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A Discussion of Top Michigan Craft Beers

Michigan craft beers are taking over the world.

Michigan craft beers are taking over the world. And even if that's hyperbole (on a sports blog?? Noooo), the Mitten is leading the craft beer charge. Maybe you know Founders and Bells, but do you know Shorts and Atwater and Dark Horse and New Holland and Arcadia? You know the game-changing Oberon, but do you know Scotty Karate and ControversiALE?

Home to more than 100 breweries, Michigan is fifth in the nation for the number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. Why is Michigan-made beer so good? It's a combination of rich soil, pure water, proper climate...and the ease which we grow hops in Michigan.

I'm sure everyone in Michigan has been part of the craft beer explosion. It's hard to miss around here. Grand Rapids was recently named Beer City USA. Founders and Bells found themselves in the Top 30 of all American micro-breweries.

I don't believe I knew much about craft beer until I discovered something called "Celis White". A product of the now-defunct Michigan Brewing Company, sadly closed because of tax issues, I needed a summer golf drink for 2011 and I had always erred toward a lighter beer, a witbier-type. This really delivered the goods. I could go through three of 'em quick. My interest was piqued. Just when you think you don't need to explore any more Michigan beers, you discover that Short's Locals Light is probably the best Michigan light beer available. Just when you make that unsustainable statement, you discover Motor City Brewing Works has its own version.

The magic of this craft beer movement is that you can make of it what you want. Your own Jon Franz is a wine/beer snob who sometimes makes his own beer and probably thinks things like this (from the Founders Porter review page):

What a pour. Black as night with a rich tan colored head that reached a height of at least two inches before settling down to a respectable inch of head that did not go away. Lots of chocolate and coffee leading the way here. Hints of molasses as well. Huge flavor here, maybe the best tasting porter I have come across. Lots of cocoa and chocolate, rich, huge flavor with a smooth creaminess that was second to none in my eyes. Really fantastic balance here as the chocolate really starts to come out as it warms. Lots of flavor here with a ton of mellow notes that were just all over the place. Nice tight, dry finish as it fades off into the night, this was a great way to end my evening.

Overall a very solid beer. One of the best i have had as a standard porter in a long, long time. I would have no issue going after this one any day.

Or you can be like me, and just roll around the state looking for delicious beers.

Working with SpartanHT and my buddy Sam Abood, a restaurant manager who serves as my conduit to numerous new Michigan beers, we came up with a list of solid Michigan beers. I'll even include a Top Ten list , in honor of SEO and Bleacher Report and slideshows and Team Stream and Michigan and Alcohol. God Bless Michigan State Week.

TOP 10

Founders Porter

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout


Bell's Two-Hearted Ale

Shorts Pandemonium Pale Ale

Dark horse Crooked Tree IPA

Bell's Hopslam

Founder's Dirty Bastard

New Holland Mad Hatter IPA

Atwater Brewing Dirty Blonde


Motor City Brewing Works Ghettoblaster

New Holland White Hatter

New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

Bell's Winter White Ale

Founder's Dirty Bastard

Founder's Breakfast Stout

Shorts Bellaire Brown

Arcadia Sky High Rye

Atwater Brewing Vanilla Java

New Holland Dragon's Milk