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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Petoskey, Michigan Reviews - Breweries, Winery, Beer Festival

September 2015

There are many unique brewery choices in Michigan. I never used to be a beer drinker until I started trying some of the craft beers when they became more popular a few years ago. Following is information about the breweries we visited in the Petoskey area.

Beards Brewery

Beards Brewery is located downtown Petoskey (207 Howard St), and we rode our bicycles there on the Little Traverse Wheelway from Petoskey State Park

We were the first patrons of the day when we entered on Friday around 12:30 p.m. We took a seat at the bar and chatted with the employee while making our selections. They sell tastes of any flavor for $1.75. One of the beer tastes was a bit higher than $1.75, and I do not recall which flavor it was. I did not photograph the samples we had, although I think they were 4 ounces. 

We tried about five flavors between the two of us, and liked them all! The beers we tried that I recall: Diamond in the Rough, Wheatus (one of my favorites), and Arthur's Folly. The bartender was not initially talkative, although after we chatted with him and had asked a few questions, he ended up providing a lot of information about the beers and such. 

There were four or five seats at the bar, and several tables with seating. A couple of groups of people strolled in during our visit, and there were at least 10 patrons in the bar when we departed. I would recommend this brewery, and we definitely plan to stop the next time we are in the area!

Petoskey Brewing

Petoskey Brewing is located on M-119 by the state park campground, and it is accessible from the bicycle trail. Little Traverse Wheelway is the trail that runs alongside the state park, and there is a crosswalk across M-119 from that trail to North Western State Trail, which runs behind the brewery. There is a bike rack behind Petoskey Brewing by the trail, and there is one in front of the building.      

The seats at the bar were mostly full when we visited, although there were several tables available. There is also outside seating out back, which overlooks the trail and Mudd Lake.

samples we tried - click on the photo to enlarge it and read the labels
We shared a beer sampler at Petoskey Brewing and warm pretzels--Salty, Doughy Goodness for $6. The beers were good, and the pretzels were excellent! 

Even though we were able to get a seat at the bar, the employees were not able to provide as much information as the bartender at Beards Brewery. We asked a couple of questions, and then gave up when the bartender did not have a clue. This visit had more of a restaurant atmosphere than a brewery. We would definitely stop here again for the pretzels! And, it is right on the trail, which is nice. My husband liked the beers, although I thought the ones at Beards Brewery were better.

Hops 'n Highlands Microbrew Festival

view from chair lift
I was glad we learned about the beer festival at Boyne Highlands Resort before our trip to Petoskey, because we liked this festival! Additional festival photos can be found in the Petoskey album on our Facebook page.

Boyne Highlands Resort is about six miles north of Petoskey State Park. There was no admission charge to the festival; tasting tickets and food were available for purchase. Tickets were $2 for a 4 ounce pour. We had a Margherita Pizza by Wood Fired Up, which cost $10, and it was excellent. 

A band played in the area between two beer tents, and there were other activities available. We went on the free chair lift ride, and we observed other patrons mountain bike riding and riding on the zip line. 

We are not snow skiers, and we had never been on a chair lift before. I have a mild fear of heights, so I was surprised that everyone was so carefree about loading and unloading guests. After I inquired about a strap or seatbelt, the attendant flipped our overhead bar down. Most of the riders that we passed did not have the overhead bar down on their seat. The overhead bar served a dual purpose, because it also provided a foot rest. When the bar is not flipped down, your feet just dangle in the air.
festival area

We thought the chair lift ride was very cool, and we had a great view. We could see a lake in the distance that I think must have been Crooked Lake. The entire ride, up the hill and back down, must have been about 30 minutes based on the time stamp on my photos. 

After the chair lift ride, we tried a few beer samples and had the pizza while listening to the band. There were many beer choices, and it was fairly crowded underneath the beer tents. Our arrival and departure seemed to be earlier than most people (this is usual for us), and I imagine the festival was even busier after we left. There were many more vehicles in the parking lot when we left than there had been when we arrived.

Mackinaw Trail Winery and Brewery

This was our first visit to Mackinaw Trail Winery since they added the brewery, and a few things had changed. The brewery is inside the location at 3423 US Hwy 131 in Petoskey. The location downtown Petoskey has closed (darn! - we had hoped to visit that location when we visited Beards), and the location on 131 now serves snacks, sandwiches, and dessert along with the addition of brews.  There were tables set up inside the tasting room, as well as bar stools at the counters, and they have also added an outside seating area for events.

When we purchased our Mackinaw Trail Winery glasses a few years ago, we got them for $5 with five tastes. They now sell this package for $10, which I thought was a pretty high cost. The glasses were the same as the ones we had. Since the price had doubled, it seems they could have improved the glass to make it more deluxe. After you purchase the glass, you can bring it back next time for complimentary samples. I am not sure exactly how many samples you are supposed to get when you bring the glass in. I suppose it must be two, since we were told we could have a "couple" of sample tastes.

our beer sampler - click on the photo to enlarge it and read the labels
We purchased one beer sampler to share. For $10 you get five tastes and the beer glass. We had a bit of difficulty choosing because we were given two different beer menus, and neither one of them was correct. Breakfast Stout would have been one of my first choices to try; however, they were out of this flavor. We did not look at the beer glass we received until later because it was wrapped in tissue. Below is a picture of what the glass we received looked like when we opened it. It looks like the glass we received is a used glass that had been run through a dishwasher, and that the logo is coming off.

I am not sure if we would stop at Mackinaw Trail Winery the next time we visit Petoskey. The tastes of wine and beer that we had were merely "okay." This visit was not completely unsatisfactory, although it was certainly a disappointing experience. Prior to this visit, we had been to each of the tasting rooms twice before: this location, Mackinaw City, and Manistique. This is the first time we did not make a purchase from Mackinaw Trail Winery to take with us.

We waited a long time to be greeted, served, and we waited for our check at the end. We had a couple of wine tastes and the beer sampler, and we were in this location for two hours. The tasting room was fairly busy, although it was not overcrowded. There were spots open at both bar counters when we arrived, and the number of guests decreased as our visit went on. Four different people assisted us from different areas (two females and two males), and no one ever told us what to expect. This caused confusion regarding what we were ordering and such. 

The person who initially started to assist us disappeared during our visit. Later, when we saw a group arrive back in the tasting room with him, we realized he must have left to take some guests on a brewery tour. We did not even know we could go on a tour, since no one really attended to us during our visit. We had told the first person we spoke with that we wanted to purchase a beer sampler after we had our wine tastes, yet we had to request a beer menu from someone else after he disappeared. Another employee stood directly in front of us (with her back to us) for several minutes while she played with the TV remote to get the game on the screen. This employee assisted us once, as did another female. Both of the females brought us a beer menu, because the second female told us that the one we had been given was incorrect (as was the second one she brought us). It was not very clear which brews were available, and no one remained to assist us with questions while making our choices. A different male employee rang up our tab at the end, and initially started to ring up more than the one beer sampler that we had. We do not have any complaints against him for this; I am merely stating this to show the confusing and inattentive experience we had. We are pretty easy-going people, and our previous six visits had been good ones. This experience was totally unexpected.

Overall Petoskey area fall activities

We did not know about any of these activities before we planned our camping trip to Petoskay. We knew we wanted to ride our bicycles on the trails, so I did some research online before our trip to see what was within riding distance. I could not find bicycle trails to Boyne Highlands or Mackinaw Trail Winery, so we had to drive to those locations. There was another festival nearby the weekend of our stay, Taste of Harbor Springs, which we did not attend. The admission for that festival was $25 in advance, and $35 at the door. It did not sound like the admission cost included any tastes - yikes!

If you are planning a fall color tour, the colors in this area should be beautiful in October. If you are interested in more trail information, check out my Petoskey Bicycle Trail blog post.

I hope this information helps future travelers to the Petoskey area. If you like this post, please share it!