Hit the road for craft brews
Mixing cold craft beer with sizzling culinary creations is a recipe for pure gold.
And that's Pure Michigan.
Just a stone's throw from the Canadian border is arguably the hottest brewing scene in North America. In fact, Michigan has the fifth largest number of breweries, brewpubs and microbreweries in the nation.
Mike Babb, who teaches brewing at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, says the economic impact of brewing in the state is $46 billion annually.
"We're going to be a real destination for people from across the country," says Babb, noting the number of breweries has doubled since 2010 to more than 200.
With a designated driver in place, a craft beer road trip will take suds enthusiasts to beer centric stops like Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Detroit, which hosts a massive Fall Beer Festival in October each year.
Grand Rapids, recently voted Beer City USA, has established an Ale Trail with more than 40 breweries, including 15 in the downtown core.
Jason and Kris Spaulding studied brewing in Belgium before opening Vivant in a former funeral home in 2011. With a food focus, the duck confit nachos are a must have.
"People are far more knowledgeable about beer today," says sales manager Ben Darcie. "There's a great sense of camaraderie in the industry here. It's not a competition; it's about elevating each other."
Dave Engbers' beer odyssey began when his parents bought him a home brewing kit at age 19.
The Founders pub has a Mug Club with more than 1,700 dedicated members, each with a personal beer glass. The All Day IPA is a favourite of the locals.
David Ringler, Director of Happiness at Cedar Springs Brewery, is a member of Team Beer City, comprised of 25 Grand Rapids brewers working to promote the region.
"Our whole idea is to create new beers with unique tastes that will turn people onto new brews," says Ringler, as he tucks into a wood fired oven pizza at Terra GR.
Arriving early in Kalamazoo, breakfast at San Chez is an excellent choice. The peppered pork hash is a savoury way to start the day spicy mojo pork mixed with a six pepper blend, onions and cheeses and topped with two eggs.
Serious brewheads might opt for a tour of Hop Head Farms before driving to the Gilmore Car Museum, regarded as one of the Top 3 auto museums in North America.
Tim Suprise started Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek in 1996 and, two years ago, opened a larger location in Kalamazoo.
On top of prize winning ales, Arcadia serves up fare fashioned from local meats and produce, has its own goat herd and keeps bees to produce honey for its food and brews. Barbecue is a hit at the Kalamazoo locale; the smoker turns out over 250 kilos of ribs, brisket and chicken.
Kalamazoo launched its Craft Brewery Trail in 2015 to capitalize on the pandora online shop explosion of new breweries and pubs. Trekkers are given passports to get stamped at more than 15 establishments and receive a gift when the card is full.
"Beer has definitely become a tourist attraction for pandora jewelry charm bracelets the area," says Suprise. "We see a lot of people coming from out of state to try our beers."
Kalamazoo Beer pandora charm bracelet cheap Exchange (KBE) is the city's hotspot for craft beer. The 750 sq metre eatery, on the site of a former casket factory, comes alive six days a week.
Jim Flora's unique concept has beer enthusiasts choosing from dozens of libations listed on a constantly changing stock exchange board. Prices fluctuate based on sales, to the point one brand might crash, at which point diners can order up that specific brew at the lowest price.
"We focus on super fresh beer and keep it at 28F ( 2C)," says Flora. "Our menu changes periodically. Fresh is the best and we buy as much locally as we can."
The smoked bacon and apple pork chop has its roots on local farms.
Other recommended stops on the trail are Bell's, Boatyard and Brite Eyes Brewing Companies.
There's a renaissance happening in Detroit. Downtown neighbourhoods are being revitalized and fine food and craft beer establishments are taking centre stage.
Phil Colley was modelling in New York in the early 2000s but grew tired of high living costs and moved back to Motown. He opened Slow's BBQ in the Corktown District in 2005.
The Slow's roster of beers includes Motor City Ghettoblaster and its signature dish is The Yardbird a smoked chicken breast sauteed in a honey mustard pandora kids jewelry sauce and slathered with fried mushrooms, cheddar and smoked bacon.
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