Team: Great Lakes Loons
Affiliate: Los Angeles Dodgers (High A)
Ballpark Basics: A ballpark that punches above its weight.
Dow Chemical Company is headquartered in Midland, Michigan and by all appearances want to keep their employees happy. Sponsoring everything from the local botanical gardens to an annual golf tournament, Dow Chemical donated the land where Dow Diamond sits. Situated along the Tittabawassee River and a short walk from the shops and restaurants that line Main Street in downtown Midland, Dow Diamond is like many things you will find in Midland, exceeding expectations.
Walking up to the entrance at the home plate gate the sheer size of the ballpark. A long wall of brick and glass is complimented by the two-story entrance. Built on the banks of the Tittabawassee River did not allow the team to dig down below street level for the field like many newer ballparks do. This requires fans to climb a set of stairs to access the main concourse. The team story also is also expansive and covers two floors next to the home plate entrance.
The concourse is another part of the ballpark that feels oversized. Wide and open to the field there was no time during our visit that we felt cramped or crowded. The Midland County Sports Hall of Fame can be found on the concourse with plaques highlighting local sports figures as well as some memorabilia from some of the athletes. Along the concourse in the outfield they have fire pits in left field and right field to help keep fans warm during the early season games.
Best Spot for Beer:
Michigan is a beer state and the Loons do a great job of highlighting local beers throughout the park. While many parks have a dedicated space for craft or local beer, the Loons have multiple. The expansive concourse allows for multiple carts with a few dedicated specifically to craft beer. This way no matter where you are seated you don’t have far to walk to pick up something local.
From the outside Midland would appear to be a very unassuming town in the middle of Michigan. However, we were continually impressed with what it had to offer. From the local beer to the manicured Main Street with higher-end restaurants, Dow Diamond reflected a lot of Midland, punching above its weight.
Midland Brewing Company
Rating: Home Run
Brew Basics: A standout in their community, with expansion on their mind.
Midland itself is a small, upper middle class suburb built around Dow Chemical. There’s clearly money, an emphasis on family friendly activities and everything still feels kind of new. Midland Brewing Company fits right into this tapestry. The building, with a lumberjack/Northwoods theme feels like a nicer chain restaurant, but this is actually a small, private brewing company. Though a version of Midland Brewing Company began in 1935, the iteration that reopened its doors started in 2010.
This is a full service restaurant, so there are standard seating areas, host stand, indoor bar area and the like. Quite unlike anything else around, Midland Brewing has enjoyed much success, which has led to several expansions. The first completed expansion was the restaurant which includes an outdoor “beer garden” with stone patio, pergola roof and umbrellas. Next up in 2018 was the Red Keg Barrel House which allowed for them to expand into barrel aging, and an additional 2500 square foot space to welcome more guests.
Midland seems to stay locally focused by brewing beers with local ingredients and supporting local charities. Their Red Keg Ale specifically is a nod to the company’s (and the town’s) past as it serves as their tribute to the first lumber camp saloon. Even with the continued expansion, they have maintained a fairly decent price point and even offer 64oz pitchers for $15. It’s a great deal, but we needed to review more than one beer for you so we opted for smaller versions. We tried:
Lumberjack Brawl Series: American Wheat – Pale Wheat Ale (5.5% ABV/ 22 IBU) Very clear and golden. Smells hoppy with orange peel notes. The palate is hop forward but finishes clean and with a little bit of coriander. A good place to start, but as part of a series – likely hard to find.
Raspberry Copper Harbor (5.3% ABV /14 IBU) – This was another seasonal, a raspberry twist on their flagship beer, the Copper Harbor. Unlike some raspberry beers that are served in all shades of pink, the Raspberry Copper Harbor was actually light copper, almost like a thin syrup in color. The strong raspberry popsicle aroma assures you that you’re drinking the right beer, but the flavor – despite the nose – isn’t overly saccharine. Sweet at first, tangy in the finish and then an all raspberry aftertaste rounds out this summertime sipper.
Arbuckle Cold Brew Coffee Stout (5.8% ABV/40 IBU) – Smells like French vanilla coffee and even in taster size was such a dark brown it was almost black. The Arbuckle is locally sourced from Creation Coffee Company and really is quite good. You’ll taste coffee notes first that lead to an unexpected, smokier back. Finally, lactose and the cold brew coffee combine in the end for a smooth, creamy finish.
Hopdust Session IPA (4.5% ABV/40 IBU) – Huell Melon hops in full force have the hopdust smelling fruity, and tasting light up front but lending toward a melon-y, lightly hopped close. Blended with several other strains of hops, this is not a juice bomb or a hazy IPA like many trend these days, just an easy drinking session ale good for summertime porch sitting.
5011 N Saginaw Road
Midland, MI 48642