9 Michigan Beers and Wines for Surviving the Holidays—and Beyond

By Joseph Beyer

December 8, 2022

We made a list (and checked it twice) of nine Michigan-made beers and wines that are sure to help you make it through your next holiday gathering—and most of them will make a decent gift, too. 

MICHIGAN—Whether it’s a last-minute grab for the office Christmas party, hops for a Hanukkah celebration, or just something to put in that recycled wine bag before you head to the in-laws, we all want to bring a bottle to impress. So we’ve compiled a list of some uniquely Michigan picks that you can gift to yourself, or bring along on your holiday travels. Always drink responsibly, never play reindeer games, and cheers from The ‘Gander to you and yours.

Blackberry Blonde Ale by Cheboygan Brewing Co.

(The ‘Gander/Joseph Beyer)

It may seem like the brewery elves made a mistake on a shift change with this beer, but this limited edition, fruit-infused, blonde ale mashup will surprise you with its subtlety—and then reward you with its complexity (especially when you pair it with some fruit, cheese, or your Aunt’s nut thing that she brings every year). The blonde ale base of medium hoppiness has a fruity, late-summer berry twist that will help wash down all those seconds you snuck when no one was looking. Pint-sized cans are sold in four-packs, and it’s also on tap in the tasting room.

Blanc du Nord by Barrel + Beam Brewery

(The ‘Gander/Joseph Beyer)

The Nordic brew alchemists at Barrel + Beam used to be an Upper Peninsula secret, but the rest of the state is quickly beginning to discover their beer-making greatness. The best way to experience their line of farmhouse ales and experimental batches is still on tap in their tasting room in Marquette. But for most of us Michiganders, we’ll have to settle with the next-best thing and grab the bottled or canned variety of this tasty brew at a local retailer. Blanc du Nord has all the bold and confident spirit of a complex farmhouse ale, along with herbal notes and a zesty citrus touch that lights up the palette like the aurora borealis lights that it was brewed beneath. For someone special, bring this creamy, tart elixir to the dinner table, or slip it under the tree. It also pairs exceptionally well with venison, if you were lucky enough to bag a buck this season.

English Ordinary Bitter by Farm Club

(The ‘Gander/Joseph Beyer)

If you want to rouse respect from that East Coast beer drinker coming into town for the holidays, or surprise someone with an unexpected treat in their stocking downstate, then it’s worth hunting out one of Farm Club’s unique brews. Just like Santa’s cookies, they don’t last long anywhere you find them—either in their hometown of Traverse City, or in select Grand Rapids or Detroit area stores. For the season of slow sipping with friends by the fire, the English Ordinary Bitter is a perfect fit for someone who likes trying something new, but doesn’t want to drink a pumpkin pie. This sessionable, herbal and floral pub ale would pair perfectly with your next ice fishing trip, watching the Lions blow a lead, or simply getting through your next family gathering.

Baby Nelson Session IPA by City Built Brewing Co.

4.99% ABV Limited Edition | Tasting Room and To-Go Sales | Select West Michigan Retailers

(Courtesy/City Built Brewing Co. via Facebook)

City Built Brewing Co. is known for its smaller, experimental beer runs, artistic labeling and a respectable punk rock ethos. Brewed to celebrate the birth of the newest member of the City Built crew, Baby Nelson was created with a whopping 6 pounds and 13 ounces of Sauvin Hops that produce a robust, tropical flare behind a base of white wine notes. It’s available on tap or to-go from the tasting room, and also available in four-packs at a few, hand-picked retailers.

Octorock Hard Cider by Starcut Ciders

4.9% ABV Dry | Tasting Rooms and To-Go Sales | Retail Sales Locator

(Courtesy/Starcut Ciders via Twitter)

Octorock is just a fun name to say when you ask someone to grab you another one, but it’s also a delicious way to cleanse your palette, or switch up your flavors during long dinners or parties. Lighter and with less alcohol than most craft beer and wine, the unique taste of Michigan apples produces a clean, dry and wonderful cider that anyone will like. It’s also a secret ingredient in the kitchen that can help start stocks, gravies and even cranberry sauce. Produced in Bellaire by Starcut Ciders in collaboration with Short’s Brewing Co. you can find it on tap across the Mitten, as well as in cans and bottles at a large (and growing) number of retailers statewide.

Detroit by Mawby Sparkling

Tasting Room and To-Go Sales | Retail Sales Locator | Shipping Available

(The ‘Gander/Joseph Beyer)

Whatever needs celebrating this holiday season, when you need to feel a little bubbly, dazzle your guests by pouring Mawby’s Moscato-style sparkling wine. Inspired by the great city it’s named after, Detroit’s fruity edges blend wonderfully across cuisines—from spicy foods to white cake, it’s music in your mouth. Larry Mawby and his team kicked off the sparkling wine scene in northern Michigan, and now they’re just perfecting their craft. Detroit can be enjoyed all on its own, but because it runs on the sweeter side, it’s also a great base for other festive cocktails.

Naughty Red by Chateau Chantal 

Tasting Room and To-Go Sales | Retail Sales Locator | Shipping Available

(The ‘Gander/Joseph Beyer)

With a spicy label that may help set a romantic sort of mood, this dry red blend from one of the Old Mission Peninsula’s most popular wineries is both naughty and nice. Easy to find in regional retailers, Naughty delivers a blend for people who aren’t fussy about wine, but love that high- class red wine feeling. Pair it with just about any meal, or give it out as a more intimate gift. 

Reserve Pinot Grigio by St. Julian Winery

Tasting Rooms and To-Go Sales | Retail Sales Locator | Shipping Available

(Courtesy/St. Julian Winery via Facebook)

Wondering why the wine is always gone? Well, at only about $10, this budget-friendly wine can save the holiday without busting your bank—and your family and friends won’t even notice the difference. You’d never know it’s cheap wine. St. Julian Reserve Pinot Grigio is crisp, refined, and will also pucker up with many flavors, from simple appetizers to the main course. It’s the season for red wine, so be distinct and try this as an alternative for your next holiday party. 

Edel Doux by Round Barn Winery & Estate

(Courtesy/Round Barn Winery)

Dessert wines and after-dinner digestifs are all the rage nowadays, so picking up this late-harvest Edel Doux—which means “Nobly Sweet”—from Round Barn Winery in Baroda may make you the most popular dinner guest at the table. Made from Michigan-grown Gewurztraminer Riesling grapes, it’s a lush and balanced ride with apricot tones and peachy surprises. Try serving it with apples, sour gherkins, or even homemade Chex party mix. 

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