September 10, 2012 by kkeerr
This weekend was the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival; we had never been before but when my parents invited us out on Saturday it sounded just too good to pass up. I also knew that there was a microbrewery in Paw Paw so it was perfect.
We started our afternoon at the festival watching the air dog competition.
MVI 0526 from No name on Vimeo.
After about 20 minutes of watching adorable dogs jump from a dock into a pool with varying degrees of success we meandered down the street looking at old cars lined up for the car show while we waited for my parents.
It got dark for a minute or two and I was worried the day would be ruined but it only sprinkled enough to make the car enthusiasts have to wipe down there cars when it was done.
Once my parents caught up we headed just a block or two outside of downtown to the wineries for free tastings. We first visited Warner winery.
None of us are big wine drinkers so there was a lot of pointing to random wine with little rhyme or reason then shooting the tiny tasting cups instead of sniffing and swishing. My mom really only likes Riesling and White Zinfandels and at one point I saw her in the corner at an empty tasting table sort of gagging with her tongue out while the woman giving out tastes laughed.
Shortly after that scene, we moved next door to St. Julian winery. A year or two ago we did a tour and tasting as St. Julian so we were all a bit more confident in what we liked.
We tried some of their new wines. One that everyone seemed to particularly like was the Last Harvest Riesling which recently won awards in an international competition. After tasting several more wines we decided to head back downtown for some food. We were leaving the tasting tent but didn’t get far before we were welcomed into Paw Paw Brewing Company’s brewing facility that is right across the street for a quick five minute tour. The guy giving us the tour was enthusiastic to say the least. We learned that the brewing company had 14 beers on tap in the beer tent downtown, including one made just for the Harvest Festival at uses grapes, and that they hope to be able to start bottling in the next year or two (for now visit their bar or order a keg).
After the quick tour we grabbed some hoppaw stickers and some coupons for tasting flights and merchandise discounts and headed out. We had planned on visiting the beer tent after lunch but it got late in the afternoon and we ended up cutting our visit short because we needed to get back to for Notre Dame’s 3:30 kick off. Austin and I decided that we would make the drive to Paw Paw again on Sunday for the beer tent and a visit to the brewery.
When we got there on Sunday we were surprised to find that the brewery opened two hours later than the hours listed on the coupons we were given. No big deal really – we just walked back downtown for more free wine then decided to find the beer tent. This is where things get dark. The beer tent was gone – we were sad, but then a woman offered up free samples of wine slushies and we were happy again. We had also burned enough time to head back to the brewery.
The bar was small. It was only two “rooms,” one with the bar and a table in the corner the other area had about half a dozen tables. The place was packed the entire time we were there. I imagine that it was so busy because of the festival, however I would say nearly half of the patrons were members of their mug club (mugs from their mug club filled about every inch of available wall space) so they must do a pretty good regular business as well. They have some food items and we were hungry but we didn’t want to over work the single bartender (and from what we could tell he was the only staff) plus they did not have air conditioning so we skipped the food and just ordered beers. They had nine beers on tap, but we only tried two. I ordered the 2Paws IPA and Austin got the Kalamazoo Urban Assault IPA. They were both very good. Austin liked the KUA so much that after the first sip he ordered a growler to go.
One of the beers we were told about on the tour was a harvest IPA made from hops recently harvested from their patio area. It sounded great until we got there and saw that the patio is about 5 yards away from the highway. Austin pointed out that exhaust from thousands of cars that go by daily couldn’t possibly be great for the hops. I don’t know, maybe we are over thinking things on that.
Despite the tight hot space and the crowd the beer was good and we could tell that it would be an enjoyable hang out. The bartender was friendly and took the time to be informative despite being swamped. He even made sure that an out-of-stater knew about Bell’s Brewery. We will definitely go back for another visit sometime. According to their website they are running a special on Friday nights – you get a tasting flight of 6 beers for 5 dollars. We will probably pop in on a Friday night to take advantage of that deal and try some more of their beers (and refill our growler).
Just the facts ma’am:
Paw Paw Brewing Company
Location: 929 E. Michigan Ave Paw Paw, MI 49079
Number of Taps: 9
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 4 out of 5 Pint Glasses (He asked me to just use numbers or stars like a normal person. I’ve chosen to ignore him)