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A BEAUTIFUL BEER WEEKEND IN MICHIGAN: PART TWO

July 13, 2015
BOATS LIKE THIS AT BOYNE THUNDER: X 100
Well, after we left Bellaire, you might have thought the beer highlights of our trip were over. But not so. Our ultimate destination on Friday was Boyne City, at the far eastern end of Lake Charlevoix. While the Boyne Thunder Poker Run is on Saturday, the Main Street organization organizes a great street party, where people come from all over to check out awesome powerboats, cool cars and rat rods, as well as listen to some great music by the lake. Boyne city is one of those “perfect small towns” in which you can easily imagine yourself living.

We took in the sights, sounds and smells of the street party, stopped in at The Sportsman for a beer, then wandered into Boyne Country Provisions, a great wine/beer emporium and market. The carry-out beer choices here are incredible, and their individual bottle selection really shines – plus, you can mix-and-match a 6-pack and get 10% off, which is pretty standard at most bottle shops now.
After a walk over to the docks to gawk at the boats that would be participating in the poker run, we headed back to Boyne Mountain resort for the night. The next morning, we headed back to Boyne City, to see some more of the 100 boats making the run and then watch them run their “parade lap” off the seawall before heading west down the lake towards Charlevoix.

This is really an experience to see; you’ve got about 100 big boats, most are powered by twin engine big-block V-8s, but some of these monsters have triple engines, turbine engines, and multiple outboard engines. When they all start up, it’s gotta be as loud (if not louder) than any NASCAR race. They slowly roll out onto the lake to get into formation, which takes about 45 minutes; then they get up to speed—throwing 100-foot roostertails—and run past the lighthouse point seawall, around 150 yards out, at about 60-70 mph.  They would go faster (a lot of these boats can do over 100mph or close to it) but the resulting boat wakes would create multiple small tsunamis and drench the spectators at the seawall. As it was, we still got splashed a couple of times!

After this experience, it was time to drive west over to Charlevoix—where there’s a nice harbor and a narrow channel that allows access to Lake Michigan. At this point I have to mention that the weather was perfect. Low-to-mid 80’s…not a cloud in the sky…and little to no breeze, which made wave conditions great for the boaters.

OK. Now for the Beer…

THE PATIO AT LAKE CHARLEVOIX BREWING CO.
After perusing all the great stuff available at the annual Arts & Crafts fair in Downtown Charlevoix, we headed over to Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company and parked ourselves on the patio overlooking the marina. The brewery here is just a few months old; there’s also a newer tap-house next door—both places are excellent for soaking up the sun and some suds.

The wife and I managed to grab the last seat on the patio. There was no umbrella at our table, which is not so bad (I tan well) but drinking beer in the hot sun can catch up to you after a few. Nevertheless, I started with a Nutty Hobo, an excellent brown ale that went down ultra smooth; nice caramel touches, without the harsh hoppy bite that you might find in some American brown ales. As I've said before, it's a matter of preference--and where brown ales are concerned, I prefer malty over hoppy.

FRANKENMUTH BREWERY
After that, I switched to the Michigan Bleached Blondie, which was a nicely balanced, refreshing blonde with a slightly sweet, malty finish. Perfect for sitting in the sun on a hot day, great for drinking more than one—and I did. We tried the Liquor Store Nachos, which were great (slathered in cheese and smoked pulled pork) – a perfect pairing with the cold beer. Did I mention the service was excellent?

At this point we needed some walking and some time to recover so we could make our next stop. We considered overnighting in Charlevoix, but the wife talked me into a 3-hr drive south to Frankenmuth, MI—another great beer town and tourist destination. Years ago, there used to be a large Carling Brewery here, as well as the local Frankenmuth Brewery, which still runs a great and very popular operation. Thankfully, some of their products are available in Akron, though I was intent on trying some new styles if I could.


THE BAVARIAN INN - FRANKENMUTH, MI
So we headed off, got to town about dinnertime, checked into a hotel and started walking down Main Street. You could get fat here; we stopped in the Cheese Haus, walked past the fudge shop, a taffy shop, and then headed to the Bavarian Inn, where I had a couple tulip glasses of Strawberry Short’s Cake, which I did not remember seeing when we were up at Short’s in Bellaire. It was perfectly delicious.

While there, we sat at the bar in Michigan on Main, a spot at the Inn where they feature all Michigan-made food and drink. The service was unbeatable and the people we met there were incredibly friendly. Also, the wine and beer shop downstairs is not to be missed. While a lot of retail stores have trimmed their import selection to make room for the innumerable US craft beers, the Bavarian Inn had an excellent selection of imports—particularly German favorites—that are not quite as easy to find as they once were. As a result, I grabbed some up to bring home.

I was able to enjoy a Hofbrau Dunkel with our late dinner; by the time we got to the Frankenmuth Brewery, their kitchen was closed, but we stopped at a crowded wine bar across the street that (thankfully) had a few good beers on tap. A delicious pastrami pannini went well with that, and made for a great exclamation point to our Michigan weekend.  Prost!

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