Last weekend, when I was in Madison, WI for Great Taste of the Midwest, I met a lot of people from all over the Midwest. Everyone would always ask where I was from and whenever I was pressed to be more specific than “Michigan”, I would instinctively take out my right hand and point to my location on it.
For the Michiganders reading this, they know what I’m talking about, but for outsiders, the state of Michigan is shaped like a hand, so Michiganders use their hands as maps when talking about where they lived, have lived, are traveling to, etc.
I’ve been traversing up to the “thumb” of Michigan this summer and have stumbled upon a hidden gem – Thumb Brewery in Caseville, MI.
Thumb Brewery is a seasonal brewery that is a popular watering hole for Caseville’s 800 or so locals and the thousands of visitors throughout the summer. The brewery has been in existence since 2013 and is open from Memorial Day to November each year.
The building that the brewery is located in an historic home in the middle of downtown Caseville. The home was built in the 1890s and it feels like you’ve been transported back to that time period when you arrive at the brewery. There is plenty of seating space outside of the brewery in both the yard and deck. There are plenty of places for children to play outside, too. The inside of the house has been converted to a large dining room with small and large tables and a four to five person bar.
The head brewer at Thumb Brewery is Nick Bowlby, who is no stranger to Caseville. He grew up in the small town and graduated from Caseville High School. He left to study brewery science at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. After graduating and learning of Thumb Brewery looking for a brewer, he moved home and got to work.
The brewing system he uses is located in the Michigan basement below the brewery and is a one-and-a-quarter barrel system. He says he has freedom when it comes to brewing and is always looking to create new recipes. He says that he recognizes the popular beers that locals and visitors enjoy drinking, but also enjoys the ability to make small batches and see how they do. To date, Nick has brewed 40 different recipes of beer.
Thumb’s flagship beers are Quinn’s Irish Red, named after the three generations of the Quinn family that lived in the house before it became a brewery; West Coast IPA, which is hoppy yet accessible to all; and the Oatmeal Stout, a light oatmeal stout with hints of coffee and chocolate. Besides the flagships, the local favorite is the Lady Lavender, an American pale ale brewed with a large amount of lavender. I usually have a taster each time I visit, but I am unable to have a whole pint. I’ve seen entire tables of people each order pint after pint, so it has an audience and is worth a try.
In addition to their own brews on draft, Thumb also has other craft beers available for people to drink. Nick says that the number of his beers and the other beers varies, but that they want to offer a wide variety of brews because of the varied population throughout the summer.
After six years of being in the business, Thumb Brewery has established itself as a go to location in Michigan tourism and craft beer adventures. Their kitchen offers sandwiches, salads, and appetizers to feed an army or give you a snack while traveling through.
The only uncertain element of Thumb Brewery is it’s future. It’s hard to miss the “FOR SALE” sign located on the corner of the property and in the cover photo of the Facebook page. I was assured to find out that the location is being sold as a brewery, so a buyer would get the house, brewery, brewer, kitchen, cooks, and wait staff.
So, if you’re in the “thumb” or looking for a new place to check out, stop by Thumb Brewery in Caseville, MI for a brewery that has the small town charm and solid in-house craft beer minutes away from the shores of Lake Huron.