Let us return to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Fair be thee warned. These numbers are going to look absurd. Pretty, pretty, pretty absurd. But a little context might put things in order. Context to the large numbers #1: Blatz/Strohs/PBR drink like water when you've been engaging in a pointless drinking challenge for almost a year. Literally, like water. Context #2: I was in the Upper Peninsula for a Responsible (being my last name) Family Reunion/Grandma' 80th Birthday Party. So I've got my wife, my parents, my cousins, my uncle, my grandma. We're all up at this farm. As family reunions tend to go, and I shouldn't be blowing anyone's mind here, evening beers tend to get consumed. Speaking of evening beers, here comes Context #3: A great tradition in the Responsible Family is making giant bonfires. And by giant, I mean pretty giant. Here's a picture of my sister, my cousin, and me (you can guess which is which) sitting before one of our patented bonfires two years ago:
They tend to reach heights of about 15 feet and burn for hours on end (I recognize the needless carbon emissions here, but, uh, sorry earth!). We've been building these at the farm since my cousin and I were ten. It's pretty fun. My cousins and I spend the day dragging giant dead trees across acres of the farm to build these monstrosities. We light them up at night, the "adults" go to bed, and we stay up for hours just shooting the breeze. Well, since we all turned 21(ish, but lets not get technical here), these late night bonfire chats have involved drinking a beer or two. I see my cousins once a year tops so these bonfires are pretty important to me. I've long thought of this blog as being more about beer drinking culture than beer reviews, and I'd really like to write extensively about sharing a few beers with family to the wee hours of the morning around one of these bad boys, but I'm pretty sure the 2003 entry in this article sums it up nicely. Suffice it to say, we had one of these every night at the farm. With those contexts in place, let's get back to the beer drinking.
August 8th was my grandma's 80th birthday party. In preparation of that, I set up one of those bonfires myself (my cousin had yet to arrive) and then rewarded myself with a Keweenaw Widow Maker. Then a shower and off to the party! To set the stage, the party was held here. Yes, there was an accordion player playing polka. Yes, there were a bunch of old people polka-ing. Yes, I polkaed with them. Yes, I drank one Old Milwaukee and 2 Sam Adams (hey, it's a VFW, what're you gonna do?). After the party, we went back to the farm, lit up the fire (not to be mistaken with "lit up at the fire," which didn't go down), and I drank 3 Blazts and 1 Keweenaw Liftbridge. The beer numbers around the fire are a bit iffy because 1) it was hard to tell when one Blatz ended and another began, and 2) my uncle's dog would knock over and drink your beer whenever you put it on the ground. I've done my best about being conservative but not too conservative in the numbers.
The next day we went into Houghton where I had one Keweenaw Pickaxe Blonde at a super dope pizza place the Ambassador. After the Ambassador, we went to the other microbrewery in Houghton, the Library (which doesn't seem to have a website). I got the ten beer sampler. Check it out!
Yeah, I can't read that either. Here's what I can make out: Whiteout Wheat (but they were out of this one so I can say that's not on the tray), Keweenaw Golden Ale, Rock Harbor Light Ale, Portage Premium Lager, Redbrick Rye Ale, Copper Town Ale, Miner's IPA, Bumbletown Ale, Rabbit Bay Brown Ale, and Something? Dry Stout. As you'll see when we get to Ann Arbor, I did a lot of sampling. The problem with doing these samplers is that its near impossible to remember every specific beer if you're not taking detailed notes, which I wasn't. Another problem is that all of these samplers are needlessly inflating my numbers. So what I'm going to do is for Michigan, 3 samples = 1 beer, and I'll round up or down depending. So here, 10 samples = 3 beers? Cool? Also, I'll talk about what I can remember, and that's being shocked by the Keweenaw Gold. Normally I'm not too huge of a fan of standard brewpub golden ales. They tend to be there for macrobeer drinkers that want something they can drink. But I've got to say, I liked this golden ale so much that I got a growler of it (my dad got a growler of the IPA, which was also really good). It had a nice sweet taste to it and was an absolutely perfect beer for a warm Michigan afternoon. Back at the farm, we split the growlers amongst a whole host of people (I had 1 IPA and 1 Golden) while playing cards. And just for good measure, I also had a Blatz.
The next day (and sadly last) day in the U.P., the cousins, my wife, and I went bowling and gambling at the casino. Because I'm at a bowling alley in a casino in the Upper Peninsula, I had a Bud Tall Boy (my dad bought it for me so it counts!). Get this. You know how much we paid for shoes and two games a piece for four bowlers? 9 dollars! I felt so bad about paying so little that after bowling I promptly gave the casino 45 of my dollars. That should even things out. Later that night we had an epic poker match/bonfire during which I drank a Celis Grand Cru, Dundee Stout, and 4 Strohs. And so ends my Yooper journey. Stay tuned tomorrow for when we go visit the Trolls down below!