Welcome to another fine Michigan summer! Pack accordingly, meaning on any given weekend you might need: Swimwear, sunscreen, bug spray, flip flops, sweat shirt, sweat pants, insulated rain coat, wool socks, parka.
But we love it, don’t we? The warm days and cool evenings by a fire pit. It’s what makes our Great Beer State so special. Of course, I am the type who will get a little peeved when faced with a Fourth of July weekend of rain and barely 60-degree temps. I feel entitled to a beautiful summer. It is my reward for surviving the winter of snow, ice, cold and grey skies from November through, oh, May.
But enough whining. Let’s talk about using this particular summer as a great excuse to expand your beer palate a bit. It’s a well-known and documented fact that Michigan is home to many quintessential summer beers. Bell’s has done an excellent job crafting an easy drinking summer wheat ale and an even better job positioning themselves all over the place with their stylish blue and orange colors. It belongs on any national top 10 beers of summer list (and has been on several I’ve seen).
Another Michigan-based brew I love in the summer is from Arcadia Ales. Whitsun, an unfiltered wheat from this Battle Creek brewery has just been added to the “Cans are Cool” craft beer trend. I had my first one from a can just yesterday. But pour it into a glass first…Whitsun is a lovely orange-hued brew that is a real thirst quencher.
In the interest of full disclosure let me reveal that I lived overseas for many years, and had friends who lived in Koln, Germany, home of the Kolsch beer. I had my fair share of this style in beer gardens, restaurants and friends’ patios. I’m fairly partial to it, especially on a hot summer day.
Right here in Michigan you can get a darn good version of the style from New Holland Brewing. Full Circle Kolsch is a beautiful bright yellow color, with just enough hops to avoid blandness. It’s a great addition to anyone’s beer fridge, and makes for a nice option for guests who want to drink beer (’cause it’s what we cool kids do’), but prefer something “lite” and you would just as soon toss them out on their ear than serve them anything that has “lite” in the name.
Founders Brewing has a limited release beer called Cerise that I tried last year and am eager to stock in my beer fridge . I love cherries. This beer is crafted by adding fresh cherries at several stages of fermentation, which gives it a perfect balance between pucker-up tart and “just enough fruit that I can still say I don’t drink fruit beer.”
And finally to the IPAs. The India Pale Ale variety of beer, in this gal’s humble opinion, can turn your average Michigan summer day into glowing, hoppy perfection, but I am an avowed hop head so…which one to choose? We all have our favorites.
From my own brewer’s delicious Insolent Mink, out to Marshall for the complex Crooked Tree, over to the Famous One in Kalamzoo (which is a staple I will tell you in my own summer beer cooler), back out to New Holland with the Mad Hatter and around to Founders with Centennial…my absolute favorite this summer is: Huma-Lupa-Licious from Short’s Brewing in Bellaire. The citrus makes me swoon.
And in the interest of further disclosure and absolute shameless promotion I will mention that my own beer: The Wench’s West Side Wheat will be a lovely addition to your Wolverine Tap Room visit. Crafted by myself, guided gently and more or less patiently by my brewer, this is one of our top sellers right now over on West Stadium in Ann Arbor.
So there you have it. Wench’s favorite summer brews.
And remember, it’s one reason we have such amazing, famous and well-known beers in this state: We gotta have them in order to ignore how much the weather is screwing us!
Bring the bug spray! I’ve got the beer cooler.