Best Craft Beer Bars in Metro Detroit

Happy Friday!

Like many of you, travel is far from my only passion in life. It’s certainly one of my biggest ones but my interests actually do extend beyond my (sometimes insatiable) need to travel. For example, as a French teacher I feel strongly about foreign language education and hope learn several more languages myself throughout my life (side note: I’ve finally found a local school that offers evening Polish language classes for adults! Huzzah!). I love coffee, obviously – and Starbucks doesn’t count. I love my crazy, flawed, wonderful Detroit city.

And I’m nuts about craft beer.

It’s kind of funny that I consider myself such a beer enthusiast; after all, when I started college I could hardly choke down a can of Bud Light – a stout or a porter? Forget about it! Now, though, a good beer list is a sure-fire bet to get and keep my business. And luckily, my state was named the fourth best state in the US for craft beer lovers. Founder’s, Bell’s, Short’s, Perrin, Atwater, Dragonmead – you can’t go wrong with any of them!

So, where in the metro Detroit area can you sample the best Michigan brews? Here is a list of my favorite places to imbibe! Please note: These are places that feature a wide variety of rotating local taps, NOT necessarily places that brew their own beer.

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5. Hopcat – 4265 Woodward Ave, Detroit

HopCat has its roots in Michigan – it’s first location was opened in Grand Rapids (craft beer mecca) in 2008. The Detroit location is relatively new, but no less excellent for craft beer lovers and foodies alike. There are at least50 beers on tap at any given time, many of which are local brews, and they have a respectable food menu as well. The crack fries are what people rave about the most often and they are good, but my favorite menu item is the meat head pizza rolls – pepperoni, cheese and tomato sauce wrapped in a wonton. Um, yes please!

4. Rochester Tap Room – 6870 N Rochester Rd, Rochester

Rochester is sort of the northern edge of what most would consider metro Detroit, but it’s a fun, safe suburban location with a nice Downtown area for shopping and eating. The Tap Room has 60 taps of primarily Michigan beer, but also other offerings from around the United States and from countries like Belgium and Germany. The food menu is smaller than HopCat and is comprised of interesting takes on traditional bar fare, with attention paid to creativity and quality as in addition to being a taproom they also consider themselves a gastropub.

3. Ale Mary’s Beer Hall – 316 S Main St, Royal Oak

Ale Mary’s is only just about to celebrate its second birthday but it has already made quite the impression on the Downtown Royal Oak bar scene. The tap list is smaller than either HopCat or the Rochester Tap Room but changes with more frequency; additionally, they also have an extensive collection of bottled beer. Ale Mary’s is one of my go-to options if I have the taste for something that can be harder to find in other bars. They also participate in tap takeovers and regularly host themed brunches and dinners and pair each course with a beer that nicely complements the food. The regular food menu is small but what they lack in variety they make up for in quality.

2. One Eyed Betty’s – 175 W Troy St, Ferndale

One Eyed Betty’s of Ferndale is the real deal, folks. This bar lacks nothing in terms of quality or variety and its only downside is that every knows how awesome it is. Expect to wait at least an hour for dinner on any given night of the week, but also expect that wait to be totally worth it. With 47 beers on tap and over 100 bottles, there is literally something for everyone and the food is absolutely impeccable. Get the poutine to share as an appetizer (I’m drooling right now as I write this) and the Betty Burger for yourself. You will not regret it, I promise.

1. Michigan Beer Growler Company – 31221 Southfield Rd, Beverly Hills

Let me be honest, a visitor to the Detroit area has only one reason to ever set foot in Beverly Hills, and that’s the Michigan Beer Growler Company. It’s inconspicuously located in a strip mall, next to a pet store and a Papa Romano’s, in a neighborhood that boasts no particular tourist attraction. It’s purely a neighborhood joint and my absolute favorite place to just sit and have a beer or to swing in and fill up a growler (their intended purpose). They have no food, though you can bring your own, but feature 32 rotating taps of Michigan beer, cider, and craft soda. My favorite thing is to order a sampler of whatever’s on tap – the sample sizes are generous (4 ounces each) and priced based on the quality of the beer. It’s locally owned and operated by a woman named Janae and her family, which I can’t help but love. A woman operating a very successful craft beer business? Sign me up!

 

 

Fun & Games in Detroit

It’s certainly no secret that Detroit gets a massively bad rap, especially from people who have never visited. The reputation is not totally undeserved – you do need to watch your back – but there are a LOT of really awesome things happening in the city, too! In addition to the normal tourist sites such as the Heidelberg Project, the DIA, the Henry Ford museum and the Auto Show (just to name a few) there are many places you can go to just have fun.

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Feather Bowling at Cadieux Café (4300 Cadieux Rd, Detroit, MI)

Feather Bowling is a a sort of bowling-bocce ball hybrid originating from Flanders, Belgium and the only place you can play it in the United States is right here in Michigan. It involves rolling a wooden cheese-wheel shaped ball down a dirt lane toward a feather, attempting to get your team’s wheels as close to the feather as possible. Cadieux Café is probably the most well-known feather bowling spot in the state. It’s a family run bar that was once a speakeasy during Prohibition and in addition to their feather bowling lanes they’re well known for their selection of Belgian beers and delicious mussels. Cadieux also regularly features live music, for those moments when you need to take a breather from the bowling.

Food, Drink and Games at Punch Bowl Social (331 Broadway St, Detroit, MI)

Punch Bowl Social combines all of my favorite things: they have good, high quality food. They have craft beer, cocktails and punch (if your whole group is thirsty for the same thing). And best of all, they have games! At PBS you can choose from any of the following “old-school” entertainment options: bowling, ping pong, shuffleboard, darts, marbles and board games, all while enjoying your dinner and a beverage. Though it’s a relatively new establishment in downtown Detroit, I imagine it’ll be around for a long time to come.

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The Fowling Warehouse (3901 Christopher St, Detroit, MI)

I know what you’re thinking – what’s up with this lady and bowling? – but the Fowling Warehouse is seriously SO awesome. It’s equal parts football and bowling; teams as large as 10 people can stand at either end of two large boards (think cornhole, or elevated horseshoes) that hold ten bowling pins in a traditional formation  and toss a foam football in an attempt to knock as many pins over as possible. The kicker is that several groups can play at any given time, and if someone else’s football flies toward your pins and knocks them over, that still counts. There’s a $10 playing fee, but it’s all-you-can-fowl and the Warehouse has several large televisions and a full bar, including a Mystery Beer vending machine. There’s no food, but you can bring your own.

If ever you’re in the city of Detroit, check out one (or all!) of these places for some unique fun and games!

2015 in Travel: A Retrospective

Now that we’re a full two days into the New Year, what better time to take one last look back at the travels of 2015? Since this is also a brand-new blog, this particular post is also a look forward to content that is soon to come. These memories are still fresh in my mind and I’m looking forward to sharing all of them very soon!

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2015 was an interesting year for me travel-wise because not only did I get to take time for myself, but I was also got to do my first bit of work-related travel.

That’s right. I took high school students to Europe. Without their parents. For 10 days. I know. I’ll write more about this experience later, but in short – it was wonderful. Everyone had a great time, including me! So much so that I’m already planning another student trip for 2017.

So, where did Megan take her carry on in 2015?

I hit two major European destinations this summer – France and Italy (super original, I know) but I got to see them both through an entirely different lens. France, because I went to some new-to-me cities and also got to see a few old favorites through the eyes of my students. Italy, because I got to experience it as a traveler with a little bit of money in my pocket instead of a flat-broke college student (more on that in a later post).

Destinations in France

1. Nice

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The looks on my students’ faces as they saw the absolutely gorgeous landscape of Nice, with its palm trees, mountains, and the shocking blue water of the Mediterranean was priceless. Out of all the places we visited in France, Nice was overwhelmingly the kids’ favorite.

 

2. Avignon

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Seat of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, Avignon is a quintessentially French town with old stone homes, narrow, winding streets and oh yeah – a gigantic old palace that held six papal conclaves during the 14th century.

3. Cassis

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Cassis is a stunning small town on the Mediterranean coast, a sort of halfway point between Nice and Marseille. We took a small boat into the Mediterranean for views of the impressive calanques and the crystal-clear water below. This was easily my favorite new “discovery” in France!

4. Paris

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Of course, no trip to France is complete without a stop in the city of lights. I’ve been to Paris many times, but this stop was purely for the students – no personal travel to Paris this year, unfortunately, but the kids had a blast exploring this amazing city.

5. Lyon

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My personal travel in France kicked off with a short weekend in Lyon. I’d never been to France’s second-largest city but my Partner in Crime and I had an awesome time exploring the traboules (hidden passageways) and sampling the bouchon lyonnais with our lovely friends Célia and Laure. Bonus – Laure lives in the heart of Croix-Rousse, one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in Lyon and allowed us to spend the weekend in her awesome apartment. Merci, Laure!

6. Strasbourg

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The city where French and German culture collide – the mix of cultures is everywhere, from the wooden-beam houses, enormous gothic cathedral and the French twist on spaetzle, flammkuchen, and choucroute (sausage over a sauerkraut-like mixture).

7. Besançon

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

We got a personal tour of Besançon from Célia, who went to university in the city. Besançon isn’t a place that gets a lot of foreign tourism, so we were able to enjoy it without feeling like we were being pandered to as tourists and as a French speaker, I could more easily blend in and just enjoy myself without being marked as an outsider – definitely my preference when I’m in France.

Destinations in Italy

1. Rome

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I had been to Rome before, in 2011, and had an unfortunately negative experience in the city. I wasn’t super keen on returning but the Partner in Crime and I knew we wanted to hit Europe again in 2015 and flying into Rome was the cheapest option. Thankfully my experience this time was much improved and we had a blast!

2. All five villages in the Cinque Terre

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Could I be anymore of a traveling poseur? No, probably not. Is Cinque Terre one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been to in my life? Absolutely. Do not try to shame me, travel blog readers of the world, for I have zero regrets in visiting this Instagram addict’s paradise.

Domestic Travel

Of course, as much as I enjoy traveling abroad, I also really love exploring the places around me. Much time was spent gallivanting about Detroit, but a trip to visit my brother in Grand Rapids, on the western side of the state, was also in order. And what’s a trip to Grand Rapids without a stop at craft beer Mecca – Founder’s Brewing Company?

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So there you have it – a glimpse back at 2015! More stories and in-depth posts on these locations will follow, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about my plans for 2016!

 

Welcome to Caffeine & a Carry On!

Hey! Welcome to the first post of Caffeine & a Carry On. You can learn the basics about me in this post. The goal of this blog is simply to document my ongoing travel experiences, both international and local. Okay, I know what you’re thinking…

Oh god, another travel blog?

Not really. My travel experiences, while adventurous for a plain jane Midwestern girl such as myself, are neither particularly cutting-edge nor nearly as prolific as many true travel bloggers – but they are my experiences and I’d like to keep a written record of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen along the way.

So why are you blogging?

In all honesty, I have ALWAYS been terrible about keeping a paper journal and find online journaling to be the most accessible to my personal taste and style – I’ve been writing online in some form or another for nearly 15 years. It’s what feels the most comfortable for me!

What are you going to blog about?

I’ve been oddly fortunate enough to have a bizarre variety of life experiences that I think some may find interesting (or…not). I left home at 17 to nanny full-time in New York City where I also fell into a job at a restaurant, traveled to China to perform with my university choir at the World Expo in Shanghai – yes, the same event for which the Eiffel Tower was built and was the basis of the musical Meet Me in St. Louis. I studied abroad in France where I learned a lot about the language, culture, and myself in the process. I’ve bobbled around Europe a little bit, but I hope to see much more in the near future. I also really enjoy exploring the communities around me as a sort of local tourist, so I plan to document all of these experiences here in the hopes that someone may find them interesting or useful!