There's a reason Michigan is known as the Great Beer State. With nearly 260 operating breweries — the fifth most of any state in the union — you're never far from a fresh pint of something delicious. Here's a sampling of where you can go to find excellent suds in metro Detroit and beyond.
Batch Brewing Co.
Batch boasts a hip Euro-style beer hall vibe, a small but imaginative food menu, and a painstakingly crafted beer for every palate. Try Handsome Stranger, a 7.3 percent ABV refreshingly floral and tart hibiscus saison, or Marta Rita, an 8 percent ABV German-style gose brewed with lime peel, agave, and smoked salt, both new on tap this week.
Bell's Eccentric Café
If you've never been to Bell's Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo, you need to remedy that as soon as possible. If you have, you already know frequent visits are a must, as the crew at the original location of Larry Bell's brewing powerhouse is always experimenting and putting great things on tap. Case in point: Boon Companion, a medium-bodied pale ale with resinous, tangerine hop notes overlaid by plenty of citrus, courtesy of added lemon zest, and it's 5.9 percent ABV.
Glasshouse Brewing Co.
One of Michigan's newest breweries, Glasshouse features brews created by Kuma Ofori-Mensa, a veteran of the Ann Arbor brewing scene. Enjoy Stone Thrower IPA, brewed with Chinook, Cascade, and Crystal hops for a tropical citrus aroma over a honey bread malt backbone. It's 6.2 percent ABV.
Griffin Claw Brewing Co.
Dan Rogers, among the state's most decorated and respected brewers, is the driving force behind Griffin Claw, where a number of Rogers' award-winning creations are always pouring. New this summer for baseball season is Clubhouse Cream Ale, a light-bodied (4.5 percent ABV) beer designed to have "the flavor of an ale and still be light and refreshing like a lager."
Kickstand Brewing Co.
Kickstand offers beers in a broad range of styles, served up in a spacious, open, industrial setting that somehow manages to still be homey. New on tap is Declination Black IPA, brewed with Polaris and several other hop varieties for a smooth citrus and mint underpinning with the merest hint of bitter chocolate, with 6.7 percent ABV.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
Kuhnhenn has been brewing award-winning beers since 2001 at their Warren location, and this year added a second location in Clinton Township to help keep up with demand. Their anniversary party is coming up in August at the Warren taproom, and they're pulling out the stops to celebrate with three bourbon barrel-aged versions of their Eisbock, along with other amazing brews.
Original Gravity Brewing Co.
Original Gravity has been happily slinging quality ales and sandwiches in Milan for eight years. You can't go wrong with their classic County Street Amber Ale, Southpaw IPA, and Primordial Porter, but for a real kick, try the current batch of 440 Pepper Smoker Ale, brewed with smoked German malt and fresh jalapenos for a low and slow burn and it's 5.6 percent ABV.
River's Edge Brewing Co.
This quaint, open taproom on the banks of the Huron River serves some truly tantalizing ales, courtesy of head brewer Kim Schneider and her two decades of beermaking experience. Most recently, she's put her skills to work on Ghost on the Shore (4.7 percent ABV), a Belgian witbier brewed with malted and unmalted grain and a potpourri of fruit and spices. The result? A beautiful balance of floral aromatics and grain notes, topped off with a spicy Belgian yeast character.
Witch's Hat Brewing Co.
Named after South Lyon's landmark conical train depot, Witch's Hat makes a variety of styles, but is best known for their bourbon barrel-aged brews, such as DragonTrax, a 13.5 percent ABV imperial stout aged for six months with peanut butter, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and coconut. It's just one of 20 barrel-aged beers that will be on tap for the brewery's annual Fury for a Feast food drive Aug. 27.
Craft beer pioneer Ted Badgerow — who founded Michigan's first modern brewery a few years before that Larry Bell guy got the idea for his own operation — has returned to commercial brewing with the opening of Ypsi Alehouse. The food is amazing and the beers are inventive. Don't miss Blue Racer, an effervescent wheat ale that's 6.8 percent ABV and made with Michigan malts, honey, and hops and topped with whole Michigan blueberries.