Beer Buddies

It’s time to face facts. Beer is the fuel of college students across America. There’s just no getting around that. This obvious fact is what lead me to round up the troops and make our way to Sawyer, MI to scope out the wonderful microbrewery, Greenbush Brewery.

After roughly an hour of driving along 80-94 East, crossing the border between Indiana and Michigan and some serious rainfall that made us question it being the first day of Fall, we had made it to our destination. Just one turn off the exit and you’ll see BREWERY staring down at you in big block letters inviting you in.

Despite this being on the smaller side, Greenbush has a really nice, down home feeling to it. There are tables for four or there’s a giant communal table right down the middle. We plopped ourselves down at this giant table and took a gander at our choices.

The photo above is my first beer, a nice cream ale called Traktor. To go with my and my friend’s first beers (both very dark), we eyed the snacks and got the blue cheese and bacon dip with kettle chips. Yes, it tasted like heaven and went beautifully with our beer. (Little known fact: cheese actually goes better with beer than it does with wine. Take that!)

After that, I made the decision to taste the Red Bud. I’m not usually one for wheat beers because they tend to make me think I’m drinking bread and leave me with a weird grainy taste in my mouth, but this was absolutely delicious.

By this time, our group was joined by another friend and he ordered the entire section of snacks on the menu. While we didn’t eat the food here this time around and although they have an incredibly small kitchen, the food still smelled delicious. For your viewing pleasure, I will include a shot of the menu.

(I’m coming for you next time, sandwich section. You better watch out as well, pulled pork. You smelled like heaven. That is, if heaven is a place where the fat kids roam and sing about pork.)

Being the responsible driver that I am, I only drank two full beers, but my cohorts had quite a selection between them. The selection included: Closure, Anger, Retribution, Mr.Hyde, Penitence and Micromegas. I wasn’t into most of them, but the Micromegas was absolutely delicious. It had an almost fruity flavor to it. It made me wish I wasn’t driving and could have a full pint (which was only $4!).

It might be small, but Greenbush is definitely on its way to becoming a huge brewery. And I’m not just saying that because two guys I went to high school with work there. It has such a great vibe to it and you can tell that everyone there really enjoys what they’re doing. It’s a great place to sit down with your friends and make both stupid and smart conversation over really delicious beer. The drive is a straight shot and totally worth it. For all the information on the hours, the descriptions of the beers and contact info, visit their website.

Is a week later too soon to go back? No? Okay then. Who wants in next time?

Cows, (Ice) Cream and a Cheese Coma

How many of us have been driving North or South on I-65, seen a sign similar to this one and thought, “I should really stop there sometime”? Well, folks. I took one for the team and I decided I was finally going to do it. I was ready to learn all about dairy, the milking process and stare at some cows.

Okay, fine. I was really just in it for the sampling of all of their cheeses. So what?

I started my dairy adventure at the front desk. By forking over a small adult fee of $12 ($10 for children), I was given an all-inclusive run of the farm. This included the exhibits in the main building, the 3D/4D movie about the milking process, the bus tour that takes you through the entire farm, the birthing barn and the fun activities they have on the rest of the grounds. If you’re short on time, they have a $10 fee that includes the birthing barn and the remainder of the grounds.

Once I paid my way, I took a stroll through the first portion of the exhibit. There they have scale statue cows that have facts written all over them including their weight (1500 pounds), how many stomachs they have (four) and why they wear “earrings” (to be used as identification). After I was done learning all that I could, I moved on to the 3D/4D movie to learn the thrilling process of how milk starts at the cow and ends at the super market (you might want to skip that if you’re not one for water in your face when you least expect it).

Feeling refreshed, I walked through the next exhibit showcasing how the process has developed over the centuries. I also learned how and what the cows are fed and what goes into storing their food. Did you know that they eat up to TWENTY TIMES THEIR WEIGHT in a whole YEAR? It felt like an exhibit at a pricey science museum, but you barely paid anything to learn all of it!

I was so full on learning that I hardly realized I was hungry. That is, until I walked out of the main building outside. I made a quick check to see if the green light was lit at the birthing barn (meaning a calf was at that moment being born), saw that it was red and made my way straight towards the gift shop and café. The second I walked in, I was assaulted with the smell of melting cheese on bread. It was like God smiling down and saying, “Yes, my children. Cheese is one of the best gifts I’ve given to the culinary world. Indulge yourselves.”

Oh, but I did. I mean, look at the choices!

Sweet Swiss, Harvarti Pepper, Mozzarella, Smoked Provolone…I’m getting hungry just typing these delicious cheese selections. Before making a purchase of any of these bad boys, you are welcome to try everything. Then, if you still have room, you can make your way to the other line that is waiting to make your grilled cheese dreams come true. That or you can sample their  “we’re mean and only sell it at the farm” ice cream. I guess what I’m saying is that you have a fat kid’s dream at your disposal.

With my bag heavy and full of four of Fair Oaks Farms finest, I saw that the light had turned from yellow to green and a calf was on its way. I made my way over there and quickly realized what a poor choice it was. The last time my sister and I had visited, we watched one of the most excruciating births the farm had seen. (Un)Luckily for the heifer this time, we had shown our faces once again and she was in for one rough birth. Sensing that it was our fault, we hightailed it out of there and realized it was time to go home.

We didn’t think we could handle all the sights and sounds of the bus tour this time around, but if you are interested in spending a fun afternoon learning something new and tasting some good eats, you can find the hours, prices and everything else that Fair Oaks has to offer here.

If you’ll excuse me, that Harvarti Onion and pita crackers won’t eat themselves.