Friday, December 1, 2017

Local Malt On Tap at Area Breweries

Grizzly Peak head brewer Duncan Williams and Macon Creek Malt House co-owner Zach Goldenberg. Photo: Macon Creek Malt House

This just in over the transom:
In the works since 2015, Macon Creek Malt House in Saline has recently opened its doors to home brewers, commercial brewers, distillers, and artisanal food manufacturers. The rebirth of the corner brewery and the rise of craft distilleries has made Michigan one of the country’s leaders in the craft beverage industry. While recent years have shown enormous growth in hops production, the primary ingredient in craft beer – malted barley – is still largely imported. Macon Creek Malt House is bringing craft malting to Michigan, connecting small farmers with small brewers to produce a truly local beer.

Salt Springs Brewery, a farm-to-table restaurant and brewery in Saline, was eager to try them out. Ed Brosius, head brewer, recently brewed a maibock using Macon Creek’s pale Munich malt. The beer, named Macon Creek Maibock, will be on tap in December.

Duncan Williams, head brewer at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, has also brewed with Macon Creek’s pale Munich malt, as well as their pilsner malt. Duncan invited Macon Creek maltsters Zach Goldenberg and Austin Wertheimer to assist with brewing back in October. Macon Rose Pale Ale is now on tap. This well-balanced pale ale features all Michigan ingredients: malt from Macon Creek Malt House and hops from Two Rose Hop Farm in Manchester.

Original Gravity Brewing Company in Milan and Poison Frog Brewery in Jackson will also be featuring beers made with Macon Creek’s malts this winter. Next week, Original Gravity will release a session IPA with malted rye, spelt, and Macon Creek’s pale munich. Poison Frog Brewery is currently brewing both a cream ale and a classic American pilsner with local malts.

All of Macon Creek Malt House’s grains are grown in Michigan. “We currently buy from five farms in Southeast Michigan. That list will get longer as we increase production. In 2018, we’ll have barley grown right here in Saline,” says Megan Goldenberg, owner of Macon Creek. Megan manages contracting with local growers and other general business activities, while her husband, Zach, manages malt production with Austin Wertheimer.

Home brewers are also buying local grains directly from Macon Creek Malt House during their “open hours” and through their online store ( To learn more about Macon Creek’s efforts to support truly local craft beverages, visit them on Thursday, December 14, between 4pm and 8pm at their malt house, 781 W. Michigan Ave., Saline.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Learn Local Beer History and Get Great Christmas Gifts

Two beer guys.

Christmas season is upon us, and that means you're probably starting to think, "Oh, crap. What am I going to get for [insert name of friend or relative here]?"

Allow me to make a splendid suggestion. The perfect gift is within reach when you join Steve Johnson, proprietor of Motor City Brew Tours, and me this Thursday, November 30 (tomorrow), at Liberty Street Brewing in Plymouth for a tour-de-force talk about the beer histories of Detroit and Ann Arbor. Then, just about the time we've bored you to sleep piqued your curiosity to an extreme, you can pick up copies of "Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing" and "Detroit Beer: A History of Brewing in the Motor City" for that special someone (or someones) who deserves the best. We'll also sign them, making them priceless. The awesomeness begins at 7 p.m., and you can register for free here or, most likely, just show up. We're easy that way.

On Monday, December 4, Steve and I take our beer-and-pony show to the Chelsea Alehouse for another 7 p.m. chat and signing. Register for that one here.

Still on the fence? You can get an idea of how amazingly entertaining we are by listening to this podcast.

This Christmas, give the gift of local beer history books written by a pair of desperate alcoholics acclaimed authors, all while broadening your own horizons, or at least drinking some good beer.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Join Washington Street's Brewers for a Collaborative October 24 Pub Crawl

Join the head brewers of Grizzly Peak, Blue Tractor, and Arbor Brewing Brewpub for a brewery crawl celebrating their new collaborative beer, Scarlet Jacket.

You might as well call Ann Arbor's Washington Street "Beer Street." The three brewpubs that grace this downtown artery – Arbor Brewing BrewpubGrizzly Peak, and Blue Tractor – are all among the top 10 producing brewpubs in the state of Michigan. In fact, between the three of them, they accounted for about 12 percent of all the brewpub-produced beer sold here in the Mitten (more than 2,800 barrels) in 2016.*

On Tuesday, October 24, join the head brewers of each of these esteemed establishments for a special pub crawl celebrating the release of their collaborative brew, Scarlet Jacket. The beer was inspired by two recipes from postwar England.

"Ron Pattinson runs a website where he and British brewer Kristen England re-create old recipes," says Grizzly Peak head brewer Duncan Williams. "We blended two recipes from 1945-46 to create a typical low-gravity beer that was brewed before, during, and after World War II."

Each brewery brewed its own version of Scarlet Jacket. The name is an homage to Tetley's, a long-running British beer brand whose historical logo incorporated a redcoat-wearing fox huntsman, according to Blue Tractor head brewer Pat Meehan.

The crawl begins in the Grizzly Peak Den bar at 6 p.m., moves to Arbor at 6:45, then finished up at Blue Tractor at 7:30 p.m. Each location will have a cask of the beer on hand, and Williams and Meehan will be joined by Arbor head brewer Chris Davies.

Previously, the three brewpubs collaborated on Washingtonacity, a traditional English-style bitter.

* Numbers from Michigan Beer Guide.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Nucleation Point of Craft Beer

Source: Great Lakes Brewing News

(Note: I wrote a couple features on the Ann Arbor brewing scene for the current (October/November 2017) issue of Great Lakes Brewing News. The first, "Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Nucleation Point of Craft Beer," is about the big influence our little city has had on the larger craft beer world.)

What is the measure of a “good beer city”? Is it the number of breweries in and around town? The consistent high quality and drinkability of the beers made there? The general availability and choice of fine brews? Certainly all of these things are important yardsticks when determining whether a particular town is worthy of becoming a “beer-cation” destination. But there’s an additional, less tangible factor that is at least as important: a city’s overall beer culture. By that admittedly trickier-to-quantify standard, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a beer city par excellence. A quick tour through this Midwestern college town’s quietly influential brewing past, present, and potential future provides ample evidence.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Beer Tour Guy Podcast Episode IV: A New Dope

A face for radio.

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Podcast Detroit studios in Royal Oak to sit down with my pal Stephen Johnson of Motor City Brew Tours and record an episode of his cleverly named show, "The Beer Tour Guy Podcast."

In my podcasting debut, we talked about (duh) beer, writing, the Ann Arbor brewing scene, the sport of fowling, Steve's mom, and many other things. Because you're bored at work, you probably want to hear this scintillating conversation, don't you? You can listen here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Bread and Coffee Beers Exclusively Brewed for Avalon Now Available

Source: Twitter

Bread and coffee. They're not only two staples of any civilized human being's life, they're also key ingredients in two new beers brewed exclusively for Avalon Breads by the Dexter breweries of Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak, respectively. Here are all the details from the official press release:

DETROIT (Sept. 26, 2017) – Best known for its delicious, artisan baked goods, Avalon International Breads has something extra special brewing. In partnership with Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Traverse City-based North Peak Brewing Company, Avalon now offers two beers available exclusively at the newly opened Avalon Cafe and Bakery in downtown Detroit and Avalon Cafe and Kitchen in Ann Arbor.

The beers truly embody the spirit of Avalon: the Jolly Pumpkin Eye of Horus is brewed with Avalon bread and North Peak Perk is brewed with Mighty Good Coffee, Avalon's local coffee partner based in Ann Arbor. Brewing with bread and coffee as ingredients is a first for both beer brands.

Eye of Horus is a mildly tart, malty ale rooted in the traditions of ancient Egyptian bread beers, one of the first examples of beer in human civilization. Brewed with 10 lbs of Avalon bread, dates, honey, coriander, and ginger, the pour is a classic Jolly Pumpkin sour at 6.8 percent ABV. Eye of Horus is named after the ancient Egyptian sign, symbolizing protection, good health, and power.

North Peak Perk is a rye ale with mild spiciness and a light hop bitterness. Made with a blend of Mighty Good Coffee beans from Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Ethiopia, rich coffee notes will come through on this 5.5 percent ABV beer.

"Avalon's original business model was based on the idea that bread and coffee brings people together across cultures" said Jackie Victor, co-founder and CEO. "As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are thrilled that we now offer another beverage that brings people together – beer!"

Both beers are available on tap exclusively at Avalon Cafe and Bakery and Avalon Cafe and Kitchen. Both locations host happy hours every weeknight.

Avalon Cafe and Bakery is located at 1049 Woodward, Detroit. Avalon Cafe and Kitchen is located at 120 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor. Hours at both locations are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Ollie Food + Spirits to Host Belgian Beer Dinner

Hey, you like Belgian beer and good food, right? (If you answered no, I don't even want to know you.)

If you're normal and said yes, then you might be interested in this four-course Belgian beer dinner coming up at Ollie Food + Spirits in Ypsilanti on September 18. Here's the menu:

Val-Dieu Cuvée Spéciale 800 Ans 
Paired with salad of arugula, herbs, and aged cheddar, with a six-minute farm egg

Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne
Paired with rustic savory plum tarte tatin with triple cream brie

Val-Dieu Grand Cru
Paired with:
MEAT: venison carbonade flamande, served with hand cut french fries and tomato aioli
VEGETARIAN: roasted eggplant and mushroom caponata, served with hand-cut french fries and tomato aioli

Brouwerij Verhaeghe Barbe Ruby
Paired with Ann Arbor Distilling Company Cherry Brandy-spiked chocolate mousse

Tickets are $50 each or two for $85. Ten percent of the proceeds from the event will be donated to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Buy here.