Origins of a Beer Quest
At some point over a pint or two, I wondered aloud to my friend Mark if anyone had successfully completed the quest to visit every brewery in Michigan. That question was a product of too many miles commuting between my house and the hospital lost in thought. I was 41 years old with 23 years of healthcare experience looking for something else. I was burned out and needed a mental distraction.
One cold, dark evening, I grabbed a clipboard and began the list on a whim. This led to hours spent obsessively compiling, correcting and adding to my spreadsheet only to, in a panic, find a mistake. It became obvious that if I was to actually tackle this adventure, attention to detail was to be the difference between success and failure. When I began compiling my list of Michigan breweries in November of 2016 my count was at somewhere around 218 locations brewing and selling beer. The math was less intimidating sitting on my couch with my laptop, the latest copy of the Michigan Beer Guide, the Michigan Brewers Guild website and Michigan’s Best Beer Guide by Kevin Revolinski. In Kevin’s book, he listed an impressive 136 locations with a copyright date of 2013. Boy was my glass half full. A wiser person than me, who is well versed in statistics and logistical planning, did the mental math in about 30 seconds guessing miles, probable number beers consumed (and associated caloric intake) and verbalized the sobering amount of work needed to accomplish this seemingly ridiculous goal.
It was on . . .
. . . and I was going to do it in a year.
There needed to be perimeters if I were to be able to declare success in the challenge thusly named Mitten Beer Quest. First, establishments needed to be open as of 1 January 2017. Second, locations need to brew and serve their own beer (no relying on contract brewing as an only source). Third, for it to count, I must have at least a 4-5 ounce pour at the actual location.
The kick off date was 1 January 2017. For the six weeks prior I lived and breathed my spread sheets. I slowly began to discuss my intentions, believing I would hear a majority of naysayers and scoffing doubt. Strangely, I received just the opposite reaction. It eased my doubts and, quite frankly, I decided, “fuck it.” What else do I have to do?