We set off on a West Michigan beer tour in search of new beer horizons while visiting with a few old friends along the way.
West Michigan Beer Tour 2021
We are beer enthusiasts. Part of the fun of birthdays with our family of friends is exploring for beers. Our great friend Jeff, of the now-famous duo: Jeff and Angie, had a birthday coming up. He was looking to head west. Angie plotted our course to explore some breweries that we had not visited. Given that a few favorites were hard to pass up, we threw them into the weekend adventure. With vaccinations onboard and masks in tow, we began our West Michigan Beer Tour for 2021.
Latitude 42 Brewing – Meeting the Mad Brewer
A common stopping point on any westward Michigan beer adventure is Latitude 42. We first visited a while back when we explored the Kalamazoo Beer Trail. Their food is top-notch and who doesn’t love to Party At the Moon Tower.
Just after finishing up our lunch, a masked man asked if I took pictures for the Michigan Brewers Guild. I said, why yes I have. The masked man introduced himself as none other than Latitude 42’s head brewer Scott Freitas. I have to admit, when I meet anyone involved in brewing or those who run a brewery, I think of them as rock stars.
Scott was super cool and we talked a bit about music and beer. Two of our most favorite things. Scott mentioned Latitude 42’s Mad Brewer series and hooked us up with the awesome label art. One thing I love about beers and music is the artwork. Great artwork can really add to the overall pizzazz of a beer (or album). Needless to say, we bought a few beers for home.
Greenbush Brewing – Visiting an old friend
Ever have a friend that you love dearly, but haven’t seen in a while? Yeah, that is how it is with Greenbush. We fell in love with their beer a while ago and buy it regularly. Sadly, we don’t get over to Sawyer that much.
Happily, Jeff wanted to make a stop and it was grand. I’m sure it is an old hat to the regulars, but we finally got a chance to check out their Annex. In addition to food and beers, they have a fun little gift shop. The finger rats were pretty intriguing.
The food menu looked great, but we only had room for a beer. The Party Wolf IPA was a hit with great floral hops. Being at Greenbush of course brought back memories of our friend Cowboy Doug. We raised a glass in his honor. Thanks, Doug for a lot of great memories over delicious beers.
Haymarket Brewery & Taproom in Bridgman
Our first new brewery visit on our West Michigan beer tour was Haymarket Brewery & Taproom. Our first experience with Haymarket’s beers was at the 2017 Michigan Brewers Guild summer beer fest. We loved one of their IPA’s and made a note to get over for a visit. My lord am I glad we did.
Their space is wide open and inviting. The large indoor room can open up to a festive outdoor area through several see-through garage doors. We loved this idea of being able to enjoy indoors and outdoors seamlessly. Be sure to check out the art on the walls which refer to the Haymarket Riot in Chicago back in 1886.
While we loved the space at Haymarket, the real appeal is the beer. We tried the Defender American Stout, Cold Dark Night bourbon barrel doppelbock, Aleister American IPA, and Relief Peacher IPA. Every single beer was outstanding. Angie was ecstatic!
The home run was the Relief Peacher. I wasn’t too sure about a peach IPA but figured I’d be adventurous. This is an amazing beer. The peach flavor comes through nicely without overpowering. This isn’t some fruity sweet hazy garbage, but a really great IPA with peach. I may have squealed with delight when learning I could get a six-pack to go.
Because it is always a good idea to eat pizza with beer, we ordered a wood-fired Margherita pizza to share. Not only is the beer wonderful at Haymarket, their pizzas are delicious. We can hardly wait to get back for more fantastic beer and pizza.
Watermark Brewing in Stevensville
Our last but not least stop on day one of our West Michigan beer tour was Watermark Brewing. When you enter, you’ll want to stop and check out the vending machine. You can pick up off-the-wall candy, a night with Yanni, an empty envelope, a plastic shark, or a bag that says “Do Not Buy This”. I really wanted to buy a bag that should not be bought.
Once past that gauntlet of fun, it is time to pick a beer. With so many tasty choices, I had to pick three: Citra Crucible IPA, Electric Rope IPA, and King Prawn IPA. Each one was a winner. If I had to pick one favorite, it would be the King Prawn. It was slightly dank, not super bitter, and extremely tasty.
Like Haymarket, Watermark has a big open space to enjoy your beers with windowed garage doors that allow for indoor/outdoor fun. While Watermark does not serve beer, they have a regular series of food trucks. You can check the schedule on their website. Watermark is a short drive from Haymarket, so it is a no-brainer to hit them both when in the area.
West Michigan Beer Tour Day 2 – A walk and breakfast at the Mason Jar
We started the second day of our West Michigan beer tour with a walk. It wasn’t super spectacular and a bit chilly. After the beers yesterday, you’ve got to get out there to burn a few calories before breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast, we stopped at the Mason Jar in Benton Harbor. This is a super cute cafe not too far from the Livery. We arrived just after opening and there was already a line. That is surely a good sign that the food is good.
While everyone else went for the fabulous Mason Jar breakfast, I went rogue and tried the Huevos Rancheros. Just one look and you know you are in for a treat. What a fantastic way to start the day and get a base on board for more beer.
Harbor Light Brewery in South Haven
The plan on day two of the West Michigan Beer tour is to start heading back a little closer to home and loop up toward our lodging in Hastings. The first stop was just up the road in picturesque South Haven and a visit to Harbor Light Brewery.
The first thing that hits you when walking into Harbor Lights is a feeling of comfort. It just feels very homey. It could be the welcoming folks at the bar. I’m not sure, but it makes you want to sit a spell and enjoy a brew.
Many breweries do a great job with naming their beers, however, Harbor Lights takes it up a notch with very snazzy chalkboard art. I loved the Iron Maiden-esque logo for their “Hanover Fiste” rye ale. The “Inconceivable” pale ale was a nice touch.
For all the tough choices, I went with the Ursa Minor IPA for the win. It was crisp and easy drinking which is the way to start off another day of beer. I was happy to see Harbor Lights do a vinyl night. They have the perfect spot to drink beer and enjoy music with friends.
Waypost Brewery in Fennville
While not really out in the boondocks, Waypost Brewing feels like you are out in the back forty. Come to think of you, the brewery sits smack dab in the middle of farm fields, so it may actually be the back forty.
The inside of the tasting room is bright with a clean bar and lots of natural light. The picnic table area outside is beautiful on a sunny day. I started to look around at the art on the walls and realized that each work contained cats. Cats at the last supper. Cats in a psychedelic whirlpool. I’m not sure if these pieces are always up on the walls, but they were fabulous.
Waypost does a nice mix of beer styles from sour to pilsner and stout to IPA. Where I think they hit a home run is with their Schwarzbier and Farmhouse IPA. Their renditions are great examples of each style of beer that taste superb.
Guardian Brewing in Saugatuck
After enjoying Guardian Brewing’s beer at the U.P. Beer festival, we set our sights on a visit. Holy Cow! On top of making magnificent beers, their pub rocks.
Stepping inside Guardian Brewing feels like walking into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The walls of the pub are lined with signed guitars, vintage posters, and other music memorabilia.
When we stopped in, Guardian was hosting a makers fair with cool local arts and crafts for sale. The gale-force winds had folks battening down the hatches, but we still got to check out a few gems. Brenda picked up a new journal.
With all this excitement, I nearly forgot about the beer. The beer list was extensive which required a flight. Given my love for IPA’s, I had to go with the Nessie Imperial IPA, Truth Seeker Juicy, and Gold Phoenix. I added the Chimera pale ale and Glurichaun dry Irish stout to round it out. As expected, each beer championed its style. While the IPA’s were all gorgeous, the Chimera pale ale stole my heart.
Tiptoe in the Tulips
We’ve lived in Michigan our whole lives and have not yet been to the Tulip Festival in Holland. Since our final destination was in Hastings, we decided to finally check out the flowers.
Our time was short, so we made the most of it. A google search turned up a few recommendations for where to see the tulips. Our first pick was Windmill Island Gardens, however, they were closing in just over an hour. We opted for Centennial Park as it wouldn’t close shortly after we arrived.
The flowers in the park were beautiful. Red, yellow, pink, white, and purple in plots throughout the park. Every flower was photogenic and made for a fun hour of photography.
The juvenile within me was drawn to the cart whose sign read “Dutch Fat Balls”. I’m sure they are delicious, but I couldn’t help laughing as I took this picture. Clearly, by the long line of folks, they are a hit.
Final Destination – Walldorff BrewPub & Bistro in Hastings
Just in time for dinner, we rolled into Walldorff BrewPub & Bistro for the last stop of our West Michigan Beer tour for 2021. The pub and restaurant are located in a historic building in downtown Hasting which dates from 1866. Be sure to check out the fun quotes on the walls that lead to the restrooms.
We enjoyed wood-fired pizza and, of course, beer. The pizza was fantastic with a crust that wasn’t too thin and not too thick. The sauce was perfect. Pair a pizza with Cobain’s Double Dark IPA and you’ve got a winner.
As you are leaving Walldorff, stop by “The Gatherer” for some fun selfies. This unique sculpture was created by Brent Harris of Kalamazoo and gifted to the city of Hastings by James Kwak. I imagined that Voldemort was the model.
We’ve got more pictures from the West Michigan Beer tour 2021 in the gallery. Stop by and take a peek. We had a wonderful time discovering more fabulous beer in the great beer state of Michigan. We know there are tons more breweries to explore. If you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them. If you’ve been to some of these spots and have stories to share, please do. Until next time, let’s cheer for Michigan beer.
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