Glad to start this off with one of the dumbest visual puns I've ever made. The trip began inauspiciously. Got in to Detroit around 10 pm, went to the hotel where my dad had a Mission Street Brown Ale from Trader Joe's waiting for me. Drank that, went to sleep. Woke up at 5:30 the next morning to begin the epic 8 hour drive to my grandma's farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
For those of you that don't know, Michigan has two peninsulas. Also, for those of you who don't know, no one actually lives in the upper one. For a little comparison, Manhattan has a population of about 1.7 million and is a total of 23 square miles. The U.P. has a total population of about 300,000 and is about 17,000 square miles. It's a little nuts. My grandma's farm is located up near the Keweenaw Peninsula (Yo Dawg, I heard you like peninsulas so I put a peninsula in your peninsula...), pretty close to Lake Superior in a town called Baraga. Baraga is so small that the farm is on a road literally named after my family. It sits on about 300 square acres. It's absolutely beautiful but there is no one and nothing (and I really, really mean that) around it. We arrive at the farm around 5 at night, my grandma has a growler waiting from us filled with a beer which she can't name from a brewery in Houghton (a town about an hour away) she can't remember. Using my deductive powers, I figure its from the Keweenaw Brewing Company and some kind of porter. I have a glass of that, then its off to dinner and to do some grocery shopping. At dinner I have a Keweenaw Lift Bridge Brown Ale. You remember when I talked about the Hotel Hershey restaurant that didn't have any real selection of Pennsylvania brew? Well we went to the Hilltop Diner in Lanse, literally just some small, quintessentially midwestern diner in a super small U.P. town. Well guess what? They had SIX different Michigan craft beers to choose from! Michigan is insane! We then go to the grocery store where I pick up a six pack of Keweenaw's Widow Maker, their black lager, and 30 pack of Blatz. I am in the U.P. after all. I have one of each back at the farm.
Here's where I'm going to go on a little mini-rant and then probably end this post. Michigan somehow turned into a "The Town I Went To Grad School In Really, Really Sucked" Tour. We all should know that Michigan is an excellent beer state. Avery, Founders, Bells, you all know. But it also has a million different excellent local breweries. But let's put that aside for a moment while I do a comparison of Town A and Town B.
Town A has a total population of about 7,000 people. It also has a "Tech" school with a total enrollment of about 7,000 students. Town A has two different microbreweries.
Town B has a total population of about 40,000 people. It also has a "Tech" school with a total enrollment of about 31,000 students. Town B has no microbreweries.
Town A is Houghton, MI. Town B is where I went to grad school. You'll see another amazing snapshot like this when I get to Ann Arbor. Spoiler alert. Town A will be Ann Arbor. Town B will be where I went to grad school. I show you these comparisons to illustrate not just how much where I went to grad school sucked from a beer drinking perspective, but also to show you just how much Michigan loves craft beer. Michigan has an unemployment rate of about 14.5% but somehow a town like Houghton can support not one but two craft breweries. Amazing.
One of Houghton's microbreweries is the aforementioned Keweenaw Brewing Co. They are great and actually have a pretty decent distribution of canned beers throughout the U.P. I never actually made it to their brew pub but I did have many of their canned beers while I was up there. I'll end this post now. I know we're only two days in but I promise things will pick up. Glad to be back and posting and you'll get some numbers from me in about a week! See you chumps tomorrow!