In early July Nick and I took an Amtrak train from Chicago to Holland, Michigan. We were met at the station by a very sweet young woman who was the keeper of the Dutch Colonial Inn where we had two nights reserved. We had decided on Holland thanks to the New Holland Brewery. Nick and I are fans of many of their offerings, though most notably their Dragon’s Milk. The bed and breakfast is only about a mile from the brewery and we walked straight there after checking in to our room.
There were a large number of IPAs on the chalkboard that we had never heard of, so we decided to start with a sampler tray:
Klomp Hatter IPA: This one reminded us a bit of Gumballhead, with the hops kicking in at the end. It was pretty good.
Urele Heavy: A Scotch ale with a light front, a sweet end and a malty roundness throughout.
Nitro Hatter IPA: This tasted bland and thin to us.
Belgian Hatter IPA: Smelled a bit like cough syrup and had a sharp astringent finish.
Imperial Hatter IPA: Very sweet with a muted hoppy-ness. Full and luscious at the end.
Black Hatter IPA: This may have been the favorite of the bunch. Very dark in color and had a full earthy taste of toasted barely. Not terribly complex, but strange and tasty.
Czarist stout: A very chocolaty stout with a frothy mouth-feel that finished pretty thin.
Existential: A sweet and hoppy barleywine. Very good.
Their food was decent. I ordered the annoyingly named "Treehugger" for eight bucks ("Vegetarians delight in this display of roughage! Served on a toasted
focaccia bun, we pile hummus, cucumber, red onion, Roma tomato,
sprouts, chipotle ranch dressing and dill havarti cheese.") We learned, to our surprise, that the New Holland Brewpub does not own a deep fryer, so no fries…
After we ate we decided to move out back to their patio and ordered some tried and true full sized beers: the Dragon’s Milk and Existential. We had planned our trip around the brewery hours, and were well aware that the website claims the brewpub is open until 2 am on Saturdays. However, again to our surprise, the kids who run the place (seriously, they all looked about 17) closed up shop around 12:30 even though the place was packed. This resulted in a mass exodus of very intoxicated patrons wandering out towards their cars and calling it a night. Yikes. We walked home with a 22 to share in the garden.
Overall we weren’t sure what to think of the New Holland Brewery and Brewpub. Perhaps we just had bad luck, but no one seemed to know much about beer or really be old enough to drink it. Their food was mediocre and they seem to be in need of a new manager if closing up shop an hour and a half early when the place is packed makes sense to them. We were somewhat underwhelmed with the new beers we tried, but we do love the Dragon’s Milk and Existential. All in all I am quite glad we made the trip to the brewery, but I think in the future we will stick to those beers that the New Holland Brewing Company has deemed worthy of distribution.
Oh, and one more thing, Holland doesn’t allow beer or wine sales on Sundays —only liquor… This was an unfortunate surprise to us when we went back for one last try on Sunday afternoon. Plan accordingly if you visit. They neglected to mention this on their website we visited, but they now have a small button asking for help in repealing Sunday prohibition.
We really weren’t heartbroken to use our time in other ways. Holland is a charming little town and thanks to the Dutch Colonial Inn, we were able to fully enjoy it. The Inn had two bikes that they allowed us to take all over town. We biked the seven miles to the shores of Lake Michigan where the "Big Red Lighthouse" sits. The views were breathtaking and the weather was perfect.
We then biked over to Windmill Island on the other side of town. We paid the small admission fee and went straight to "De Zwaan," a 240 year old working Dutch windmill. Our tour was run by a sweet and knowledgeable young woman dressed in traditional Dutch attire. We were able to climb all around the windmill and learned quite a bit about the tradition behind various decorations and how the milling process works. Flour is still milled at De Zwaan and visitors can buy the flour in the gift shop.
We then spent about an hour laying around on the lawn and framing shots of Nick fighting the windmill. Other attractions at Windmill Island include: a working antique carousel, homemade fudge, a working antique Amsterdam street organ, a miniature village and old-time klompen dancing performances.
We returned to the bed and breakfast to lay around and plan for dinner. Our options were very limited on a Sunday night in Holland, Michigan. We were going to order a pizza and call it a weekend, but our lovely inn keeper once again came to the rescue. She scoffed when I asked for delivery recommendations and basically made us take her car back out towards the lighthouse to have a civilized dinner. She recommended the Piper Restaurant on the water. They had a lovely balcony overlooking the docks and the cool evening felt wonderful.
We were both still in the mood for pizza, especially now that we had found a place with a wood oven. Nick ordered the Meaty Medley: Italian sausage, smoked ham and pepperoni with a five-cheese blend and tomato sauce.
I designed my own with asparagus and goat cheese. It was all very tasty.
Holland, Michigan is a beautiful town. We experienced some great food, interesting beer, gorgeous scenery and unbelievable hospitality. This was an easy trip from the city and one I would highly recommend.