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Dark Horse Brewery

October 16, 2009

  • 511 S. Kalamazoo Street
  • Marshall, MI
  • (269) 781-9940
  • Website
  • No Online Menu

This summer, a guy I went to high school with chronicled his trip through Michigan on Facebook and his blog.  Most of the places he stopped were not much of a surprise to me.  I had already been there or they were on my list of places to go.  The one that really stuck out was a small brewery in Marshall that, at the time, I  had never heard of.  I figured if it was something that someone from Illinois would make a point to stop at, I should make it a point to make a stopover in Marshall. 

J and I were on our way back to Lansing one final time to load up the U-Haul and get the rest of our stuff to Kalamazoo.  When she got off work at 1:00, we piled in the car and started driving.  The plan all along was to stop and eat on the way.  I figured now was as good of time as any to take the small detour into Marshall.

The Dark Horse Brewery is just off the main square in downtown Marshall on Kalamazoo Street.  It’s less than a half of a mile from the roundabout if you’re coming from I-94.  The building is pretty small.  In fact, there was a delivery truck parked in front of that totally hid the business from view.  I happened to see the Dark Horse Brewery logo on the side of the convenience store that actually fronts the road.  The taproom is a small building off the road in the parking lot. 

After a quick U-Turn, we headed back into said parking lot which was being cleaned.  There were cones everywhere blocking parking spaces and the previously mentioned delivery truck was blocking almost all access to the remaining spots.  I finally just swerved around the truck and pulled in to a spot.

I was a little hesitant at first because there is no mention of food on darkhorsebrewery.com.  I actually sent an e-mail yesterday just to double check.  The owner, Aaron Morse, replied a little later saying they do indeed serve a small menu of pizza’s, sandwiches, and subs.  Still, when we got there, I was a little worried about what we’d find waiting inside.

The first thing you notice when you open the door are the beer mugs.  There are literally hundreds of mugs hanging from the rafters and on the walls.  Each one is numbered and belongs to someone.  In fact, while we were there, one gentleman actually came in and pulled his mug off the wall before heading to the bar.  The bartender then gave it a scrub down before filling it with one of Dark Horse’s brews. 

The Taproom isn’t that large.  There are maybe a dozen tables and a bar.  It was 2:00 in the afternoon on a Friday, but there were still quite a few people enjoying a cold one.  We took a table right next to the bar.  It was a pub style table for six that had seen better days.  That’s not a bad thing.  It added to the charm of the place. 

The waitress brought us menus and took drink orders.  Since we had a long day ahead of us, we didn’t order beer.  If there was one constant criticism on my previous blog, it’s that I never really talked about the beers different establishments offer.  I’m not a  huge beer man.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to drink, but I usually order whatever the special is.  My brew of choice is Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I don’t appreciate the subtleties of microbrews, so I don’t usually talk about them.  If we go to a micro brewery like this for dinner, a lot of times I will order something, but I’m not an expert on the subject, so I tend to gloss over it.

Anyway, back to today’s trip, we both got Coke’s.  The waitress gave us a few more minutes which we really didn’t need while she took care of a couple of the regulars. 

A few minutes later, she came back for our lunch orders.  We decided to go with a starter which is unusual for us, but J thought the pretzels and beer mustard sounded really good.  It sounded alright to me to, so we ordered.  This was actually the only disappointing part of our meal.  I guess we were both expecting warm pretzels, but what we got was a paper boat of snack pretzels and a small cup of a really delicious beer mustard.  At $3.50, it seemed like kind of a rip off.  There wasn’t enough of the mustard to justify that price and the pretzels were the same pretzels they probably set out on the bar anyway.  If they had been warm, soft pretzel, this appetizer would have rocked, but it wasn’t. 

They didn’t have a burger on the menu which made my decision harder.  They had quite a selection of sandwiches, so I shouldn’t have had any trouble.  I ended up going with a pizza calzone.  You get your choice of two toppings with the calzone in addition to the mozzarella cheese.  I chose pepperoni and jalapenos as my toppings.  I was shocked when the calzone was set down in front of me.  It was huge and the crust was de-freaking-licious.  It had a nice buttery glaze on top and there was plenty of fillings.  It was baked to a nice golden brown, but the crust never dried out.  They did put pizza sauce inside the calzone which isn’t traditional, but it actually made it easier than trying to dip it.  The calzone didn’t come with any sides, but it was more than enough for me.  I actually had to stop with a few bites left. 

J ordered the Southwestern BLT.  The sandwich started with an Asiago ciabatta roll that was filled with bacon, lettuce, tomato,  pico de gallo, and a Chiptole aioli.  She loved the sandwich.  I don’t know how many times she said that during the meal, but she really, really liked the sandwich.   She said they used what almost looked like bacon bits in the sandwich.  The bacon sort of blended in with the pico, but that was a good thing.  There’s nothing she dislikes more than fatty, limp bacon.  This got rid of that problem.  Her sandwich came with some Ruffles potato chips and choice of a cole slaw or pasta salad.  She ordered the cole slaw, but got pasta salad instead.  She ate a little bit of it, but didn’t say anything about it. 

Our bill was a little over $26 including three drinks.  Yes, three drinks.  They don’t do free refills on pop even though it all comes out of a fountain.  This was never communicated to us when the waitress took my glass to refill, but I noticed it on the menu, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw it on the bill.  It did prevent me from getting a third glass even though I was still thirsty. 

The taproom at the Dark Horse Brewery is an amazing, hidden gem in Marshall.  The atmosphere is right up near the top of any place I have been.  I loved all the mugs hanging throughout the space.  The food was also fantastic.  We were disappointed with the appetizer, but my calzone and J’s sandwich were great. 

The Dark Horse Brewery is a place that’s worth a drive from either Kalamazoo or Lansing.  We’ll add it to out list of places worth a second (and third..and fourth….etc.) visit. 

Pretzels with Homemade Beer Mustard

Pretzels with Homemade Beer Mustard

Pretzels with Homemade Beer Mustard

Pizza Calzone with Pepperoni and Jalapeno

Pizza Calzone with Pepperoni and Jalapeno

Southwestern BLT

Southwestern BLT

Dark Horse Brewery on Urbanspoon

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Corky permalink
    October 18, 2009 10:58 am

    Now that you’re down close to I-94, try The Livery in Benton Harbor (cool old building!) and one of my new favorites, the Bangor Tavern in Bangor,
    MI (of course!), a little drive off I-94 but an awesome small-town bar with fantastic food! We stop at both while on our way to/from Illinois/Wisconsin…

    • Mid-Michigan Dining permalink*
      October 19, 2009 1:44 am

      The Livery is on our list. Has been for a while. It was alway going to be a stop on the way home, but we always traveled overnight…

      I remember Amy blogging about the Bangor Tavern. Can’t wait to try it out…

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