“The dip of the light meant that the island itself was always left in darkness. A lighthouse is for others; powerless to illuminate the space closest to it.” — M.L. Steadman
I loved Bob’s house since the moment I pulled in – a lovely little ranch nestled in a cozy neighborhood with little boats resting in the yard and the odd hound dog napping under the porch in the shade. The first thing that caught my eye was the gorgeous bush of flowers right out front, taller than me (which isn’t hard), and so bright and lovely in the late afternoon sun.
The room was nice and clean, like I mentioned, but would become torturesome later that night, when a lone mosquito was trapped in there with me, and the only thing I had for protection was a thin wool blanket. (I nearly cried that night.) But as far as airBnB lodgings, the room at Bob’s house was wonderful.
I’m a simple girl; I don’t need much. Just a bed, a blanket, a shower, and some kind of heating element.
Anyway, Bob had given me a bunch of recommendations, and I was eager to set out to explore. It was summer and I was in Michigan, so obviously the occasion called for some beach time. I headed over to Holland State Park, home of Big Red the lighthouse, and soon found myself among the sandy dunes. I spent quite some time dozing on the sand in the late afternoon sun, and walking along the shoreline before I headed over to the lighthouse.
Big Red should have been called Little Red, but, hey, I don’t consider myself too much of a size queen, so it’s all good.
When I’d had my fill and the sun was beginning to set, I headed over to Big Lake Brewing, which was located in a strip mall. It was a nice open space with large French doors (is that what they’re called?) that were open and let in a ton of golden-orange light and the nice breeze off the lake.
I ordered a flight, because of course I did, and started making my way through it.
What a cute flight paddle! I loved it. I mean, I generally dislike pine, but, hey. I made my way through it.
The cinnamon roasted cider was, predictably, sweet, and I took a sip and saved the rest for the end of the flight as a palate cleanser. I know that’s the wrong order, but I always tend to save radlers or ciders for the end. I use them as bookends – the beginning and the end.
The Mandolin was a pleasant little pale ale wiht Mandarina hops and Ethiopian coffee. I’m a sucker for coffee in beer – porters, stouts, milk stouts, Russian imperials, blondes, you name it. This one did not disappoint, except that it was too hoppy for me at the time. My palate still wasn’t able to fully appreciate the hoppier beers, but this one was right on the edge for me.
Big Ben was an English pale ale on nitro. It wasn’t half bad, but I’ve never been a fan of nitro, so it wasn’t half good, either. I hated the Chinook Strong old ale; just could not get behind it. The Ramarillo was a Rye IPA with Amarillo hops, and the Ryecoe was a Rye IPA with Simcoe hops. Ironically, for someone who didn’t really like hoppier beers at this time, I made a specific note that in the comparison between the two, I liked the Simcoe hops better than Amarillo hops. (This is ironic because Simcoe will basically obliterate your palate; they’re great but intense. I can still only have them sparingly, and always at the end of the night or the end of the flight.)
The young lady tending the bar was sweet, but Big Lake was kind of a slow place for me. There weren’t a whole lot of people, and I was getting antsy. It was definitely time for dinner. I headed over to Salt n Pepper Grill, where Bob had told me to go. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a stop, because I had a pretty great ribeye with blue cheese crumbles. (And fries. This picture makes me feel a little queasy now, because my red meat intake is much lower now. How time flies.)
I had dinner and then wandered over to the downtown area. The architecture is reminiscent of what one would expect to find in the real Holland, and I say that with all the unearned confidence of someone who has never set foot outside the United States. Typical American, n’est-ce pas?
I remembered what Chris had told me – to forget New Holland and head over to Our Brewing Company instead. That man has yet to steer me wrong, and I’m so glad I followed his advice because OBC is a little GEM in Holland. It was packed with what I learned was the typical late night crowd, and I slipped right in and snagged the last seat at the bar.
It’s a hip little joint with fun people and great furniture to sprawl out on, and I ordered a flight and went through it. The Sour Mash Red was only slightly tart, and kind of syrupy, so I wasn’t a huge fan.
By the Sour of Gray Skull was a great, slightly tart berliner weisse that I really enjoyed. The Pilsner Wine was an Imperial Pils that really grew on me the more I drank it, and the Low Life Lager was one of the best lagers I’d had until that time. (I was new to lagers, and didn’t really understand them; I’m sure I’ve had better lagers since, but at the time I really enjoyed it.)
Cry of the Sasquatch was a double milk stout with a great name. It was pretty strong with a great flavor, and it was my cue that I had enough and should head home. It was pretty late as it was, and I was exhausted. I sipped down the last of my Oh Sherry Peary cider, which was decent and served as my palate cleanser, and walked through the length of downtown alone to find my car.
That’s exactly the sort of thing my friends worry about when I set off on one of my trips: me walking drunkenly (tipsily? buzzedly? Because I’ve only been drunk like 4 times in my life, total) down the street, alone, in the dark, in a strange town where I don’t know anyone and am basically ripe for the picking.
Me, I have a near pathological belief in my own invincibilty, so I never worry.
But that didn’t prevent me from walking a little faster than I normally would down the street. I found my car, navigated back to Bob’s place, quietly let myself in, and got ready for bed. That damn mosquito would try to get a nip off me almost all night, and I wouldn’t fall into a proper sleep until about 2AM, but that didn’t matter. I was really enjoying my stay in Holland, and knew I’d be back many times. (And that totally held true! I have been back several times over the years, and there are even more excellent breweries there now!)