Apr 10, 2015

Greenbush Brewing Company

Once upon a time, a few years ago, a man was returning to his home after a long bike ride.  As he rode along the country road and into the small town of Sawyer, Michigan, he saw a previously vacant building bustling with activity.  When he rode up to the entrance he saw a young couple and asked what was going on.  They told him they were opening a brewery on this spot (previously a combination laundromat-sandwich shop-video rental shop, I KID YOU NOT) and that it would be opening soon.  The man looked in wonder at all of the brewing equipment and promised the couple he would return.  That man was my father.

image via 
Lucky for me, and for all of you, that brewery was Greenbush Brewing Company.  It opened in 2011 in Sawyer, a small town part of "Harbor Country" the area of southwestern Michigan frequented by Chicagoland escapees due to its quaint small towns and vast beaches along the Lake Michigan coast.  My family has had a house in Sawyer since I was in high school, so I've been fortunate enough to spend most of each summer there (I even worked as a waitress/bar back for 2 summers in college at a small restaurant there!).  There isn't much going on in "downtown" Sawyer, except for the popular Sawyer Garden Center, where you can probably find almost anything you'd ever want, but most famous for its fresh fruits and vegetables.  Greenbush has reinvigorated the Sawyer economy, providing a LOT of jobs and bringing in the crowds that I'm sure end up spending money all around the area.

In fact, the surrounding area has become a recent hot spot for new breweries, including Round Barn, Tapistry, and the soon to be open Haymarket (sister to this one).  It makes perfect sense to me; what is better after a day at the beach than a cold, fresh beer?  Or if the weather is bad, there isn't a whole lot else to do in the area besides antiquing, so why not spend the afternoon drinking/eating?

But back to Greenbush; this place has expanded significantly since it first opened.  Their beer is available all over the Midwest (on tap and by the bottle).  The taproom is ALWAYS crowded (at least on the weekends) and the wait for a table is usually at least an hour.  Luckily if you're waiting, you can head over to the newly expanded Greenbush Annex, just across the street and have a beer, shop their extensive merchandise, snack on some meats and cheeses and even play bocce ball.  The taproom has expanded a couple of times to make room for more tables and so has the outdoor patio.

The draw of Greenbush is definitely the beer (it is SERIOUSLY high quality, some of the best beers I've ever had), but it doesn't end there.  They have a great and friendly staff and they also have...BBQ.  Their brisket and pulled pork is some of the best my family and I have ever tasted, and that is saying something since my dad is obsessed with BBQ.  You wouldn't expect a place so focused on beer to have such good food, but they do.  My favorite things on the menu are the brisket (OBVI), the turkey bacon melt, and the cubano.  When you first sit down at the bar, definitely get the pretzels with pub cheese to have with your first beer.

Middle Finger of Buddha while I waited for them to fill my growler
All of their beers are at least 6% alcohol by volume, and I'd say on average, they are usually 7-9%.  My mom's favorite, Brother Benjamin, a double IPA is 10%.  The 9% and above beers are usually only served in 10 oz snifters.  The rest of the beers can be served in a pint glass, a growler, or for the lucky few a MUG.  Greenbush's mug club is a great deal if you know you will be visiting often.  For $60 you can join the club, which means you get a mug with a number attached to it.  When you order your beer you get poured in a mug for the price of a pint, so you're just saving money...plus they have specials throughout the week for mug club members only.  Sadly, I didn't join the club right away, so I'm in the 2000's, but my dad is proudly around 150.

My favorite of their beers as of late have been: Middle Finger of Buddha (a Belgian strong IPA), Indispensable (an IPA), Vanderbush (a beer made with apple cider).  Their original summertime beer, Sunspot is coming out in the next few weeks, which will officially mark the beginning of what should be warm weather.  Another great thing about their beer is that you can get most of them for $4-6.50/pour, which is significantly cheaper than beers of their quality would be at a bar in Chicago.

good beer wins.
So if you're ever in the area (antiquing, visiting the Warren Dunes, getting a burger at Redamak's), you should definitely stop by Greenbush and consider getting a flight of their beers; better to try a bunch!

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