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.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Arbor Brewing Refreshes Brand, Will Distribute Cans Statewide

Image courtesy of Arbor Brewing.

In addition to the recent announcement that they will be opening a Plymouth location, Arbor Brewing has more big news. Here it is, in their own words:
YPSILANTI – Arbor Brewing Company announced today that it is switching its beer packaging from bottles to cans to offer  customers an even higher quality and sustainable package for its award-winning  craft brews. Along with new packaging, the 22-year-old brewery unveils a fresh, new look.

Started in Ann Arbor in 1995, Arbor Brewing expanded into a production brewery in Ypsilanti in 2006 and has been distributing its beer in bottles ever since. In January 2018, the brewery is making the switch to package its year-round and seasonal beers in aluminum cans, while its sour series will remain in 500 mL bottles.

The first three beers to be launched in cans are Strawberry Blonde, Euchre Pils, and Buzzsaw IPA, which are hitting store shelves now, and will be statewide by the end of the month. Arbor Brewing will release many  favorite seasonal beers in cans throughout 2018, alongside a few new beers.

Arbor Brewing made the decision to transition to cans for several reasons.

Quality – The impact on the beer was the most important. Packaging in cans increases the quality and freshness of the beer by reducing exposure to oxygen and sunlight, both of which contribute to a shorter shelf life. Cans allow the brewery to better deliver brewery-fresh beer to its customers across the state.

Pack-ability – Cans travel better, making it more convenient and safer for consumers to take their Arbor Brewing beer with them - hiking, kayaking, boating, tailgating, etc.

Sustainability – Arbor Brewing has been strongly committed to environmental stewardship for over two decades. Cans are 100 percent recyclable, and have a lighter carbon footprint than bottles, thanks in part to being lighter when empty and packing denser than bottles, reducing fuel in shipping.

The cans also feature a new look for the brewery.

“This is the first major branding change in the brewery’s 22-year history. In addition to sporting an updated logo, the cans feature new artwork and bright, eye-catching colors,” said Mike Messink, managing partner, Arbor Brewing Company. “The new packaging includes an “Ypsi Made” stamp to emphasize the production brewery’s roots in Ypsilanti, and calls out its 1995 origins, which place it as one of the early pioneers in the Michigan craft brewing industry,” Messink added.

These changes are the latest at the brewery since becoming part of Michigan-based Farm + Ferment in May 2017. Since the acquisition, the brewery has been investing in new equipment and technology.

“Our focus has been on the continuous improvement of the quality of our beer, and to give our brewers the tools to explore styles and ingredients as craft beer continues to evolve,” said Messink.

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.