So, you are taking the trip from Illinois to Michigan State University, in East Lansing. From Champaign to Spartan Stadium, it's about a five and a half hour drive. (Since the University of Michigan is closer to Detroit, Detroit will be featured in the next segment).
On your way up, you'll pass a couple of breweries that were featured in the Northwestern trip, Flossmoor Station, and Brick Stone. Once you turn east onto interstate 80, you get the opportunity to go to some really great breweries.
The first that you'll come across is in Munster, Indiana. It's Three Floyds Brewing Company. Three Floyds is awesome. Go there. If you've been before, go again. If you haven't gone, it's well worth the trip. They make awesome beer. They make Dark Lord. Their current tap list is amazing. From their usual suspects that are great (Alpha King, Gumball Head, Dreadnaught) to the things that are rarer (Admiral Lord Nelson, Ruggoop, Moloko, Munsterfest) to the things I've never heard of from them before (Sodom, Ice Grill, Owd Engwish Barley Whine) you're sure to find something you like.
A little further down I-80 is BrickWorks Brewing Company in Hobart. If you took the turn off of 80 and went up 94 along the coast, you are close to Shoreline Brewery and Restaurant in Michigan City, Indiana. (I went to Shoreline in March of 2008, shortly before starting this blog). Shoreline is really on the shore. This weekend may not be the greatest time to go there, but if you want to go to the beach and have a beer, this place would make a great day trip.
As you continue up 94, you'll pass Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery, in Baroda, Michigan. A little further up 94 is the Livery, in Benton Harbor. I've tried some of their beers at the Great Taste of the Midwest, and was impressed. Next is Old Hat Brewery and Grill, in Lawton.
Keep driving, and you get to Kalamazoo. Home of Bell's Brewery, and the Eccentric Cafe. They have a live updating tap list. It's not easy to read. Hell Hath No fury is on tap, as is Expedition. Those are worth stopping in for.
From Kalamazoo, there are two ways to get to East Lansing, stay on 94 and go to 69, or... go up 131 to Grand Rapids. Neither are bad options.
On the I-69 route, you go to Marshall, Michigan. In Marshall is Dark Horse Brewing Company. Some of my favorite beers from Dark Horse are Double Crooked Tree, Three Guy Off the Scale Barley Wine, and Plead the 5th Imperial Stout.
If you went up to Grand Rapids, you can go to Founders. As of today, they have Breakfast Stout, Nemesis, Looking Glass, and some other good beers on tap. When Kridz and I went there in 2008, they had just moved locations and their deli wasn't up and running. If you are going up Saturday, October 16 for the football game, it's their 7th Annual Harvest Party, for their release of Harvest Ale. It costs $8 for admission, for that you get a pint of Harvest Ale, and can keep the glass (while supplies last).
Once you get to East Lansing, it seems the only place that brews their own is Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub. They appear to have 6 original beers on tap.
If you are looking to take a different route back, than the one that got you there, there aren't too many other options (other than the ones listed).
If you are looking to hit the best breweries and not get off the path too much, here's the route I recommend.
Take 57 to 80 to 94 to 69 up to Lansing. You'll be able to hit Three Floyds, Shoreline, the Livery, and Bells. On the way back, take 96 to 196 to 94 to 80 to 57. You'll be able to hit Founders, and in Holland, Michigan, New Holland Brewing (along with going past Shoreline, and Three Floyds, Flossmoor and BrickStone).
If planned correctly, with enough time budgeted, you can get some great beers, from some great breweries. It's a good 5+ hour drive each way, so if you leave Saturday morning, (they are an hour ahead) you'll have to leave by 5am. But, most of these breweries are also bars, so they are open late. It's a good drive, and worth it. If you want to pick up extra beer, you can ask at the brewery where they recommend purchasing their beer at (if it's not sold there, Three Floyds and Founders do sell on site).