Michigan is a beer lover’s dream. Here are the must-visit destinations for 2021, from Detroit all the way to the Upper Peninsula.
MICHIGAN—From the centuries-old history of Stroh’s in the Motor City to exciting new developments in the Upper Peninsula and all along Up North’s 45th parallel, Michigan has always been a beer lover’s dream.
Nowadays, Michiganders can visit nearly 400 breweries serving and bottling up nearly 1,000,000 gallons per year, ranging from traditional ales and pilsners to stouts, hard seltzers, IPAs and more.
With so many hotspots to choose from across the state, narrowing the list down to just ten is no easy feat. But these breweries stand out for their commitment to excellent service, variety, and dedication to their “craft.”
Without further ado, here’s your 2021 summer beer bucket list:
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1. Atwater Brewery & Tap House
Like many top breweries across the Mitten State, Atwater is well known for its signature brew: the famous Dirty Blonde, a masterful and refreshing wheat ale accentuated with hints of crushed orange peel and coriander.
While it’s a ways away from Comerica Park, Atwater’s familiar brick facade and rooftop patio seating make it the perfect spot for a pregame drink, date night, or a friendly midweek get together.
Locations: Detroit, Grosse Pointe Park and Grand Rapids
2. Right Brain Brewery
If you’re looking for a bold palette of creative beers in a lighthearted setting, look no further than Right Brain, known for its slogan “Keep Beer Curious.”
The selection can best be described as “inventive” and at times “decadent,” with favorites like Cherry Pie Amber Ale (part of the Grand Traverse Pie Company series) and Pecan Pie Amber Ale among the standouts.
The company’s famous Nitro CEO Stout is another outstanding choice, especially on tap.
Come for the beer, stay for the summer vacation feel of the place—and enjoy a few table games and rounds of pinball while you’re at it.
Location: Traverse City
3. Short’s Brewing Company
Another contender for most creative brewery in Michigan, you can find Short’s brews in party stores across the state, but there’s nothing like tasting it in person.
Standout craft selections include Bellaire Brown, Soft Parade, and Tiramisu Blonde, with cacao nibs, coffee, and “velvety chocolate.”
The menu includes gluten free and vegetarian options, and live music is another highlight of this unassuming yet typically packed Up North vacationer’s haven.
Location: Bellaire and Elk Rapids
4. Black Rocks Brewery
With its outdoor patio, multi-tiered dining area, food trucks and live music, Black Rocks is a must-visit for UP adventurers young and old alike.
Aside from the brewery’s many staple favorites including Coconut Brown and Grand Rabbits Dry Hopped Cream ale, the location and welcoming-yet-rustic northwoods feel is the big draw here.
Marquette and the surrounding areas are breathtaking, and Black Rocks is the perfect stop after a long day of hiking and exploring.
5. New Holland Brewing Company
From location to beer selection and even spirits at its tasting rooms in Saugatuck and South Haven, New Holland gets pretty much everything right.
Its namesake Holland and Grand Rapids are the two must-visit locations, but the beer is the star of the show here.
Dragon’s milk, a delicious pitch-black, barrel-aged 11% ABV stout known across the state and beyond is the number one must-try menu item, along with the perfect summer beers like Lightpoint and Watermelon Spritz.
New Holland has something for everyone, and it’s a must-visit for anyone taking in the sights and sounds of the lower Lake Michigan coastline.
Locations: Holland, Grand Rapids, Saugatuck and South Haven
6. Griffin Claw Brewing Company
Speaking of Michigan breweries that just “nail it” from the logo to the taproom ambiance to the beers themselves, Griffin Claw is the unofficial standard bearer for Oakland County beermakers.
The popular Birmingham brewery officially opened in July 2013, but owner Dan Rogers has roughly 30 years of experience under his belt and it shows here.
The menu is stacked with standout brews, but darker ales like the El Rojo red and Screamin’ Pumpkin are among the best Griffin Claw has to offer.
If you do visit in 2021, be on the lookout for a packed new release schedule including Strawberry IPA in August, Imperial Porter in September, and even Maple Bourbon Rye Ale in November.
Griffin Claw’s popular line of hard seltzers is also a must-try.
Locations: Birmingham and Rochester Hills
7. Austin Brothers Beer Company
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path Michigan brewery in a beautiful location steeped with years of success and history, look no further than Austin Brothers on the outskirts of downtown Alpena.
With ample outdoor seating, cornhole tables and a kitchen staff that gets pretty much everything right from apps to burgers, Austin Brothers is always worth the trip regardless of your starting destination.
Standouts here include the hearty local favorite Woody Wheat and the Cherry Bomb, which begins with a German pilsner base and adds Northern Michigan montmorency cherries.
8. Ascension Brewing Company
Known for its creative beer selection and food menu, Ascension has built up a devoted following in Novi.
Memorable brews include: the Ghostbusters-themed Stay Puft, with marshmallow fluff, cocoa, coconut cream, vanilla and graham crackers, along with Transmutation Circle, a hazy pale ale brewed with rice and featuring notes of passionfruit, stone fruit, and subtle pine.
Check them out soon, and someday you’ll be able to say you visited before they were famous.
9. Bell’s Brewery
One of the pioneers in the Michigan craft beer movement, we couldn’t make a list without them. Bell’s can now be found nationwide, and has become famous for staples like its Two-Hearted ale, as well as its yearly release of Obero—an iconic American wheat ale.
The brewery itself started with founder Larry Bell in 1985 and has grown into an empire of some of the finest beers found in Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter.
If you visit the brewery itself, make time for one of Bell’s tours and familiarize yourself with the history of the beloved Wolverine State brewing franchise.
Locations: Kalamazoo and Comstock Park
10. Oddside Ales
If you’re looking for creative brews and you can’t make the full trek Up North, consider a mini road trip to Oddside in Grand Haven.
This is one of those places that always brings both the good vibes and the good beer, that locals and out-of-towners alike can’t wait to visit.
From classic wheat beers to dessert themed creations like the Dipped Chocolate Covered Pretzel stout, Oddside’s rotating selection of “Pure Michigan” specialties never gets old.
A must-visit and the perfect endcap to a stroll on the city’s famous beaches and piers.
Location: Grand HavenWebsite: OddSideAles.com