Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Now It Can Be Told

New Orleans bound! W00t!

Back in March, you may remember when I was begging for votes for my entry in a "Best Beer Writing" contest sponsored by the folks behind the Beer Bloggers Conference and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). Well, thanks to all of you who voted — and a lot of people told me they did — I won! I'll be traveling to San Diego in August to accept my accolade at the Beer Bloggers Conference and then going to New Orleans in September for the annual NBWA conference.

Sorry for this long-delayed public thank-you, but I was asked not to say anything until the conference organizers announced it and, well, now they have. So, a huge thanks and cheers to everyone who took the time to vote for me to enable me to become a jet-setting beer writer.

ABC Microbrewery Launches Campaign to Build New Kitchen

The makeshift "Ypsitucky Kitchen" is getting long in the tooth, so yesterday the Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery (aka Corner Brewery) launched a new crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise between $75,000 and $125,000 to build a real kitchen.

Now, before you're all like "yawn, another crowdfunding campaign," you'll want to see what some of the offered rewards are, like lifetime Mug Club memberships, private parties, and a "sour cellar." Makes me wish I had money.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dexter's Beer Grotto First of Many Envisioned in Michigan

Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Imabeerhound.com.

The Beer Grotto, a new-concept beer and wine bar and retail shop, opened July 2 to a full house packed into 8059 Main St. in Dexter. The 3,000 sq. ft. space, formerly occupied by the Dexter Pharmacy, encompasses a merchandise area featuring wine and beer bottles, apparel, glassware, books, and more as well as a lounge space with a multitap bar, light snacks, and seating for a few dozen customers.

The first of several other planned locations around Michigan, The Beer Grotto was the brainchild of partners Troy Ontko and Brandon Ansel, who got the idea from a similar concept store down in Georgia. They then brought on as president bar and retail specialist Sam Short, formerly of BarFly Ventures, the parent company of the HopCat bar and brewpub chain. Lisa Manno, director of marketing and sales, rounds out the ownership and management team.

Monday, July 14, 2014

HopCat Ann Arbor to Open January 2015

Max: The original hopcat.

By now you've likely already read about this everywhere else, but for the official record, here's the formal press release. (You can also check out the Ann Arbor News and Detroit Free Press stories.)

ANN ARBOR, MI, July 14, 2014 – BarFly Ventures today announced plans to open HopCat – Ann Arbor, a restaurant and bar featuring up to 100 craft beers on tap in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor in January of 2015. The more than $2 million investment will result in the creation of 140 new jobs.

HopCat – Ann Arbor, 311-315 Maynard Ave., will be the fifth location for the award-winning HopCat, which was named the No. 3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth by Beer Advocate and among the top 100 beer bars in the USA by DRAFT Magazine.

The draft system will be the largest in the city with up to 100 varieties of craft beer available on tap. Many of HopCat’s taps will be dedicated to showcasing the artistry of Michigan’s craft brewing industry with others featuring great craft beers from around the country and the world. A selection of rare and specialty bottled beers along with wines and cocktails also will be available.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: July Is Michigan Craft Beer Month

Beer Grotto president Sam Short celebrates the grand opening of the first of several planned stores July 2 in Dexter.

It’s been five years this month since I started writing about the local beer scene. To some people, I must sound like a Johnny One-Note. To others, I’m providing an important public service. To myself, I sometimes feel like a broken record.

But beer in the Ann Arbor area just keeps getting better and more plentiful all the time and during this Michigan Craft Beer Month (a designation initiated, I believe, by Ann Arbor’s then-Rep. Rebekah Warren), it’s only right to highlight some of the great things to do and drink leading up to the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival July 25-26.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

La Vie En Rose

Photo: Erik Smith
Madame Rose. You may have heard of her. She's a wild ale, conceived in Belgium, born in Chicago, raised with Michigan sour cherries, married to cabernet barrels, and released into the world back in May. Her parents at Goose Island sent yours truly a bottle, which I recently shared outside on a beautiful summer night with a few friends.

The shorthand tasting notes, as pointed out by my Sisterone-in-Law, run as follows: If you are familiar with and like Liefmans Oud Bruin, you will like Madame Rose. I don't remember that I've ever actually had Liefmans Oud Bruin, but I certainly enjoyed my date with Madame Rose.

Goose Island brewmaster Brett Porter explains the inspiration behind his brewery's latest sour creation:
You might be interested to know (if you didn't already) that Madame Rose is an homage to Belgium's first female brewmaster, Rose Blancquaert-Merckx. As the former brewery manager of the historic Liefmans brewery, Rose was dedicated to brewing beers using the traditional methods of the region. She worked tirelessly to share the Oude-Bruin style of beer with the world. Rosa's passion for the tradition of brewing at Liefmans became an inspiration to my team of Goose Island brewers.
A 765ml bottle of Madame Rose retails locally for as high as $30 or more (though I've heard tell you can find it more inexpensively if you know where to look). But if you're curious about the brew and want to give it a try without that level of commitment, it will be one of a number of special beers on tap tonight at the Heidelberg during Goose Island "Migration Week."

Brewmaster Porter and crew will be in town for this special event, which begins at 5 p.m. and includes three Bourbon County Stout blends: Proprietor's (aged with toasted coconut), Backyard Rye (mulberries, marionberries, and boysenberries), and Coffee; Rose's sour sisters Halia (peaches) and Lolita (raspberries); and two non-barrel-aged brews: The Ogden Tripel and 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

Migration Week migrates to World of Beer tomorrow night at 6 p.m., but with a different lineup: Bourbon County Stout (2012), Devon Ave. Pale Ale, Gillian (strawberries, white pepper, and honey), and The Illinois Imperial IPA.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Independence Day Calls for Independent Beers


That uniquely American holiday known as Independence Day is coming up, and what could be more American than grilled food, fireworks, and, of course, beer — especially beer from independent breweries (see what I did there)? You’re on your own for the grilling and fireworks, but I can help you find where the good beer is leading up to your 4th of July vacation and beyond.

Thursday, June 26

» Get thee to Witch’s Hat, 22235 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon, by 2 p.m. for the release (bottle and draft) of Well Water, which is Holy Confusion Barleywine aged (and dry-hopped) in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. However, if you’re not a Mug Club member, you’ll have to wait until Friday to get your bottles (you can get draft), if any’s left. If not, ask about the spiffy new $5 Well Water tulip glasses. You can buy one to remind of what might have been, unless you have a generous Mug Club friend willing to split his or her bottle with you. Read more about it here.

» World of Beer, 1300 South University Ave., is hosting a Lagunitas tap takeover to benefit Gilda's Club of Metro Detroit, which provides support for people stricken with cancer. Event begins at 7 p.m.