The Beers of Summer: 6-Pack Edition
Stock up and set out for the ultimate six-pack of summer-beer-paired adventures
By Amy Martin | June 5, 2021
The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and it’s time to indulge in some summertime craft beer. In your best interest (and for the purposes of “research”), we’ve compiled not only our picks for some of Michigan’s best warm-weather sippers but also the best places in the area to enjoy them — because the only thing that tastes better than a beer on a hot summer day in northern Michigan is a beer on a hot summer’s day adventure in northern Michigan.
The Beer: Oberon Ale by Bell’s Brewery
Seasoned Michiganders know that the spring release of this American Wheat Ale signals that warmer weather is just around the corner — after all it is known as the state’s quintessential summer beer. The secret behind this brew isn’t any adjunct, but simply their house ale yeast, which imparts fruity, citrusy notes, as well as delicate spice characteristics. Bell’s itself describes Oberon as “the color and scent of a sunny afternoon,” which is not only an accurate description but also the best time to enjoy one. To find a Northern Michigan bar, restaurant, or market that carries Bell’s Oberon near you, simply check the Oberon box and enter your zip code at www.bellsbeer.com/beer-finder. (We found ours at Waters Edge Market, 7262 Cairn Hwy., Kewadin. (231) 264-5511)
The Best Place: Torch Lake
Torch Lake, known for its clear, dazzling turquoise color, is Michigan’s second-largest inland lake. Float around its Caribbean-like waters on a pontoon boat, and you’ve found the ideal setting to enjoy a Bell’s Oberon. Stay out in the deeper area for a peaceful cruise or join the party at its infamous sandbar. Either way, you’ll want to soak in the sunshine and savor a glass of Oberon in all its citrusy goodness. There are several public access points around Torch Lake, including the Eastport Torch Lake Access, located at the southeast side of the Village of Eastport. Don’t have your own boat? You can rent a pontoon from M&K Marine: (231) 620-8783
The Beer: Peanuts and Crackerjack by The Mitten Brewing Company
Some people are opposed to the idea of drinking dark beer in the summer season, but when the nights cool off, they make a great companion. This robust porter goes down easy and is the perfect fireside addition. Just as the name implies, this beer embodies the classic ballpark snacks: peanuts and Cracker Jacks. The taste includes a subtle caramel presence and the slightest notes of toffee, with a big peanut presence. Peanuts and Crackerjack is made with real roasted peanuts and peanut butter from Germack Pistachio Company, a Detroit classic that’s been around since 1924. You can find The Mitten’s Peanut and Crackjack at 112 W Nagonaba St., in Northport and at a variety of retailers across the state. Find them all at www.mittenbrewing.com.
The Best Place: Leelanau State Park
The best place to enjoy Peanuts and Crackerjack Porter is around a campfire at Leelanau State Park, only 10 minutes from The Mitten Brewing Company’s Northport location. When the sun dips below the horizon and you begin to see stars starting to perforate the sky, it’s time to crack open a can. Sip this one to the sound of a crackling fire, and as the embers glow, pair it with a warm, golden, freshly roasted marshmallow. The gooey, crystalized sugar melds with the peanut butter in glorious union. Leelanau State Park is at the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, with rustic campsites and cabins just steps from Lake Michigan. It’s also home to Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, a stop not to be missed. For more information and to reserve a campsite, visit www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/
The Beer: Soft Parade by Short’s Brewing Company
For the twelve northern Michiganders who don’t already know, Soft Parade is a fruit ale brewed with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and not sipping one Up North in summer is something akin to sacrilege in these parts. Its enchanting rose color catches the light like a pink topaz, and the delightful medley of flavors pleasantly dance across the tongue. Don’t be fooled into thinking the berries will make this beer too sweet — there is a slight tartness that sweeps the palate, and it finishes dry, leaving you longing for the next delicious sip. You can find Short’s Soft Parade at their newly revamped pub, 121 N. Bridge St., Bellaire, as well as their Elk Rapids Taproom and stores across the country. www.shortsbrewing.com/beer/beer-locator/
The Best Place: Glacial Hills Pathway
A five-minute drive from Short’s Bellaire pub, Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area is one of Michigan’s best hiking and mountain bike destinations. With over 30 miles of trails, there is no shortage of natural wonders, and there is plenty for all levels to explore, from beginner to expert. Whether you need a little liquid energy before venturing out or something to soothe your sore muscles after a vigorous hike, Short’s Soft Parade will hit the spot. For more information and a map of trails, www.glacialhillstrails.org.
The Beer: Cliff's Last Call by Brose Brewing
Brose Brewing is part of St. Ambrose Cellars — the honeypot of Benzie County known for its mastery in making mead, cider, and wine. Don’t let the locale’s wizardry in the non-beer libations sway you from sampling the Brose portfolio of beer, however. Among our favorites for the summer season is Cliff's Last Call, an American Blonde Ale that’s crisp and refreshing and, at 5.1% ABV, easy to imbibe more than one. As one of the most approachable styles, we highly recommend this one for those just venturing into the craft beer world, though it’s a tasty treat even for the most experienced drinkers. Only available at St. Ambrose Cellars taproom, 841 S Pioneer Rd., Beulah.
The Best Place: St. Ambrose Cellars’ Disc Golf Course
Conveniently, the best place to partake in a summer adventure with Cliff’s Last Call American Blonde Ale is … right on the St. Ambrose’s vast grassy and wooded property, where you can also engage in a rousing bout of disc golf. Grab your discs and head to the first tee, located right off the tasting room’s parking lot. This free 9-hole course takes you through what its creators describe as a “mythical forest.” Having played it with a unicorn multiple times, we couldn’t agree more. Really though, navigating this course full of towering trees is the perfect challenge for newbies and experienced players, and its level of coolness is only enhanced by the combo of shade and this refreshing blonde ale. For more information, a map of the course, and even photos of each hole, visit www.stambrose-mead-wine.com/st-ambrose-disc-golf-course/
The Beer: Under the Trestle by The Filling Station Microbrewery
Under the Trestle is a Mango Kölsch, one of The Filling Station’s seasonal releases perfect for the summertime heat. Light bodied with good carbonation, it’s well balanced between the Weyermann Pilsner malt and Hersbrucker hops used in the brewing process. After fermentation the brewers added organic mango puree, creating a mildly sweet and slightly tart beer that is sure to please your taste buds. Under the Trestle can be imbibed in house, and is also one of the canned beers they offer for folks who are on the go. The Filling Station Microbrewery is locate at 642 Railroad Pl, Traverse City. thefillingstationmicrobrewery.com
The Best Place: TART Trails
Calling all cyclists! The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail (known as TART for short) is a paved urban trail that is 10.5 mile long and connects you to shops and restaurants all throughout Traverse City. Whether you’re looking for an intense bike ride to work up a sweat or are more interested in a leisurely cruise, this path accommodates both. Conveniently, The Filling Station Microbrewery is just off the TART, and makes a superb pit stop. There is no better way to enjoy the thirst-quenching Under the Trestle Mango Kölsch than directly after hopping off your bicycle. There are nine other trails that are part of the TART Trails system, including on beautiful state forest land — for more information and a map of trails, visit traversetrails.org/trails/tart/
The Beer: East Coast Pale Ale by Farm Club
As one of Northern Michigan’s newer breweries, Farm Club has been putting out high-quality, carefully crafted beer and food from their onset. Their East Coast Pale Ale is no exception—its complex layers of flavor are thoroughly enjoyed from the front of the palate to the lingering aftertaste. It pours the color of a wheat field bathed in golden sunlight, and is hazy from the oats used in the brewing process. It simply bursts with tropical fruit and citrus from the hops, yet avoids being bitter. Pick some up for yourself at Farm Club, 10051 Lake Leelanau Dr, Traverse City or at select stores in Northern Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Detroit. farmclubtc.com
The Best Place: Your Garden
You don’t have to leave your house to best enjoy this bright brew—you just need to be surrounded by soil, sun, and sprouting plants. Farm Club’s East Coast Pale Ale was brewed on a farm, so it only makes sense that it pairs so well with gardening. Feel free to get your gardening gloves dirty while imbibing, and don’t be afraid to pop a few cherry tomatoes from your harvest—the acidity from the tomatoes complement the hops in a heavenly way. Done with work for the day? This brew, especially with its elegantly designed can, also makes for an excellent garden party beverage.