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Paddle Hard Brewing

September 27, 2017

  • 227 Michigan Avenue
  • Grayling, MI 49738
  • (989) 745-6388
  • Website
  • Menu

Sunday was a short day on Mackinac Island.  We had one thing to do around 10:00 at the Grand Hotel then it was time to hit the ferry and head home.

I was fortunate enough that we got down the hill in time to catch the 11:00 AM ferry.  I got back in to Mackinaw City and to my car just before noon.  My kids wanted to Facetime with me since they hadn’t seen me all weekend so it was closer to 12:30 before I got going.

I decided to drive for a while then pick up lunch along the way.  I knew there were a couple of breweries about an hour south so that was my plan.  Get gas.  Get lunch.  Get back on the road.

I pulled off the highway in Grayling and headed towards downtown to find Paddle Hard Brewing.

Paddle Hard Brewing sits in the heart of Grayling.  It’s on Michigan Avenue just northeast of M-72.  They openen their doors in late 2014 in the building which previous housed Northern Concepts which was a gift shop.  Needless to say, they  had some renovating to do.  

The taproom isn’t very big, but it’s big enough for a decent sized crowd to sit, eat, and drink.  They’ve really taken advantage of the weathered hardwood floors and exposed wood beams in the ceiling as a jumping off point for the decor.  The bar is paneled in what looks like 1 x 8’s while the mismatched tables are all kinds of different woods.  They use more 1x’s to make booths in the back of the space near the kitchen and set the mood with rustic light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

The bar takes up quite a bit of space on one side of the room.  They use pub chairs as opposed to stools and a heavily varnished bar to prevent ring stains from the glasses.

I took a seat at the bar and started looking up at the beer selection before the bartender came over with the food menu.  They have a number of their own beers on tap, but they also have a great selection of beers from other breweries.  I was shocked to see Dogfish Head’s Oak Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout and Founders DKML.  Those are two beers I haven’t seen on tap pretty much anywhere else.

I asked right away about flights.  The bartender went to grab a mini-muffin tin and a grease pen.  She told me to write the number that corresponds to the beer I want on the TV screens above the tap handles.  They had seven of their own beers on tap, but the flight was only six so I had to leave one out.

There was a wide variety of beers on tap so I got a pretty good sampling of what Paddle Hard has to offer.

The first one I tried was Boat Hefe #50.  Hefeweizen is not one of my favorite styles but this was very smooth and very drinkable.  It’s a nice, crisp, refreshing beer.  It’s actually listed as an Apple Hefeweizen and that little bit of sweetness shines through on the finish.

Up second was the Viking Imperial IPA.  It’s not overly hoppy for an Imperial.  Still had a good taste.  It’s not a beer that blew me away, but it’s solid and one I’d go back to.

Beer three was Al Loves Blueberry.  I like fruit beers from time to time, but blueberry is a tough one for me.  It never comes off as sweet as I’d like it to be.  This one was along those lines.  It was a decent beer and not overly sweet.  If that’s how you like fruit beers, you would like this.  I prefer fruit beers to be pretty sweet.

The fourth beer in the tin was The Cherry Viking.  This is listed as a Cherry IPA and the cherries really come at the end.  It’s a subtle sweetness on a beer that’s not overly hoppy.  It’s actually a really good combination.

The fifth beer I tried on this Sunday afternoon was the Habanero IPA.  Like the sweetness of the Cherry Viking, this one had the pepper come through right at the end.  It’s not an overpowering peppery flavor.  It’s much more subtle than I would expect for a Habanero beer.

Beer number six was Little Bit of Seth.  This beer is listed as a lemon shandy.  I used it as a palate cleanser after drinking all of the hoppier beers. This one is light with a little bit of a citrus flavor.  It’s a good way to end the flight.

The food menu at Paddle Hard isn’t huge.  The biggest portion of the menu is the pizzas and paninis.  All of the pizzas can be made in to sandwiches so you have a choice.  They also have tacos, salads, a meatball sub, and some appetizers.

I chose the flatbread pizza named Meat You At the Finish Line.  I chose to have it as a pizza instead of a panini but both use the same home made dough.  The 11″ pizza is topped with pepperoni, cappicola, and salami as well as a mozzarella and provolone cheese blend.  The pizza is thin crust and cooked until it’s nice and golden brown around the edges.  There is no shortage of the salty meats on top of the sweet red sauce and the edges of those meats have little burnt bits as well adding more delicious crisp to each bite.  This pizza was fantastic.  I would have loved to have had a bigger one with enough to take home, but the 11″ was actually quite filling alongside the beers so I left with a full belly.

My bill was just a little over $20 and boy am I glad I stopped in Grayling for lunch.  We don’t get to that part of the state very often and Paddle Hard is a place that’s been on my radar for a while.  The flat breads are delicious and would be a highlight of this place on their own.  Paddle Hard has a great beer selection, but don’t overlook their brews.  It can be easy to get lost in some of the bigger names, but they’re doing some pretty creative, unique and tasty combinations on their own.

Paddle Hard Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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