The Great Michigan Beer Journey, Day 1

Phew. What a weekend.

Just about a week ago, Beer Nerd Boyfriend and I embarked on a magical four-day trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our goal? Get to the 30th anniversary of Bell’s Brewery and taste as many beers as we could along the way.

Our trip through Michigan went a little like this: 4 days, 11 breweries visited, 136 beers sampled, close to 1,500 miles covered, only a couple instances of getting horribly lost, too many delightful surprises to count and a good time had by all. It was one incredible journey through a state where people seem to follow their own rules. The speed limit on the highway is 70 mph and no one uses their turn signals to merge. It’s a jungle out there on the roads.

But let’s start at the beginning – our first road stop, Toronto. It was a day of extremes. For example, while I was having the best duck fat fries of my life at WVRST, our car was getting towed.

I must say that the fries were kind of worth it.
I must say, the fries were kind of worth it.

That wasn’t even close to being the start of the day. We began our journey around brunch time, when we stopped at Starving Artist for waffles. I’d seen it on an episode of You Gotta Eat Here, and immediately told Nick we needed to stop. I mean, a café that puts everything in waffles? Sign me up!

I really dig waffles, guys.
I really dig waffles, guys.

We started off with waffle bacon – literally, they just take some bacon and put it in a waffle, cut it into sticks and serve it with maple syrup. Then, because we needed to have all the waffles, we tried two mains; the benedict, served on what was essentially waffled mashed potatoes, and the Monte Cristo on a french toasted waffle. It was a whole lot of waffle. A whole lot of delicious, amazing, fluffy, flavor-packed waffle.

Look on my waffles, ye mighty, and despair!
Look on my waffles, ye mighty, and despair!

We managed to roll down the street back to the car and went off to meet one of Nick’s friends, with the intention of going to Bellwoods Brewery. Here is where fate intervene: it turned out they were closed until 5pm. So we wandered around the neighborhood, and eventually made our way to WVRST, a charming place to get excellent sausages. They also happen to have a seriously extensive beer menu and an impressively well-versed staff.

Those certificates on top? All their bar staff are certified beer servers.
Those certificates on top? All their bar staff are certified beer servers.

We shared a big bottle of Session White, a Chardonnay barrel aged saison made by The Local 7, a collective of Toronto area bars. But the duck fat fries. Oh, those duck fat fries. Just salty enough, with a nice amount of crunch, and two delicious dipping sauces to go along with them. If you are anywhere near Toronto, go now and try them. I’ll wait. 20150909_160114
And that’s when we wandered back to Bellwoods, only to realize that our car had disappeared, replaced only by a parking cop who informed us that we had to travel to a towing lot across town. So Bellwoods had to be left for another trip.

Thanks to the friendliest Uber driver in Toronto, we did get the car back. We then met with some delightful friends who helped us drown our troubles at Indie Ale House, a fairly new brewpub that served up some lovely beers and tasty food. They so thoroughly distracted us that I forgot to take pictures! Indie Alehouse really did have some terrific beers. The Broken Hipster Belgian wit was my particular favorite, despite having some notes of that banana-like Belgian yeast character I’m usually not crazy about. With beer names like Cockpuncher and Zombie Apocalypse, I will definitely back.

Here's an adorable meme to make up for my laziness.
Here’s an adorable meme to make up for my laziness.

Come back tomorrow for a full report of day two, in which we slowly made our way down to Ann Arbor’s Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Don’t worry, the upcoming entries will have a lot more beer!


5 thoughts on “The Great Michigan Beer Journey, Day 1

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