Monday morning, ran a few errands then headed up north to visit with my Mother. We had a couple nice steaks on the grill, sat and talked about everything under the sun, and eventually met my cousin Jeff at the local watering hole for a pint or two.
On Tuesday, Mom and I walked around the downtown area, where they have this neat metal sculpture exhibit... Local artists create whatever they want to create, as long as it is 100% made of metals. The sculptures are displayed in the downtown area, and we went walking from one to the other. Pretty neat way to spend a couple hours.
Tuesday eve, Cousin Jeff and I started north towards Traverse City, Michigan. We spent the night in Cadillac, Michigan, simply because the hotel there was about 60% cheaper than one in Traverse City. And I'm a cheap bastard.
Wednesday morning, we got up to TC for the Paddle for Pints kayaking brewery tour. This is a VERY neat event... You buy your ticket (and either bring your own kayak or rent one) and as a large group start paddling from one brewery to the next.
I created a simple Google Map that you can (hopefully) view by clicking here. We started at the Filling Station, It's the one on the north side of the lake in the middle. I had a Cycle Club Pale Ale, which was nice and crisp, but slightly flat.
At noon, everyone (all eighty-some) of us launched our kayaks and paddled across the lake to Right Brain Brewery (the one on the west bank of the lake). These guys are making some seriously creative beers... I had a Fire Starter, which is a Chipotle pepper flavored porter. The first sip was full and robust, then finishes with a nice heat of that Chipotle pepper. After the third sip or so, the heat was softening and the rest of the beer was pleasant. Cuz had a Spear Beer, which is made with asparagus. Rather different. I didn't care for it, but he liked it. There were two ladies that we met and they joined us for drinks and conversations. One of them had a Cherry Pie Whole, which is a beer that has an entire baked cherry pie added to the primary fermentation vessel (Traverse City is famous for their cherry trees, and has a huge cherry festival every year.) So, yes, they add a cherry pie, crust and all, to the beer as it ferments. GREAT beer. I also had one of their Concrete Dinosaur Rye IPAs. Yummy.
After about an hour, it was back to the boats. We paddled north, into the mouth of the Boardman River, and stopped at the dam between Cass Street and Union Street. A short 3 block walk brought us to Rare Bird Brewpub, where I had a Hopricot, which is a mildly hoppy apricot infused ale. We also decided some food was in order, so we grabbed a couple appetizer plates. A meat and cheese plate, some Sriracha Deviled Eggs, and an order of tacos. After the Hopricot, I had a pint of Show Me What You're Working Wit, a wheat beer that has a hint of tangerine and grapefruit. Think Blue Moon on Steroids.
The final push was out of the river into the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, over to Clinch Park, where we dropped off our kayaks with the P4P crew, then walked a few more blocks to The Workshop Brewing Company. We grabbed a few last pints, including the Ball Peen ESB and a Twenty Pound Sledge IPA. Said our goodbyes to our paddling friends -- people come from all over for this event, and we met a couple from Glasgow, Scotland -- and started walking back to the original brewery where we piled into the Jeep and drove to one of Jeff's cousins from the other side of his family. She opened her home to us for the night, let us take a shower, then we went out for dinner.
Thursday morning, we grabbed breakfast at The Omelette Shop, then filled the gas tank and drove home. Dropped Jeff off in Auburn, then finished the push back to my place. My batteries are recharged as much as they've ever been. Given the past month and the roller coaster ride it has been, this was a much needed diversion.
If you haven't been to Traverse City, you should. It's a really cool city, tons of great food and local flavor, and has so far managed to keep the downtown area very local (all the crappy chain restaurants are on the south side of town) and vibrant.
Paddle For Pints on Facebook
Paddle for Pints website