Monday, February 16, 2015

Goodbye to All That, or the End of the Week in Beer

Hard at work meeting a deadline.

A few people have written to ask me where my usual beer event roundup was last week. I've been remiss in keeping folks informed, but what happened is this: After nearly five and a half years of writing a weekly (and, more recently, biweekly) beer column for various incarnations of The Ann Arbor News, I was recently notified the newspaper no longer is interested in publishing my efforts.

This is fine by me. Although this development reduces my income a bit, it does free up more of my time for other projects. It probably didn't seem like it to anyone reading those roundups, but they were time-consuming to compile and, owing to long publishing lag times and constantly evolving plans, often frustratingly inaccurate in various details.

I'm grateful to the people I worked with at the now-defunct, and then, for giving me the opportunity to share my love of the local beer scene with my fellow Ann Arborites (and visitors to our fair city). Since that time in 2009 when a laid-off Borders copy editor was wondering what to do with his life, the beer scene here has only gotten bigger and better and I've settled into a cool niche as a beer writer type dude. It all started with the local rag taking a chance.

But, you're wondering, now how will you keep up to date on all the beery things going on in and around town? You can follow me on Twitter (@allthebrews), where I tweet and retweet all kinds of stuff having to do with our favorite beverage, and/or like my "All the Brews Fit to Pint" Facebook page, where I also post beer stuff. For the blog, I think I'll take the approach of making smaller and more frequent posts about things, and, who knows, maybe even keeping the damn events calendar up to date.

In any case, thanks to everyone who read my MLive stuff, especially the many nice people over the years who stopped me on the street or at the bar to say they appreciated and enjoyed what I did. It made it worthwhile. Anyway, I'm still around and plan to keep writing about Ann Arbor and beer and Ann Arbor beer, so I hope you'll plan to keep reading. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

HopCat Ann Arbor Opening February 14

UPDATE 2/11/15: The Ann Arbor News has a first look inside the building.

By now everyone is well aware of this news, of course. I'm reprinting the press release here for completeness's sake and because it may contain a tidbit or two people weren't aware of:

ANN ARBOR, Feb. 9, 2015 – HopCat Ann Arbor will open at 11 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, with a beer menu reading like a love note to craft beer fans. Its 100 taps will feature some of the world’s best craft beers along with free orders of its famous Crack Fries all day.

In addition, the first 200 people in line at opening will receive a card good for a free order of Crack Fries every week for a year.

“For HopCat Ann Arbor I challenged our team of beer nerds to come up with the best beer menu the world has ever seen,” said HopCat Founder Mark Sellers. “I think they succeeded by finding some of the most-sought after and highly rated craft beers on the planet. We’ve also included some excellent, but seldom-seen international selections and outstanding new creations from Michigan craft brewers.”

Many of these rare and unusual beers will be in very limited supply. The opening day tap list includes selections such as Founders Brewing Co.’s KBS and CBS – among the highest rated beers in the world as rated by Others selections include Dogfish Head’s acclaimed 120 Minute IPA, Arbor Brewing Co.’s Demetrius Oak Barrel-aged Pale Ale, Gulden Draak Brewmaster's Reserve from Brouwerij Van Steenberge in Ertvelde, Belgium, and a 2011 Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co. of Manchester, England. The full tap list is available at

HopCat Ann Arbor features 100 taps and an extensive selection of rare and unusual bottled beers from around the world. The menu features “food your mom would make if she loved craft beer” – including its famous Crack Fries, ½-pound burgers and a newly expanded selection of vegetarian options.

HopCat Ann Arbor employs 160 people and represents a $2 million investment in downtown Ann Arbor. The location is the fifth HopCat to open.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Brews to Beat the Winter Blahs

I feel like Randall tonight.

As the joy of the holidays (and college football season) recedes ever further in our metaphorical rear view mirror, the harsh reality of many more weeks of miserable cold, leaden skies, and filthy slush sinks in and gnaws at the soul. What is one to do to survive another interminable Michigan winter? Three guesses what I’m going to say. Oh, you only needed one guess! Very good.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Curmudgeon's Corner: Beer Experts vs. Beer "Experts"

The following is a guest column from the Craft Beer Curmudgeon, a crusty old dude who has forgotten more about beer than you can ever hope to know. Read his archive of wisdom on MittenBrew.

The Craft Beer Curmudgeon
In Randall Munro's excellent comic "xkcd" one panel shows a lone figure feverishly typing away at a computer. From out of frame, a voice asks if he's coming to bed. "I can't... someone is wrong on the Internet."

Well, of course. Every basement-dwelling misfit with an internet connection and time to waste can position him or herself as an expert in anything from politics to beer. One guess as to which most annoys your faithful correspondent.

Here's my beef: If you prefer cheap mass market cider and heavily flavored gimmick beers chock full of hazelnut or tangerine or raccoon or whatever, that's fine. Your taste is yours alone and not up for a vote. However, your opinion on a particular pale ale is then suspect at best; you've tipped your hand to show that you prefer your beer flavors to be disguised with things even Faygo might reject.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Resolve to Drink Better Beer

Coming really soon: 36 taps at The Beer Grotto's new Ann Arbor location at 303 S. Ashley St.

It’s a new year, and you’ve probably got a whole list of things you’ve resolved to accomplish in 2015. Things like get in shape, get organized, save money, finally clean out that damn garage, and stop judging other people so harshly for their poor grammar. Oops, that last one’s me. May I humbly suggest that you also resolve to drink better beer? It’s easy to do. There’s so much of it all around town that it’s hard to keep up, even if you already feel like you’re doing a pretty good job. Here’s the latest roundup to give you ideas. And you may want to go ahead and renew that gym membership in the meantime. Just in case.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Happy New Beer

Block Brewing in Howell is just one place serving up some new beer in the New Year.

Soon 2014 will be in the history books, and 2015 will be here, promising another year of the things that make life worth living, like tasty beer. As we prepare to throw out the old and welcome in the new, let’s raise a glass of good cheer, filled to the brim with the world’s best beverage – and I don’t mean Champagne.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Beery Christmas to You

These guys again.

It’s Christmas time in the city, and don’t forget to stop as you hustle home with your treasures to check out the numerous festive occasions involving Santa’s favorite beverage. (Although he’s widely regarded as loving milk, Santa is a beer man all the away – just look at that bowl-full-of-jelly gut.) Here’s your holiday guide to where the good stuff is.