From Northwoods taverns to hip breweries and distilleries, Northern Michigan is full of good spirits. Explore the spots for beer, wine, spirits and cider in Beulah, Frankfort, Ludington, Manistee, Cadillac, Lake Ann, Kaleva, Thompsonville, and Honor.
Breweries in the Benzie Region
The newest brewery in the region, Five Shores, opened in January 2020 bringing award-winning brewmaster Oliver Roberts, formerly the head brewer at Wolverine State Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor, and business partner, Matt Demorest, to Beulah. The duo is serving up coastal vibes in the renovated Quonset-style building downtown with a robust list of craft beers, along with cider, wine, cocktails and shareable eats (the German-style pretzel is massive, and it’s coated with everything bagel seasoning, so it’s obviously delish).
Five Shores is, of course, in good company, joining sudsy stalwarts such as Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort, Jamesport Brewing Company and Ludington Bay Brewing Co. in Ludington, North Channel in Manistee, Clam Lake Beer Company in Cadillac and Lake Ann Brewing in Lake Ann. Each establishment has its own beer profile, but they all share conviviality, great live music and outdoor seating. For creative beers to go (think picnic or post-beach BBQ), swing by Starving Artist Brewing Co., a barn-turned-brewery in Ludington.
Plan Your Own Wine & Cider Tour from Kaleva to Ludington
With a designated driver, you can create your own mini wine and cider tour in the region.
Here’s the lineup:
Stop 1: Northern Natural Cider House & Winery in Kaleva, known for its USDA-certified organic ciders.
Stop 2: Douglas Valley Winery in Manistee, where the tasting room is a renovated 1800s bunk-house that was used by passengers on the Manistee and North-Eastern Railroad.
Stop 3: Love Wines Winery in Ludington for a range of sweet to dry small-batch blends.
Visit St. Ambrose Cellars & Iron Fish Distillery
Defying categories, St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah’s countryside is a fun destination offering something for everyone—beer, wine, cider, mead, yard games and a food truck. Also tucked in the region’s countryside, Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville boasts farm-to-flask spirits, each handcrafted on the 120-acre farm surrounded by forest. Though Iron Fish is a bit off the beaten path, aka a scenic dirt road, it’s a must-visit food and entertainment hub for all ages.
Kick Back at A Classic Local Watering Hole
When the evening calls for laidback Up North vibes, make your way to these long-loved watering holes with kicked-up tavern food: Lumberjacks Bar & Grill in Honor (great weekly specials), Jodi’s Tangled Antler in Beulah (prime karaoke spot), The Painted Lady Saloon in Manistee (the town’s oldest operating bar) and Sportman’s Irish Pub in Ludington (traditional sports bar for when ya gotta catch a game).
Take a Private Distillery, Winery or Brewery Tour in the Benzie Region
The Magic Shuttle Bus offers a Best of Benzie County experience with stops at Lake Ann Brewing Co., St. Ambrose Cellars and Iron Fish Distillery. You’ll learn how their products are crafted and tastings are encouraged. Tours generally last about six hours.
Lakeshore Shuttle & Tours offers winery and brewery tours (along with fall color tours, golf outings and more) in the Benzie County area. Get a quote for your group on the Lakeshore Shuttle website.
Find this article and more in the 2021 issue of the Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. If you’re not subscribed to Traverse Magazine, you can download the Vacation Guide for free.