We love summer, and we love the beers that define it for us. Below are just a few beers we thought you all would like to check out and drink before this balmy season comes to a close.

Sparkle from Petoskey Brewing

summer beerThere’s barely a head on this golden, clear-as-crystal beer. It’s the epitome of summer drinking in my glass, because Petoskey Brewing decided to make their ‘Sparkle’ beer a Classic American Lager.

A whiff of crackers, some bread crust, grassy hops, and I’m on my way to tasting this little number. I receive a pleasant twinge of sweetness before a drying effect settles in. I’m left with a balancing, barely-there bitterness to round it out. A simple and to the point kind of a beer. Prepare yourself for true pleasure by pairing this summer quencher with seafood of the crustacean variety.

Even better, this beer comes in a  pint sized can, which means bringing this beer along when heading to the lake is a must.


Cake Walk from Right Brain Brewery

A cake walk, hey? AND it’s a Vanilla Cream Ale? Don’t mind if I do…

SummerBeer (6)Lovingly subtle Madagascar vanilla is in the nose, which is enveloped mostly by the aroma of corn. They suggest a “floral” note on the bottle and I don’t disagree, what with me thinking of lavender and lilies when I smelled it.

The mouthfeel is to die for! Incredibly smooth and pillowy, I gulp the beer down and find an explosive, yet not overwhelming, vanilla note. This dies down into the remnants of corn characteristic, and eventually into a lingering, small sense of bitterness.  It’s not sweet, but rather crisp. A very welcome thing on a hot day.

I’d explore this beer with cold cucumber soup, crab, or a béchamel and white cheddar grilled cheese.


Power of Love from Short’s Brew

SummerBeer (2)This, my friends, is a shandy-style ale. They chose to utilize rosemary and raspberry lemonade, and man, does it ever remind me of eating red popsicles in the summer while sitting on my mom’s lap. I’d get occasional whiffs of the American style lager she was drinking, and this shandy ale here brings those two scents together once again. No wonder they called it “Power of Love.”

As expected, the lemonade, raspberry, and rosemary scents make their way into my nose. I sip a bit and stagger a little at the sweetness, though it does make me want to freeze this beer in an ice tray and eat it as a popsicle….

A tiny bit of bitterness escapes at the very end, letting you know this is still part beer after all. It’s bright, fruity, sweet, and the perfect pairing with lemon basil chicken salad.


Tasmanian Hatter from New Holland Brewing Company

12oz-TasmanianHatter_Label_2015It’s an aroma bomb of dank, garlic, juicy mango and pineapple hops.  So far so good, now let’s dive in.

This ‘Galaxy India Pale Ale’ is punchy as all hell in the nose, but transforms itself into a sweet, bitter, and chewy beer that focuses on mouthfeel. It’s well rounded, flavorful, yet doesn’t feel disorganized.

Tasmanian Hatter can go in many directions with pairing, but I’d especially save this one for a roast rabbit with mango chutney or brisket tacos with pineapple slaw on a corn tortilla.



Mackinac Island Fudge Stout from Arbor Brewing Company

SummerBeer (4)What better way to end a meal in the summer than with a hot fudge sundae? Let’s re-create our own by pouring a little of this brew onto some ice cream and relish in the fact that chocolate beer and ice cream are a classic hit for a reason.

Here we are then, with the dark brown brew that is the Mackinac Island Fudge Stout. It’s got medium body, a little bit of acidity, and a creamy chocolate (almost tootsie roll candy) flavor that emerges in the flavor and aroma. Not overbearing or dense, this beer is a great way to get your chocolate fix even on the warmest of days.

You should also consider using this beer in a recipe for braised pulled chicken with beer mole sauce, using this fudge stout for the mole sauce.

Get out there, enjoy your continuing palate exploration, and live up the rest of the 2016 summer with season-perfect brews.


 4.1% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Golden brown with small head
Aroma: Subtle notes of rye and hops
Taste: Rye with citrus and floral hop finish
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a smooth finish

Our homage to the original Petoskey Sparkle brewed by Petoskey Brewing from 1898 until 1915. Wheat and four special malts combine with three different types of hops to create a super clean, easy drinking lager.

6.9% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Deep red with thin head
Aroma: Sweet and spicy with notes of dark fruit and caramel
Taste:  Sweet with light malt flavor
Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with rich texture

A deep reddish, malty, and complex Belgian style ale. Six different types of malted barley, Belgian candied syrup and Belgian yeast are combined to produce a very smooth, complex and slightly sweet ale.

9.1% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Clear amber with off-white head
Aroma: Earthy with notes of citrus with pine
Taste: Citrus, pine and lots of hops
Mouthfeel:  Bitterness that smooths with slight caramel sweetness

Hold on to your taste buds and make sure you have a designated driver! This mouth-exploding Double IPA starts with a unique citrus aroma provided by a 100% Simcoe dry hop. The high bitterness is slightly toned down by the caramel sweetness imparted by the large quantities of malted barley needed to achieve such a high ABV. 

7.0% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Midnight black
Aroma: Hazelnut with strong notes of dark chocolate
Taste: Smooth coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate
Mouthfeel: Very full-bodied

Locally-made Kilwins dark chocolate was added to this special small-batch stout.  Smooth, yet complex with flavors of coffee, hazelnut and, of course, chocolate.

PETOSKEY — If you’ve been to Northern Michigan and have ever driven on M-119 north of Petoskey, you’ve passed the building numerous times — whether you were going to Harbor Springs in the summer to shop, the “Tunnel of Trees” in the fall to see the orange and yellow in the leaves or Nub’s Nob in the winter to shred the slopes.

If you looked to the right, it was always there, towering over the highway. For a while, it sat empty — a majestic structure with no purpose; however, after nearly a century, Petoskey Brewing has reclaimed its territory.


It began in the late 1800s. The Old Brewery, as it was called, was used to brew Petoskey Sparkle beer. According to the Petoskey Brewing website, the building was shaped by the brewing process of the time. At four stories tall, the brewery relied on gravity to move water, wort and beer through the production process, starting at the fourth floor with a large water tank, moving to the third floor where fire-brewing took place, and then down to the second and first floor where fermentation and packaging occurred.

In 1915, the brewery closed when the county was voted dry four years prior to prohibition. It’s been a while since then, though, and it was time to restore it to its rightful purpose.

Owners Patrick Dowd and Lou Gostinger met in 2009 after they had both sold their previous businesses and decided to make the Petoskey and Harbor Springs area their full-time residences. Their idea for the brewery grew from their interest in drawing others to the area, along with a couple acts of fate.

“The fact we had one of Michigan’s oldest brewery buildings in our backyard, and it was for sale, only added fuel to our idea,” Dowd said. “The earth, moon and stars aligned in 2012 when we purchased and renovated the ‘old Petoskey brewery’ building and hired our talented head brewer, Brett Emanuel.”

Although the restoration process was challenging, the brewery maintains modernity with the vintage appearance of the old building.

“Our goal was to preserve the natural character of the building while making it a comfortable place to enjoy a beer,” Dowd said.


Petoskey Brewing strives to set themselves apart from the rest of the brewing market in Michigan by focusing on quality. With Emmanuel’s attributing his roots to HopCat — assisting to open the craft beer bar and brew their beer — and also working for Jolly Pumpkin and Arcadia Ales, they are familiar with what quality is.

“We make good beer — period,” Dowd said. “Our commitment from day one has been on quality, consistently.”

Just as the original Petoskey brewery had chosen its location because of the natural artesian water source it sat on, Petoskey Brewing also takes advantage of this resource.

“Lou and I were committed to finding the best water for our beer,” Dowd added. “Our well driller spent the better part of a week, ultimately drilling through three other aquifers, finding our deep artesian well. Our water is pure and unadulterated. It comes from our well, through a particulate filter and into our hot liqueur tank.”

When it comes to the type of beer that is brewed, Petoskey Brewing also makes a conscious effort to set their beer apart from others.

“Northern Michigan does not have a lot of exposure into the craft brew world,” Emanuel said. “For that reason, we try to be as true to the nature and craft of brewing as possible,” noting that they focus on traditional English and Belgian beer styles.


During the first full year in business, Petoskey Brewing produced nearly 3,000 barrels of beer. The brewery is expanding its brew systems in the short-term to raise their production about 30 percent, but are planning to expand their production even more in the long-term.

“We have a larger expansion in planning as we speak which will take us to around the 10,000 barrel mark,” Dowd said. 

Regardless of the plans to expand their production, the brewery has no ambition to go outside of the state of Michigan with distribution.

So where can you find Petoskey beer in the state? With production limitations, the majority of their beer can be found right around the 45th parallel and north — in Gaylord and the greater Traverse City area — although some can be found seeping into the Grand Rapids and Detroit areas.

Right now, Horny Monk Belgian Ale, Mind’s Eye PA (IPA) and North 45 Amber Ale have been released in keg and 16 ounce can formats. Just recently, the brewery released Petoskey Sparkle American Lager in keg format, and plans are to put that and the brewery’s Hopsessed Double IPA in cans this spring.

To see where you can find the nearest Petoskey Brewing beers click here.