By Liz Crowe
By now you probably realize (or you already knew) that I write these highly scintillating, oh-so-educational, boozy missives for the folks at Brick Mag a few weeks ahead of time. Under pre-March 2020 circumstances, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, we are living in, as so many deep-pocketed corporations keep reminding us, “challenging times.”
I mean, really guys? Maybe come up with something new?
Anyways, as we are existing in these Extreme Quarantimes, when we don’t know from state to state what we can do with ourselves, much less what day of the week it is, it makes it a bit tough for yours truly to concoct something useful about booze in August without knowing what tomorrow may bring. I thought about pointing you in the direction of supporting breweries that are selling beers to support others — healthcare workers, post office staff, whatever. But by the time you read this, for all I know we’ll be growing all our own food, sending missives by smoke signal, and converting our cars into germ-free zones for brewing our own beer.
Challenging times, indeed.
Instead I’ve decided to take a quick look at some of my personal favorite Michigan beers, both old and new, that might get you through August. Of course, for those of you with small children who’ve been at your feet since March, you might be reaching for something stronger. I will say, by way of general rule-of-thumb for me with beer lately, I’m not as into the super-hopped or even juicy/hazy options. I also am not a fan of overly sweet chocolate or vanilla flavors (unless it’s the Neapolitan Stout from Saugatuck Brewing, which is sheer perfection).
Let’s start with a few summer classics that always bring a smile to my face when I see them on draught on the shelf while I’m trying not to look like I just went the wrong way down the one-way beer aisle at the grocery (and simultaneously attempting not to breathe too heavy into my mask so as to not fog up my glasses). As of this writing in late May, all the beers listed below are available either in stores or for pickup at the brewery named.
Raspberry Tarty Slip (5% ABV) from Drafting Table Brewing in Wixom is a delightful, unique take on a traditional Berliner Weisse beer, which is a low-alcohol, cloudy, sour beer, low in hops. One of my favorite styles made even better with the addition of raspberries.
Functional White Ale from New Holland Brewing is a low-cal, 3.7% ABV option — something breweries are working hard at concocting in the face of the Dreaded Seltzer Invasion. This one is worth a try as it comes from one of the best breweries in the state, in this drinker’s humble opinion. It’s brewed with coconut water, raw honey, and oranges and offers something new, different, and refreshing on a hot Michigan afternoon.
The Three Lord Kolsch from Witch’s Hat Brewing in South Lyon takes on the challenge of crafting a sneakily difficult style — and knocks it out of the park. This is again one of my favorite styles (yes, there is a trend. Yes, they’re mostly German). At 4.5% ABV, it’s something you can take in (super cool-looking) cans out on the boat while staying six feet apart and enjoy more than one in the sun.
Oh! The Citranity! from Beard’s Brewing in Petoskey is, quite frankly, worth the trip. It comes in at 4.9% ABV with a near-perfect American IPA-style bitterness (a not too much/just right kind of thing) that will match perfectly with your August bbq plans. They’ve just begun distributing out into the state, so it’s a lot easier to find these days.
I think I’ve probably mentioned this one before, and if so, forgive me but it’s that good. Cucumber Lime Gose (4.4%ABV) from Arbor Brewing in Ypsilanti is one of the most delicious products of the gose craze I’ve had. Brewed with a skosh of flaked sea salt and the requisite lime peel and cukes, it’s technically a kettle sour style, but don’t let that put you off. It’s as refreshing as summer beer gets!
Cherry Bomb from Austin Brothers Brewing in Alpena is one of those “love it or hate it” things (as I find with most drinks that have cherries involved). But the delicious, crisp, pilsner base gives the cherries something to cling to as it were, and the combination is something worth trying. It’s 5.1% ABV in keeping with summer styles, meant to be “session-able,” or as some beer folk say, “crushable.” In English that means you can drink more than a couple at a time, and while I wouldn’t recommend driving home after that, you can definitely kill it at the after-bonfire Euchre tourney.
Summertime always brings out the Mexican lager options. Some are better than others. I found one that I highly recommend from Eastern Market Brewing in Detroit. Appropriately named “Cerveza del Mercado,” this is one easy drinking yet hoppy-ish lager that you will love. The Mexican part is actually the yeast, which gives one of the most crisp, refreshing finishes you’ll find in a lager. Go on, toss in a lime. It’s even better that way!
The Helles Lager (5.5%ABV) from Old Nation should be a part of any Michigan summer beer party. Helles styles are lightly sweet with a dry finish and this brewery, now-famous for the “juicy/hazy” phenomenon in IPAs, nails this more subtle style with perfection.
No Michigan summer beer list is complete without Apricot Dank Juice from Odd Side Ales. It seems odd (no pun intended) to enjoy a drink that’s dank, but this one is a killer combination of sweet and bitter with a creamy mouthfeel (English translation: it’s kind of like drinking a milkshake, only it’s not a milkshake). It’s fun, and available in cans.
Finally, I have to give homage to what I now personally consider the Queen of Michigan summer beers: El Ligero from Griffenclaw. You might have surmised that it’s a Mexican lager (made with Mexican yeast). The lime is included, and it’s unobtrusive enough that you’ll be all “what IS that I’m tasting?” It’s only 4.5% ABV and available in cans in most Michigan stores. Go find some and get out there and enjoy…whatever is happening when you read this.
Cheers to summer beers, Michigan-style!
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, brewery founder, beer and wine consultant, and avid sports fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales, public relations, and fundraising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse, all of which provide ongoing idea fodder for novels and other projects. She helped found and is the current president of Fermenta Michigan, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and employment of women in the fermented industries.
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