I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I like this show, mostly because my family is from Marshall (and the nearby vicinity). My first true crime book, Secret Witness, was about a bombing murder in Marshall. I frequent the Dark Horse, I have for years. We got hooked on the mugs hanging on the ceiling concept, the fantastic food (Bless the Goomba gods!) and the great beers. I wear the shirts, I drink the beer, and pretty much demand on going there for a meal and cold one when in town. I’m not bragging, but I want to set up the context of this review – I have a heavy bias. Sure, I like Arcadia Brewing in Battle Creek – but the Horse has me hooked.
Even I wondered if it could cut it as a TV show. My uncle Jim told me months ago they were filming and the idea intrigued me. I mean, could they really do a TV show on some guys brewing fantastic beer?
I wanted to watch a few episodes before writing a review – to get to know the “characters” of the show, get a feel for the show, and make sure my bias didn’t creep in. The result…
Dark Horse Nation rocks. Plain and simple. It’s good TV that makes me want an ice-cold Scotty Karate Scottish Ale.
Look, some of the episodes deal with stuff that doesn’t have much to do with the brewery…and I find that less enjoyable than the stuff about beer. Microbreweries are on the rise in the country and oddly enough TV has not taken advantage of this. Hat’s off to the History Channel for giving the US what it wants – good beer. I found the balance between non-beer stuff and things related to the brewery just about right.
The show does a fair job of capturing the Dark Horse experience. The episodes so far just haven’t exposed the dining area, the motorcycle repair shop, the tattoo parlor, the store, the outdoor concert area for viewers. When they say that the guys at Dark Horse have created their own world, they have. Hopefully future episodes will give viewers a better glimpse of the entire operation.
The characters are good. No over-the-top dramatics so common with reality TV. These are buddies who work together doing a job a lot of us crave having. These guys produce stuff, stuff that people want. It’s a true American success story. We all used to dream about working with our best friends – these guys are living that dream.
What I really liked was the episode about Helga – the bottling machine. Who would have thought that a bottler would be a character on a TV show? She had a lot of personality and I swear she spoke – in her own way. This is why I wanted to see the show, I wanted to see the behind the scenes stuff required to run a successful microbrewery. On that front, the series delivers, and does so very well.
Is it the best show on TV? No– not yet…but it’s getting a great buzz (pun intended). What is starting to emerge is a relatively wholesome show, a slice of small town America and the American dream at its best. It’s got a hint of Duck Dynasty (it’s probably the beards) which works. Like all new reality shows, it takes a few episodes to gain traction – but Dark Horse Nation is starting to grow on me. The characters are emerging and becoming familiar. I’m hoping to see more of the crew at the Horse, some of the folks in the bar etc. The family vibe of the show is pretty strong – we need to see more of the colorful personalities working there.
I love the show, all bias aside. Having suffered through some terrible programming this summer, it is great to see my hometown on every week and see a place I make a point to visit.
Check out Dark Horse Nation on Tuesday nights on the History Channel. Visit Marshall Michigan, take in the town and go grab a meal and a chilled-thrill at one of the coolest breweries in the state. Cheers! #darkhorsenation