Constantine Brewing Company
Chances are, J and I will never own a lake house…or a boat. Luckily for us, we have family that do.
My dad’s cousin bought a house on Pleasant Lake near Three Rivers about four years ago. We’ve made it a little tradition for the whole family to get together for a weekend. In the past, it’s always been my parents, my brother and his family, and J and I with our kids plus my dad’s cousin and her husband that own the house. This year, we had all those people plus the cousin’s two kids and their wives. It was the first time we’ve all been together (with or without all the wives and kids) since my brother and I were in junior high (many moons ago).
We spent all day Saturday at the lake then J and I went back home to Kalamazoo with our kids to sleep. Everyone else stayed at the lake house. J and I were going to get up and get back down to Three Rivers for breakfast, but we all over slept so we joined them for lunch and spent another few hours swimming, riding jet ski’s and trying to surf off the back of the boat.
J and I are the only “locals.” Everyone else is from Illinois, so as late afternoon rolled around, it was time to start packing up so everyone could get back to work on Monday. My parents were looking to hit US-12 and go all the way across southern Michigan to Michigan City, IN to do some shopping. My parents, for some reason, can’t use a GPS and don’t take directions very well. I told them we were going to go to lunch/dinner in Constantine just down the road and just a few miles from where US-131 and US-12 meet in White Pigeon. They seemed interested so they followed us down the road….well, sort of…because my family can not just ride my bumper when they follow us…they have to be 8 car lengths behind then end up following the wrong car and get lost….but anyway…that’s a different story.
We pulled in to Constantine about 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon. The small town has a downtown area that’s about two blocks long. This used to be the route for US-131 until they rerouted it around town. Now it’s BL-131 and it runs the same route as the old main route through town.
We pulled into a spot on the side of the road and my parents did the same across the street. We were in town for one of the only restaurants open on a Sunday afternoon. Constantine Brewing Company.
Contstantine Brewing Company opened a little over two years ago in a building that’s well over 175 years old. Before the brewery, the building housed a floral shop and according to an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette published right before the opening, the owners did three years of renovations on the building to make it what is today.
The building is divided in to two spaces. There’s a bar area with a few pub tables when you first walk in and then there’s another room with some picnic type tables made with reclaimed wood. There’s also a small stage in this back area for live music. We headed to the back room since we had both kids with us and we didn’t know how they would act after being out in the sun all day. There was a sign at the bar that said to order with the bartender and she yelled that at us as we walked by as well.
The charm of Constantine Brewing Company is definitely the building. The age of the structure shows itself in an amazing way. The owners really did a magnificent job in making the public spaces of the brewery comfortable but keeping the character of the old building with the hard wood floors, dimly lit rooms, and exposed beam ceiling.
We got everyone seated at one of the picnic tables and got L going with some markers and a coloring book. My mom and I headed back to the bar to grab a couple of menus. We didn’t see any at first but a couple of ladies sitting at the bar asked if we needed theirs. I grabbed both of them and headed back to the table.
We all took turns looking over both the drink and food menus. When we were all settled, my mom and I headed back to the bar to put in the order. The bartender asked what we wanted and I kind of looked at her wondering if she should start writing it down. There were five of us eating so it was going to be a pretty big order. She kept washing glasses and asked again what we wanted so we went ahead and started with the drink orders. By the time we got to the second food item, she was standing at the cash register asking us to start over because the order was so big.
The menu at Constantine Brewing Company is BBQ, pizza, and sandwiches. There was something for everyone which I made sure to check on before we left. The beer list that day had seven beers on tap and they also have wine which it appears they also make themselves.
J didn’t find a wine she was interested in or a beer, so I was the only one that got alcohol (of course). I went with the full flight which is six beers. They had seven on tap so I had to pick which one I didn’t want. They also have the option of a small flight. That’s four beers and is three dollars cheaper.
My parents and J all went the root beer route. They have Boylan Root Beer in bottles which were brought to our table along with glasses. Personally, I love all of Boylan’s soda’s, but I also prefer Pepsi because it’s sweeter than Coke. My dad remarked about the sweetness on the first sip and J agreed with him.
My flight was brought out right after the Root Beer’s and glasses of water were brought to the table. The bartender was doing double duty as waitress. I offered to go help her, but she said she could manage so I let her.
The beers on tap the day we were in were all pretty standard beers. There was nothing too crazy and no kind of wild experimentation. The beer I started with was the Emperor’s Victory Stout. For some reason I wasn’t expecting an oatmeal stout when I put the glass to my lips so that was a little bit of a surprise. It was a very smooth, rich stout with more chocolate than coffee. A good offering for my introduction to Constantine Brewing.
Beer number two was Black Galactic. This is a dark IPA made with Australian Galaxy Hops. That doesn’t mean much to me, but they’re apparently hard to find or something. I typically really like Black IPA’s and this one was very good. They call it award-winning but don’t say what award it has won.
The third beer was Red Rooster. It’s an Irish Red Ale that is claimed to be similar to George Killian’s original recipe. Like today’s Killian’s, this beer didn’t do a whole lot for me. It wasn’t bad (and still much better than a Killian’s Irish Red), but didn’t really stand out as one I would go back to.
Beer number four was the Untamed IPA. I liked this one as I typically like IPA’s. It’s a smooth drinking dry hopped beer that I could sit at the bar and drink all day.
The fifth selection was Pacific Jade. This is a pale ale again using hops from down under (New Zealand this time). I should have pushed this one in front of the IPA as it’s a little bit weaker in flavor but still very palatable.
The last beer was the Righteous Razz Wheat. I expected this to be a little like Rubaeus, but it didn’t have nearly the strong sweetness that beer does. That’s not a bad thing. This selection is made with raspberries from Hunt’s Farm in Lawton. I liked it and shared a little sip with J who seemed to like it. This probably would have been the beer she picked if she had drank one.
The food menu at Constantine Brewing is pretty typical for breweries. There are pizzas made from spent grain and a handful of sandwiches.
J wasn’t super hungry and figured she would just kind of pick off my plate and share with L, so she just ordered a cup of the Homemade “Crack” Mac & Cheese. The cup size is good for a side, but not a stand alone meal. Like I said, she wasn’t super hungry though, so this wasn’t an issue. The Mac & Cheese has a rich, creamy cheese sauce and is topped with something crunchy. Looking at the picture, I can’t tell and I never got a bite with any of that topping, so I don’t actually know what it is.
I ordered the Brisket Plate. It’s the most expensive item on the menu, but t comes with a lot of food.
The brisket is sliced really, really thin. Not how I usually eat brisket, but I guess this is a thing. I thought it made the brisket a little tougher than I would normally expect brisket to be. It was dripping it’s own juices from the smoker. It was still very delicious, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The plate also comes with mac & cheese, slaw, hot rod beans (which J took from me and said were really, really good), and bread.
We were going to get J a pizza, but when we went to order, I noticed a mini pizza on the special board. This was an even better option as it was six inches instead of twelve and I didn’t expect L to even eat all of that.
We got her pizza with pepperoni and we all kind took a little bit of a slice. The pizza crust had great flavor from the spent grain and it was topped with a thick sweet sauce. The crust was pretty thick and chewy. It’s not typically our kind of pizza, but this was really good. It’s the kind of pizza I would every single night (if I could live on pizza and afford it) if we lived in Constantine.
My dad ordered the Grilled Cheese on Texas Toast. The sandwich is pretty much what it sounds like. Texas Toast stuffed with cheddar and Swiss cheeses. The basket comes with beans, slaw, chips, and a pickle. He shared the beans with my mom which she also liked.
My mom picked the Quesadilla. She’s always surprising me with her choices at restaurants. I thought for sure she’d got after something else, but she chose that and was happy she did. The large flour tortilla is filled with beans, shredded pork or brisket and fresh queso. I don’t know what meat she got (if she did…I think it was just beans and cheese), but it came with a side of pico and sour cream. She shared a little bit with L, but kept most of it for herself saying it was very tasty.
Our final bill came out to right around $50 mostly because I was so expensive with the brisket and the flight of beer.
Constantine Brewing Company is a great neighborhood brewery. They have an incredible space and a good selection of beers. The food was pretty good although I was a bit confused by the brisket, but that was minor hiccup in an otherwise good meal.