Monday, May 21, 2018

Glasshouse Brewing Re-Opens During Transition to Townies Brewery

New owner Dan Arban has "big plans" for the former Glasshouse Brewing on Ann Arbor's west side.

The brewery formerly known as Glasshouse Brewing re-opened on Ann Arbor's west side late last week, pouring four fresh beers produced by new brewer Karl Hinburn, previously of Wolverine State Brewing. Although a casual glance indicates not much appears to be different, a "Coming Soon: Townies Brewery" banner hanging on the front of the building hints at the future.

New owner Dan Arban did more than hint about the "big plans" he has for the space when I paid a visit Saturday. He and his wife, Patty, who also own Homespun Market in Brighton, not only purchased the building that houses Glasshouse and another business, Diamond Glass & Feiners, but the two properties adjacent to it, as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Who Will Win Ann Arbor's American Craft Beer Week Challenge?

Those of us who consume American craft beer on a nigh daily basis could be forgiven for forgetting that this week is American Craft Beer Week, as proclaimed by the Brewers Association. Luckily, Wolverine State Brewing, along with six other Ann Arbor businesses, not only remembered, but decided to host a Craft Brew Challenge Charity Brew-Off in honor of ACBW.

Two-person teams from Ashley's, Beer Grotto, HopCat, Rappourt Brew & Chew, the Session Room, and Zingerman's Roadhouse each collaborated with Wolverine staff to brew a special beer on Wolverine's pilot system. The results will be unveiled at 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 19, at the Wolverine taproom as the teams vie for votes to win the challenge.

What sort of beers did the teams brew? You'll have to show up at Wolverine on Saturday to find out; however, I did tease out details from a couple of people involved.

"We brewed a New England-style IPA with Nelson Sauvin hops and strawberries, named 'Nelson's Berry Bandwagon,' said Kim Anderson, beer buyer for Ashley's. "If it's delicious we hope to be able to brew a full batch with Wolverine and have it available on tap at Ashley's this summer."

Rappourt also brewed a New England-style IPA, according to co-owner Hardik Patel, who noted it's a double dry-hopped beer showcasing Galaxy and Citra hops over a melange of mango puree, wheat malt, and lactose.

The rest of the details: live music, grilled burger and brat specials, the opportunity to purchase a sampler package of all six beers (which you can upgrade to include a special event t-shirt), and a vote on your favorite beers. The top three brews will be announced later in the evening, with the brewers of the No. 1 vote-getter taking home the inaugural WSBC-ACBWC trophy.

Quantities of each beer are limited, but if you really, really love one or more of them, Adventures in Homebrewing is selling recipe kits of each at a 10% discount, should you wish to attempt to re-create any at home.

Most importantly, the proceeds from sales of the sampler packages go to help Trail's Edge Camp, which helps children on ventilators experience the fun of summer camp.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Glasshouse Brewing Closed; New Owners Planning Expansion

Glasshouse no more: Owners Brad and Brent Payeur (left) are selling the brewery on Ann Arbor's west side. Former head brewer Kuma Ofori-Mensa (right) is now with Cultivate in Ypsilanti.

As many have surmised with the doors having been shuttered for some time now, Glasshouse Brewing on Ann Arbor's west side is closed, as reported by MLive's Jessica Haynes. From Jessica's article:
Payeur told The Ann Arbor News that the business has closed and a purchase agreement is in the works for a new buyer to take over the 4,000-square-foot property on Liberty, between Stadium Boulevard and Maple Road.

It is unclear whether new ownership would maintain the brewery business or start a different venture at the site.
I can report that I have learned the identity of the buyers and that their intention is in fact to maintain the brewery. Rumored plans include doubling the size of the taproom, creating space for more parking, and gradually unveiling a number of other ambitious additions. Without having made direct contact, however, I'm not sure how much can be divulged.

Opened in 2016, Glasshouse has had a bumpy ride during its brief lifespan. You can read all my previous reporting on Glasshouse here.

Stay tuned as the story continues to develop.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

From Cultivate to Collaborate

Cultivate brewing guru Kuma Ofori-Mensa and owner Ryan Wallace.

In just a few short years, Cultivate Coffee and TapHouse in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town has established itself as a premier community gathering place, not to mention a good spot to get a finely roasted cup of joe or a cold and foamy glass of beer. Now, with the addition of longtime brewer Kuma Ofori-Mensa – formerly of Arbor Brewing, Glasshouse Brewing, and Tecumseh Brewing – Cultivate is setting its sights on even bigger things: a regular collaboration with different breweries to produce exclusive new beers for customers to enjoy. I caught up with Kuma recently to talk about this unique new collaboration program.

Cultivate isn’t a brewery, so why did they hire a brewer?

Ryan [Wallace, Cultivate owner] started the brewing collaboration program several months ago, and it’s reached a point where he wants to make it a regular part of the brand here. But he doesn’t have time to flesh it out himself. The dude is busy – like he’s always doing something. I’m not even sure he sleeps. I know for a fact he rarely eats.

A pretty common thing among business owners…

Right! So I got hired on to take over this collaboration program as part of my full-time responsibilities. I also work shifts behind the bar and make sure the draft lines are clean.

Can you explain how the collaboration program works?

We come up with a recipe first, then we approach a brewery where we definitely can work with them to create that specific recipe. If there’s a brewery that excels at IPAs, we’ll go to that brewery, or there’s a brewery that’s good at stouts, we’ll go there – that kind of thing. We’re always seeking out places where we already know someone, and thankfully between me and Ryan that’s a lot of someones. Then we ask if it’s something they have time and want to brew. If yes, we go back and forth on the recipe, and we’re open – we say, “Look, if you think the recipe sucks, let’s change it.” There’s no reason any of us should try to sell something we’re not proud of.

Then it’s a matter of getting to the point of where they can say "We have these ingredients, we’re happy with the proportions, we’re happy with the targets, let’s brew it." We plan a brew day and Ryan and I go out to the brewery, though with Ryan being so busy it eventually will probably be just me. After that, there’s follow-up communication about the fermentation and any secondary additions – whether we’re dry-hopping or adding coffee, tea, or whatever. We try to find things in-house that we make to add to the beers to give them characteristic flavors.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two Local Beer Faves Nominated in USA Today's "10 Best" Survey

HOMES owner Tommy Kennedy and head brewer Nick Panchamé.

USA Today runs an annual "10 Best" Readers' Choice survey, and it just so happens that Ann Arbor's own HOMES Brewery is up for Best Brewery in the 2018 edition. Not only that, but the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, a major Ypsilanti event, is in the running for Best Beer Festival.

There are 20 nominees in each category, so only half can make the final "10 Best" list. Readers can vote once a day for their favorites, and voting closes on St. Patrick's Day (that's March 17 for you n00bs). As of this writing, HOMES is sitting at No. 5 in its category and the Summer Beer Festival is No. 10.

Let's get both of them to No. 1, or as close as we can, eh? Dilly dilly, or something! Vote early, vote often here: HOMES | Summer Beer Festival.

(You can read more about HOMES in this feature I wrote for the October/November 2017 issue of Great Lakes Brewing News.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 Ann Arbor Oberon Pub Crawl Is March 26

Mmm, Oberon.
Oberon Day will be here before you know it – Monday, March 26, to be exact – and with it, a beloved Ann Arbor tradition: the Downtown (mostly) Oberon Pub Crawl! Bell's and Rave Associates have released the schedule for this year, and it's a wee bit different from last year, so look close:

Join the merry band of Oberonites as they make their way across Ann Arbor, dressed to the nines and ready to drain a few pints in their quest to welcome the return of spring in Michigan. Hey, it beats working.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Polar Bear Day Returns to Grizzly Peak February 19

Never mind the Winter Olympics, Grizzly Peak's annual Polar Bear Day is Monday, February 19, and it's the perfect opportunity for winter warriors of all stripes to strut their stuff.

Brave the elements on the Grizzly patio between 4 and 7 p.m. and be rewarded with $1 draft beers and discounted food specials. Unlike previous years, the event is open to all, not just Mug Club members, though if you're a Mug Clubber, you'll receive some special GP swag. Dress warm and come early as space is limited.

Other upcoming Grizzly Peak events to be on the lookout for include Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. on March 6 at the Old German bar, featuring the release of Maylem, a strong ale brewed on-site, and the annual Mug Club Homebrew Competition on April 23.