Craft Beer, Braggots, and Spirits in Benzie County, Michigan Take a Giant Leap Forward

Four beverage producers in and near Benzie County have stepped up their game to increase business potential for the future.

  • Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort will soon open their new production brewery and bottling facility, which will more than triple their production overall with their popular Belgian brews, Rainmaker Ale and Whiled Away IPA
  • St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah has expanded their offerings with in-house craft beer and braggots (honey made ales). The new craft brews are now available at their tasting room along with their award winning draft meads, still meads and wines
  • Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, which opened in fall 2016, currently offers 6 products including gin, white whiskey, white rum, wheat vodka, and bourbon whisky finished three ways, in Caribbean rum casks, in maple syrup barrels, and in Stout Beer Casks. In addition, two new releases are planned including an Estate barrel aged gin distilled from grain frown on site and Bourbon Whiskey aged in Tawny Port casks. Iron Fish is also now in statewide distribution of their products in restaurants, bars and liquor retailers.
  • Lake Ann Brewing Co. in Lake Ann just celebrated their second anniversary on June 15, 2017. According to Owner Matt Therrien, “We’ve had strong growth and are making Lake Ann Brewing Co. a destination for tasting great craft beer.”

Stormcloud Brewing Company

Stormcloud Brewing Company’s new bottling plant is currently under construction along M-115 in Frankfort and is expected to be completed late Summer 2017. The 12,700 square foot production facility will increase Stormcloud’s production from 1200 to 4500 barrels per year. The first packaged products rolling out of the production facility will include two canned products and a couple of premium Stormcloud beers distributed in corked and caged bottles.  The packaged products include Stormcloud’s popular Rainmaker Ale and Whiled Away IPA. The new products are expected to be on select store shelves in October 2017.

Stormcloud was recently named the #1 Brew Pub in Northern Michigan by Traverse Magazine readers and voted #1 Best New Brewery opened in the last 4 years in fall 2016 by MLive’s Michigan Entertainment writers John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman.

This summer, Stormcloud will open a new beer garden at their popular brewery and restaurant on Main Street in Frankfort Michigan. With 16 taps flowing in constant rotation, their food menu is also highly rated. Summer features will include ingredients grown in their “storm garden” with popular items such as flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, soups, salads, appetizers, and desserts. New season summer brews include a cherry saison, a peach ale and a citrus saison. Musical entertainment is also now featured throughout the summer. See details at

St. Ambrose Cellars

St. Ambrose Cellars is now offering craft beer and braggots in addition to award winning meads and wines at their tasting room located at 841 South Pioneer Road, Beulah. After a year long project to add beer to their beverage menu, St. Ambrose now features six craft brews including a pale ale, an IPA, a Porter, as well as, honey made beers called “braggots” made from honey that they produce on their bee farm, Sleeping Bear Farms. Braggots are hybrid beers with part barley-based ale and part honey-based mead.

According to Doug Coster, General Manager at St. Ambrose Cellars, “We’ve added craft beer and braggots to our selection of beverages to accommodate a wider audience. We didn’t want to leave out the true blue beer drinkers, so now they can enjoy an adult beverage while others in their group are enjoying their favorite meads or wines.  When people come to our tasting room, we have a variety of beverages to meet anyone’s preferred taste.”

At their tasting room this summer they will have food trucks on the weekends in addition to their daily offering of charcuterie and cheese plates, and snacks. Live music is also available year round on ThursdayFriday and Saturday nights.

St. Ambrose currently distributes meads and wine in Michigan, as well as, five other states through Imperial Beverage Company. They hope to increase their distribution into 12 states by the end of 2018.

More information is available at St. Ambrose Cellars online.

Iron Fish Distillery

Iron Fish Distillery with it’s gleaming new production facility and tasting room in Thompsonville is growing in popularity day by day, since opening in fall 2016. Still in the early stages of production, Iron Fish has six regular products, as well as, ongoing limited-edition releases. Iron Fish is Michigan’s first full line farm distillery and their products are made from grain grown onsite and from local Michigan grains. Current releases include their Michigan Wheat White Whiskey, Michigan White Rum, Michigan Winter Wheat Vodka, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Caribbean Rum Casks, Michigan Woodland Gin and Bourbon Whisky Finished in Imperial Stout barrels form The Filling Station Microbrewery in Traverse City. Iron Fish sources maple syrup from the nearby Griner Family Sugar Bush that is aged in whiskey barrels before bourbon is place in those same barrels. Iron Fish ramped up production for statewide distribution after the first batch sold out in 60 days!

The next releases, coming this summer 2017, are a Bourbon Whiskey aged in Tawny Port casks from Portugal and Whiskey aged in Imperial Stout barrels from The Filling Station Microbrewery in Traverse City.

According to Sarah Anderson, one of the co-owners of Iron Fish, “We are all about collaborations with other producers in the region such as the Filling Station and Griner Family Maple Syrup producers and Antioch Tree Farm. When we discover interesting ingredients we love to collaborate in order to develop new, limited releases that allow for ongoing creativity and new taste profiles.”

Located in Thompsonville near Crystal Mountain at 14234 Dzuibanek Road, Iron Fish Distillery’s tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday offering spirits, creative cocktails and appetizers. Food trucks are featured at the Distillery this summer on FridaySaturday and some Sunday’s. Regional bands also perform.  A newly restored historic barn is available for on site weddings, family reunions and corporate parties. For more information about Iron Fish spirits, events and facilities check out 

Lake Ann Brewery

Lake Ann Brewing Co., located close to Lake Ann Grocery in the small village of Lake Ann, just commemorated their second anniversary in June 2017. Owner Matt Therrien states, “We’ve had strong growth and are making Lake Ann Brewery a destination for tasting great beer and visiting with the locals.”

Amidst the winding roads and beautiful scenery, Lake Ann Brewing Co. fits in as an unpretentious place to grab a brew, mead, wine or cider and strike up conversation with a friend or stranger.  Their knotty-pine brewery has cozy indoor seating and a bar. They also have a large outdoor patio where live musical entertainment is enjoyed Tuesday through Saturday nights during summer and on weekends in the fall. Lake Ann Brewing Co. also offers 5 – 9 craft brews, meads from St. Ambrose and Acoustic, wines from Left Foot Charlie’s, and ciders from Left Foot Charlie’s and Tandem Ciders. Patrons can order food at The Stone Oven restaurant next door and, minutes later, their food will be served to them at the brewery. Matt Therrien was a home brewer before starting the business with his wife, Jennie. He says, “We just want to make great beer for our local patrons and tourists who stop by to check us out. We are a cool place with a relaxed vibe and the conversation is always interesting.”

About Benzie County

The Benzie County Visitors Bureau, located in the heart of Benzie County in Northwest Michigan, is offering a fantastic getaway package for visitors who stay for two consecutive nights at one of several participating lodging locations between Memorial Day Weekend and October 31, 2017The summer and fall vacation package called “Benzie Treasure Trove” has a $300 value with over 24 free gifts and value priced offerings. The vacation package was created to help visitors explore more of Benzie County and have new experiences along the way. Visitors can plan their getaway vacation to Benzie County and participate in the “Benzie Treasure Trove” by signing up online at

Benzie County is a perfect vacation getaway with friendly towns and villages such as Frankfort, Elberta, Honor, Thompsonville, Beulah, Benzonia, and Lake Ann. Benzie County was one of the most well-known logging locations in Michigan during the early 1900’s. Presently, Benzie County is a popular tourism location with spectacular beaches along the majestic Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan, over 100 miles of biking and hiking trails, and great restaurants and shops. Perfectly situated along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Benzie County still retains a very natural, hometown personality with nearly 30 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, 57 inland lakes, and approximately 200 miles of rivers. Outdoors activities in the summer and fall include fishing, golfing, biking, hiking, running, kayaking, paddle boarding and more.

Benzie County is only 130 miles north of Grand Rapids, 235 miles north of Detroit, 290 miles north of Chicago, 295 miles north of Fort Wayne and 380 miles north of Indianapolis. Plan a couple of days or more and get a true flavor of the relaxed pace and exquisite natural beauty of Benzie County.