May 29, 2016

Michigan’s Rich Colors with Marion Cornett

Have you ever held up a freshly-poured glass of tap beer, allowing the light to filter through so you can admire the richness of color, the clarity, while noticing your taste buds salivating for that first sip through the required foam?  If this already has you thinking about a tall and tasty brew from a local micro-brewery, then you might be a Michigander or you need to come to our great state.

We’ve always been known as the “Great Lakes State” but, more recently because of the influx of so many great breweries, our state has been referred to as the “Great Beer State,” ranking within the top of five across the country.

With brewers and breweries crafting flavored beer as well as the “usuals”—such as wheat and brown ale—the market has exploded like no other time since the end of Prohibition.  Of course, in the 1920s, a few select companies survived making root beer and ginger ale and, even those, are popular to this day with most breweries offering their take on these drinks.

Why are we talking about beer?  Well, our country has always had a love/hate relationship with drinking.  While doing research for my historical novel, “Juniper and Anise,” I found the Volstead Act (creating what we know as the Prohibition Era) to be ineffective.  If men or women wanted to drink, they found a way.  My story revolves around a woman bootlegger surviving during these hard times by flavoring rye mash with juniper berries and anise sprigs, and she had loads of willing customers.  As back in the day, today you can find all sorts of “moonshine” or “bathtub gin” in your local liquor store, right alongside beers, wine, and alcohol.

With all of this in mind, my husband and I did a little research of our own.  There are nearly a couple hundred known breweries in Michigan but we had time to visit only three in recent months.  Founder’s in Grand Rapids and Bell’s in Kalamazoo are well-established while Block Brewing in Howell is the new kid on the block (pun intended).  All are well worth your visit in our great state.

Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers opened Founder’s in 1997 to lukewarm reception but, within a few years, established themselves as master brewers by winning World Beer Cup awards as well as numerous other medals.  Bell’s Brewery is slightly older, opening their doors in the early 1980s.  It was a slow start for Larry Bell but now, they distribute beer to over 23 states as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.  Tom Block had a passion—make tasty craft beer and team it with great barbeque.  Block Brewing opened their doors a couple years ago and they are going strong!

Success stories are great and every time my husband and I visit a brewery, we look for the history, the people behind the success, the “why” of their passion to make beer.  Maybe that’s the reason temperance in our country draws me in.  We, in Michigan, are a sociable group.  We like to have a beer, a glass of wine, or a mixed drink while we suss out our hectic lives.  Maybe that’s why breweries are so prevalent.  Maybe that’s why the experiment of Prohibition didn’t work.
But, all of this said, please visit our wonderful and beautiful state of Michigan, with sandy beaches, dense forests and numerous lakes, scenes to calm the soul, and a brewery around every corner to quench your thirst. 

And now, be sure to head to my website, and comment on the article for a free copy of “Juniper and Anise.”  Take a chance and buy my book but, at the same time, a winner will be selected June 6, 2016, from those leaving a comment.  Good luck! Head on over to my website to learn more about my work. 
(all info provided by author)


  1. I the to say this, but given that beer uses much water and that Flint is in Michigan, I don't think Michigan beer has a great future. I guess if you sink a well up in the peninsula and sold it not as Michigan but "Up Country" product, maybe. Of course, I wouldn't want to drink beer from any state that used the Great Lakes as their reservoir. I wonder if I can get some from Maine. I know Colorado has good beer and Massachusetts. But I digress from your nicely written piece.

  2. Ah, the craft beer. We have many that have exploded here in our town. I like to think of it as a creative expression that the brewers share with the world. Michigan is a beautiful state, and the folks so fun.
    Thank you for adding to the story. Angela Raines-author

  3. Michigan is another state I can hardly wait to visit in my travels (hopefully) beginning next year!

    Good luck and God's blessings.

  4. While I'm not a beer drinker, I am a big fan of rural Michigan -- I used to vacation in the Lake Bellaire area every summer. Beautiful, and the UP is even more beautiful.

  5. Interesting and different take on a state's attractions. I live near the nation's oldest brewery (Yuengling in Pottsville PA, founded in 1829 and still owned by the same family). During Prohibition they survived by making near beer and also opened an ice cream and dairy plant.

  6. Thank you, JRLindermuth, for your comment. My maternal grandfather worked at Yuengling when he first came to the States in the early 1900s from Lithuania. I only found out about that recently and am now quite curious to get to that old brewery. ~~Marion Cornett

  7. One of our sons went to Kettering College in Flint, Michigan, graduating a year or so before they water source was changed. He got a world-class education that led directly to a great job as an engineer. The people of Flint are to be empathized with, not denigrated for what was done to them. The politicians who are responsible should be in jail, though little likelihood of that.

    Since son and his wife live in Michigan (she's a native), we head there often to visit, sometimes camping with them. We've been exploring a new Michigan State Park almost every time we camp there, and have yet to have a bad experience. The state has much to offer, but we've never toured any of the breweries. I'll have to suggest that the next time we're there.

    BTW, I've enjoyed some of Bells beers, especially the Brown Ale. But I haven't heard of the others. I'll look for them. Thanks! Great post.

  8. Thanks for this informative and interesting post. When I lived in Ontario we visited Michigan and enjoyed the beauty, lakes and farms. The apple orchards and the rich farmland was wonderful.

  9. I enjoyed touring Ann Arbor and smaller towns which are charming, and very interesting. What a lovely article and post.


Follow 50 Authors from 50 States blog for the latest