The coast of Lake Michigan is home to some of the best-kept secrets the mitten state has to offer. From Muskegon to Holland, Grand Haven to St. Joseph, its beach-centric towns draw thousands of tourists each year during the summer months. In addition to the breathtaking views, these towns harbor some glorious breweries, many of which have helped put these communities on the map.
Greenbush Brewery is nestled in the small town of Sawyer, Michigan. Located right off of I-94 at Exit 12, the brewery has become a staple for visitors driving along the coast.
Canned cocktails are exploding on the scene, transforming the category’s reputation.
Ready-to-drink, aka “RTD,” refers to packaged beverages that are sold in a prepared form and are ready for consumption. Unlike traditional beverage mixes or brew-it-yourself products, ready-to-drink beverages can be immediately enjoyed upon purchase.
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Searching for the perfect complement to your seasonal feast? For your holiday wines, look to Northern Italy for everything from big reds for holiday feasts to lively bubbles for ringing in a new year.
When selecting, arguably the two most important regions in Northern Italy are Piedmont in the Northwest and the Veneto in the Northeast. In Piedmont, the ice-cold Alps and the warm Mediterranean affect the weather by creating a tug-of-war that produces happy wine grapes and great wine.
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It can be a refreshing gin drink on a Michigan summer’s day or a bold bourbon concoction that warms you as winter rolls in. That’s why it may not come as a surprise that craft distilleries across the country grew by nearly 20 percent in 2017, with over 50 of them calling Michigan home. Craft spirits are on the rise, and they are altering the state of cocktails.
“The craft spirits industry has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years,” says James Loughmiller, Spirits Category Manager at Imperial Beverage. “Michigan alone has been making strides, producing some of the highest quality spirits in the nation. We are usually known as a craft beer state, but recently spirits have started to take hold, and we are seeing a surge of new distillers open throughout the state with a dedication to craft and quality. The craft segment of the spirits category is growing at a rapid pace, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon,” Loughmiller confirms.
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As the last few weeks of summer pass by, it’s time to start thinking of cozier thoughts and crunching leaves.
This means trips to the apple orchard, hayrides, donuts, and apple cider for many Michiganders. Although apple orchards are commonly thought of as simply a fall tourist destination, they have more to offer the state throughout the year than you might think. Regional cideries, like West Michigan’s Vander Mill, depend on local orchards to supply them with large quantities of quality fruit for year-round cider production.
There are nearly 300 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs operating in Michigan with over 30 operations just in the 269 area code.
“You are never more than an hour from a fresh pint of hand-crafted beer. Brewing operations are located in communities throughout the entire state, many of which are revitalizing main streets and resurrecting historical buildings,” according to the Michigan Brewers Guild. “Brewery tap rooms and restaurants are diverse, unique gathering places that are connected and committed to their local communities. Additionally, local breweries have a profound impact on Michigan’s economy.”
Southwest Michigan and its wine country are very much coming of age in the last couple of decades. This area, now known as the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail, isn’t only producing your grandfather’s wine—wine which were mainly fruity styles from French-American hybrids with high residual sugar. Many are shocked to find full bodied reds and lovely dry style acid driven whites that make one reminisce about wines of the old world. There is a wind of change in the Southwest Michigan which gives one much to get excited about.
There have been many firsts that we have experienced over the last 45 plus years. There are two very important American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in Southwest Michigan. Fennville The Fennville AVA was founded with the establishment of the Fenn Valley Winery and the Welsch family being the driving force in this area. The Lake Michigan Shore AVA followed in 1983 anchored over the years by producers such as Tabor Hill and St. Julian. These viticultural areas still stand, but continue to grow and evolve with many new vineyards and wineries dotting the landscape.
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The U.S. craft spirits industry is booming. With more than 1,315 craft distillers nationwide and growing, the “craft” movement is taking hold in a way that could mirror the success craft brewers have had in recent years. And with a reputation for its world-class breweries, Kalamazoo is poised to be a destination point for the craft spirits industry as well.
Distilleries like Green Door Distilling Co. and Kalamazoo Still House are bringing craft spirit production to downtown. Retail stores, bars, and restaurants having been seeing a shift toward consumers who are looking for craft and local.
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Our hope is that the readers of 269 MAGAZINE will become active participants in the world around them and join our mission to make Southwest Michigan the place to make a home, go to work, and bring dreams to reality.