Michigan Breweries – Far East and Far West

Circumstances created a delay in our leaving PA until Thursday morning, so we arrived in Eastern Michigan (Warren, which is north of Detroit) later in the day than we had hoped – but that was a good thing, as we forgot that Dragonmead doesn’t open on weekdays before 3 PM. It’s great that Dragonmead can offer half-pints and creative in-house sodas, so our driver could be conservative while the rest of us enjoyed as many as we could of the 35 or so craft brewed beers.

Three of us had sampler trays with the potential of knocking out half of the inventory. I don’t recall having this option on my first visit We received a card with five blank spaces where we could choose our beers. And when she filled them, they fit perfectly into a little wooden stand in an arc arrangement around a raised Dragonmead seal. The card slid perfectly into the back of the wooden stand to remind us which five we had chosen from the massive wall of taps.

I apparently chose wisely, as I really enjoyed all five of my selections. I had small sips from Brandi’s tray and Dain’s as well, and can’t say that anything was less than good, but I loved my selections:

  • Andromeda Heather Ale – 4.6% ABV, and much darker in color than I anticipated and host to an array of herbal notes
  • Woody’s Perfect Porter – 5.0% ABV and served on nitro; this English-style Brown Porter was perfect, as stated in the name; mild and hinting of chocolate
  • Crown Jewel’s IPA – 7.0% ABV; a beer I had on my last visit and found highly favorable
  • Juggernaut Double Red – 8.0%; If we understood correctly, this was their greatest mistake – a blended recipe of the Crown Jewels and Final Absolution (a Belgian ale), and it was the best beer of the lot.
  • Reverend Fred’s Oatmeal Stout – 5.5% ABV and served on nitro.

I didn’t write down things that I tasted from Dain’s tray or either of the things Deuane had, but Brandi’s selections were:

  • Kaiser’s Kolsch – 4.6% ABV
  • Erik the Red (Irish-style amber ale) – 4.5% ABV
  • Wench Water (Belgian pale ale) – 5.2% ABV
  • Bill’s Witbier – 4.9% ABV
  • Redwing Raspberry Wheat – 4.7% ABV

(and yes, Ffej, Brandi tried the Crown Jewels and really liked it!!)

After a leisurely visit there, we took off across town for Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. On my last visit, I thought it looked a lot like a bingo hall, and was hopeful renovations were taking place. Improvements are being made – flooring, paint and a beautiful ceiling, and obviously larger restroom facilities are being installed. The bingo tables are gone, and there are many more high bar tables. A local played at the piano with his buddy drumming up business for him. Basically, if we could hum a few bars, he could play it – just about anything (except Blackbird by the Beatles.) And he wouldn’t accept tips or let us buy him a beer. Apparently he just loves the music.

It didn’t take much for me at Kuhnhenn. A six-ounce glass of Tenacious Cassis at 16.5% ABV was all I could handle. The black and red current beverage was sweet, tart, thick and (obviously) high in alcohol. It paired perfectly with the dried tomato and basil goat cheese that Brandi chose, and with those powerful flavors, I didn’t desire a second beer.

Other beers around the table included American IPA (a boring name, but an awesome beer – fabulous aroma and full balanced sweet hops flavoring; 6.5%), Strawberry Panty Dropper (5%), Loonie Kuhnie Pale Ale (consumed in honor of Dain’s wife, Jill; 5.8%), and Simcoe Silly (a golden ale with sweet hops flavor; 8.5%).

We stayed way too long, eating popcorn, cheese and crackers, talking to the owners and singing with “piano man”, but eventually got on the road around 7:30 PM. We waved to Dark Horse at the Marshall exit, and to Bell’s at the K-Zoo exit, and grumbled at the traffic build up where the highway closed, but making our own detour, we arrived in Benton Harbor before The Livery closed (whew!)

Mikey G. was our bartender, and he was a lot of fun, to say the least! He took great care of us, even without the offering of cask ale (they closed those lines just before we arrived.) I loved the Double Paw IPA (8%), which I was able to get in a 10-oz glass, and the 555 IPA (6.5%), which D and I shared in a pint. We also enjoyed Hoppelbock (10%), Kilt Tilter Scotch Ale (9% – the last drops from the cask), Paris Roubaix (5.5%) and Barrel Aged Apple Cider (6% – we compared this to the Crown Royal!)

Hopefully we will get a chance to stop back in on our way home for a growler fill. The Livery is such a great place…

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