511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall, MI 49068, (269) 781-9940 http://www.darkhorsebrewery.com/
There are a few breweries I'd call a destination. You can add Dark Horse to that list. This wasn't my first visit here, and far from my last. Each time back I find something new to like. Although the beer will always be my #1 reason.
Step one, call ahead and ask if Gary is giving the tours that day. When there look for the white beard. Full of Dark Horse knowledge, wit, has jokes and a dry sense of humor. All four make for a great guide. The tour gives you a full history on how Dark Horse became the sixth largest brewery in Michigan by volume. 32,000 barrels in 2016. Also as of last year they are distributing to 13 states and still expanding today. It's a no brainer to do the tour. For $10 you're guided thru most of the Dark Horse compound. Included are six small pours. One or two usually being a rare or one off beer that you won't often see. You also get a free pint glass from the gift shop. Do the math, it's worth it!
Step two, drink a beer and smile!
Dark Horse has a beer garden that rivals most in the state. Size alone makes it one of the best. Two floors, covered seating, cornhole, music, and obviously great beer and food. One big plus are the outside taps. Many breweries have great patios or beer gardens but still have to go inside to refilled. Not here!
DHB hosts many events weekly and throughout the year. Cornhole tournaments every Tuesday at 7. Live music most every Thursday and many weekends. Chicken Wing Thing coming up August 19th. Four Elf party in December. It's a big beer release in the chilly temps. Some of their most sought after beers come out during the party. Check the website for all the other events.
The beer, the beer, the beer... Raise your glass if you haven't had at least one Dark Horse beer in your life. Bueller? Bueller? It's because they make so many great ones. Not in any particular order. Plead the 5th. Also released barrel aged during the 4 Elf party. It's one of their best. Sapient. Crooked Tree. Double Crooked Tree. Smells Like a Safety Meeting. During the tour Gary had a great story of how Safety Meeting got its name. Scotty Karate, also available barrel aged. Toonilla. High C's Harvest Ale. Oil Of Gladness, one of their newest. Way, too many others to list.
Today I was here for another small event they put on. It was for Nation Ice Cream Day. Also known as Sunday.... Pairing five of their beers with a different flavor of ice cream. Before I went with the sweets I had a few regular beverages. Proportion IPA, a 6.5% Belgian style with Dark Horse maple syrup. Bourbon Barrel aged Toonilla, 7.5% milk stout. This beer really surprised me! Smooth, thicker than anticipated, and just the right boozy flavor. On the tour they tapped JAA Raspberry Black Ale. 8.5%. By far my favorite of the day. It hits you with raspberry on the nose and your first taste. Finishing with chocolate. I wanted more than just the smaller tour pour I got.
Food in my belly, 3 or four beers down. Time for dessert. So I mentioned BBA Plead the Fifth earlier. Take a boozy 11% Barrel Aged Imperial Stout perfectly mixed with a vanilla bean ice cream. Who woulda thunk it?!? Beer and ice cream.... I recommend you go buy your favorite beer and play around with ice cream flavors at home. As long as your favorite beer isn't Milwaukee's Best.
Dark Horse also has a great menu. Pizzas, tacos, sandwiches, soups & salads. I had the BEEF & BLUE, Roast beef, baby spinach, gorgonzola, red onion, tomato & horsey sauce on pretzel, with a side of the worlds best chips. http://greatlakespotatochips.com/ If you don't know now you know! A great product from TC.
These photos above are part of the tour. This is a large refriderated storage garage. All them yummy beers just waiting to be shipped to a store shelf or tap near you.
The little system Gary was serving us our beer from. Including TC's Dual Overhead Dry Sump Stout 6%. The JAA I mentioned before. I shed a few tears when I saw all that beer running down the drain. I'm convinced there's no god in this cruel world.
Dark Horse has become more than just beer. Along with the general store there's a bike shop. Dark Horse Syrup Co. It's really really good. They have a creamery, candy shop, a bakery and coffee shop. Seriously, there's something for everyone. The beer gets you here, everything else is just icing on the cake.
As a youngster vacationing in and around Marshall MI, all I thought of was antiques. Now many people know Marshall as one of Michigan's hot spots for stellar brew!
Plus I'm on board with any business especially the business of beer using green energy.