Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Things to Be Thankful For

Witch's Hat owners Ryan and Erin Cottongim at the
newly expanded and relocated brewery.

Good health. Good friends. Good beer. These are just some of the things we have to be thankful for, and maybe not even necessarily in that order. But whatever the case, may you enjoy all three in abundance as we enter the frenetic but festive holiday season. Here is your usual smattering of suggestions for where to go and what to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Halloween, Homebrew, and Belgians

Your next stop: beer.

Submitted for your approval this Halloween weekend and beyond: a smorgasbord of haunted happenings and edifying educational events designed to keep you in fine spirits as autumn proceeds apace. Prepare to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound... but of beer.

Friday, October 31, Halloween

» Beware of things that stalk the night. Unless we’re talking about Night Stalker Pumpkin Cream Stout from Arbor Brewing. A full-bodied dark brew made with lactose and spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove is something you should totally embrace. It’s on tap at the brewpub at 114 E. Washington St. just in time to warm up your Halloween.

» Pop in to Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon, wearing your Halloween costume and enjoy happy hour prices all day. Bring the kiddies with you (before 9 p.m.), and if they’re in costume, too, they’ll get a free root beer and popcorn – and maybe even a small goodie bag. Then go back to the taproom November 1 in costume and enter the costume contest for a chance to win a lifetime Mug Club membership. The taproom opens at noon both days.

» At the Chelsea Alehouse, 420 N. Main St., Chelsea, the Halloween party begins at 7 p.m. and goes to midnight. Music, a costume contest, and the release of a pumpkin ale are all on tap. No cover.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Chase Away the Fright with a Bewitching Brew

Calling all spooks, spectres, and spirits! Now is your time, as the sun sinks ever earlier and autumn’s chill winds whip the enflamed leaves into a frenzied danse macabre. This is the time when every attic, basement, or other dark, lonely space inspires a heightened nervousness. For we the living, the best we can do to stay fortified against the unknown forces of the night is to drink some good, seasonally appropriate beer. Here are the whens and the wheres as we head toward Halloween.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Short Pour Gets Its October On

A few more events to make your October cooler...

  • Today at Jet's Pizza, 506 N. Main St., Chelsea, Dogfish Head is taking over 10 taps. Starting at 11 a.m., look for 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, Bitches Brew, Burton Baton, Festina Peche, Indian Brown Ale, Midas Touch, Namaste, Palo Santo Marron, and Punkin Ale. Life is short. Drink better beer!
  • Looking for dem fresh hops? Then head over to the new NULL Taphouse, 2319 Bishop Circle East, Dexter, tomorrow (Friday), when North Peak Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA goes on tap at a 4 p.m. release party. Six-packs (limit one per person) will also be available, and brewers will on hand to answer questions until 7 p.m.
  • Every football Saturday Sava's, 216 S. State St., is holding a beer battle between a Michigan brew and one from the home state of the opposing team. As this Saturday the football team is taking on Penn State, it will be Short's Huma Luma Licious IPA from Michigan taking on Victory Brewing Hop Devil IPA from Pennsylvania. Try 'em both and vote for your favorite.
  • Speaking of Sava's, parent company Savco is hosting Oktoberfest, a fall-themed beer crawl, on October 15 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. with stops at Sava's, Babo, and Aventura. Look for different beverages and activities at each venue, including dinner at Babo and a charity raffle. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at any of the locations as well as online at
  • Tickets are now on sale for the October 29 Bell's beer dinner at Sidetrack Bar & Grill, 56 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti. The five-course feast features Sidetrack's top five dishes from the past five years, paired with Baroness Von Nordwestlich Altbier, Best Brown Ale, Black Note Stout, Oarsman Ale, and Two Hearted Ale. Call 734-483-5230 or buy online. (Bonus note: Go here to see what Sidetrack has on tap.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Raise Your Stein to Oktoberfest

Matt and Rene Greff celebrate one of their favorite holidays.

It’s here – that time of year when the temperature drops and people dress funny and dance to tubas. I’m talking, of course, about Oktoberfest, and it’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when we’re speaking of all the cool beer-type stuff going on in our little burg. Here are some of the highlights.

Thursday, October 2

» What goes great with beer? OK, I’ll accept the answer “everything,” but in this case I was going to say “art.” Get plenty of both – and some tasty food, too – at tonight’s A2 Art & Brew pub crawl fundraiser for the Ann Arbor Art Center, kicking off at 6 p.m.  Visit eight different bars and breweries and sample beers and enjoy sidewalk chalk art along the way. Participating establishments include Arbor Brewing; Kuhnhenn Brewing (featured at Conor O’Neill’s); Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery; Blue Tractor Brewing at Mash Bar; Grizzly Peak Brewing at Old German Bar & Bierkeller; Original Gravity partnering with Katherine’s Catering at Bill’s Beer Garden; and Wolverine State Brewing partnering with Laura’s Catering and Alaskan Brewing, a featured brewery of sponsors O&W, Inc., both at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Tickets are $60; purchase online at or call 734-926-4122.

Friday, October 3, and Saturday, October 4

» Munich may have invented it, but Ann Arbor does a pretty mean Oktoberfest tent party, too. From 5 p.m. to midnight, Washington Street will be blocked off in front of both Arbor Brewing and Grizzly Peak for the annual street jam replete with German-style beer and food, as well as live music and dancing, which may or may not be German-style. But this isn’t Bavaria, so we can get away with that. There’s no cover for either party, but you must be 21+ to join the fun.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Been the Ruin of Many a Poor Boy

At the best dive bar in New Orleans: the Erin Rose.

"This town steals your soul. I hate this fucking town."

Those were the words of Random Guy in the Elevator #27 yesterday afternoon. This morning, as I blearily opened my eyes at 6:30 after having gotten to bed only three hours earlier, I could see his point. But it would be too easy to blame this hangover on this city or my bad-influence friends. After living with myself for 43 years, I know deep down I'm the worst influence on myself.

Ray Daniels of the Cicerone Certification Program kicked off the day with his talk "Beer Goggles and Bar Offerings: Helping On-Premise Accounts Do More with Less," in which he discussed consumer trends and why bars do not need 100 taps to have a great beer selection. (And, in fact, why such large selections can lead to a poorer experience for beer drinkers.) Now look out, Great American Beer Festival, Ray is already on a plane and heading your way.

Next was part two of the "General Session" (I missed part one yesterday), which featured some awards, remarks from incoming National Beer Wholesalers Association Chairman Eric Best, and a panel discussion entitled "Main Street Fueling Wall Street" that meandered over many topics. I did some live tweeting but the general thrust of everything seems to be the post-Prohibition, state-based, three-tier system of alcohol distribution is awesome and should not be fundamentally altered. I tend to have different opinions on such things, but it is a fascinating subject to be sure. Then, because I did not want to be in the same room as James Carville and Mary Matalin, I bolted to post this important update.

And now I think it's time to go find something else amazingly delicious to eat, and maybe even a little hair of the dog...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Greetings from New Orleans

Hey there. As most of my loyal readers know, I'm down in New Orleans for the National Beer Wholesalers Convention today and tomorrow. My expenses have been paid by the NBWA, which was the grand prize I received for winning the Best Beer Writing contest they sponsored earlier this year. (Thanks again to those who voted for me.)

Yesterday before the conference proper began, I tooled around the French Quarter for a bit, as one does, before hopping the St. Charles streetcar out to the Avenue Pub, which was featuring a tap event with Bayou Teche Brewing of Arnaudville. There I met up with Jenny Pfafflin of the Cicerone Certification Program and sampled four Bayou Teche brews: Miel Sauvage, a bourbon barrel aged honey beer; Coteau Rodaire, a French farmhouse ale aged in white wine barrels; Acadie, a biere de garde with French hops; and Teche Hombres, a wheat beer brewed with agave nectar and Spanish orange peels. For my money, the Coteau Rodaire was the best of the lot — crisp, dry, and understated. The Miel Sauvage was not overblown with bourbon flavors, which I consider a good thing. The Teche Hombres was too sweet for my liking, while the Acadie tasted soapy, which maybe is a French hop thing or maybe a not properly rinsed glass thing.