I’m sure everyone has those days.  You know the ones.  You and your family have a day off together, and in a rare turn of events, no one really has any plans.  You take turns asking “What do you want to do?”  You know you want to do something – you just don’t know what – but you know you don’t want to sit around doing nothing. I had a day like this recently.  We had already gone swimming, gotten groceries, and had lunch.  We were sitting in our living room at three in the afternoon, with half a day still ahead of us, feeling kinda lazy but not wanting to waste the day. My husband asked “Are there any towns around that we haven’t explored yet?”

So I got on Google Maps and started looking for places – about an hour’s drive or less from home – that we haven’t been to yet.  I’d yell out a town and hubby would quickly do a search and see if there was something there we wanted to check out:  Green Timbers?  No, not sure that’s actually a town, looks like it’s in the Pigeon River Valley.  How about Finkton?  Finkton?!  Where’s Finkton?!  Doesn’t look like there’s anything in Finkton.  Uh, Bellaire?  Short’s Brewery is in Bellaire.  Alright, let’s go! Road trip!!

If you aren’t familiar with Short’s, you probably don’t live in the Great Lakes Region.  Short’s is the home of outrageously named and boldly flavored beers such as Juicy Brut, Soft Parade Shandy, and Sticky Icky Icky – I’d love to know how they come up with these names!  You can check them all out here.  On this trip I learned that it’s also the home of all the Starcut Ciders such as Pulsar, Mosa, and (currently my favorite hard cider) Octorock.  Their products can be found in grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. I knew they were a Michigan-based company, but I didn’t know they were so close to home!

FB_IMG_1566430680271Our destination may have been Short’s Brewery, but when we pulled into town, we also found Bee Well Mead & Cider, and Mammoth Distilling.  There was a winery’s tasting room too, but it was closed.  All this, on the same block of downtown!  So, this mini road trip turned into a tasting tour. My tasting flight at Bee Well Included two ciders and two meads.  I wasn’t a fan of the meads, but I highly suggest The North Cider.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and very smooth.

IMG_20190818_182340868~2My tasting flight at Short’s included three dark beers and two ciders.  I’ve been trying to find a type of beer that I like, but I don’t like the flavor of hops, so I’ve been experimenting with ports, stouts, and wheat ales.  I’ve found a few here and there that are tolerable, but nothing I would choose to drink.  At Short’s I thought the Pistachio Cream Ale was pretty good, but I don’t think I’d be able to drink a lot of it. Octorock was not available for tasting (I didn’t mind – I may or may not have three or four cans of it in my fridge LOL) so I tried Pulsar and Reign of Bowser.   Every time I took a sip of Pulsar, I felt like my nose and taste buds were assaulted by the taste and smell of (I think) the carbonation.  It overpowered the apple flavor.  Reign of Bowser was so, so good.  A little more tart than sweet, smooth and mild FB_IMG_1566431339809– it even made my husband go “ooh!”  I’ll be looking for this one next time I grab a six pack.  Their pizza is pretty darn good too!

At Mammoth, I just wanted to taste their cherry bounce. Cherry Bounce is made by soaking cherries in the liquor of your choice, until you have what allrecipes.com describes as a “cherry-infused liquor dessert drink.”  I was disappointed to find out that Mammoth uses whiskey for their cherry bounce.  I’ve never been a fan of whiskey, and when sipping the Cherry Bounce, the whiskey was all I could taste.

My underage daughter was with us on this impromptu tasting tour. Short’s pub is a full-on, family-friendly restaurant, so this was not a problem.  I felt a little awkward bringing a 16-year-old into Bee Well and Mammoth.  However, both places had non-alcoholic beverage options, and Bee Well even had a Pac-Man table in the back, disguised in a bourbon barrel.  She is now a huge fan of Bee Well’s apple soda.

We also stopped in and check out the Spice & Tea Exchange.  They have a huge variety of flavored salts, flavored sugars, spices, and teas.  You can buy little packets of whichever ones you like, or (with or without their help) you can create your own custom mix.  Beware though: with all those scents in one place, my sense of smell was very quickly overwhelmed.  We grabbed a little baggy of Applewood Smoked Salt and got out of there.  I’d like to go back someday, though.  I just read about Sensory Adaptation, and apparently, if you stay around a strong smell for a while, it’ll disappear.  So, theoretically, if I hung out at the Exchange for an hour or so, I’d get used to the overwhelming smell of everything.

Do you like to explore your area?  Go on mini road trips?  Where have you gone?  Tell me all about it in the comments.  And as always, remember to like, share, and follow me here, and on social medias.  Links can be found at the top of this page.  See you next week!

Disclaimer: I was not driving.  Please do not drink and road trip.  Driving under the influence is not only illegal, but very dangerous to yourself and others.  

All photos on this blog are mine, unless otherwise noted.