The Dish

Old Nation renews with burgers and brews


Williamston’s Old Nation Brewing Co. offers a relaxed atmosphere, creative sides and plenty of locally crafted beers to choose from. Its masculine design aesthetics — think open-concept with exposed HVAC, a la Lansing Brewing Co. — are balanced out by the genuine friendliness of the staff and little touches of care such as a phone-charging station at the bar.

The beef served at Old Nation is locally raised by Benjamin Beef in Webberville, and it shows. I didn’t feel heavy after pounding down my burger. When I later went to run an errand in East Lansing — accidentally driving down Grand River Avenue at 4 p.m. during the Michigan State University football team’s first home game — I didn’t feel horror, regret or even impatience. That’s just the kind of chilled-out, burger-fueled vibe I was on by that point.  

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before all that, I was seated at the Old Nation bar, sort of struggling to contain my Avocado Steakhouse Burger within the gluten-free bun. After failed attempts to handle this amount of burger, it suddenly occurred to me that I could loosen my grip and let the fixings fall where they may. The result was a simpler experience.

Was I getting a piece of everything in each bite? No. Did I occasionally grab a fork and try to put everything back together? Yes. Was I successful? Definitely not. About halfway through, I gave up my pursuit of rational order entirely and decided to just put my face into it. Casting off any pretense, I did my very best and was briefly lost in a locally raised meat reverie. Though I attempted to finish everything on the plate, I was still left with a few bites to take home for later.

The only way to improve this burger, I think, would be to put the pickles on the side. There was so much going on already, so I just chose to eat them afterward.

My tater-tot coins were quite crisp and not greasy, and they held their shape perfectly as I drowned them in a proprietary house ranch that was downright tangy.

Now let’s talk beverages. Being gluten-free, I obviously don’t drink beer. It’s devastating, and someone should send help. But I was very much in luck because Old Nation brews its own root beer, and it’s the best root beer I’ve ever had. It was spicy and not too sweet, and it tasted absolutely homemade. When I inquired further, I was told that I could purchase a 32-ounce crawler and take it home for just $4. Of course, I did, then later wowed my family with my fancy can during our Labor Day libations.

With a total tab of $25 and a bit of a drive, I won’t be frequenting Old Nation every week. But it would be great before a play, for example, at the Williamston Theatre, which begins preview performances of its next production, Jason Odell Williams’ “On the Market,” Sept. 14. I also imagine it’s an invigorating stop while traveling between Lansing and places further east.



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