Craft Beer Countdown: 15 Can’t-Miss Lansing Area Hangouts

Today, guest blogger Ryan Ranspach from “I’m a Beer Hound” counts down 15 can’t-miss craft beer hot spots in the Greater Lansing area. 

Michigan’s craft beer culture has expanded dramatically over the last decade. While the Capitol area has only two full time brewing operations in Eagle Monk on the west side of Lansing and Bad Brewery in downtown Mason, there are an abundance of tremendous craft beer bars. Here’s our list of 15 fantastic places to enjoy a beer when you’re in greater Lansing.

15. Nuthouse Sports Grill–Rounding out our list is the catch-all sports bar located across the street from Cooley Law School Stadium, home of Lansing’s minor league baseball team, the Lugnuts. The Nuthouse has a fairly large, solid menu of bar food and plenty of space to watch a game. While still offering great game day specials on domestics, they have considerably expanded their commitment to having a variety of craft beers on tap from Michigan and beyond.

14. The Draft House–Located outside Dewitt on Old US 27, this quaint and dimly lit bar is a hidden gem of the area. The decor is that of an old barn complete with a grain trading board (used now as a way to track who has drinks bought for them from friends), old farming implements, and a cow’s head blithely mounted above the kitchen entrance. They have fantastic food with daily specials and a good selection of rotating craft taps.

13. The State Room–The restaurant inside the Kellogg Center on MSU’s campus has a surprisingly expansive craft beer list to go with their Encyclopedic wine list. They offer daily and weekly draft specials along with a wide selection of bottles, and their menu is outstanding and imaginative. Often forgotten being inside a hotel, this is one the area’s premier dining locations and also a perfect place to enjoy a relaxing pint after work.

12. Dusty’s Tap Room–Seeing the growing popularity in the craft beer culture, Okemos’ iconic Dusty’s Cellar and Wine Bar built a relaxing, up-scale pub adjoining their restaurant. With a solid draft & cocktail menu and food options to suit all appetites large and small, the Tap Room is a welcomed escape from the chain restaurants in and around the mall. Dusty’s has always been successful, and it’s no surprise that Tap Room has thrived over the last several years.

11. Woody’s Oasis Bar & Grill–On Grand River in downtown East Lansing, Woody’s Oasis Bar & Grill offers Mediterranean food just like their several deli locations around town. What sets the bar & grill apart is just that, a good sized bar with a good selection of Michigan and other craft beers as well as daily food specials. Affordable, delicious, and friendly, this is a good spot near campus to enjoy a drink without the craziness of some of the nearby college bars.

10. Midtown Beer Company–Holding the torch as downtown Lansing’s only true brewery, MBC has done a good job of re-branding themselves over the last couple years. It is a friendly pub with good bar food and a drink list devoted to Michigan beers and spirits, and they always one or two of their own beers on rotating taps. They have a great burger special on Mondays and other deals throughout the week.

9. Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern–Zoobie’s in Lansing’s Old Town district was the first bar in town to get a liquor license after the 21st Amendment ended prohibition. After being vacant for several years, it just recently reopened with a cool, retro atmosphere that aims to capture the old neighborhood bar days of the 1950′s. Though the food menu is limited to bar snacks, the beer and cocktail list is outstanding and makes this a great spot to grab a drink before or after dinner.

8. Taps 25–Taps 25 is a small and friendly bar located across from the Lansing Center and just down the street from the State Capitol. They have exactly 25 beers on tap which are listed on a large and well-organized TV monitor at the back corner of the bar. Situated next to a carry-out taco joint and nearby all that downtown has to offer, this is another spot to grab a beer at for happy hour or after dinner.

7. REO Town Pub–The neighborhood pub on South Washington near downtown Lansing wears a lot of hats. While having a diverse and loyal group of regulars, they also hold a delicious grilled steak special each Wednesday and frequently partner with the I’m a Beer Hound project to hold exclusive beer tasting events and area festivals. The Pub’s friendly atmosphere and commitment to helping spur growth in the area makes it a local favorite to enjoy after-work drinks at.

6. Harrison Roadhouse–The Roadhouse sits on Michigan Avenue in the shadow of MSU’s campus and all its major sports stadiums. Being a quick (though brisk in the winter) walk to just about any Spartan event, it has long been a favorite gathering place for fans, students, and alumni. A few years ago they vastly expanded their draft system allowing them to offer almost 30 beers on tap, the majority of them being Michigan and other craft beers. They also have great drink specials every day and a cozy patio for the summer months.

5. Reno’s Sports Bars (East & West)–With locations on both ends of town, the Reno’s Sports Bars have two of the largest draft beer systems in the entire area. They both feature huge food & drink menus, dozens of TV’s, and video game rooms. In terms of being customer-oriented, the Reno’s franchise has really stuck the landing on meshing a successful sports bar theme with an enthusiastic support for craft beer, and it has them near the top of the list for beer enjoyment in the area.

4. Beggar’s Banquet–Now in their 40th of year of business, Beggar’s Banquet remains in the pantheon of East Lansing dining and watering holes. They have endured changing times by continuing to serve fantastic food and drink at fair prices without pretenses or snobbery. Like many other places in the area, they have remodeled their bar and expanded their draft list substantially in the last few years. This redux has given the iconic restaurant a whole new dimension in terms of enjoyment and has made them one of the best places area for pints, snacks, and dinner. “Gimme Eat!”

3. Crunchy’s–Open since 1982 (originally serving only Stroh’s on tap), Crunchy’s is one of the premier beer bars in the area. They have 27 taps that rotate frequently and include some of the best micro brews from around the country. Their commitment to beer is matched by their commitment to keeping their bar as a hole-in-the-wall, come-as-you-are kind of place. In addition to serving solid and cheap bar food, when a limited release beer comes to the market, Crunchy’s is always among the first to serve it. This charming dive bar is a must-visit when you are in East Lansing.

2. HopCat East Lansing–Just recently opened, HopCat has stormed the gates of the Lansing area beer scene. Their original location, a smaller and quainter version of this one, has long been voted by beer enthusiasts and Beer Advocate as one of the best beer bars in the world. The new East Lansing property features a gaudy 100 beer taps as well as an extensive bottle list. Their menu is concise yet well-rounded and the space, while quite large, is still comfortable. This was an outstanding addition for Lansing beer enthusiasts and should be for many years to come.

1. Soup Spoon Cafe–No drumroll needed here. This is one of the best places to eat delicious, locally sourced food and drink hand-crafted beer in the area. Located near Sparrow Hospital on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Soup Spoon has gone from a greasy spoon breakfast joint to one of the premier dining establishments in town. Their menu features dishes for all appetites and budgets, and they serve only Michigan beer on tap. If you love craft beer, and there is only one place you visit to eat and drink at in Lansing, definitely try Soup Spoon.

Where do you like to go to grab a Michigan craft brew? 

Ryan Ranspach writes for several websites including I’m a Beer Hound. Originally from the Detroit area, he now lives with his wife in Lansing. Having a wide range of interests, both work and recreation give him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Michigan experiencing all the great things the state has to offer. His blog is available here.

Get in the Holiday Spirit at Lansing Silver Bells in the City

Holiday lighting celebrations are setting cities aglow all across the state. Guest blogger Lori Lanspeary of the Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us what to expect at Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City

What’s It All About?

Once a year, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, downtown Lansing pulls out all the stops and invites the residents of Michigan to kick off the holiday season in style with the state’s premier event, Silver Bells in the City. Join thousands of people on Friday, November 22nd and enjoy the crowd-pleasing Electric Light Parade followed by the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a jaw-dropping fireworks display that lights up the sky behind the Capitol dome. Rounding out the evening, to the delight of tweeny boppers everywhere, find up-and-coming musical Radio Disney artists Macy Kate and the boy band IM5 performing live on the steps of the Capitol.

A Bit of Background…

What began as a luminary-lit community sing led by Lansing’s mayor back in 1984 has grown into an event with millions of lights, over 50 live performances throughout the city and dozens of activities at local arts and cultural institutions. A small Santa parade was introduced on the Saturday morning of Silver Bells weekend in 1995 which has now evolved into the Electric Light Parade in which each float in the parade is required to have at least 5,000 lights adorning it. This year there will be 62 float entries and 11 marching bands to dazzle the crowds.

The State of Michigan’s participation in Silver Bells in the City started in 1987 with the first tree being selected, harvested, and delivered to the State Capitol. This year’s 71 foot blue spruce tree was donated by John and Barbara Waara of Iron River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It travelled 460 miles from their backyard to the State Capitol and is the 19th state Christmas tree to be selected from the UP and the 28th tree overall. The other nine that have graced the Capitol lawn have come from the Lower Peninsula. The tree will be adorned with 4,500 to 5,000 LED lights and lit for the first time during Silver Bells. It traditionally stays in place until the New Year and is a favorite spot to take family photos throughout the holiday season.

Get There!

The electric light parade steps off from the corner of Hillsdale Avenue at 6 p.m. and heads north on Washington Avenue, turning west on Ottawa Street then heads south on Capitol Avenue, passing in front of the State Capitol Building.

Free parking is available the night of Silver Bells in the City in all City of Lansing owned parking ramps during the event beginning at 5:00 p.m.. Free parking is also available at 5:00 p.m. in the Lansing Community College parking ramp, State of Michigan locations including the State of Michigan Roosevelt ramp (corner of Ottawa and Seymour), State of Michigan parking lots behind the Hall of Justice off of Ottawa and Allegan, Lewis Cass Lot off of Kalamazoo Street and the lots South of the Michigan Historical Museum off of Kalamazoo St.

Lansing’s Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) also offers Silver Bells transportation. Ride for just 50 cents round trip fare when you board a Silver Bells bus route or use your CATA fixed-route pass. Children 42 inches and under ride for free.

Make a Weekend of It!

Many downtown businesses are offering extended hours to accommodate the crowds who would like dine, shop, and visit local attractions! Reservations are strongly encouraged for those looking to dine downtown as most locations fill up quickly!

Book an overnight stay and enjoy the weekend. For overnight accommodations, shopping ideas, dining options and other weekend events, visit

Will you be attending Silver Bells in the City this year? 

Lori Lanspeary, CTA is the leisure marketing manager at the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau and writes a weekly blog titled Lori in Lansing.  After living in multiple cities in Ontario, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, she is proud to call Michigan, and specifically Lansing her home.

Explore Michigan Weather at the Michigan Historical Center

What’s your favorite season? No matter how you answer, the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing has you covered with its new exhibit which explores Michigan weather in all seasons! Today, chief curator Maria Leiby gives us the inside scoop. 

These relics are from The Rockaway, which sank in November 1891 off of South Haven while hauling lumber from Ludington to Benton Harbor. All hands were rescued.

The exhibit takes its title, Lake Effects, from a major influence on our weather—the Great Lakes that surround us. Weather systems generally approach Michigan from the west or south, but the lakes add interesting twists in all seasons.

The Lake Effects exhibit is open now until Aug. 24, 2014 at the Michigan Historical Center.

This lightning rod was once on top of the Traverse City State Hospital.

Everyone who’s ever lived in Michigan, from Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to school kids today has paid attention to the weather. In addition to information about earlier ways of predicting the weather, the exhibit looks at how Michiganians’ work and play are weather-influenced. Artifacts as varied as early spouts for collecting maple sap, a lightning rod from the Traverse City State Hospital, hunting decoys and a circa 1970 brown-and-orange snowmobile suit build a seasonal mosaic that gives visitors of all ages opportunities to learn, reminisce and tell family stories.

The exhibit also focuses on memorable weather events from Michigan’s past. Survivors of the tragic Great Lakes storm of November 1913 may have passed from the scene, but you might know someone who remembers the heat wave of 1936, one of Lansing’s numerous 20th century floods or an opening day at Tiger Stadium when the weather was actually spring-like!

This small child's sled was made in 1910 by an employee of Durant-Dort Carriage Company, in Flint, for his grandson.

Younger visitors can offer a weather report or forecast at a magnetic weather map or dress a magnetic figure for the weather — actual or hoped for. A full slate of programming beginning in December includes monthly family sessions on second Saturdays, a spring kite festival and an exploration of extreme weather.

The museum also invites you to share photos of your Michigan weather experiences on our Flickr page. Send them to with the photo title in the subject line. You can include the story in the body of the message.

For more information about visiting the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing, including admission fees and hours of operation, go to Admission to Lake Effects is included in the regular admission price each day. While at the Center, don’t forget to visit the museum’s store for several Michigan-related books and gift options.

What do you love about Michigan weather? 

Maria Leiby is the chief curator of the Michigan Historical Museum.