02 Jun DeTour de Sasse: What’s Across The Border To The North
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 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!
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.