Destination: Clam Lake Beer Company

In Brewpub Review by Ryan

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It’s not often you find a bar cut from a Chicago neighborhood and dropped into a small town. But that’s what happened when we found Clam Lake Beer Company.

It’s not often you find a bar cut from a Chicago neighborhood and dropped into a small town. But that’s what happened when we found Clam Lake Beer Company.

Nestled in downtown Cadillac, MI Clam Lake Beer Company is a bar and restaurant cut from just about any quasi-trendy neighborhood in Chicago and plopped into a small town.

The interior is a mix of sleep and industrial. The tap list features 40 different beers, with the vast majority haling from Michigan. It includes standards like Bell’s, Founder’s and Short’s alongside up-and-comers like Perrin, Latitude 42 and Cranker’s. During my weekday, lunchtime visit I opted for an Indigenous Wet Hop Rye IPA from Brewery Terra Firma, which is everything I wanted a John Niedermaier-brewed beer to be and more.

Clam Lake Beer Company, which opened in 2013 but didn’t begin brewing their own beer until the summer of 2014, does so in small batches in the basement. Expect to find one, maybe two of their offerings on tap. I sampled the Ephraim Dry Stout  — which was sweeter than it was dry, putting it somewhere between a pint of Guinness and Left Hand’s Milk Stout.

The menu was solid a mix of hearty burgers, small plates and pizza. I went light and opted for a salad and a cup of the cream of asparagus soup, both of which exceeded my expectations.

Having spent a lot of time on the road in Michigan it’s nice to find a spot that so-closely resembles a bar from Chicago’s North Center or Lakeview neighborhoods and is well worth a visit the next time you find yourself hungry or thirsty en route to, say, Traverse City or Short’s pub in Bellaire, MI.

By the way, do yourself a favor and stop at Willow Mercantile on your way out-of-town, which has a compact but well-rounded selection of Michigan craft beer.

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About the Author

Ryan

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.