Michigan’s Best Brewery: Our Top 10 list, plus the best newcomers, and more

It took nine days, more than 2,000 miles and a visit to 38 of the best breweries around the state to come up with our pick for Michigan’s Best Brewery.

It was not an easy task because every one of the breweries we visited offered multiple great beers, including many styles. We sampled everything from Belgians to lagers to IPAs to stouts.

We looked for an overall “experience,” those places with a great atmosphere, staff and dedication to making Michigan the Great Beer State!

Joining me on the trip was Amy Sherman of TV’s “The Great American Brew Trail,” who served as my expert/enthusiast.

She helped me come up with this list as we looked at the overall “experience” of going to a brewery. These 38 finalists were voted on in polls throughout Michigan and selected by our readers.

I had three designated drivers along the way; the one who joined me for the bulk of the trip was Fritz Klug, a statewide reporter for Mlive who is based in Lansing.

Michigan’s Best Brewery Top 10 list:

Short’s Brewing Company, 121 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

It’s worth the drive! Joe Short and his crew have built a true Michigan success story with great (and creative) beers, an outstanding food menu and a knowledgeable crew of bartenders, managers and even “liberators” — the name they give to their sales reps. Located about 40 miles northeast of Traverse City, near Torch Lake, the tiny town of Bellaire is now Short’s City USA; the locals love it, and tourists who make the trip don’t leave disappointed. We were lucky enough to meet Joe Short, the owner and creator of Short’s Brewing Company. He filled us in on the humble beginnings, and his dreams of keeping Michigan as the Great Beer State. They only distribute in Michigan, and plan to keep it that way. Some have called it the Joe Short’s Michigan Stimulus Plan. With 20 beers on tap, made on site and at its production facility in Elk Rapids, there is always something for everyone. And the food is fantastic; from pizzas to mouthwatering favorites such as the White Pepper sandwich.

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