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Big Lake Brewing

August 11, 2018

  • 13 W. 7th Street
  • Holland, MI 49423
  • (616) 796-8888
  • Website
  • Menu

Petoskey to Chicago is a long way.

We set our Petoskey vacation quite a while ago.  About two weeks after the reservations were made, we got an invitation for a wedding in Chicago.  It was for one of J’s former co-workers and someone she really liked so we decided we would make the trip.  Our Petoskey stay was always supposed to end on Friday anyway…we’d just have to make the super long trip from Petoskey to Chicago after we checked out from our cabin.

There was no way we were going to keep the kids cooped up in the car that long.  J told me to find someplace along the way to stop and play for a while.  I looked at some things north of Grand Rapids since we don’t go that way often, but I kept coming back to the Critter Barn in Zeeland.  It was a decent halfway point and the kids love it.  We’ve gone pretty much once a year since L was two and this would be the first year B would really know what was going on.

We left Petoskey around nine.  It figures the day we wanted to get up and get moving was the day everyone slept in.  That put us in Holland around lunch time and I wanted to keep up my string of hitting a brewery every day on this trip.  Of course, there’s a brewery in Holland I haven’t been to yet so that’s where we headed for lunch.

Big Lake Brewing is on 7th Street in downtown Holland just east of South River Street.  It’s a new location for the brewery which started about less than five years ago on Holland’s north side.  This new space was most recently Serafina’s Bar & Grill and Via Maria before that.  Big Lake put about a million and a half into the building before opening up late last year.

The restaurant is a pretty large, cavernous room with cement floors and an exposed beam ceiling.  There is a large, curved bar right as you come in the door and seating all the way to the back door which leads out to a small outdoor patio.

A waitress saw us walk in and told us to grab a table.  There was an empty four top near the front by the stage so we headed over there.  She followed with drink and food menus.  The place was pretty full the Friday afternoon lunch rush.  There was quite a mixture of business lunches, guys doing flights at the bar, and families who looked like they were taking a break from the beach.

I asked about a flight right away and the waitress went to get me a flight card.  I really like when places do it this way rather than me just telling the server what I want.  I know exactly how many beers to pick and I don’t have to try to pronounce beer names that can get a little wacky.

The flights are six beers and they come in a metal flight board shaped like Lake Michigan….commonly known as “The Big Lake.”

I always like to start with the dark beers while I’m waiting for my food and drink the IPA’s while I’m eating.  The first beer I picked up on this flight is called Real Cake.  This is their five year anniversary beer.  It’s an Imperial Stout barrel aged with vanilla, toasted coconut, and Cacao  nibs.  The coconut always surprises me.  I don’t like the taste of coconut on it’s own but it gives such a sweet, silky smoothness to these dark beers and always comes out tasting incredible.

My second pick was Ramarillo.  This is a Rye IPA using Amarillo hops.  I chose to go with an IPA as kind of a palate cleanser…I know..not the way most people do it, but I wanted something hoppy after the big, bold flavors of the BA Imperial Stout and I got hoppy with this one.

My third pick was Michigander.  I picked this one mostly because of the name.  We have a long running argument at work over Michigander and Michiginian.  I’m always on the Michigander side, so I picked this one just to spite my co-workers who weren’t even there.  This beer is a session IPA and it is super sessionable.  Very easy to drink and full of flavor.

Beer number four got me back in to the dark beers.  I picked the Barrel Aged Darkstar.  This is their stout offering barrel aged in bourbon barrels.  The stout is brewed with two types of coffee and aged on cacao nibs. The barrel aging adds a little booziness and deliciousness to a pretty solid stout to begin with.

I picked Lake Beer as my fifth choice.  Craft beer lagers always intrigue  me.  I know there’s a big culture for them out west but Michigan craft beer tends to be more hoppy and much more IPA.  I see a lot of breweries are doing the lager now trying to grab some more macro drinkers.  I’ll always give them a try but my taste buds prefer hoppy.

My last beer is my solid go-to when it comes time to finishing a flight.  The IPA.  I picked the Breakwall IPA as my finisher here.  I picked it last because it’s the juicy IPA offering made with Citra and Mosaic hops.  Pretty sure I’ve seen this one in cans and it’s one I should be picking up more often.

There are a few ciders on the menu as well, so J had some options.  She picked the Peachy Keen Cider.  It’s a delicious, sweet but semi-dry cider that hit all the right notes for her.

The menu is pretty standard brewpub with a few entree choices, pizzas, and sandwiches taking up the most room.  I picked the Steakburger.  This sandwich is a pretzel bun with a half pound specialty blend of meat topped with choice of cheese plus lettuce, tomato, and grilled onion.  I picked cheddar as my cheese choice over gouda…which actually sounded good too.  The burger is pretty simple.  The meat was char-grilled on the outside but juicy and slightly pink in the middle.  The pretzel bun was toasted around the edges and soft and pretzely where it should be. It wasn’t a burger that stands out but it’s a solid, simple, delicious burger offering.

The fried potato side option is tots not fries and I’ve never been a big tot guy so I went a different direction.  I picked the Beer Mac N Cheese.  This small metal cup is penne pasta covered in a cheese sauce made with Ryecoe beer then topped with bacon and pretzel breadcrumbs.  This mac ‘n cheese was delicious.  It’s a great side but it would make a pretty good entree.

J’s pick was the tacos.  The plate is three grilled flour tortillas with choice of meat, lettuce, cheddar cheese, Southwest crema and a fresh pico de gallo.  She picked smoked chicken as her meat option.  These tacos came pretty loaded with filling and the three were a hearty meal.  J said the tacos were fantastic.  She was pretty happy with her pick.

J is much more of a tot person than I am and while her selection didn’t come with a side, she ordered a side of them.  The small metal cup is overflowing with golden brown, crispy potato cubes and dusted with Parmesan cheese.  She offered some to me and the kids but none of us were interested so she got all the potato deliciousness to herself.

There is no kids menu but the waitress told us there were quite a few things on the menu kids typically like.  We ordered one cheese pizza for the kids to share.  The crust and red sauce are both made in house and then quick fired to a crispy, smokey finish.  The sauce is pretty sweet and a good contrast to the doughy, firey crust.  Of course, the kids each only ate a couple of pieces so there were a few for J and I to try as well.

Our bill for lunch was a little under $60.  I actually tipped a little bit more because B managed to spill not one, but two glasses of lemonade on the floor.  I felt bad when the waitress brought out a mop bucket to clean up his mess so I made sure that she got a little more than I’d usually tip for being so understanding and kind while I was dealing with being embarrassed for not stopping him..either time.

Big Lake Brewing was a really great place for us to stop on our long trip.  I have had the beer in the past but, as with most breweries, the food that goes along with it is top notch.  Big Lake was hesitant to move downtown at first because they didn’t want to compete with New Holland and Our Brewing, but this new restaurant easily shows they are on the same level with the two longtime breweries in this cute little downtown.

 Big Lake Brewing  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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