Harbor Country in southwest Michigan includes the small towns of Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert and New Buffalo plus Sawyer, Three Oaks and Baroda. In addition to several local wineries, there are a growing number of microbreweries and distilleries to explore. My top recommendations include:
Greenbush Brewing Company: The hot spot in Sawyer is this microbrewery that features 14 artisanal ales, IPAs, porters, blonds and stouts and a number of seasonal offerings like cider and pumpkin ale. Be prepared for large crowds. There is a large tap room for tasting and eating one of their soups or sandwiches. Across the street is a large outdoor patio with a small cafe offering beers, cheeses and charcuterie.
Round Barn Brewery & Public House, 9151 First St. in Baroda: A hip, new spot for tasting beer and having a casual meal. They have a large number of ales, wheat beers, IPAs and stouts to sample.
At the Round Barn Winery -Distillery- Brewery nearby, you can visit Round Barn Distillery which includes a bourbon, a silver rum, gin, whiskey, a hand-crafted vodka and a blue flame agave. There is also their Black Walnut Cream which is their version of an Irish Cream.
On the way home to Chicago, I stopped by the Round Barn Tasting Room in Union Pier, MI, right off I-94 at Exit 6. Not only is this a tasting room for Round Barn Winery – Distillery – Brewery, but for their sister wineries of Tabor Hill and Free Run Cellars. I bought some of their seasonal pumpkin ale, from the Round Barn Brewery, which I thoroughly enjoyed at home!
Journeyman Distillery: Located in the historic Featherbone Factory, this is a wonderful distillery located in downtown Three Oaks. They offer tastings as well as a large assortment of craft cocktails. I tried the tasting flight of five of their brown spirits. Their production now includes the W.R. Whiskey, a white whiskey, the Last Feather Rye Whiskey, the Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey, The Silver Cross made of 4 different grains, Three Oaks Single Malt, Not A King Rye, Kissing Cousins Whiskey, Fine Girl Brandy and the Featherbone Bourbon which I have on my bar in Chicago. All were excellent! You can also do a flight of clear spirits including rum, vodka and gin which they produce. The atmosphere is outstanding so make this top on your list of things to do.
Also, in downtown Baroda make sure to visit Chill Hill at 8986 1st St. This is a casual cider bar that features a number of hard ciders on tap. I enjoyed tasting the blueberry and the Autumn’s Apple Crisp. They also carry wines from their sister winery in Paso Robles, CA.
You also might enjoy the Haymarket Brewery & Tap Room at 9301 Red Arrow Hwy. in Bridgman, MI. This is a German-style beer hall and tap room with a large outdoor beer garden. They feature classic Belgian and contemporary American beer styles along with wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and salads. They have a location in the West Loop of Chicago also.