Clam Lake Beer Company: A #beersaturday Review

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This past weekend my wife and I went on one of our beloved fall camping trips. There is something pretty special about fall camping in Michigan. In the summer the nights are often as hot as the days, so having a fire is something you do out of obligation more than necessity. In the fall, it is an absolute necessity, otherwise you sit around an freeze your butts off all weekend.

On Saturday, we took a short break from warming ourselves around the fire to head around the lake into the small(ish) town of Cadillac, MI. Cadillac is a beautiful area that consists of two fairly large lakes and whole bunch of other things that draw crowds in year round. In the summer it is the boating and fishing as well as hiking in the national forest. In the winter it is skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hunting, etc.

There really isn't a time that the Cadillac area isn't bumping depending on the weather.

Like I said, we decided to head into downtown Cadillac and watch the Michigan State Spartans game at one of the local watering holes. After doing a bit of research, I decided on Clam Lake Beer Company.

Clam Lake Beer Company is a small 139 seat bar in the downtown Cadillac area. As you would expect being a downtown bar, it fits the footprint that a majority of small town bars in America do. Nestled in between boutiques, candy, and other shops, the interior is more deep than it is wide. Figure about 30 feet wide by a good five to six times that deep if not more.

A long bar rests to your right along the front wall and then tables and booths work their way back into the interior of the building. I apologize for not getting a shot of it, it was very busy inside.

In fact, there was a half hour to forty minute wait for a table with our group of six so instead we decided to just belly up to the bar and watch the game there.

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Clam Lake Beer Co. does brew their own beers, but for some reason that I couldn't hear the bartender explaining to the lady next to me, they don't have any right now. I did hear that the head brewer has been in the basement working really hard trying to get some out.

I had originally planned on trying a flight, but after browsing their selections (40 beers on tap), I selected the Abita Turbodog that you see pictured above. It is listed as a British Brown Ale. I am kind of a sucker for brown ales, so I knew I had to try this one. I am not exactly sure what makes a British Brown Ale different from an American Brown Ale. What I do know is that it was tasty as heck. It was smooth and creamy, nutty and caramelly with hints of coffee and earthiness that you come to expect from brown ales. I loved it and I highly recommend it.

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I really love the level of art and creativity they put into tap handles. Here is a picture of what Clam Lake had on hand. At a craft beer place like this it is almost a joke to see the Miller Light tap situated there among the other offerings.

We were here to watch a football game, so besides beer, what else do you need with football? That's right, food. Clam Lake didn't disappoint there either.

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My wife got the Avocado Salad which she very much enjoyed. It was a perfect mix of some of her absolutely favorite things. Her best friend was eyeing the same salad on the menu, but after trying my wife's decided she wasn't a fan of goat cheese and got the soup instead.

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There were so many things on the menu that sounded appetizing, but I eventually settled on the Italian Melt sandwich. It was made up of red onions, tomatoes, ham, pepperoni, bruschetta, and banana peppers as well as cheese and mayo. It was pretty fantastic. What I really loved about the sandwich is the fact that it wasn't super greasy. A lot of times when places offer a melt like this, they put so much oil or butter on the bread before grilling it on the flattop that it is just a hot greasy mess. As you can see here, that wasn't the case. I had only planned on eating half and then taking the other half back with us to the campsite, but I ended up eating the whole thing.

The fries were really amazing too. My wife and I demolished those before the first half of my sandwich was even gone.

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After my first beer, I tried an American Brown Ale from New Holland Brewing called Cabin Fever, but it wasn't nearly as good as the first one, so after drinking it, I immediately had them pour me another Abita Turbodog.

My wife stuck with diet coke and thankfully drove me back to the campground. We had planned it that way and I had actually given her my keys as soon as we sat down at the bar.

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As you can see, we did order an appetizer too, and while it was good, I didn't think it was anything special enough to share here. Okay, honestly, I forgot that I should be taking pictures so I could write a post and by the time I remember, we had already destroyed the pretzel bites and the bartender had taken away the plates...

At $64, it wasn't a cheap date, but it was well worth it given the selection of beer and the quality of the food. We actually gave a $20 tip to the bartender because she was so attentive and friendly.

At one point we were talking to another employee and he was saying that for them Monday is the new Friday because they are one of the only places that stay open on Mondays and past a certain time on the weekends. We were talking about how hard it is to find staff these days and he said that waitstaff, bartenders, and hostesses are no problem. It is the kitchen staff that they see so much turnover with because it is basically non-stop for them. They are turning tickets pretty much three on top of each other one after another.

So there you go, if you are looking for a job with lots of job security in the US right now, become a cook. Be ready for long hours with hardly any breaks and come with lots of energy and hustle though!

If you are ever in the Cadillac, MI area, I highly recommend making a stop into Clam Lake Beer Co. You won't be disappointed!


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All pictures taken by myself or @mrsbozz

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