Michigan’s Top Breweries

by K.M. Zahrt

Recently, Mlive’s John Gonzalez together with The Great American Brew Trail’s Amy Sherman “took nine days, more than 2,000 miles and a visit to 38 of the best breweries” in Michigan to determine the best, the top 10, the best newcomers, and the best longtime favorites. First of all, someone should tell them about the Michigan Brewers Guild and their beer festivals. They would’ve saved gas trying to sort this out all in one place. I recommend the Summer Beer Festival at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti, Michigan, every July. As a longtime patron, I can attest to just how tall Gonzalez and Sherman’s task really is. Here’s a batch of Michiganders trying their darndest to sort it out (photo courtesy of Michigander Stephanie Wildey):


Gonzalez and Sherman selected Short’s Brewing Company from Bellaire, Michigan, as their #1. A fine choice indeed. One thing about this list is that you’re inevitably going to be pleased to see many of your favorites made the list, but also that some of your favorites were left out. A favorite of mine, Founder’s Brewing Company from Grand Rapids, Michigan, made the Top 10 list at #5; however, another favorite of mine, New Holland Brewing Company from Holland, Michigan, was nowhere to be found.

Let me make the case. Here’s two reasons why New Holland Brewing Company should have been included on the list:

1. The Poet

New Holland Brewing Company’s oatmeal stout, The Poet, is as dark and dreamy as a “a midnight dreary,” and it makes me “weak and weary.” Okay, not really. But what’s not to love about the robust-flavored dark and creamy beer? The label on The Poet displays a raven, which makes you think of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” straightaway, doesn’t it? So much so, in fact, that when I quote it, you know exactly where I’m coming from, right? Regardless, next time you’re near Holland, stop in and enjoy The Poet. It’s available year-round. Today, you can enjoy “The Raven” on me. You’re welcome.

2. Beer Barrel Bourbon

For three years now, and my wife can attest to this, I’ve been looking for my signature drink. It didn’t take me long to discover that bourbon on the rocks was going to be my drink of choice, but it wasn’t until the fall of this year that I discovered the bourbon that is likely to be my favorite for some time: New Holland Brewing Company’s Beer Barrel Bourbon. I was thrilled to see this delicious spirit being produced right in our backyard. The bourbon has a rich auburn color, and it has a pleasant balance of smoky and sweet. The bourbon is unique in that New Holland distillers finish it in beer barrel casks giving you plenty of accent notes to enjoy for every sip. The bourbon is the counterpoint to New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk which is a stout aged in bourbon barrels.

New Holland’s Beer Barrel Bourbon can be found in many brew pubs and retailers across the state, including my favorite liquor pit stop, Oliver T’s, where you can try a sample in their tasting room.

Here is a picture of Michiganders Tom and Mark enjoying a glass:

Tom & Mark

Finally, one thing you’re bound to notice about Gonzalez and Sherman’s list is that, wherever you are in Michigan, you’re near a fine brewery. Go forth and enjoy!


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