Do Porchers travel? Well, if they do, they can hardly do better than to come to West Michigan – God’s country if ever there was one. So says The Lonely Planet. If any fellow-travelers come to the area I’d be glad to give a sampling of the dozen or so brew pubs we have up and running in the Holland/GR area. I’d avoid the overrated Bell’s Brewery, as well as the overrated New Holland, but Founder’s is the real deal. There are plenty of small brew pubs that don’t retail: Hideout, Our Brewing Company, Big Lake Brewing, Perrins … and the list goes on.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. I thought my farm was “God’s country,” but then God has numerous countries. If the God of the countries which we mutually love, though different countries they may be, ever sends me to Western Michigan, I will indeed look you up and go pubbing with you

  2. Western Michigan (and Indiana, for that matter) are developing extremely good craft breweries. I do not share, however, Mr. Polet’s assessment of Bell’s, but do agree that Founder’s is very good. I am blessed to live in northern Indiana and work in Benton Harbor, in western Michigan, so I have the best of both worlds.

    On the Rate Beer website (, there are no fewer than 6 Michigan beers (Bells and Founder’s responsible for the majority and Founder’s responsible for the 4th highest), in the top 50 beers in the world. Indiana has three, all produced by Three Floyd’s out of Muncie.

  3. The Jester and I have vowed to make a project of 3 Floyds. I recently attended a tapping of the Kentucky Breakfast Stout which was everything it was supposed to be and more (including its price). I am excited that the relative merits of Bell’s can actually become an object of debate. Briefly, I find their beers uninspiring. Oberon is terribly overrated. The Two-Hearted is a tepid IPA with very little character to it. Their Christmas Ale this year is hugely disappointing, particularly when compared to Dark Horse’s 4 Elf (Dark Horse, in Marshall, the site of a pleasant happy hour spent this summer with The Jester and Daryl Hart, is very much underrated) or the Great Lakes CA. The Winter White and their stouts are only OK. The Hopslam isn’t bad, and the Consecrator is pretty good, but otherwise I find their beers lacking in complexity and body. If I had to rate MI breweries, I’d have to say that Short’s and Founder’s would be at the top of the list. Dragonmead is very good as well, as is Perrin’s. It’d be a tough list to make, which makes it a good problem to have.

    Founder’s – like New Holland, Brewery Vivant, and Big Sky out in Montana – are all founded and owned by Hope College grads. We are indeed shaping students for lives of leadership and service in a global society.

  4. 3 Floyd’s is worth the effort.

    I also went to this beer tasting last year – – where there were more than a few new breweries represented. As I recall, the New Holland beer was good, but there was so much there.

    The Oberon is excellent on a warmer day. Two-Hearted seems to come and go, but it has been pretty iffy lately. I also enjoy the Winter White and Hopslam.

    Hope should definitely start a brewery program – from hops to hopping.

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