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The Best Detroit Breweries

The Best Detroit Breweries
Detroit has a rich brewing tradition dating back to the mid-1800s. While the early days featured many small brewing operations, over time, large conglomerates came to rule the local market.

Stroh’s, one of Detroit’s most famed breweries, began in 1850 and operated for 135 years until closing its doors in 1985. Stroh’s was resurrected as part of Pabst Brewing Company in 1999, but the Detroit beer scene had already begun a resurrection of its own. Currently, there are more than 30 breweries and brewpubs in the Detroit metro area. Here are a few of the best:

Atwater Beer

Atwater Brewery opened in the Rivertown district of Detroit in 1997. The original owners intended to make beer the way it had been made in Detroit more than a century earlier, using vintage Kasper Schulz equipment to recreate the German Lager popularized by Stroh’s in the mid-1800s. Since 1997, Atwater has continued to make traditional German lagers while branching out into what the brewery calls “unique boutique ales” and expanding its original location.

Today, Atwater thrives on more creative brews. Atwater has a second location with a Biergarten in Grosse Pointe Park with another planned location coming in Grand Rapids. Try the Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale, brewed in the Northern English tradition. According to Atwater, it derives its chocolatey taste from an extract of three different types of blended chocolate.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales

Pumpkin beers (and pumpkin everything) are all the rage today. But when Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales was founded in 2004, brewer Ron Jeffries chose the name because it was the one that made him and his wife smile every time they came back to it. Jolly Pumpkin has three brewpubs: in midtown Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Traverse City.

Jolly Pumpkin specializes in farmhouse ales that were traditionally brewed on a farm using whatever ingredients were on hand. Check out their Oro De Calabaza, or “Gold of Pumpkin.” According to the brewery, it’s an Artisan Wild Ale created in the “Franco-Belgian style of strong golden ales” and brewed using wild yeast.

Detroit Beer Co.

The Detroit Beer Co. opened in 2003 on Broadway in Downtown Detroit, close to Comerica Park and Ford Field. The brewhouse, in a renovated historic building, showcases the brewery equipment within view of restaurant patrons with beer brewed on-site.

If you’re in the area, stop by and try the Local 1529. The brewery describes it as an American IPA brewed with Columbus, Falconer’s Flight and Centennial hops; fans describe it as a golden IPA with balanced notes of citrus, pine, and hops.

Motor City Brewing Works

Motor City Brewing Works opened in 1994 and bills itself as “Detroit’s Oldest Operating Brewery.” Located in Midtown in the “Cultural Center” of Detroit among theaters, museums, and university buildings, the brewery considers its handcrafted beer another cultural aspect of the city. Proud of its Detroit heritage, Motor City brews using equipment custom-made from salvaged material and scraps from the city’s bygone days as an industrial hub.

The brewery not only brews beer but also offers hard cider and wine, as well as soda made with cane sugar and without caffeine. The second location on Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion is planned for 2017.

Try the Motor City Brewing Works Honey Porter, one of the brewery’s six flagship brews. The dark ale gets its sweet tones from local Michigan honey.