played in Pittsburgh, including a good number of Negro League players. Earlier this year I read Satchell Paige's  autobiography -- it was quite entertaining.

The Warhol Museum is near PNC Park and I really enjoyed seeing the exhibits. We were one day early and thus missed a special exhibit featuring Warhol and the Velvet Underground. Warhol is sometimes credited with discovering the VU and was said to be their manager, though promoter might have been a more accurate term.

Most of one floor was devoted to Warhol's portraits, which was an especially interesting commentary on the 1970s. As for his pop art, I've seen more famous of his works in other museums in the US, Europe, or Canada.  But these were some good exemplars:

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