Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Taste of Michigan on the East Coast

With the summer drawing to a close, I recently made sure to stock up on Bell's Oberon at a local supermarket in Virginia before it disappears until the spring. I love that I can experience my favorite summer beer while living 500 miles away from the Michigan state line. Every sip of Oberon reminds me of summers in Michigan, where the days are warm, the nights (usually) are not stifling hot like they are in Virginia, and the daylight lasts seemingly forever.

Oberon on the dock in St. Michaels, MD and Kilwin's in Annapolis

When I first moved to the East Coast fifteen years ago, I was saddened by the prospect of losing access to Bell's beer, Sanders candy, Detroit-style pizzas (yes, this is a real thing, although I just called it "pizza" growing up) and my favorite restaurants in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Yes, I make infrequent trips back to Michigan, but those trips only raise the unfortunate fact that, despite how hard I try, I cannot possibly eat and drink everything I desire during my visits home.

Although it is impossible to find real pączki before Lent or anything that comes close to approximating a Detroit Coney Dog in DC, the DC area luckily does recognize Michigan's great craft brewing scene. Within the last five years, both Bell's and Founders have established a strong presence on the East Coast. Their beers are sold at most local supermarkets and are on tap at many Northern Virginia and DC restaurants.

I go out of my way to purchase a six pack of Bells Oberon or Founders Breakfast Stout when they are in season, and love seeing Bell's Two Hearted on tap at many of my favorite restaurants. Sometimes, the hardest decision I have to make when dining out is which Michigan beer to order. Just this weekend, I tried Founders Red's Rye PA for the first time and my only disappointment was the realization that it took me too long to discover this beer.

Sadly, other than the beer and Kellogg's cereals, I do not have many other opportunities to sample Michigan's culinary delights in the DC area (if I am missing something, please let me know). When we take our occasional day trip to Annapolis, MD, we always choose the Kilwin's ice cream shop over its many competitors. We do not choose Kilwin's solely because it is a  Michigan-based company. It is also damn good and the smell of the waffle cones is intoxicating as you walk up Main Street.

I would love to see more Michigan made food and beverages sold on the east coast. There are enough Michigan transplants out here to support a few more "imports" from the Great Lakes State...I could really go for some Germack Pistachios or Better Made potato chips right now.

Until then, I will gladly pick up some Founders and Bell's. As the leaves begin to change color and fall to the ground and the Oberon disappears from the shelf and my fridge, I will take solace in the fact that Bell's Best Brown and Founders Breakfast Stout will soon appear in Oberon's place.

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