MI Road Trip: Starting Michigan with a Beer!


In October, Jon and I took a week off of work and spent 8 full days in Michigan. The trip was dual purpose; a family visit primarily, but we were also able to take a couple of days touring part of the northern area of Michigan’s mitten – the most northern part that isn’t the Upper Peninsula.

Jon and I arrived in Michigan on a red eye flight on Saturday morning. We were both a bit bleary eyed when we wandered into the car rental place that morning, and more than a little confused when the agent told us that he didn’t see our reservation. It took me a minute, but then I realized my mistake (and accidentally let a curse word pop out as I was marveling at my stupidity). We had booked our flight to depart from Seattle on October 3rd, so I booked the rental car for an October 3rd pickup. What I hadn’t paid attention to was the fact that since it was a red eye, we wouldn’t arrive until October 4th. Ooops!

Fortunately, there were still cars available, and he didn’t even charge us for the extra day.   Alamo rocks! We just had to pick a car. Jon was kind of interested in trying a Prius, but that gave me flashbacks to all my government travel, so thankfully I was able to talk him out of it (I think the backup beeper helped him realize how annoying Prius’ are).

Soon we were on our way to a Cracker Barrel breakfast to load up on coffee. After breakfast though, even the coffee couldn’t keep us awake and we ended up settling down for an hour long nap in the car (not while driving). This red eye was much more difficult than the one we took in 2012 – I guess we are getting older!

Jon had big dreams of stopping in Ann Arbor to check out the city, and to stop at a record store, but in the end neither of us had the energy for it.

So instead, after driving about 90 minutes, a tired, un-showered and slightly groggy couple stumbled into the Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Michigan (population about 7,000) about 2:30, hoping to get a bite to eat and a brew. The joint was jumping! We were able to snag the last open table – a table for 6 near the door. We ordered our beers and an order of nachos. My beer, the Raspberry Ale, didn’t exactly hit the spot, which was kind of surprising since that is normally exactly the type of beer I would like.  It just didn’t come together on the palate. Jon’s beers were amazing. He had two while we were there; a Double Crooked Tree IPA and then the 4 Elf Winter Warmer.

I especially liked the Winter Warmer, with a great balance of spice on a dark winter ale. YUM! And the nachos, although simple, were sinfully good. Chunks of chicken, tomatoes, olives, shredded lettuce and pepperoncinis, smothered with that fake Velveeta cheese on tortilla chips. Jon prefers a bit more upscale nachos, but I dug right in and was happy with our choice.

Terrible picture, great nachos!

Terrible picture, great nachos!

If you are a regular, you can get into their mug club, with handmade ceramic mugs hung all over the ceiling for loyal customers.  I loved the look!

Mugs hang from every inch of ceiling space

Mugs hang from every inch of ceiling space

After we had been at Dark Horse a little while, we invited a couple who was waiting for a table to sit down and join us. It turned out that they were from Grand Rapids, down for an afternoon beer tour of Dark Horse. They had rave reviews about the tour, offered at noon on Saturdays – next time Jon and I are in Michigan, hopefully we will be able to check it out. They explained to us that Dark Horse is also featured on a reality show on the History Channel (I’m not sure what is historical about a relatively new brewpub but…) about life in a brewpub. We hadn’t heard of it, but my mom had (she knows all sorts of random trivia). We still haven’t seen the show.

Finally we pulled ourselves away, bought some bottled beer to go, and took our leave of Dark Horse. We will certainly be back again.  Please promise me that if you visit, you will check out the crazy toilet in the ladies’ room!  That thing had a panel on the side with all sorts of buttons!  I’m really not sure what it did!

I have no idea what “features” this toilet offers

I have no idea what “features” this toilet offers

Have you had Dark Horse beer?  Have you seen the show?

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11 thoughts on “MI Road Trip: Starting Michigan with a Beer!

  1. We’ve spent many happy hours at Dark Horse. (Mainly rolling in there after many mi!es on bicycles). Crooked Tree is our go-to beer there. Sorry, but I have to agree with Jon on the nachos there – don’t think I have ever had any that are worse. Too bad you didn’t order a sandwich on one of their homemade pretzel buns – made from the spent brewery grains. They rock!

    • That would have been neat to meet you! Of course, we were both like zombies, so we decided to skip it. But hopefully next time – MI is an every couple year occurrence since I have so much family there.

      We did go to Traverse City, but didn’t make it to Petoskey. We just didn’t have enough time. We did go to Sleeping Bear Dunes though!

      I so wanted to like that Raspberry Ale – so many breweries are so focused on IPA these days, and the IPAs I like are few and far between. Too hoppy… Cheers!

  2. Pingback: Toilets of Yesteryear… | Wine and History Visited

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