Holland, Michigan, New Holland Brewery, and Weird Coincidences

The second day of our trip to Michigan was probably our most eventful.  We drove to Holland, Michigan, which is a place that Carrie and I had both been several times when we were children.  (I suppose that’s one of those weird little coincidences life throws at you.) The main focus of our visit this time, however, was not Dutch Village* (which is someplace you should definitely visit if you have kids of your own).  No, this time our focus was New Holland Brewing Co. I’ll talk about that in a bit.

We walked around the downtown area right around where New Holland is.  It was nice, but again it is one of those touristy small towns with a bunch of stores that are all the same (see the previous post about Lake Geneva).  But, (like Lake Geneva) there are other things to do there.  I mentioned Dutch Village and New Holland, there’s also Windmill Island, home of De Zwaan.

De Zwaan is billed as “America’s Only Authentic, Working Dutch Windmill”.  It’s located on an island (which is only technically an island by being cut off from the rest of the geography by a couple of small steams) not far from the downtown area.  We went on a lark, but it was fun.  There are lovely gardens and a miniature Dutch countryside village dubbed “Little Netherlands”, and presentations about windmills and Dutch culture (we missed the klompen dance only by minutes).  And, of course, De Zwaan.  It’s actually pretty impressive to see up close (pictures on Flickr).  If you visit Holland, MI, I’d definitely recommend making it a part of your trip.

Before all of this, we stopped for lunch at New Holland.  We enjoyed it very much – the food was good, as was the beer.  Carrie got their version of a Vienna lager, and I got their the barrel-aged version of their Mad Hatter (they had several specialty versions of the Hatter available when we went).  The Vienna was very much what you would expect from a Vienna-style lager, malty and smooth.  It was very good.  The barrel-aged was excellent, with some nice vanilla undertones to it.

I didn’t get the Poet Oatmeal Stout, even though it is one of my favorite oatmeal stouts, since a) oatmeal stout isn’t a really good “summer” beer, and b) I can easily get it in Chicago.  It would have been nice to have it from the tap, but I liked the barrel-aged so much I just stuck with that (since it was a special offering, I knew I wouldn’t be able to find it elsewhere).

Before we left New Holland, I saw a poster advertising their live music schedule.  I decided to check it out to see if anybody interesting was playing that weekend.  Much to my surprise, that night’s act was a blues guitarist that we had gone to see several times in the early ‘90s in and around Chicago.  Keith Scott**.  We had become acquaintances with him at the time, and he even invited me on stage with him and his band a couple of times.  It had probably been about fifteen years since we last saw him.

Another one of those weird little coincidences.

We decided to go back that evening to hear him play.  We had a good time – good music and good beer.  We spoke a bit to Keith between sets, getting caught up.  It was really a pleasant, unplanned part of our vacation.

*Next time I’m out by my parents’ house I’ll see if I can dig up some of the photos that were taken when we went there as kids.

**Unfortunately, Keith hasn’t updated his website for a couple of months, so none of his upcoming gigs are currently listed.