Beer-illiant Brewery Tour (3 Days)

 

Visiting breweries is a reason to travel, and Michigan harbors more than 150 craft breweries and counting. Nestled among Southwest Michigan's wineries, sand dunes, and hoppin' towns are this Lake Michigan-hugging region's contributions to the Great Beer State. Arm yourself with this itinerary and find your perfect pint.

While you can certainly do this tour a day-at-a-time, it's a lot more fun to pitch camp at one of these locally owned or national chain lodgings in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph or Stevensville. Most offer a complimentary breakfast and a solid launching pad to hit up some nearby breweries over an extended stay.

Want a designated driver? No problem! Check out Southwest Michigan's transportation services to ensure you can have your beer and drink it too before safely turning in for the night.

Day One: Buzzing Around the Outskirts (Bridgman, Sawyer, Baroda)

Tapistry Brewing Company (4236 Lake St., Bridgman)
Kick off the brew hop at 11 a.m. with a sample flight; $8 gets you 5-ounce pours from five of the 20 beers on tap. With titles like "Mr. Orange", "Happy Colored Marbles", and the oatmeal raisin "Autonomous Unit", the sampler lets you solve the "Enigma" (also one of their beers) of multiple names.
*Events: Double Dog Wednesday, Friday Happy Hour 5-7 p.m. and an Annual Halloween Costume Contest

Continue your tour by jumping on I-94 and heading west. Take Exit 16 to Red Arrow Hwy and turn right on State Park Road.

Warren Dunes State Park (12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer)
Seize outdoor adventure by taking Exit 16 and turning right on Red Arrow Hwy to arrive at Warren Dunes State Park (open year-round). Play in this 1,952-acre jewel along Lake Michigan with its towering dunes, sandy beaches, cool woods and six miles of hiking trails.

When you've worked up an appetite, get back on Red Arrow Hwy and head right 1.4 miles before taking a left on Sawyer Rd for lunch at ...

Greenbush Brewing Company (5885 Sawyer Rd., Sawyer)
Plan on spending a bit of time at this hangout to appreciate the food, fascinatingly named brews and the company among you.

Taste up to six 6-ounce samples for $12 or order a pint based on how much its name resonates with how you feel (Anger Black IPA, Apathy Oatmeal Stout), what you seek (Closure Pale Ale, Penitence Rye Stout), or what most expresses your alter ego (Mr. Hyde Sumatran Cream Stout, Unicorn Killer Pumpkin Ale). Have the kitchen add a heaping scoop of house-churned vanilla ice cream to any of those beers to make it a float.

Head northeast to visit ...
Round Barn Brewery & Public House (9151 First St., Baroda)
Round Barn's winery is a little over three miles southeast of here, but those looking to sit down with their friends over a handcrafted brew and a marvel called "The Bratzel," will find the Public House in downtown Baroda perfect for their plan. The brewery serves all of Round Barn's wine and beer and has a food menu of salads, pizza, and sandwiches.
*Events: Annual Fireworks Party in July

Or stop by ...

Cultivate Brewing Company (961 East Shawnee Rd., Berrien Springs)
The neighborhood brewery holds winery characteristics, standing on the farmland nurturing the very hops that get added to your beer. Sit at the outdoor patio to get a view of the hop farm and barley field. It's a unique experience that lets you connect with nature over a drink. Heat lamps illuminate the area and keep guests comfortable in the colder months.
*Closed Mondays (April-December) and Mondays and Tuesdays (January- March)

Head east on E Shawnee Road for about three miles, turning left on Red Bud Trail to jump on M-139 N. Travel six miles north for tonight's dinner destination.

Mark III Grille & Bar (4179 M-139, St. Joseph)
Finish the final round with a Tex-Mex burrito, a good ol' fashioned burger or a colorful salad loaded with Michigan sweet cherries. Plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options leave no one out of this feast! Enjoy the night, discuss your favorites, drink some water and get some rest; round two starts tomorrow.

Day Two: St. Joseph/Benton Harbor Hop

The Buck Burgers & Brews (412 State St., St. Joseph)
The Buck isn't a brewery, but the 74 beer varieties on tap make it a worthy addition to this itinerary. Arrive anytime after 11:30 a.m. and get a pint as you choose from a mouthwatering menu of burgers with some phenomenal co-star toppings like the raspberry-jalapeño jam and cream cheese on the Thornburger or the Michigan apple slices on the turkey Harvest Burger. Choices of salads, shareables and sandwiches make their food menu as generous as their beer list.

Lake Bluff Park Path (from Park Street to State Street along Lake Boulevard)
Head here for a post-lunch stroll. The half-mile stretch along the bluff is the scene for exciting events like car shows and the Krasl Art Fair (one of top artist gatherings in the country) throughout the year (see some favorites below). War monuments and memorials line the path and are sporadically decorated with flowers and flare.
*Events:
• Antiques on the Bluff (first Sunday of the month, May-October)
• Farmer's Market (Saturdays, May-October)
• Light Up the Bluff (December-February)
• Wednesday and Friday concerts (June-September)

Trot down the steps to Silver Beach, west on Broad Street towards the Amtrak station below. Veer towards the three-tiered, pointed, silver roof at your right.

Silver Beach Carousel (333 Broad St., St. Joseph)
Your chariot awaits beneath 1,000 glimmering lights. If a chariot isn't your thing, there are horses, a tiger, a bear and a clown fish among the menagerie of 48 hand-carved, hand-painted figures on this magnificent carousel. Adults definitely spin smiles riding round and round. Open all year. Tokens: $2 each/3 for $5.

Return up the stairs (it'll build your already growing appetite) and turn left on Lake Blvd. Go one block to ...

Schu's Grill & Bar (501 Pleasant St., St. Joseph)
The collection of bottle varieties and popular brews from other Michigan breweries gives Schu's a place in this itinerary. Outdoor seating overlooks the boundless Lake Michigan, which charms evening diners with its sunsets.

Walk it off by browsing through the surrounding shops filled with everything from pro-St. Joe clothing to gift-bundles of chocolate and treats to your next bottle of wine. You'll enjoy downtown St. Joseph's lights spiraling up the lampposts during the holidays.

Take M-63 N/Main Street over the St. Joseph River and hang a slight right toward Whitwam Dr. Turn right towards Graham Avenue and go left to follow Graham to N Shore Dr., which turns into Fifth Street. The brewery will be past Park Street on your right.

The Livery (190 Fifth St., Benton Harbor)
This former horse stable opened as a brewery in 2005, serving beer (80 styles annually) just as adventurous as the trailblazers of the early 1900's. Locals and visitors are satisfied year-round with staple brews like the popular McGilligan's American IPA, but the arrival of seasonal and specialty beers constantly revamp the menu. Who knows what masterpieces they'll have on tap when you get here? Food served.
*Events: Tuesday Mug Club (4 pm-midnight), Backgammon Club, and Pub Theology (7:30 pm); Team Trivia Wednesdays 7:30 pm and live entertainment on weekends (with cover)

Beyond the bar: Benton Harbor's Art District Business Members invite the public to explore the art in the shops and galleries at the quarterly Art Hops (March, June, October, and December). Perusing is free and fun for the whole family, giving everyone a chance to connect with the community and find some amazing pieces. For Art Hop schedule, visit www.newterritoryarts.org.

Day Three: Country Ale Trail (Watervliet and Paw Paw)

To reach these countryside destinations, go east on I-94 and take Exit 60 to M-40 N.

Got some wine-lovers with you? St. Julian Winery is less than two miles away! Head west down E Michigan Avenue toward S Kalamazoo Street. Turn left on S Kalamazoo and find Michigan's oldest and largest winery on your right.

Reunite with I-94 W for a brief 19.2 miles before taking Exit 41 and turning right on M-140 N for last call at...

Arclight Brewing Company (544 N Main St., Watervliet)
End your Southwest Michigan beer tour with dessert here by pairing your final beer with a locally made cupcake. Arclight offers craft beverages that differ from the general menu. If you're not in the mood for one of the eight beers on tap, your thirst will be quenched with one of the house-made sodas including gourmet root beer and Kombucha, a fermented tea drink.