Almost anytime someone recommends a restaurant to me, I usually say, “It’s on my list.” Not cause I’m being a jerk but because there’s still a lot of good places in areas around Kalamazoo that I haven’t been able to make it to yet.
When I started blogging five years ago in Lansing, I was given a recommendation to a brewery in Benton Harbor. That brewery has been on my list ever since and this past weekend, I FINALLY had the opportunity to cross it off.
The Livery is on 5th Street in Benton Harbor just off the I-94 Business Route that runs through town. As the name would imply, the building is actually an old livery that was turned in to a brewery eight years ago.
I’ve always been pretty hesitant to stop at The Livery with J because I was really unsure of the food menu. There is a small menu on the website, but breweries with smaller menus always scare me. J’s not really a beer fan, so if I’m going to drag her to one with me, I really want her to enjoy it for reasons other than the beer. I can honestly say I’ve never been to a brewery, that served food, that I walked away disappointed, but it’s still always something that makes me a little nervous.
J’s mom was in town last week and they decided to head back to Chicago after J got off work on Friday. I had taken Saturday off, but still had to work Friday night, so I stayed behind. I really didn’t have to get to Chicago for any particular reason on Saturday so I decided to take my time and finally stop in The Livery for a couple of beers.
I pulled in to Benton Harbor just a little after noon on a Saturday. There were several cars parked out in front of the building, but I was still able to easily find parking on the street.
If you haven’t been to The Livery in a while, I’m told you need to go back. I was in the place once a few years back when I did some work for Whirlpool. I wasn’t able to drink or eat anything that day, but I remember the bar being in the basement. That’s not the case anymore. The bar is now on the second floor which makes it feel so much less like “some guys basement” and more like a great microbrewery.
There were a few people sitting at the bar and they all seemed to know each other. I found an open bar stool near the end of the bar and started looking over the huge list of beers on tap that was written on a chalkboard hanging behind the bar. I started with the IPA on tap which goes by the name McGilligan’s IPA. This was a good start for me as the orange-y amber beer had a pretty good hoppy/bitter taste with that hint of a little citrus. Very good, refreshing IPA.
While I was drinking that first beer, I noticed a menu on the table behind me. I reached over to grab it and flipped through looking for something to eat. The bartender noticed me looking at it and asked if I wanted to order lunch. I found a sandwich that looked pretty good, so I said yeah.
I put in an order for The Tramezzino. This delicious sandwich starts with a ciabatta roll that is topped with salami, pepperoni, hot capicola, and provolone with pepperocini, red onions, and Italian dressing. The sandwich was a little juicy with the Italian dressing, but it added such a huge flavor to the stack of meats. The sandwich is very simple, but very delicious. The bread was slightly toasted and really held up to all of the juices that were flowing out the back.
The sandwich came with a bag of kettle chips and a dill pickle slice.
While I was eating the sandwich, I finished off the beer. The bartender asked if I wanted another IPA, but I wanted to switch to something else. I noticed the hand pull right in front of me, so I asked what was on there. The two beers were the Maillot Juane (which I couldn’t pronounce so I didn’t order…although they had that one as a BA too…so I wanted to try it, but not sound stupid ordering it) and the Synapse ESB. The bartender got really excited about the Synapse when he was describing it to me, so I went with that one.
Coming off the hand pull, it had a nice airy feel to the thick hop taste. I’ve heard people talk about how this is one of their favorite beers at The Livery and it was a very enjoyable way to end my lunch.
When I finished off the second beer, I asked for the tab as I had to get on my way to Chicago and meet the rest of my family. The bill for two beers and a sandwich was just a little over $17 which I paid with cash.
I’m so happy I finally, after five years, made it to The Livery. Everything about my visit was enjoyable. The beer. The Food. The bartender. It’s just a really great stop on the way to Chicago not too far off I-94.