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

Amy Sherman’s Beer Choices:¬†Short’s beers are creative, interesting and definitely different. With crazy names like Alien Einstein for a gluten free lager to OMGWTFBBQ for an insane smoky BBQ beer, there are beers here that are going to blow your mind. Flagship beers that you can get around the state, like the intensely hoppy Humalupalicious, or the malty Bellaire Brown are just as stellar as always.

Greenbush Brewing Co., 5885 Sawyer Rd, Sawyer

It’s funny to think that a small town like Sawyer could support a brewery like Greenbush, which is just bursting at the seams. With more than 2,000-plus mug club members, each village resident could hoist one in the air. As you might guess, mug club members come from all over the state, including the Chicago area. Located off I-94, less than 20 miles from the Michigan/Indiana border, Greenbush was buzzing on a Tuesday when we visited right after the lunch rush. Owner Scott Sullivan gave us a tour of his expanding empire, as the whole crew worked diligently to fill orders, whether at the restaurant or in the back of its production facility. In two years, Greenbush has tripled its production to 13,000 barrels, while increasing its staff by seven times. The growth can be attributed to one thing: Outstanding beer! My expert/enthusiast Amy Sherman said: “They believe that beer should be bold; higher alcohol means high flavored whammies.” And we loved the diverse/local menu of pizzas, sandwiches and BBQ on a Southern Pride smoker; Amy suggests the brisket sandwich on buns from Southwest Michigan favorite Bit of Swiss.

Dark Horse Brewing Co., 511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall

Amy and I loved the Dark Horse sprawling complex: A beauty salon, motorcycle store, skate shop and one of the biggest breweries in the state. It’s impressive to see what husband and wife team Aaron and Kristine Morse, and their crew, have built. Their following is intense with 3,800 mugs covering the small and dimly lit tap room. There is an outdoor patio, too. “(The complex) is as unique as they are, and the beers here are top notch,” Amy said. They are brewing close to 18,000 barrels a year, and they are having so much fun doing it. “The beers are malt forward in profile, no insane hop counts here,” Amy said. “Very well crafted, almost every one was a winner in my book,” she added. They also run a very small kitchen; the food is simple, fresh and “stellar.” (We loved the calzone and a spicy jalapeno and cheese bread.)

Amy Sherman’s Beer Choices:¬†Scary Jesus Rockstar, brewed with fresh apricots and a chamomile tea, and the Crooked Tree IPA. “Although you can get this pretty much everywhere, it comes fresh off the tanks at Dark Horse and is just about perfect.” And don’t forget the Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth Stout! I don’t think we need to say more.

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