DeTour de Sasse: What’s Across The Border To The North

DeTour de Sasse: What’s Across The Border To The North


By Writing & Reporting Community Member Charlie Sasse 

The month of May marks my annual trip to Kalamazoo, MI for the first of two Can-Am softball tournaments. Every year I schedule several stops at breweries on the way to or in Kalamazoo. I typically schedule the first stop somewhere in northern Indiana at a brewery with an interesting lunch menu and tap list. There is a group of us that meet and travel caravan style together. This started several years ago and has affectionately become known as the “DeTour de Sasse” due to several wrong turns on previous trips.

This year I met up with the first group of friends in Westfield, IN and the nine of us travelled to South Bend Brew Werks where we met with two more of our group from Chicago. I started out with a flight of the board, which is my typical order. This gives me the chance to sample all of the offerings and share them with the group. The taproom is very cool with repurposed materials everywhere. From the school desk taster paddles to the bowling alley bar and table tops you can see the love that went into this build out. For lunch I had the Three Way Chatter, a Grilled Cheese consisting of bacon, smoked cheddar, provolone, and habanero cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread. This sandwich was delicious, filling, and paired great with a few of the beers. Dr. Tiny’s Love Potion Hoppy Wheat was as hoppy as an IPA but very light and crisp at the same time. Several hop heads at the table ordered pints of this after tasting it. Mister Elegant is a smoked porter that tastes like a backyard BBQ when the flames get out of control, in the best possible way.  Think liquid smoked brisket, and you have Mister Elegant. We hated leaving, but we had more stops and more people to meet up with.

Our second stop of the day took us to Constantine Brewing Company where we met two more participants from Indiana for the DeTour de Sasse. This small pub sat in the middle of downtown Constantine, MI, about 20 miles north of the state border. The décor was very rustic, consisting of rough cut cedar, finished planks cut from very large old trees, and a small stage for open mic night. The nearly one year old brewery was building a beer garden in the back and setting up a bottling line soon. Again, I ordered a flight of the board and was ready to explore the offerings available. The Black Galactic Black IPA was a little roasty, but kept its bitterness all the way through the finish. A guy with us who does not like Black IPAs said this was the first one he enjoyed drinking. The surprise find in this taster though was the Emperor’s Victory Stout. It was labeled as a standard oatmeal stout, but there was something different about this brew. One flavor reminded me of grape must, but when questioned the brewer just laughed and said it was a secret ingredient. He then told me that he was joking and it was just a standard oatmeal stout. I suppose they have to keep some things a secret. This was a solid find on Google Maps when I was planning the trip and I will definitely make it back to check out the new beer garden.


Brewery number three on our tour was Boatyard Brewing in Kalamazoo, MI. Upon arriving we met up with four Canadians, a group from Wisconsin, and friends from Detroit that were all playing in the same tourney. When we arrived the Canadian contention of our group had already talked the brewers into giving us a tour of the facility. I ordered a snifter of the Macchi Amaretto and headed directly to the back. They called it an Italian Blonde with almond, and it was oddly delicious. As light as the beer felt on the tongue it had very big flavors with almond and vanilla at the front. Since I did not get a flight of the board, I enjoyed sips of several other beers along the way sharing with friends. The Lake Effect Double IPA was very enjoyable even though it was slightly sweeter than I typically prefer, but the sweetness worked in this hop monster and the flavors mingled well together. I had a fantastic time at Boatyard and enjoyed talking with the knowledgeable staff.
Bell’s Brewery is the crown jewel of Kalamazoo. The largest and most well known of the many breweries in the city, Bell’s never fails to impress. I have been there more times than I can remember and I continue to go back whenever I am in the area. This is probably why I forgot to take pictures during this visit. I ordered a flight of beers, the majority of which were new to me. This is easy to do even if you visit once a month. There are usually a couple of “Larry’s Experimental” or “Experimental Hop #??” beers available along with all of the standards and a few more that are only available at the tap room. In my flight I always try to include “Wild One”, Bell’s wild fermented brown ale. This is one of my favorite sours, but unless you enjoy very tart beer that has flavors like apple vinegar and wine grapes, I suggest going with one of the other offerings. Mango Habanero Oberon was written on one of the chalk board hangers and I had to sample it. The pour was bright orange and murky, which must have been from the mango that they added to the beer. The mango and habanero were present, but lighter than I expected. The heat hits the back of the throat but does not last long enough to ruin the drinkability. 

Our last brewery of the day took us to a small unassuming storefront in the middle of a strip mall in Kalamazoo. If you speak with the owner/brewer of One Well you must be prepared for the onslaught of high fives to follow. I found it welcoming and it really makes you feel like one of the regulars. After a while it just becomes fun to get and give a high five as he walks by, or when you order a beer, or play pinball, or just happen to be in the right place at the right time. I ordered a recently tapped beer named F.A.B. that was brewed with pumpkin and peach. If you have not figured it out yet, F.A.B. stands for “F%$k Anheuser Busch” and is One Well’s single fingered salute and response to the lame Budweiser Super Bowl commercial slamming craft beer. F.A.B. was not too sweet, nor did it taste like a pumpkin pie and that made me happy. It was a solid beer with a hint of peach and a nice earthy pumpkin finish. I would not drink six pints of this in one sitting but I would not complain if someone ordered one for me. My second beer was Sweet Water Street Imperial Porter. This porter is brewed with donut holes from Sweetwater’s Donut Mill and Coffee from Water Street Coffee Roaster. This porter had a nice mouth feel and you could really taste the coffee and get a little sweetness from the donuts. If I had to pick one beer to describe One Well, this would be it. It is creative, does not go overboard, but it is still bold and enjoyable. I cannot wait to get my next high five!



And I suggest visiting Sweetwater’s website, but wait till after lunch…

There are many high quality breweries in Indiana and I love trying every one, but our neighbor to the north has quite a few great breweries as well. From large breweries like Bell’s and Founders to small places like Paw Paw and Tapistry, Michigan is a great place to set a destination and plan a trip. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and many that I probably still have never heard of. My next Michigan experience will be Labor Day weekend when I pass through on my way to London, Ontario. I look forward to finding new breweries, meeting the wonderful people that work and brew there and of course the beers.

No Comments
  • T.J. Waldofsky
    Posted at 04:15h, 03 June Reply

    Great article. Thanks for stopping by One Well Brewing!

  • TwoDEEP Mike
    Posted at 01:33h, 04 June Reply

    Dat jalapeño blonde though! Sweet Water Street is amazing as well. HIGH FIVE DUDE!

    • Charlie
      Posted at 01:52h, 04 June Reply

      I did not review the Xalapa, but it is a very fun beer. I love how they have sliced jalapeno peppers ready for people that want the heat with it.

Post A Comment