Hop Lot Brewing Company
I am so lucky that my family enjoys going to breweries with me. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad meal at one and they’re usually a safe bet for us when traveling.
I’m not super familiar with Traverse City area breweries, so I asked some friends who are. They all suggest we take a drive up to Suttons Bay….because there’s a brewery there you just can’t miss.
Hop Lot Brewing Company is on the south side of Suttons Bay on, what in town is called, South West Bay Shore Drive. It’s also the more famous M-22. The building is sort of hidden off the road by a line of trees. There’s a small parking lot next to the wood paneled building that serves as a tap room, but it filled up quickly. By the time we left, cars were parking along the road on M-22 and wherever they could find space in the parking lot.
The building itself at Hop Lot is pretty impressive, but the first thing you will notice is the massive beer garden. This little brewery tucked in the woods of northern Michigan takes full advantage of their location and the beautiful natural setting surrounding the building. The beer garden is surrounded by large wooden posts and stacks upon stacks of firewood on either side that is used in the firepits that keep the area warm on cool fall days. The seating outside are rustic picnic tables and benches. The yard surrounding the beer garden is used to play games and for other activities throughout the year.
Oh, and there’s hops. Yeah, right before you get to the beer garden, there’s a hop yard. There’s another one on the other side of the beer garden as well.
And even a parking area for bikes.
There is no table service, so we headed inside to check out the food and drink menus. We had a fairly large party (8) and a number of kids (4 including 2 in high chairs), so we opted to stay inside and stay out of the smoke that was coming off the fire pits. We all wanted to sit outside, but we knew the kids would complain about the smell and we just wanted to have a nice lunch.
The inside at Hop Lot is pretty small. There isn’t a lot of seating inside, so we grabbed a table right away and took turns ordering. The menus were all at the large counter that is more order counter than bar. There are no seats around it so you can’t actually sit at the bar and drink. You order and take your drinks elsewhere.
They had a couple of their own cider’s on tap which worked well for J. She ordered the Cherry Bay. I mean, we’re in Traverse City….we gotta have something with cherries in it. The cider had a sweet tartness to it (duh). A very delicious cider. The other cider on tap was Smackintosh which one of our dining companions ordered.
The flight list is already set so there really wasn’t much of a choice for me. I just had to decide between four beers or six. Yup. I chose the six.
The first beer on my flight board (which was shaped like a hop) was Smash Face. This is a pumpkin ale and it tasted like a pumpkin ale. Pumpkin is not my favorite style, but I enjoyed the sample. Wouldn’t order a whole beer…but just because I don’t really like them. I wouldn’t have ordered this had I gotten to pick the flight, so it was kind of nice to be forced to try something I wouldn’t otherwise have.
The second beer was Highway Robbery. This one is a crisp, refreshing Blonde Ale. It’s a solid blonde with a pretty crisp finish. It’s a sippin’ kind of beer.
Beer number three was Milky McMilkerson. I would have ordered this one on name alone. As that name implies, it’s a Milk Stout with coffee and chocolate being the dominate flavors. The beer is really smooth and easily drinkable…and the name is awesome.
Up fourth was Woad Warrior. This is a Scotch Ale. It’s a nice, somewhat sweet ale with a little bit of a bitterness. Another very drinkable offering but not one I could drink a whole lot of.
The fifth offering was Bayshore Brown. The name gives away this is a brown ale with a strong malty flavor to it. It’s much more drinkable than a lot of browns. This was kind of the surprise on the board for me. I really enjoyed and browns are hit or miss for me.
The final beer on the board was the Harvest Ale IPA. I was really lucky we stopped in when we did. This one is made with the cascade hops grown right on site…so there’s really no way to get a fresher IPA. If you follow along, you know I always save the IPA for last…I do that because I know I’ll never be disappointed..and this one did not disappoint. I wish I would have gotten more of this one.
The disappointing thing about the flight was the two beers I really wanted to try weren’t on it. The Double Norseman Double IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout with Coffee called Leelanau Exchange. I could have paid for tasters of just those, but I felt I had already drank enough for lunch and didn’t want to push it. We still had a full day of activities ahead of us.
The food menu at Hop Lot isn’t very large, but they do have a kid’s menu so I knew there was something for everyone. We started out pretty small not knowing what portion sizes were like. J ordered the Pork Taco. This delicious little creation is a corn tortilla with braised pork, red cabbage, Pepperjack cheese, and a sour cream aioli. J said the taco was incredibly delicious, but when she ordered, she didn’t realize it was just one taco. She thought it was three, but it’s $3/each.
I ordered the Mac & Cheese. This is a pretty standard Mac & Cheese dish with a super creamy cheese sauce and topped with bacon. It’s not a huge portion size as it’s listed as a shareable on the menu. It was a delicious mac and cheese, but like J, I was still a little hungry.
So…J and I were still a little hungry and we noticed one of our dining companions had ordered the Pulled Pork Nachos and they looked amazing, so I went back up and ordered one for J and I to share. I still had three beers left and everyone else was still eating, so we had some time before we were going to lose the kids’ attention and needed to get out of there.
The Nachos actually come with choice of pulled pork, grilled chicken, or veggies. We chose the pork which is braised, not smoked. It’s topped with pepperjack cheese, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onions. It comes with guacamole, salsa, jalapeno slices and sour cream on the side. The nachos were as good as they looked. The chips held up and stayed crispy despite the juicy pork’s best attempt to make them soggy. I forgot to keep the onions off, but J and I both picked around them. Other than that, these nachos were just as good as they sounded and a perfect compliment to round out the meals we both already started.
For both of the kids that were old enough to eat, we ordered the grilled cheese off the kid’s menu. The simple grilled cheese is just cheese and bread and both girls seemed to like it. The kid’s meals come with Goldfish crackers and a juice box which went over well with both of them.
The meal, with all the drinks and both sets of food orders came out to a little over $53 with tip. Hop Lot is an amazing brewing. The atmosphere alone is worth seeking this place out, but the food and beer fit right in with this Northern Michigan treasure.
Oh, and before I forget, this one actually has a Southwest Michigan connection. One of the brother’s who run Hop Lot graduated from Western Michigan.