This week I’m going to talk about a place I visited on my recent Michigan Craft Beer Bar road trip. Any road trip for me involves craft beer at the end of the day even though it may be a “working” road trip. Calling it a “Craft Beer etc” road trip simply gives me a warm fuzzy.
What About Last Week’s Beer Question?
Oh, I was going to complete my little discussion about “What is Craft Beer” from last time, but I wanted to get words to screen while this trip is still fresh in my beer-soaked brain. Don’t worry, if you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for me to give you the rest of the goods on that cliffhanger “what is craft beer” question…your patience will be rewarded next time.
Craft Beer Road Trip Time
So, I’d been eating up the miles on I-75 in Michigan with local craft beer on my mind. Just me, my truck, and a growing thirst as I barreled north toward the 45th Parallel (which is about the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole). My subconscious kept repeating “break time” and I wisely listened. In fact, since I was lusting for some ass kicking tasty craft beer for the last couple hundred miles I figured it was time to find a cozy spot for the night and knock back a few to slake my thirst.
The next exit was Grayling. A little town of under 2000 and home to three craft breweries. I can appreciate that! Sweet little downtown which was a little more than cross roads, I took a right and spotted The Paddle Hard Brewery.
Checking Out the Paddle Hard Brewery and Bar
The Paddle Hard had sidewalk seating, but since there was a chill in the air everyone was inside. As I walked in the rustic looking interior, there was schwag, mugs, and other paraphernalia tacked to the walls. I plopped down at the bar and started reading their beer menu which was on some vivid video screens above the back bar.
They had a selection of Michigan crafts, but I honed in on their namesake microbrews.
Of Vikings and Imperial IPA…
Being a fan of both hops and raiding Norsemen, I started with the Paddle Hard Viking. The Viking is an Imperial IPA that has a kick in the pants 12.5% ABV. A strong brew is precisely what I needed to shake off those highway miles. They served it in a cute little glass. I could have knocked back the contents in one gulp but was worried that wouldn’t sit well with the bartender. Since I had already zeroed in on some other beers on the menu and I didn’t want to get cut off, I decided to sip it in a very un-Viking like fashion.
The Viking Imperial IPA was clear with a light golden color. Its mild hop aroma was spiked with, to my nose, a pleasant alcohol overtone. As the brew went down my hatch, the flavor mix of hops and robust alcohol cut directly through that road-weary thirst and put a smile on my face. Despite the high alcohol content, this was a well-balanced beer and I could have easily enjoyed a few more.
Drinking Milltown Java Porter and Liking It
Since I figured that I’d never be in this brewery, in this town again, I tasted a couple other house brews in an attempt to get the full Paddle Board Brewery experience. I went with a pint of their Milltown Java Porter next. True to its name, this porter was coffee black with a healthy coffee flavor and it left an afterthought of molasses on my palate. Like the Viking, every sip of Paddle Hard’s 5.9% ABV Milltown Java Porter tasted like more. That’s a compliment considering my vast craft beer drinking experience.
I found out that the Paddle Hard Brewery had been around only since 2014. Their brewery was about a block down the street. All the beer they brew is sold for consumption in the Paddle Hard Brewery bar.
Happy Craft Beer Trails to You
After consuming a few myself, I settled in a nearby motel for the night and was back on the road early next morning leaving the Viking and Milltown Java behind. Pleasant memories and happy trails.