Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Third Coast: A Mecca for Craft Beer Lovers

Quick quiz for you: Which U.S. State has the second longest coast line?  Bet you'd never guess it's Michigan, unless you grew up in the Midwest.  Often derisively referred to as "fly over country" by east and west coast types, Michigan is a jewel of a state placed smack in the middle of the country, and lined with white sandy beaches and pristine turquoise water -- and lots of it.  In fact, the Great Lakes region of the U.S. holds more than 20% of the earth's entire supply of fresh water.  And to visit it in the summer time, as I recently did, is to take an unexpected beach vacation in the midst of America's heartland.

The Caribbean, or Michigan?

Boasting 400 foot tall sand dunes left over from the last Glacier Age, crystal clear water, and small beach town after small beach town (at least during the summer), Michigan is surrounded by beautiful and very accessible white sand beaches.  In fact, Michigan was a complete revelation to this particular traveler.  Yes, the water was a bit chilly -- but refreshing is probably a more apt description, at least for this South Floridian.  And the sunsets over Lake Michigan, as viewed from Traverse City, rivaled those in Key West and Naples, Florida....

Pristine sand dunes in the middle of the country?  Who knew?

Crystal clear water.  Lake Michigan is...Unsalted.

One thing which may not surprise you, though, is that the Midwest is home to some of America's most renowned breweries.  But it's no longer the big Midwestern producers like Budweiser and Miller who are setting the pace, it's the much smaller craft brewers from the same region who are at the forefront of the revolution occuring in the U.S. beer industry. And some of the very best of these small Midwestern brewers call Michigan home.  Yes, if you like craft beer, you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to vacation in than the Great Lakes State.

Over the next few weeks and months, you'll be reading multiple reviews of beers produced by some of Michigan's finest brewers: The Jolly Pumpkin, Founders Brewing, Bell's Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing, North Peak Brewing, and my personal favorite, Short's Brewing. Michigan has an embarrasment of riches in the craft beer department -- their brewers are damned good and gaining a steady reputation for producing some of the very best beer in this great country.  The state has a thriving brew culture, where the art of craft beer is rightfully celebrated and the locals are extremely knowledgeable and discerning regarding their beer. 

So come along for the ride.  I invite you to kick back, pop a top, and join me over the next few weeks as farlieonfootie explores Michigan beer in all its glory.  Cheers!

This is farlieonfootie for July 12.

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