FLINT — It sits in a highly visible location, squatting obviously between the convergence of I-75 and US-23 near Flint. Every Michigander who has taken that route up north and back down always knows exactly what you mean when you mention the Redwood Lodge, but — and there’s always a but — “I’ve never managed to stop there.”

Dear rhetorical traveler, you should stop there. Not only will your beer-loving taste buds thank you, your food-loving ones will, too. (All right, taste buds are taste buds, but you get my drift.)

Founded in 1997, the Redwood Lodge Mesquite Grill & Brewpub began life as an upscale dining destination, but through the years and some ownership shakeups, its current incarnation now sits comfortably somewhere between upscale and casual. The “rustic” interior, accentuated with wall trophies and hardwood floors and rafters, is quite large and spacious, with high ceilings and tables and booths to accommodate parties of all sizes, no matter if the party is wearing suits or t-shirts. The bar is long and roomy, with a full complement of spirits and something in the neighborhood of 10 housemade beers (six standard and up to four seasonals) on tap at any given time, along with a “guest” tap or two.

One thing you’ll notice right away are the numerous banners that hang over the bar, trumpeting awards won in competitions by Redwood’s beers. In 2008, Redwood beers took so many medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver that the brewpub also received the “Small Brewery of the Year” award and then-head brewer Bill Wamby was named “Small Brewer of the Year.”

Current head brewer Konrad Connor, an assistant under Wamby, continues to maintain the quality of the beers that put Redwood on the map. Those beers included, at the time of my visit (mid-July), the six regular beers — Redwood Light, Kolsch, Munich Helles, Pale Ale, American IPA and Cream Stout — along with three seasonals: American Lager, Citrus? We Don’t Need No Stinking Citrus Hefeweizen, and English Summer Ale. A fourth seasonal, Northern English Brown Ale, had just run out, and the guest tap was Lindeman’s Framboise.

I had time only for a few beers, but I’ll say if you enjoy kolsch and helles, Redwoods are great examples of each style, relatively light and refreshing with good hoppiness at 4.8% and 5.6% ABV and 22 and 30 IBUs (a measure of a beer’s bitterness) respectively. I never miss a chance to have the helles in particular whenever I drop in for a pint or two; it’s really delicious. The English “Summer Ale” was actually a tasty English bitter, renamed because people who don’t know that English bitters aren’t particularly bitter (18 IBUs for this one) avoided ordering it. (Assistant brewer Dan Case says once they began calling it “Summer Ale,” sales picked up dramatically.) The cream stout was a GABF gold medalist and it’s quite good, but on this visit I eschewed it for its crisper and lighter tapmates.

Redwood’s menu, which by now is probably completely different following an impending revamp, can be a wee bit pricey, reflecting the upscale heritage of the restaurant. But in my limited experience, Redwood’s food remains quite a bit better than what one often encounters at brewpubs. I was assured one of my favorite items, the smoked chicken wings appetizer, would likely remain untouched by the menu revamp. Woo-hoo!

But if you’re reading this, you’re doubtless more interested in beer than food anyway. And if you live close enough to get to Redwood regularly, you’ll definitely want to check out their mug club as well as the Beer Appreciation Society events that take place the second Monday of each month. The cost for the latter is $16 and includes appetizers and samples of a featured beer style that brewer Connor will discuss. (The Society is on summer hiatus, however, with the next event scheduled for Sept. 12.)

The adjoining bar, dubbed the Sequoia Lounge, is less formal than the main dining area and, though it’s billed as a wine and martini place, it also has the same beers as the main bar. Live music and TVs lend a much more cozy “pub” feel to the space, and happy hour from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

So the next time you’re traveling that long highway, why not take a break for a bite and a pint at Redwood? It’s definitely worth the short side trip down the exit ramp.

The Redwood Lodge, 5304 Gateway Center Dr., Flint, (810) 233-8000. Hours (restaurant): Mon. – Thurs., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m. to Midnight; Sat., Noon to Midnight; Sun. Noon to 1 p.m. Hours (Sequoia Lounge): Mon. – Thurs, 11 a.m. to Midnight, Fri., 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sat., 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sun., 3-10 p.m.

This weekend’s 14th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival will feature one new brewer to the lineup — Unity Vibration. The nation’s first pure Kombucha beer, Unity Vibration’s Kombucha is a lightly sparking beverage made with black of green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeasts.

Unity Vibration will have three flavors of brew available at the Summer Beer Festival, including plain, pineapple/ginger and the current seasonal: strawberry rhubarb.

“You feed the Kombucha mushroom the black tea and sugar and it converts most of the sugar,” said Tarek Kanaan of Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea. “This process creates many beneficial acids, enzymes and viable probiotics.”

Kombucha also yields some surprisingly positive side-effects — its anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals help people balance their metabolism, aid in digestion, raise energy levels and even help prevent or heal cancer.

Each Kombucha batch is brewed by hand and infused with healthy, fresh organic ingredients.

Unity Vibration has been in business for about two years, producing non-alcoholic beverages. Last summer, the federal government issued testing for all Kombuchas on the market. Many came in over .5% alcohol — as they are all raw and viable living creations — changes were required.

“We decided to go the route of ‘microbrewery’ to keep all of our products authentic and to not be forced to dealcoholize, said Tarek, who has experience in brewing wine and beer from wild edibles, as well as more traditional ingredients.

Attendees to the Summer Beer Festival will be able to try Kombucha this weekend, July 22-23, at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.

DETROIT — Bell’s Brewery has teamed with Bayview Yacht Club to make this year’s Bayview Mackinac Race available to more than 5 million online viewers, including live broadcast of class starts for the first time.

Each class start broadcasts via streaming video over the Internet during the July 23 event. Following the start of the race, sailing fans — for the third straight year — will be able to monitor the race via the Bell’s and Bayview websites through GPS tracking devices placed on all participating race boats.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase this historic race and the beauty of Michigan to racing sailing fans here and around the world,” Commodore John Burke said. “We typically draw sailors from 22 states and six nations and for the world to be able to watch the starts and then track the boats — well, we think it is pretty spectacular.”

The 2010 Bayview Mackinac Race GPS tracking yielded 4.4 million page views over the three race days.

A major beer producer and the largest based in the Mitten State, Bell’s Brewery is the 2011 title sponsor for the race that starts in Port Huron and ends on Mackinac Island. Bell’s is also the sponsor of GPS tracking and the live webcast of class starts.

Some 220 sailboats ranging in size from 27 feet to 86 feet have registered to participate in the 87th sailing on two separate courses.

“This race is iconic to the State of Michigan and one of its greatest traditions and we at Bell’s Brewery are thrilled to be a part of this phenomenal event,” said Larry J. Bell, President and Founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc. based in Comstock. “It features sailing in the Great Lakes and showcases the natural beauty and fresh water resources that are unique to Michigan. We welcome sailboats and racing teams from Chicago and around the world for this grand event that marks the height of summer in Michigan.”

Race Chairman Charlie Elmer noted that while some 2,500 sailors take part in the annual regatta — with an estimated 100,000 sailing fans and families attending the start in Port Huron — only a select few on authorized boats actually get to see the race start because it takes place in a restricted area about three miles from the Blue Water Bridge and a mile from shore.

Bell’s, most well-known for its Oberon wheat ale and Two-Hearted Ale, has been a Bayview Mackinac Race sponsor since 2009. The brewery produces some 170,000 barrels of beer each year and distributes its products to 18 states.

“Bayview is absolutely thrilled to have a Michigan-based company with the high quality reputation of Bell’s Beer as our title sponsor for this great race,” Burke said. “Many sailors here and throughout the country are familiar with Bell’s Beer and their brands are becoming as iconic as this race.”

According to Elmer, the Bayview Yacht Club website, www.byc.com, draws one million page views for the race — up to 5 million page views are expected for www.bellsbeer.com where the GPS tracking link is located.

From its traditional start in Lake Huron the sailboats will head due north on two separate courses. The shorter course is called the Shore Course and it runs 204 nautical miles along the Michigan shoreline before heading west to Mackinac Island Bell’s Beer Finish line.

Bell’s Brewery celebrated its 25 anniversary in Michigan in September 2010. At that event Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery, announced a $52 million investment over the next five years. For More information on Bell’s Beer visit www.bellsbeer.com.

DETROIT — Bell’s Brewery has teamed with Bayview Yacht Club to make this year’s Bayview Mackinac Race available to more than 5 million online viewers, including live broadcast of class starts for the first time.
Each class start broadcasts via streaming video over the Internet during the July 23 event. Following the start of the race, sailing fans — for the third straight year — will be able to monitor the race via the Bell’s and Bayview websites through GPS tracking devices placed on all participating race boats.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase this historic race and the beauty of Michigan to racing sailing fans here and around the world,” Commodore John Burke said. “We typically draw sailors from 22 states and six nations and for the world to be able to watch the starts and then track the boats — well, we think it is pretty spectacular.”
The 2010 Bayview Mackinac Race GPS tracking yielded 4.4 million page views over the three race days.
A major beer producer and the largest based in the Mitten State, Bell’s Brewery is the 2011 title sponsor for the race that starts in Port Huron and ends on Mackinac Island. Bell’s is also the sponsor of GPS tracking and the live webcast of class starts.
Some 220 sailboats ranging in size from 27 feet to 86 feet have registered to participate in the 87th sailing on two separate courses.
“This race is iconic to the State of Michigan and one of its greatest traditions and we at Bell’s Brewery are thrilled to be a part of this phenomenal event,” said Larry J. Bell, President and Founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc. based in Comstock. “It features sailing in the Great Lakes and showcases the natural beauty and fresh water resources that are unique to Michigan. We welcome sailboats and racing teams from Chicago and around the world for this grand event that marks the height of summer in Michigan.”
Race Chairman Charlie Elmer noted that while some 2,500 sailors take part in the annual regatta — with an estimated 100,000 sailing fans and families attending the start in Port Huron — only a select few on authorized boats actually get to see the race start because it takes place in a restricted area about three miles from the Blue Water Bridge and a mile from shore.
Bell’s, most well-known for its Oberon wheat ale and Two-Hearted Ale, has been a Bayview Mackinac Race sponsor since 2009. The brewery produces some 170,000 barrels of beer each year and distributes its products to 18 states.
“Bayview is absolutely thrilled to have a Michigan-based company with the high quality reputation of Bell’s Beer as our title sponsor for this great race,” Burke said. “Many sailors here and throughout the country are familiar with Bell’s Beer and their brands are becoming as iconic as this race.”
According to Elmer, the Bayview Yacht Club website, www.byc.com, draws one million page views for the race — up to 5 million page views are expected for www.bellsbeer.com where the GPS tracking link is located.
From its traditional start in Lake Huron the sailboats will head due north on two separate courses. The shorter course is called the Shore Course and it runs 204 nautical miles along the Michigan shoreline before heading west to Mackinac Island Bell’s Beer Finish line.
Bell’s Brewery celebrated its 25 anniversary in Michigan in September 2010. At that event Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery, announced a $52 million investment over the next five years. For More information on Bell’s Beer visit www.bellsbeer.com.

ANN ARBOR – Though we’ve come a long way from the attitudes surrounding the stereotypical 1950s housewife, there’s one quaint stereotype about women that persists into our day and age: the one that says ladies don’t like beer.

To help dispel this notion, nearly 100 women attended Sunday night’s “Real Women Drink Beer” event at the tap room of Wolverine State Brewing Co., where they were treated to massages, manicures and pedicures, catered snacks from From the Hearth Foods, live music courtesy of Ru Knoedler, brewery tours, and, of course, plenty of Wolverine beer.

“I love beer; it brings people together,” said Rudi Schwartz, 25, of Clarkston, who studies history at Oakland University and attended with her mother, Doreen. “Really, this country probably wouldn’t even exist without beer because the American Revolution was planned in taverns.”

Schwartz hopes to open a brewery of her own in Clarkston with a former Michigan friend now living in Texas — and the blessing of Doreen. “My friend quit his job to study marketing full time, and I would be in charge of the brewing,” she added.

She and her fellow attendees of various ages and walks of life were able to learn more about brewing and the beer business from special guests like Stacey Block, who brews for Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek, and Ginny Sherrow, who co-owns the Fenton Winery & Brewery and brews with her husband, Matt.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the turnout,” said Block, who noted the mix of women who were already into beer as well as their curious friends who wanted to see what all the fuss is about. “We’ve taken many women back through the brewery for tours, and they’ve been as interested in the process as they are in the product.”

The event was such a success that E.T. Crowe, Wolverine partner and chief marketer, plans to organize more in the future.

“Unfortunately for many women their only real exposure to beer is through the sexist ads directed at the guy standing next to them,” Crowe said. “But we are seeing a definite upswing in women beer drinkers as more and more of them discover beer has flavor — it doesn’t have to be the pale yellow, slightly warm stuff someone hands you in a red plastic cup anymore.”

So what does the future hold for women and beer?

Crowe prefers to look ahead with rose-colored beer goggles. “If we can continue to show women that good beer can offer a huge variety of options in taste — whether it be bitterness, sourness, fruitiness or general fabulousness — I think the sky’s the limit.”