Michigan Cool Brews Offer Winter Warmth

The winter season is upon us and whether you’re warming up after a day in the snow, enjoying a hearty meal or relaxing by the fire, these seasonal brews make the perfect selection to warm you up from the inside out. Guest blogger Dianna Stampfler gives the low-down which Michigan beers are a must-try this season and where to find them.


The Winter Bock lager from Atwater Brewery in Detroit is brewed with imported malts and hops, giving it a rich caramel color and the smooth, sweet flavors of raisins and nuts. Pair this seasonal brew with bold, companion flavors such as roasted or grilled game or pork. www.atwaterbeer.com

white winter ale

The Winter White Ale from Bell’s Brewery Inc. in Kalamazoo offers a lighter, yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley and wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the addition of spices.

Brewed with 100 percent German malt and German noble hops, the Winter Marzen lager from Cheboygan Brewing Co. in Cheboygan is smooth and creamy, with a pronounced malt character. This gold medal winner from the 2013 World Expo of Beer is packaged in six-pack cans.

The rich, sweet, malty flavor of the full-bodied Winter Bock Lager from Frankenmuth Brewery in Frankenmuth boasts caramel and

chocolate notes make it ideal for pairing with desserts as well as wild game, pork, venison, duck, mild sausages and other holiday favorites.


The legendary two-headed bear that roams Northern Michigan is said to be as ferocious as the roiling, storm-driven Great Lakes in a November gale, and yet as gentle as powdery snow draped on a fence line during a sunny winter afternoon. It is in this spirit that North Peak Brewing Co. in Traverse City brews its Berserker Winter Imperial Stout as part of its Grizzly Peak Beer series—a beautiful contrast of dark and rich, with subtle hints of smoothness.

Based in Holland, the rye, roast and raisin notes of New Holland Brewing’s Cabin Fever play off a subtle caramel sweetness, culminating in a dry finish for a smooth-drinking brown ale. It pairs well with roasted meats, dried fruits and smoked cheeses, as well as being suitable for recipes like French onion soup.

Inhabiting the furthest reaches of the snow-covered hills and forests of the Northern Michigan backwoods is a mythical beast that stands nearly as tall as the giant hardwood trees among which it lives. This human-like creature, believed to be a descendent of Sasquatch, (aka Bigfoot), the third-yeti or Abominable Snowman. That, is Burly Belgo IPA from North Peak Brewing Co. in Traverse City.


Winter is the perfect time to enjoy hearty foods like smoked sausages and aged cheeses like Gouda and smoked gruyere. Enter Snow Wizard from Saugatuck Brewing Co. in Saugatuck. This oak-aged imperial brown ale boasts tons of woody flavors while the base brown malt profile provides a huge caramel, coffee and chocolate body with minimal hop bitterness.


Brewed with malted wheat and German weizen yeast strain, the Snow Wheat from Short’s Brewing Co. in Bellaire is a light, clean, easy-drinking hefeweizen. Esters and flavors of bananas and cloves provide a clean finish fitting for a sunny winter day.

In addition to these bottled and canned brews listed above, numerous other Michigan breweries offer up seasonal favorites meant to ward off even the coldest winter day.

Michigan’s brewing history dates back more than 100 years and the Michigan Brewers Guild has been actively promoting its growing list of members since it was formed in 1997.

What is your favorite Michigan seasonal brew?

 Headshot-250x187Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan and is an advocate for her home state!

Become a “Brewsader” with the Grand Rapids Beer City Passport

Grand Rapids is many things- one of USA TODAY’s Top Ten Best Beer Towns, #6 on Livability’s 10 Best Beer Cities, and the winner of the Beer City USA vote in the final year of the competition in 2013.  It can now add ‘Home of the Brewsader’ to that list of accolades as Experience Grand Rapids pilots GR’s first ever Beer City Passport experience.

What’s a “Brewsader”?

Front Cover TM

Brewsader is a brand new term coined by the inventors of the passport.  It refers to a person who is an advocate, enthusiast, and imbiber of great beer, on a never ending quest for the perfect brew.  This has come to describe not just locals, but also the 13,000 annual visitors coming to the city annually just for beer.

“Beer tourism has been a key contributing factor in the tourism growth we have seen the past few years,” said Janet Korn, CTA, Senior Vice President of EXGR. “The Beer City Passport will give beer enthusiasts a new way of documenting and experiencing the Grand Rapids beer scene.”  Brewsader status is earned during the completion of the Beer City Passport challenge.

How does the Passport do this?

The passport, which is actually passport-sized, includes 35 pages of valuable Beer City information.  Visitors can see what area hotels offer as Beer Experience Packages, how to brewery hop responsibly, and where some of GR’s finest beers can be found.

There are 23 participating breweries marked on the passport and the challenge is to visit 8 of them by October 2016.  As you taste and try new breweries, you will get your passport stamped by your brewer/pubtender/server!  With eight stamps, Brewsaders can either mail in their passport information sheet or visit the GOSite in the Downtown Destination Neighborhood to exchange the Brewsader page for a t-shirt!

T Shirt TM

5 Things to know about the Beer City Passport:

1. It’s free!  You can pick one up starting Monday, October 19th at any participating brewery or at the GOSite in downtown GR.

2. Participants must be aged 21 and up and can all receive a free Brewsader t-shirt after visiting just 8 out of 23 breweries on the map.

3. The enthusiast’s app Untappd has released a Brewsader badge for any beer lover who drinks five GR area brews.

4. The Beer City Passport pairs wonderfully with the Beer City Ale Trail Map- this map is a comprehensive look at the craft beverage locations all over West Michigan!

5. Grand Rapids is the perfect place to start or continue your never ending quest for the perfect brew- Go forth and enjoy the craft beer this city has to offer!

Beer city map

What do you love most about Grand Rapid’s beer scene?

Four Pure Michigan Ways to Spoil Yourself For Singles Appreciation Day

Now’s your chance to spoil yourself! Our friends at The Awesome Mitten share four fun and delicious ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day’s counterpart –  Singles Appreciation Day.

Being single doesn’t mean you have to stay home on February 14th – Valentine’s Day can and should be celebrated by singles!

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick's Fudge

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick’s Fudge

Michigan provides many opportunities to enjoy single life. Of course, there are many Michigan winter outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or ice fishing to occupy your time. If that’s your thing gather up your group of girlfriends or buddies, bundle yourself up and spend your day in the brisk Michigan winter. I am not what you would call “outdoorsy,” but I still can get a mad case of cabin fever and mid-February is often when that reaches its peak.  If you prefer the indoors, Michigan provides just as many opportunities to treat yourself.

Spoil Yourself with Michigan Chocolates
If you are going to stay in, invite your friends over and treat yourselves to some classic Valentine’s Day Michigan chocolates. My personal favorite is Jackson’s Gilbert’s Chocolates  (mmm I could really go for some chocolate covered potato chips right now.)

The Chocolate Garden is another Michigan favorite that beckons travelers along I-94. With billboards featuring accolades from the likes of the Food Network, I had to stop. When I tasted those delicious truffles, I was amazed at the quality of this seemingly roadside attraction (They sell online too!)

Another popular Valentine activity is to drown our single sorrows in some Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream.  Make it a true Michigan sundae with a little Sander’s Hot Fudge on your Hudsonville Ice Cream.

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Chocolate also pairs well with Michigan wine! Mindo Chocolate does wine pairing events including wine festivals which is where I first tasted these delicious dark specialties, including a few varieties with Michigan fruit. They do not have a storefront, but they are distributed in great little shops around Michigan. I know in my neighborhood they are available at Lone Oak Vineyard Estate.  Speaking of alcohol…

Go Out for a Drink…
Choose your favorite Michigan wine or beer, of course! A tour on a Michigan wine or beer trail is just what a group of single girls or guys needs to have a good time this Valentine’s Day.

I’ve taken several tours along the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail both with friends and with family. Pro Tip: pack some bread and cheese or stop at your local farmers market on the way and snack between stops. It’s a great way to soak up some alcohol and make your trip a little more delicious. Weaving your way from Adrian in the south to Haslett in the North is at least a two day activity in order to hit them all, but my personal favorites are Sandhill Crane Vineyards and J. Trees Cellars.

I just went on a mini beer tour in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago with a stop at Brewery Vivant and Arcadia. Of course, Founders is usually a requisite stop for me. Near my home, I’ve also made a mini tour right along I-94 with Dark Horse, Grand River and Chelsea Alehouse.

Sandhill Crane - Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Sandhill Crane – Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Eat Your Way through Michigan
Although restaurants maybe booked up for dinner, that doesn’t mean a nice singles awareness lunch tour couldn’t satisfy a friends’ trip. Most of my favorites are around my hometown of Jackson, including a few award winning Jackson restaurants  including Michigan’s Best Barbeque at West Texas BBQ.

Work Off the Food with a Dance Party
Since I’m not the outdoorsy type, I have to find some way to work off all of that chocolate, beer, wine and food. There are many great Michigan nightlife hotspots to choose from all over the state. If shaking your booty on the dance floor isn’t your thing, there is always an evening at the casinos or another of my personal favorites, karaoke!

Whether single or taken, we love our fans! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Headshot 1 originalRebecca Calkins is the Communications Director for Experience Jackson. She grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, Rebecca enjoys cooking and traveling, always looking for the next culinary or cultural adventure.