Saturday, November 17, 2012

Black Lotus Brewing Company: “The Tao of Craft Beer”

Written by  Jeff Priskorn
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Black Lotus Brewing Company

Located on a busy intersection right in the heart of downtown Clawson, Black Lotus Brewing Company has become a mainstay in the city. Featuring outdoor patio seating and a taproom that feels at times like a coffeehouse, it has a somewhat rustic feel as well, with a cobblestoned horseshoe bar and lots of exposed wood and beams on the interior. One might say that Black Lotus offers craft beer enthusiasts a little bit of everything.
The taproom is family friendly and broken up into three distinct sections: the dining and entertainment area, the bar, and the “wine room”, which is where the coffeehouse feel really kicks in. Here one will find a nice comfy seating area, with a big sectional leather couch and other chairs. The wine room is so called because here is where their wide selection of wines, most from Fenn Valley Winery in Fennville, MI, are stored within easy reach. The work of many local artists hangs on the walls as well, and is for sale. However, bring your checkbook, 401(k) statements, and firstborn, as the artwork is quite pricey – several were listed at $1,000 or more. On top of the coffeehouse/wine/rustic theme, there is a feel of the Far East as well, evidenced in their flowery sunburst logo and select artwork depicting gurus. But for the atmosphere Black Lotus is looking to evince, it’s somehow all a good fit.

Let’s leave the wine room for now and head back to the bar, shall we? Beer is what Black Lotus is known for and why the business was started in the first place back in 2006. Six beers are typically on tap, including the stalwarts: Detroit Hip Hops (pale ale), Red Tao Amber, and People Mover Pilsner. Other staples include World Wide Wheat, Funkin’ A Apricot Wheat, and Black Bottom Oatmeal Stout. On the day of this author’s most recent visit, I had one of my highest-rated beers ever: Samsara Ale, 9.5% ABV, a seasonal/rotating tap. It bordered on a brown ale, with interesting notes of cinnamon and ginger on the nose. The finish possessed lots of sparkle, with tones evoking gingerbread cookies and a faint banana and clove presence. It drank very smooth and was one of the more unique brews one will taste. Heightening the moment, it was served in a solid goblet, weighing literally 3 pounds, in which all of their high gravity beers are presented.

The menu is of a decent size for a microbrewery, featuring standard appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and burgers. A highlight is the lunch special: a burger and a pint for $6. Building on Black Lotus’ motto of “Think Global, Drink Local”, many of their ingredients are sourced locally, including excellent salmon from the neighboring Noble Fish. In addition to the beer and Fenn Valley wines, award-winning meads from B.Nektar are available as well.

Live entertainment is also a big draw here, including a very popular open mic night on Mondays, with DJs and bands on other nights. Games and cards are available to keep the drinkers’ brains (and hands) engaged. A small selection of merchandise is available, including pint glasses with the Black Lotus logo and shirts emblazoned with the brewery’s aforementioned motto. And if you’re out late, don’t miss their late night happy hour, with $2 pints from 11 pm-1 am on Monday-Thursday, and 12-2am on Friday and Saturday.

While a bit eclectic in décor, Black Lotus provides excellent beer, food, and entertainment, and stands tall in Michigan’s ever-expanding craft beer environment. And it’s certainly a great place to practice what they preach: that is, Drink Local!

Jeff Priskorn

Jeff Priskorn

Jeff Priskorn is a guy who didn’t even like beer until he was 25, which isn’t all that surprising given that the family fridge was stocked with Goebel and Carling Black Label during his tender years. Now an elderly young man, he can finally say that Bud Light is swill and is a proud proselyte to the microbrew world and a loud (and sometimes annoying) advocate for Michigan-made beer. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 100+ Michigan microbreweries and brewpubs, and he’s at least 60% there. In addition to drinking and writing about beer, Jeff is a software guy, actor, voice artist, and musician. Check him out at, come see his band Mad Rabbit (Michigan’s Live Jukebox™) at a bar near you, and sample his fledgling beer blog at