It’s a fact: some of the best beers in the world are made right in Michigan, a good thing to keep in mind during American Craft Beer Week.
Hunting down a local craft beer shouldn't be too hard. Fans of Bell's, a brewery on the west side of the state, rest easy knowing Oberon can be found in six-packs at liquor stores and on tap at many bars in the summer months. In fact, Bell's was the seventh-best selling craft beer maker in the country last year.
Earlier this week, the brewery opened a $20 million expansion of its production facility near Kalamazoo, according to MLive. The local expansion is one sign of craft beer's rising success on a national scale. There are now more than 1,000 new breweries in development nationwide.
There's all sorts of good beer news on the far side Michigan: Grand Rapids just tied Ashville, N.C., in a widespread online poll for the title of Beer City USA.
But you don’t have to drive west, or to Asheville, to get great craft beer. There's plenty of breweries in Detroit and the metro area.
For this year’s American Craft Beer Week, celebrating small and independent beer producers, we’ve put together a gallery of some of our favorite local brews and the best places to drink them. If you're a beer beginner, take a second to read up on the different varieties and go out and try some beer -- for America, and Michigan!
<a href="http://www.trafficjamdetroit.com/" target="_hplink">Traffic Jam & Snug in Detroit</a>, which frequently gets shortened to TJ's, boasts the cred of becoming the first licensed brew pub in Michigan in 1992. Besides a rotating list of home and guest brews on tap, the establishment makes its own cheese and baked goods.
Right across the street from Traffic Jam, <a href="http://www.motorcitybeer.com/" target="_hplink">Motor City Brewing Works</a> takes college dinner up a notch with deliciously unique pizza served alongside house brews. The restaurant, which also hosts art shows, has a pretty nifty roof deck. Recommended: a Danimal pizza with olive oil, gorgonzola, tomatoes, caramelized red onions, artichoke hearts and fresh basil served with the classic Ghettoblaster. And better yet, if you get hooked, the brewery publishes <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=206285769925752148771.0004837dbdae058247536&ll=42.433593,-83.356018&spn=0.703406,1.18103&z=9&source=embed" target="_hplink">a helpful map</a> to show you where you can buy and drink Motor City beers in other places around town. <em>Flickr photo <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/4742034182/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">by Bernt Rostad</a>.</em>
Oh, <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tashmoodetroit" target="_hplink">Tashmoo</a>, we wish you were around all the time! This pop-up Biergrten <a href="http://www.positivedetroit.net/2012/05/tashmoo-biergarten-is-baaaack-this.html" target="_hplink">brought in 7,500 visitors</a> in its five-weekend stint last fall, and it's back for American Craft Beer Week on the weekend of May 19 and 20, 2012. Tashmoo will take over a vacant lot in the West Village neighborhood of Detroit and serve session beers (expect brews from Michigan's Atwater, Jolly Pumpkin, Arcadia and Motor City Brewing Company) to outdoor revelers from 12 to 9 p.m. at 1420 Van Dyke. Also on the menu? Sausage, pierogi, chess and checkers.
<a href="http://www.atwaterbeer.com/" target="_hplink">Atwater Brewery</a> has gone through changes in the last 15 years, recently limiting its scale to a tap room at the brewery in Detroit's Rivertown district. But the company's beer is distributed around the country and recently won the honor of "<a href="http://www.michiganbeerguide.com/?page=news" target="_hplink">Best Light Lager</a>" for Atwater Lager at the World Expo of Beer.
Downriver in Lincoln Park, <a href="http://www.fortstreetbeer.com/" target="_hplink">Fort Street Brewery</a> has concocted one of the best beer events we've heard of: Wheatstock, a celebration of wheat beer with four new brews on tap, food made with wheat and prizes for best hippie costumes, lasting May 16 to 18.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company in Warren gets rave reviews across the board, with <a href="http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/2097" target="_hplink">high rankings on Beer Advocate</a>, <a href="http://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/kuhnhenn-brewing/2594/" target="_hplink">RateBeer</a> and a slew of best <a href="http://mittenbrew.com/2012/05/kuhnenn-wins-gold-bastone-takes-home-three-silvers-at-world-beer-cup/" target="_hplink">beer awards</a>. On Wednesday and Thursday of Craft Beer Week, you can even score <a href="http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/news-and-events/calendar/show?title=declare-your-beer-independence" target="_hplink">a free beer</a> with a promotion America's founding fathers would approve -- all you have to do is bring a signed copy of the <a href="http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/news-and-events/american-craft-beer-week/declaration" target="_hplink">Declaration of Beer Independence</a>.
Who knew Warren was such a craft beer hotspot? After checking out Kuhnhenn, head a couple miles southeast to <a href="http://www.dragonmead.com/" target="_hplink">Dragonmead Microbrewery</a>, another <a href="http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/2085" target="_hplink">high-rated pub</a> with an extensive beer list. And while they serve traditional lagers and ales, they also spice it up -- the cream ale brewed with serrano, habanero and jalapeno peppers placed second in its category at the World Beer Cup.
The <a href="http://www.detroitbeerco.com/" target="_hplink">Detroit Beer Co.</a> (shortened to DBC by its friends and fans) brews and serves several beers in its large space downtown, including the simple but delicious Detroit Lager. If sales are proof of anything, the brewpub is a local favorite -- owner Drew Ciroa <a href="http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20111206/STAFFBLOG06/111209936/is-this-restaurant-owner-having-his-best-year-ever" target="_hplink">raked in $7 million in revenue</a> from DBC, Lockhart's BBQ and Royal Oak Brewery last year, according to <em>Crain's Detroit Business</em>. And he might be expanding -- according to Patch, he submitted a proposal to <a href="http://fenton.patch.com/articles/among-old-fenton-fire-hall-applicants" target="_hplink">renovate the old Fenton Fire Hall</a>.
Royal Oak's <a href="http://bastone.net/br/bastone-brewery" target="_hplink">Bastone Brewery</a> specializes in Belgian beers (and awesome Belgian fries). It's another award-winner -- brewmaster Rockne Van Meter brought home <a href="http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012205130354" target="_hplink">eight World Expo of Beer awards</a> earlier this year, according to the <em>Observer and Eccentric</em>. For a champion drink, try the Monumental Blonde or the Royal IPA.
While you might not like the brew quite enough to wear the Rochester Red trucker hat, the <a href="http://www.beercos.com/" target="_hplink">Rochester Mills Beer Co.</a> has plenty of fans. The brewpub is located at the historic Western Knitting Mill building, with patio and pool tables included. It's definitely worth a visit if you can stomach the construction in downtown Rochester. The company is also expanding, according to the Detroit <em>Free Press</em>, <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120420/BUSINESS06/204200358/An-expansion-is-brewing-in-Auburn-Hills" target="_hplink">opening a new brewing facility</a> in Auburn Hills to produce its canned Cornerstone IPA.
Looking for a jaunt out of town for your Craft Beer Week celebration? Head to the <a href="http://www.worldexpoofbeer.com/expo/" target="_hplink">annual World Expo of Beer</a>, held in Frankenmuth on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19. The beer tasting offers more than 250 different beers from across the globe to sample, including plenty from Michigan. And if you need a ride, Motor City Brew Tours will even <a href="http://worldexpoofbeermotorcitybrewtours.eventbrite.com/" target="_hplink">drive you there on Saturday</a>.
<a href="http://www.grandtrunkpub.com/" target="_hplink">Foran's Grand Trunk Pub</a> in downtown Detroit isn't a brewery, but the restauarant and bar serves a staggering number of bottled Michigan craft beers, <a href="http://www.grandtrunkpub.com/beer-menu/bottled-beer-menu/bottled-india-pale-ales/" target="_hplink">more than 150</a>. Sitting in the pub, which has a full menu, is a way to get a sense of Detroit history -- the building dates back to 1879 and served for a time as a jewelry store and railroad ticketing office.
Learn the difference between a microbrewery and a craft brewery with expert Chris Cuzme.