Mother Nature tried to rain on our parade, so we made the best of it by seeking fine Michigan beers in the Leelanau peninsula.
Leelanau Peninsula Beer Tour
We usually try to get up north in the winter to check out some of the fabulous Michigan scenery when the crowds are low. This gives us an excuse to enjoy some great Michigan beer and food along the way. We decided to head up to Frankfort and use it as our base to journey into the Leelanau peninsula. This area is known for Michigan wine, yet there are some breweries that we had not yet explored as well as some old favorites. By the way, you can use the word “Leelanau” as a sobriety test. If someone in your party can’t say it without letting that first “Leeeee” hang out there a bit, then they should be cut off.
The plan was to snowshoe at Arcadia and Sleeping Bear Dunes to work off the food and beer. Sadly, Mother Nature determined that 40 degrees and rain was what we needed most. As any self-respecting Michiganders will do, we soldiered on; rain be damned. Armed with our trusty raincoats and Garmin GPS we set out into the rain in search of adventure.
Point Betsie Lighthouse
While not technically in the Leelanau peninsula, the Point Betsie Lighthouse was on our way and worth a visit. Unfortunately during the winter, it is locked up tighter than Fort Knox. The lighthouse was built in 1858 and is still an active navigational aid today. Check out the Point Betsie Lighthouse page for some fun facts including the origin of the name Point Betsie.
Big Cat Brewing
In the little town of Cedar lives the Big Cat Brewing Company. Originally started as the Rustic Inn restaurant, the owners (Aaron and Nikki Ackley) added on their own collection of beers. In the process they changed the name which is inspired by Aaron’s nickname in the kitchen (he’s an accomplished chef) and local big cat sightings.
We had a table in the back dining area. The space is warm, friendly and inviting. We already had a big breakfast onboard, so didn’t partake in the amble food menu. However, we did dig into the beers. We all went for a flight. Unlike some places with little baby shooter samples, the folks at Big Cat poured nice size samples in their flight. Our favorites were the chocolatey goodness of Pit of Darkness cherry stout and the spritely All Spruced Up IPA.
Hop Lot Brewing
When up in the Leelanau peninsula, it is required to drop in to Suttons Bay and visit the fabulous folks at Hop Lot Brewing. Since our first visit, Hop Lot has been at the top of our list of favorite Michigan breweries. They make great beer and it is evident that others have found out about it, as the place was packed.
I’m not sure if they started the igloo trend, but Hop Lot have certainly made the most of it. We put our name on the list and shortly we were enjoying tasty beverages in a warm igloo. Under a blanket of snow, the igloos would be quite a sight. Yet, they were a welcome refuge from the rain and a fun way to sip on a delicious Overlook 9 citra IPA and laugh with friends.
Mitten Brewing in Northport
Way up to almost the tip of the Leelanau peninsula is the town of Northport. We visited back in 2015 when the brewery was called Northport Brewing. Since that time, the amazing brewers at Mitten Brewing have acquired the pub filling it with their sumptuous beverages. We were happy to see that the Dan Frank was still managing the pub.
On this rainy winter’s day, a passel of beer enthusiasts were digging the cool tunes and beers. We love a good IPA and Mitten Brewing was happy to oblige with their Country Strong IPA and Docks No-No double IPA. If you love a great balanced IPA that doesn’t try to be some sort of crazy ass grapefruit bomb, then get yourself some Country Strong. Mitten Brewing in Northport is a great place to hang-out and get your beer on. While this location doesn’t have the killer pizza like their Grand Rapids home, there are plenty of good eats available in town.
Despite the rain, we found a way to persevere. The sodden sooty skies were no match for the sunny people we met on our beer hunt in the Leelanau peninsula. Be sure to check out the gallery for more photos. While you are hanging around our site, check out our tour of Iron Fish Distillery and the fun times at Lake Ann Brewing.
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