Hello my readers I hope your summer is off to a great start. Being the week after Memorial Day I enjoy taking my trip somewhere after the holiday. This year it brought to the town of Alpena, Michigan. It has been on my radar for over a year as I have taken a liking to Austin Brothers beers and well fuck I have never been.
It was a nice ride up on as I got off I-75 and had to take some back roads to get to my campsite, reminding of life in the Upper Peninsula. The original trip was to be for 4 nights at the campsite but once I saw I work again Thursday I cut it short so I can make another trip for another post. Before I got to the site to set up I had to get some beer and pizza to reward myself.
Austin Brothers Brewery
It was nearing a four-hour drive to Alpena. I was set on setting the tent up then finding the brewery. With four hours of travel time from the original idea was ou the window as I neared town. It worked out great.
I pulled into the brewery around 330’ish. There was an event setting up outside but inside the bar top was empty and calling my name. I pulled up to get the best view of the beer listing on the chalkboard.
The flagships were all on tap with their summer seasonal Cherry Bomb, Tropical smoothie IPA, Strawberry Rubbra Sour and Moscow Mule IPA closing out the list. It was easy to just start with a flight of 4 though you can do a flight of 8. The food menu is an impressive full menu of more than just pizza and pizza related grub. I was around long enough to learn that a 5pm the specials go on.
A flight of four and a pizza would be a good start, I would choose from the flight my pint to aid in finishing the pizza. My flight consisted of Cherry Bomb, Tropical, Strawberry Sour, and Wood Wheat from the flagship collection. My pint to aid in eating the Road Runner pizza was Murk Dundee. The pizza consisted of hickory smoked turkey, slab bacon, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, roasted garlic aioli.
Once it was set in front of me I knew I had a mission. The beer was on point from the flight to the pint. I was skeptical with the sour, as I have had memorable experiences of late with them in a way that my mouth was not happy. This one was on point for me. It was not overwhelming sour and on a hot summer day I could drink it with ease. The beer was down the hatch and the pizza joined it, now time to set the tent up.
I am a huge fan of state parks, renewing for the pass is a must when I register my truck every year, however Campers Cove was the closest camp site to the brewery and sometimes beer wins. The site is about a ten minute drive down the road from the brewery.
With the change in plans I had to cancel one reservation and set up a new one. The outcome was both were cancelled, luck has it that they had open sites though. I was happy to get the site closest to the bathrooms and off the water. the warmest it got was mid 60’s and when it came to bed the 40’s came to visit.
Tent setup went smooth and the air mattress inflated with no problems. Queen size sleeping bag to allow me to roll around, I was set. Time to grab my book and read until I wanted to get some wood and light that fire.
The best reason to go camping is to reset the mind and figure whats is going on. That or just take a few books and read while it is quiet. My goal was to finish John Gresham’s, “Playing For Pizza”. A story of a NFL QB that plays the worse 11 minutes in football history and three months later in playing in a professional league in Italy. A must read for anyone a fan of either, I have a copy to loan out now.
Day 2 in Alpena
The campsite offers a few things to do but one that was not offered was trails to wander on. Guess I had to wander on my own, I’m pretty good at that. I had to take in the downtown area first. It is always a must in the small town USA to walk and people watch. Also my frenchpress sucks so I needed some coffee. My first stop was Cabin Creek Coffee.
The corner cafe is the perfect small town atmosphere. You can not go camping without some S’mores so I started my day with that and two extra shot of espresso to get rolling. To wander, the cafe is attached to an antique shop that takes up the rest of the block. I must have strolled around there for 20 minutes, with no intentions to purchase anything. As I walked downtown I noticed nobody around. I would stop in a comic shop before I made my second visit to Austin Brothers.
Well I changed plans again and found a trail to wander on. Sportsman Island Park offered a great trail to experience a getaway that is not to far away. The back half of the island park was quiet a relaxing. Had I had a fishing pole I would have cast a few out from the docks provided. This is what I needed on a beautiful sunny day. There is a rental shed at the park offering kayaks and cannons for guest to rent and paddle around. A great site for anyone visiting to take in. There is another great spot, Austin Brothers Brewery.
Day 2 at Austin Brothers
As I stated earlier I learned about the specials going on around 5pm. I was early still on day 2 but I wanted that alligator salad. The staff being so damn helpful was able to provide even with my early appearance. The beer menu was down a beer, Cherry Bomb the summer seasonal was gone, it would have been great after trail walking. It wasn’t met to be but the salad was on point. A growler fill of Woody Wheat would accomany me back to the campsite for the night.
Day 3 F*cking Rain
I woke to a light overcast and kids running around the campgrounds. As I was about to make my way to the bathroom the rain started to come down. The drizzle was enoughto ensure I couldn’t cook breafast so I was on to Cabin Creek again. This was a planned visit as I brought my Surface to get this blog going and I could look in on the Tigers game. You know how the blog is going but the Tigers didn’t fair to well.
The Cafe was more busy then usual. Must have been that I got there just as church was letting out. A group of older women chatted about the service as I sipped on a cup of joe. The sun was out for awhile and another walk ws to take place. The town was slow for a Sunday so after some gift shopping guess where I went!?!
The daily special was coney dogs with their own spicy chili. So game on with that. I kept it light on the beers going with the DIPA first, not a smart move. The dogs went down well with the Tropical Smoothie IPA. The visit with guest was the best yet.
A biker was up for chatting about the Tigers and their recent hot streak. From his departure came a couple. We chatted about beer and all the craft beverages. David behind the bar was helpful with informing us about the availibility of the sour, I had to run out to my truck to get the growler and get it filled ASAP. It is a gift beer and just after my growler was filled the keg was empty.
I returned back to the campsite with rain pouring. As I waited for it to end I had to comeup with a plan to clean the tent with the puddles that formed. The night was long but the next day I was headed out.
So that was the weekend in Alpena. I’m on the road as I write this. I crossed a big bridge and made a right turn. That post will come soon.