Soo Brewing Company, Sault St. Marie, MI

Today’s post is about a very important day in Daze of Beer history. This post is about the first brewery I visited post-my last job. I mean, yeah, did I end my last job like an eternity ago and did I visit this brewery also an eternity ago? Most definitely. But does that shock anybody? Of course not. Whatever delusion we all carried that I would become better at posting on the blog once I didn’t have a job were carried by the idea that I wrote these posts on my own time, which I did not do. I wrote 90% of all my content on my work computer at my last job during downtimes (or when I should’ve been doing something but couldn’t overcome the debilitating anxiety that made opening emails one of the hardest tasks to overcome in my day). Once I became a person “between jobs” (I am now, once again, gainfully employed so I feel like I am qualified to call my brief timeout from the workforce me being “between jobs”), I had nothing to avoid other than my bank account and I fell off the writing train.

But one of the first and only big “things” of my unemployed phase was I went to the UP on a whim on day. I woke up, not even a week after I had concluded my time in my previous personal hell, and got into Hector (Oh, did you guys know that I got into a car accident in December that total Hector who was in my life for not even 10 months? Pour one out for him, man, because now I am one of those hipster assholes who doesn’t have a car and my life is infinitely more difficult because of it… but back to the story) and we went on one of our last journeys together to the UP.

In all honesty, my intent was to land in Canada. I had my passport. I had my breweries planned. And I was ready to do it. But the problem that I discovered once I got within a mile of where I was going (and within eyesight of the border), was that the breweries that I wanted to go to were closed on Tuesdays and I would have to wait until Wednesday to visit both of them. As it was Tuesday, I had to come up with a new plan. But luckily, Sault St. Marie is exists both in and out of America, and in both of these lands, there are breweries.

So, I went to a different Sault St. Marie brewery that was a little more… dare I say… free? I went to Soo Brewing Company, in Sault St. Marie, Michigan! Now, here’s something else I had to contend with as a newly unemployed person. The “noon on a Tuesday” brewery crowd. I think I have mentioned in previous posts, specifically the one where I was in Philly?, that as a gainfully employed person, nothing prepares you for what it’s like being one of (or thee) only people(/person) in a brewery. But now that I was finding myself unemployed, I got to become that person.

So, I walked into this cutesy little store front to find a very casual “living room” vibe place. There were a couple of people playing cribbage who were friends with the guy working (who may have also been the owner) and my pick of the taproom. I ordered a flight consisting of the Mystery Table Ale, Soo Brew, Boom Baby IPA, and the 13 IPA.

An overall statement to make about this, based on my (lack of) notes and my Untappd profile is that I found all the beers very middling, which is also what I remember. Everything was very firmly fine. I was not a huge fan of the table ale but that’s also because I just really don’t like table ales all too much to begin with. I did like the 13 IPA a lot, marking it as my favorite beer of the brewery. But in general, the beers were fine. Just fine.

IMG_3124

But the tap room was wild. Like I said, it felt like walking into someone’s living room. There was sport memorabilia hung up on the walls and a groovy vibe of your friend’s step dad’s basement going on. The people playing cribbage were incredibly comfortable and at home there (but then again, they were definitely very close to the worker/maybe owner), and everything felt chill, albeit a little outside of my normal bullshit hipster comfort zone. The man working was also brewing at the same time, and it was one of open-to-the-tap-room brew ops that I typically hate because the smell of brewing is usually a little much for me. I think it impacts my experience. But they were running such a low volume, doing it for the love not the glory kind of operation at this place that it didn’t really impact anything. I will say, though, that while I was there the kind and gentle soul that was working must have been brewing an IPA because there became a strong whiff of something a little less hoppy and a little more… happy? What I’m saying is it smelled like weed but I’m off my game and don’t really know how to make a joke out of this.

Overall, it was a nice place. It was small but it was clearly done out of love for the art. And then it started snowing and I was hella pissed because it was far too early in the year to snow and I was planning on spending the night in Sault St. Marie to venture into CANADA the next day to check out those other breweries, but someone told me they were calling for 8 inches that afternoon and another thirteen inches over night into the next day and I was not emotionally prepared to deal with any winter driving yet, so I bid adieu to Michigan and headed south again.

But I will go back to Sault St. Marie again, probably this summer, and head into Canada to check out their breweries. I’m still very interested in the North of the Border bullshit that might be happening in craft beer. But as for this brief trip, I wrapped it up wildly quick.

Alright, guys, you might think that’s what I’ve got to say about Michigan, but my next post is set in Michigan City Indiana, and then after that, (if I ever get to it lol), will be another Michigan post coming hot from the Lower as well as some bonus content about Ypsilanti. Sit tight, I’ll get back to Milwaukee eventually… maybe?

Mittenfest, Bay View

Winter in Wisconsin is a long and bleak process that we must all experience at least once in our short lives. At some point, every year, about mid-January, the world gets dark. Very dark. Claustrophobically dark. Every takes down their Christmas lights and packs away their cheer until next year, and all that is left is a void. The sun never shines. There is constantly snow and salt and grime on the streets, on your shoes, in your house. No one can go outside. It’s too cold. Too wet. Too depressing. Smiling is something that you remember fondly, like a hazy memory, and you’re never too sure if a Good Day will ever happen again. Flipping through Instagram, you only notice the pictures of your “friends” in tropical locales and warm climates drinking margaritas on the beer or beers on the patio and wistfully remember when that was you. But drinking outside in the dead of a Wisconsin winter is as absurd and foreign to you as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

But then, magically, something comes along to change it. Something that does seem absurd on paper but in reality is a heaven-sent savior ready to shake loose whatever frozen depression had settled into your soul. Mittenfest. Wicked Wisconsin winters be damned, for the good people of Milwaukee will not go down with out fight. And that is what I bring forth to you today. The adventures of Mittenfest, right down there in Bay View.

While this is not a brewery event, I felt like it was worthy of content as the bar hosting this preposterously delightful outdoor street festival, Burnhearts, is well-known for their craft beer selection. Plus, they partnered with two breweries, Central Waters of Central Wisconsin and Founder’s of Detroit, which were both serving some awesome and rare beers. As well as beer, there were Old Fashions and a full bar instead Burnheart’s. The best part was, this was about four blocks from where I live so I didn’t have to drive or park or Uber or risk Monica trying to buy drugs from the Lyft driver (again). We could just walk. So, Ashley, Monica, and I were joined by Daze of Beer newbie Molly (who is the person who clued us into this event) and we hit up the mean streets of the most hipster part of the city occupied by the most hipster people of the city to drink beer outside on a brisk 20-degree day. There was live music, flowing drinks, and delightfully friendly drunk hispters all ready to make the most of the day.

And boy did we make the most of the day. I cannot recall exactly what we all drank, but I can give you an overview. I believe every beer I had was from Central Waters. I had their HHG which was an American Pale Ale that I really enjoyed. There was also a IPA I drank that I do not remember the name of. Ashley and Monica also tried their cider that was a vibrant yellow and kinda looked like pee? But they may have liked it. I don’t know. Then there was the coconut rum porter that Molly got that definitely tasted like coconut rum and the memory of past mistakes. None of us like this porter, let me tell you. Also, I have been poking around on both Central Waters and Founders’ websites to find out the name of it and to confirm that it was coconut rum and not spiced rum, but I cannot find any trace that this beer ever existed. But it did. Let me tell you it most certainly did. And I can tell you this with such certainty for several reasons.

One, Molly ordered it. And we all tried it. And no one liked it. And then I went to the bathroom, and while waiting in line, the two girls approached the guys standing in front of me and offered them one for free because they had also bought one and did not like it. And the guys accepted the free beer, didn’t like it, and then shared it with me, and I shared it with the girl behind me. None of us liked it. And then these same girls gave these same guys another one because their other friend also bought this rum porter and also did not like it, so these guys just gave me the beer. And the girl behind me and I shared it. It was a beer that no one liked but brought everyone together. It is a very similar effect the Kardashians or the Patriots have on people.

But anyways, by this time the temperature was dropping and it was snowing. The live music had wrapped up and it was dark and they were just lowkey DJing music. That’s when the dance party busted out. I don’t know if anything in this world can ever recreate the feeling of being drunk on beer and Old Fashions, dancing in an inch of freshly fallen snow, under a black, winter sky and blue stage lights with thousands of other drunk hispters who on any other day would be too “cool” to dance so silly in public. I met strangers and danced with them. I met friends of friends and danced with them. I was invited back to a guy’s after party, which I then tried to attend, but his more sober friend told both him and me and my friends that we were not invited. Which was a good thing because we left Molly behind with other strangers. Everyone loved everyone. The world felt warm and safe and welcoming. It was the kind of thing that you don’t often feel in the dead of winter on Super Bowl weekend in a state where their football team hadn’t even made the playoffs. It was good.

So, shout out to Burnhearts. Shout out to the people of Milwaukee. And shout out to Molly and Ashley and Monica for their undying devotion to drinking, outdoor activities that involve drinking, fun, and new and