4 Ways to Stay Toasty This Fall with Michigan Craft Beer

Fall is quickly approaching and that means it’s color tour season. But even if you’re not a fall-color enthusiast, there’s something to look forward to when cooler weather greets the Great Lakes state. This autumn, warm up with a fall flavor tour when you Go Great Lakes Bay, when you can indulge in brewmasters’ fuller, richer, darker brews.

Read more on four ways you can #GoGreat and trace the trails of malty, hoppy goodness from one bold brew-lover’s excursion to the next! 

1. Try a sample at one of Michigan’s newest breweries

Oracle Brewing Company

Scheduled to open this fall at 122 N. Michigan Avenue in Old Town SaginawOracle Brewing Company will offer pub-style service where you can order your beer and take it back to your seat. Although food isn’t on the menu just yet, you’re welcome to bring your own or grab a slice from Old Town Pizzeria which is conveniently located in the same building. Expect a rustic, lounge-type feel from this brewery, with comfortable seating as well as more traditional tables.

Cozy up with a Michigan craft beer this autumn

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

As for beer, get ready to try something new. “We’re ready to bring something completely different to the Great Lakes Region beer scene,” says Chris Younk, co-owner of the new venture with partner Cody Smith. “Right now we’re focused on creating beers that are light and easy drinking, like some very good pale ales.”

For the fall and winter months, they’re planning a few different beers to help keep you toasty. “Our efforts right now are a combination of making the beer we really like to enjoy for the fall and preparing for winter, when people will want an imperial stout or nice double IPA,” explains Younk.

“I like a good pumpkin beer, so we’ll consider that, but we don’t want to put anything out just to put it out,” Younk says. “It still has to meet our expectations.” Oracle Brewing is working with local suppliers to source various Michigan-grown ingredients. “We want to find opportunities to introduce non-traditional flavors into the beer in ways that will meet your expectations.”

One beer you should look out for when Oracle opens this autumn is a nice pale ale. “It will be pale to golden in color, probably around 4.5 – 5% ABV. It’s going to have a nice, decently thick head on it and some tropical fruity notes with some pine and citrus, but it’s going to be subdued. It will be a crisp beer that will make you want to take another sip.”

If you’re a fan of darker beer, you’re in luck! “We have a strong love for coffee, so another beer we’ll have this fall is a chocolate coffee porter or stout,” Younk says.  “It’s going to be a bigger bodied beer, dark brown, almost chestnut in color, with a nice, rich, creamy mouth feel.”

“Come in and see us when we open!” he says.

Other stops in Saginaw:

At JB Meinburg & Woody’s Draught House you’ll find over 100+ beers on tap. It’s a great place to stop for a flight and sample a few. Loggers Brewing Company is also scheduled to open this year – check their website for updates.

While you’re in Saginaw, don’t miss the The Taproom at Stardust Lanes, a unique venue with a fun bowling alley and taproom, where you’re sure to find something you like: the Taproom boasts 41 taps that feature craft beer from Michigan and around the country.

2. Give Hard Cider A Try

With more than 80 varieties of Michigan craft beer, 40 on tap at any time, WhichCraft Taproom in Midland is a beer-fan’s dream. But for those of you who want to try something a little different, they also serve Michigan-made cider (in addition to mead and wine.) If you haven’t yet tried hard cider, think about the traditional fall drink made with apples, then imagine it fermented and spiced. Similar to craft beer, cider makers start with a base and tweak it to produce different varieties and flavors. Whichcraft has several different kinds in cans or bottles (not on tap) so you can get a feel for what you like.

The Whichcraft Taproom has more than 40 delectable Michigan craft beers on tap

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders

In the small town of Wheeler, about half an hour southwest of Midland,  you’ll find, Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders, an apple orchard that doesn’t just grow and pick apples-they ferment and bottle cider, too. You can try the goods in their tasting room where they feature cider on tap.

Other stops in Midland:

The Great Lakes Bay Region has a lot of award-winning brews and Midland Brewing Company has won several, including a Bronze Medal at the World Expo of Beer for its Three Mile Marker Hefeweizen, which should be available this fall. Stop by and see what’s on tap.

3. Raise a glass at Michigan’s oldest brewery

Frankenmuth Brewery

The historical Frankenmuth Brewery has been operating in the iconic town of Frankenmuth for more than 150 years. Not content to rest on their historical laurels, Frankenmuth continues to create new brews and winning awards for their efforts, including two gold and one bronze medal at the 2016 World Expo of Beer.

Get ready for a blast from the past when you enter this functional but attractive brewery. “The bar and the back bar look like an old-school German brewery with wood floors and dark wood booths,” says Steve Buszka, Frankenmuth Brewery’s Brewmaster.

Frankenmuth Brewery is a must-visit when in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

This brewery is indeed old-school, but the beer is what locals and visitors alike look to enjoy in the city. “We make everything from light Kölsh to oatmeal coffee stout and everything in between,” says Buszka. Of our 20 beers on tap, 6 are German-style beers, but we’re also a craft-centric Michigan brewery.” That means that in addition to German beers, Frankenmuth serves their highly drinkable flagship brews, creative seasonal releases, and unique small batch brews.

This fall, Frankenmuth Brewing will craft a chestnut brown ale made with toasted chestnuts, that’s as-of-yet unnamed (just ask for it by description when you get there). “The toasted chestnuts impart a very autumn flavor to the beer,” Buszka says.

They’ll also be introducing two enticing IPAs, one of which, Ted Nugget, is made with 100% Michigan grown nugget hops. “The nugget hop is a hop varietal that’s going to have an earthy bitterness but a very citrusy, light grapefruit flavor to it,” says Buszka. If you’re an IPA fan be sure to ask for Wicked Warlock, a west-coast style Double IPA that they’ll have this fall. “I like to make beer that is balanced and smooth,’” Buszka says. “I know I’ve done my job right if you drink one, order another, and contemplate ordering a third!”

When you Go Great Lakes Bay region this autumn, you can also try their Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin beer. “We use all German hops, malts, and yeast in our Oktoberfest beer, which is going to be a very light amber beer with a nice, malty aroma,” says Buszka.

Pumpkin Chucker, their pumpkin brew, will “taste like liquid pumpkin pie, but it’s 8% alcohol,” Buszka cautions. Although many breweries sell their pumpkin beer on the market, Frankenmuth only serves it in-house. “Ours is just at the brewery, so if you want to try it, you’ll have to take a little trip to Frankenmuth.”

Other stops in Frankenmuth:

If you’re in the mood for traditional German food and want to try a few other Michigan beers (as well as a few from around the country), swing by Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill while you’re in town.

4. Try the brewery whose beers have won a gold, silver and bronze

Tri-City Brewing Company 

If the summer Olympics has you dreaming of podium wins, Tri-City Brewing Company in Bay City is your next stop. In 2007, the second beer they introduced after opening, Phelan, won a bronze medal at its first World Expo of Beer. Tri-City has continued turning out winners, including three golds and a silver at the 2016 World Expo of Beer.

If you visit this fall, you can still find Tri-City Brewing at its original location (3020 North Water Street), which is truly  inviting with high ceilings and a bit of an industrial feel (it’s located in a former warehouse). But this popular brewery is growing so they’ll have new digs later this year (4170 Shrestha Drive). The new location will almost double their seating capacity giving them the capability to expand their tap line, which means they’ll have more tasty brews for you to try.

Make a splash this autumn by sharing Michigan craft beers with your friends

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

You’ll find several Belgian beers on tap at Tri-City, because they’re a favorite of Brewmaster Paul Popa. “Belgian beers are different in the sense that they’re very flavorful and the aroma profiles is dominated by the Belgium yeast,” explains Popa. They often have floral or clove notes; you may pick up rose aroma or bubble gum notes or get a spiciness from a white or black pepper note.”

You can also look forward to their seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest. “That’s always a big one for us,” says Popa. “Our Oktoberfest is a little darker than most, with darker gold notes and almost an orange color. It’s a very malty, very clean lager, with about 6% alcohol. To me, it represents fall. I call it autumn in a glass.”

Another seasonal beer you’ll want to try is Tri-City’s Brownhoist Ale, whose namesake, Industrial Brownhoist, was once a major manufacturer of industrial cranes in the area. “We’ve won several awards with that beer,” Popa says. “It’s an easy drinking English brown ale, not too hoppy, very earthy, with caramel to toffee notes and only about 4.8% alcohol. It’s great in the fall when the weather starts to cool and leaves start to change.”

As long as you’re there, you should give their flagship beer, Hell’s Half Mile a whirl. Named after a rougher part of town in the old lumbering days, it’s a German lager with some malty, toasty notes. “It’s a very easy drinking beer and it’s the beer that we recommend people start with when they come here,” Popa says. “It’s very clean but has some flavor to it.”

Other stops in Bay City:

Lumber Barons Brewery is housed in an old lumber mill. Try the BBQ at Rusty Saw Smokehouse, located inside the brewery. With delicious flatbreads and 54 rotating taps featuring beers from Michigan and around the country, Tavern 101 is also worth a stop! If you’re in the mood for schnitzel, stop by Stein Haus and try theirs, while you sample the beers on tap.

For a unique group experience, schedule a ride to pedal your way along a Bay City pub tour on Sunrise Pedal Trolley (rides also available in Frankenmuth).

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting the Great Lakes Bay region? Share with us by commenting below!

Fall into Christmas Town

Whether you get lost in the corn maze or brave the Halloween Spook Train, there is something for the entire family to enjoy when visiting Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Guest blogger Ashley Smith from the Frankenmuth Convention & Visitor Bureau shares just some of the many things to look forward to during a visit to Frankenmuth this autumn.

Every year, thousands of people flock to Frankenmuth in the fall and early days of winter in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season – enjoying the glistening lights along Christmas Lane near Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland and the all-around festive spirit throughout town.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Although Michigan’s Little Bavaria is well known for its winter holiday delights, guests should take time to embrace the joy of the season before them as autumn boasts its own charm in Frankenmuth.

The Frankenmuth Corn Maze is host to a gigantic 5-acre corn maze, petting zoo and hayrides for the family. A tradition for many locals, the Frankenmuth Corn Maze is also great for newcomers looking to start a different holiday custom in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This year, kids – and kids at heart – can become a “farm scene investigator,” discovering what happened to Farmer Joe by looking for clues throughout the 2.5 miles of twisted trails within the maze. The maze will be open until Nov. 1.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

And what’s fall without a straw-filled sack made to look like a person? Adorning most of a shopping center and the majority of downtown businesses will be scarecrows as part of the Scarecrow Fest in Frankenmuth, held Oct. 17-18 and 24-25. As a true showing of the fall spirit, festival goers can enjoy activities like pumpkin catapulting, face painting and trick or treating within the Frankenmuth River Place Shops.

If you need more fall fun and are looking for a memorable way to pick out your pumpkins this year, consider heading about 14 miles north of the downtown to experience Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm where the kids can ride a barrel train.

If trains are what you’re into then you might also enjoy the Halloween Spook Train at Junction Valley Railroad, just west of Frankenmuth.

You might also consider checking out the Haunted Forest of Bavaria at The Adventure Park at Frankenmuth on Weiss Street, – directly behind Bronner’s. Open from 6-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October, but closed on Halloween, the Haunted Forest of Bavaria features ghastly zombies, creepy clowns and a host of other terrifying monsters that are sure to frighten. Designed for kids who are 10 and older, this is a haunted trail the family can explore together. The park will also still be open to climbing during the event, so if you’re not one who enjoys being startled, you’re still able to zip and climb through the trees in the cool evening air.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

When taking a break from the festivities for a world-famous chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, make sure to check out the cleverly costumed scarecrows outside many of the local businesses and vote for your favorite. And speaking of eating, fall is one of the best times to indulge at one of the two famous restaurants as they feature locally grown blue Hubbard squash as the seasonal vegetable and as the key ingredient in their pumpkin pies, which are not only crowd favorites, but great ways to really celebrate the fall harvest.

While the annual holiday celebration, snow lined streets and Christmas cheer will always echo throughout Michigan’s Little Bavaria, make sure to fall into Frankenmuth this autumn for a whole new take on the popular German-themed destination.

What do you plan on doing in Frankenmuth this season?

IMG_8007About the author: Although originally from Arizona, Ashley Smith, Sales and Communications Coordinator for the Frankenmuth Convention & Visitor Bureau, has become an honorary Michigander and loves the Great Lakes state. Be sure to share your favorite memories with the hashtag #MuthMoments and follow Frankenmuth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

Top 5 Day Trips To Take From Detroit

Detroit is known for putting the world on wheels and introducing us to Motownmusic , but did you know that there are great day trips just a short drive away from the city? Read more on these quick Pure Michigan getaways, authored by The Awesome Mitten’s Jennifer Bowman.

Detroit is a phenomenal hub for entertainment: sporting events, concerts, burgeoning restaurants, and more–if it’s at the forefront of urban renaissance, the Motor City’s got it. When visiting or living in an area with so many things to do, however, it can be easy to miss some the other great places that surround us! Whether you’re in Detroit or the metro area, there are numerous day trip options out there for people of all ages and walks of life. Get away for the day with one of these top five picks, all within  a 90-minute drive of Detroit.

1. For History Buffs: Lansing

If you’re looking for somewhere to learn about Michigan’s history, there’s no better place to start than our state capital! Less than an hour and a half from Detroit, Lansing is home to the Michigan Historical Museum, a collection of artifacts and exhibits that range from our state’s first settlers through 20th century wartime efforts, pop culture influences, and more. After browsing everything the museum has to offer (and there’s a lot, so set aside at least a couple of hours), head next door to the adjoining state library and archives (Michigan’s most comprehensive resource for studying government history and personal genealogy!). Follow up with a trip downtown to the architecturally beautiful State Capitol Building for a lesson in Michigan legislature, then cap off your visit in historic REO Town to see the birthplace of the commercial automobile.

The Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

2. For Creative Types: Ann Arbor
When it comes to an artistic community with a flair for all things creative, Ann Arbor is the place to go. Spend time admiring the work of others at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, get hands-on with a class or art party at the Ann Arbor Art Center, or head to town each summer for the widely-popular Ann Arbor Art Fair. There are also countless resources available for makers, including art and stationery supply shops, resale and thrift stores, and other unique finds like The Scrap Box, which allows artists and teachers to give new life to discarded materials. At the end of your day, stop by Zingerman’s for some local, artisanal food and get your dose of artistic performance with an indie flick or film festival at the Michigan Theater or State Theatre. With a multitude of unique options, Ann Arbor brings together several opportunities that will entertain and inspire.

Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3. For Those Who Like To Play Tourist: Frankenmuth
You don’t have to venture out of the country (or state, for that matter) to experience a little slice of Bavarian life! German-inspired Frankenmuth allows you to play tourist without the hassle of a passport. Visit downtown for tons of unique shops–clocks, cheese, fudge, and other souvenirs await–and stop by Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn Restaurant for authentic German dishes or a famous fried chicken dinner.

Of course, no visit to Frankenmuth would be complete without a trip to Bronner’s, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” Finish your holiday shopping early with a few ornaments for family and friends, or pick up a trinket or two for yourself! On the way out of town, stop by one of the local antique stores for an amazing selection of treasures, followed by a trip to Birch Run Outlets for some great deals before hopping back on the interstate.

Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

4. For Nature Lovers: Milford
In addition to a beautiful downtown, Milford provides access to plenty of outdoor trails and water activities. See the best of what this area has to offer at Kensington Metropark, where visitors can explore over 4,400 acres of recreational area by bike, foot, boat, kayak, or canoe. Nature lovers will appreciate fishing, camping, and bird-watching opportunities, while moderate enthusiasts are sure to enjoy picnic and swimming areas, seasonal concerts, paved paths, disc golf, and much more. The best thing about Kensington Metropark, however, is that it’s open all year! In the winter, take part in sledding and cross-country skiing or make the most of frozen water season with ice skating and ice fishing. There’s also a year-round farm center for viewing a slew of cute animals, and educational events such as maple tree tapping tours (complete with live syrup-making demonstrations).

Milford’s Kensington Metropark, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

5. For Your Great Lakes Fix: Lexington
When you’re traveling the Great Lakes State–why not visit a Great Lake? Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, Lexington is an adorable beach town that’s perfect for a day of scenic views and leisure activities. Browse one of several charming shops, grab lunch or dinner at a local eatery, then make your way to one of three public beaches to play in the water. Other attractions include Lexington Park (complete with pavilions, swimming and beach access, restrooms, and playground areas), and Lexington State Harbor, your front seat to boat watching and fantastic sunset viewing. An impressive combination of small town living and the Great Lake “wow” factor, Lexington is a delightful getaway for city and suburban dwellers who need a brief disconnect from the busyness of everyday life.

Calm Waters at Lexington State Harbor, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

What’s your favorite go-to day trip from the Detroit area? Share in the comments!

JenniferBowman

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan in 2011 and has been exploring the state ever since. A marketer and online community manager by day, Jennifer is fascinated with discovering new places and spends her free time traveling and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her adventures, you can follow her on Twitter at @JHBowman or on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes.