Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jolly Pumpkin to Release Two New Sour Ales

The Jolly Pumpkin brewery in Dexter announced the impending release of La Roja du Kriek and Rojzilla Michigan Soure Biere, two new limited-edition ales to be distributed beginning this month in both kegs and bottles.

Patrons of beer festivals and the NULL Taphouse have probably already sipped the draft version of La Roja du Kriek, a blend of La Roja Amber Ale and Michigan tart cherry juice. Rojzilla is a new, aged blend also based off of La Roja. From the official press release:

(DEXTER, Mich)—Jolly Pumpkin’s quintessential beer – La Roja – may be hard to find, but two new specialty brews will hit the marketplace in limited quantities this month and are sure to quench the thirst of sour beer lovers around America. Rojzilla and La Roja du Kriek will be distributed in Michigan and 34 other states during the brand’s “April Showers Bring Jolly Pumpkin Sours” campaign.

La Roja (7.2% ABV | 25 IBU) was the second beer to be released by Jolly Pumpkin, after opening in 2004. This artisan red ale, brewed in the Flanders tradition, is deep amber in color with earthy caramel, spice and sour fruit notes that are developed through natural barrel aging.

Flanders ales are fermented with usual brewer’s yeast in an unfiltered and unpasteurized fashion, then placed into oak barrels to age and mature. The mature beer is then blended with younger beer, to adjust the taste for consistency. The name comes from the usual color of these ales, which are descended from English porters of the 17th century.

Due to the extensive time involved in the production of La Roja, it is only released in limited quantities and is considered one of the most sought-after sour ales in the country.

Rojzilla – Michigan Sour Biere. Aged for a year-and-a-half in a 100-bbl oak foudre before being blended with a few “normal” size barrels of varying ages to create a complex, mellifluous combination of flavors and sophistication. (7.4% ABV | 750ml)

La Roja du Kriek – Sour Amber Ale with Michigan cherry juice. This is what happens when 3,100 gallons of 2013 La Roja meet 50 gallons of Michigan tart cherry juice, aged in oak barrels and bottle conditioned – a perfect blend of sour and tart joie de vivre! (7.5% ABV | 750ml).

Locally, look for these beers plus several others to be tapped at events at World of Beer (May 21), Ashley's (May 26 @ 6 p.m.), HopCat Ann Arbor (May 28 @ 5 p.m.), and at NULL and the Jolly Pumpkin locations in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Traverse City (June 6-7). Follow Jolly Pumpkin on Facebook for other scheduled events and all that jazz.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Celebrating American Craft Beer Week, Ann Arbor Style

Next Monday marks the beginning of American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), and there are various beer-oriented activities going on around town as a result. Here are a few highlights:

  • Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium Blvd., is offering a VIP card beginning Monday, May 11, which entitles the bearer to all sorts of swell discounts and privileges throughout ACBW. These include (but are not limited to) 25 cents for your first beer each day, $2 beer specials the rest of the time, and $5 off the May 14 beer and appetizer pairing in the taproom. VIP cards are $18 or $25 with a special commemorative silipint, which you can use in the taproom all week if you want. See more details on Wolverine's website.
  • Arbor Brewing Brewpub, 114 E. Washington St., has different discounts and specials each day, including a tour of the brewhouse with head brewer Chris Davies on Saturday, May 16, from 12-2 p.m. RSVP to Go here to see all the other ABC happenings.
  • Arbor Brewing Microbrewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti, is gonna party like it's 1995 in honor not only of ACBW but also of the 20th anniversary of Arbor Brewing's founding. Look for daily Facebook contests, '90s throwback pint prices, specialty brews, and some classics from the kitchen. Follow the brewery on Facebook for updates. And don't forget the first Halcyon Sundaze of the season on Sunday, May 17, from 2-9. I'm working on my setlist as I type this!
  • World of Beer, 1300 S. University Ave., is kicking things off Monday with a 6-9 p.m. tap event featuring Coronado Brewing and Latitude 42 Brewing. On tap look for Coronado's Islander IPA, Orange Avenue Wit, and Sock Knocker Imperial IPA; Latitude 42's Lilikoi Wheat Ale and Party at the Moon Tower IPA; and a collaboration brew between the two: 10 Degrees of Separation English Brown Ale. Use hashtag #wobtrip throughout the week for a chance to win an excursion to three American craft breweries, and watch WOB's Facebook page for more.
  • Each day of the week, HopCat Ann Arbor, 311 Maynard St., is featuring a different brewery on tap. Monday is Dogfish Head (Aprihop, Namaste, Black and Blue, and more), Tuesday is Coronado and Latitude 42, Wednesday is Arbor Brewing, and Thursday is Brooklyn Brewery. Keep an eye on Facebook for specific beer information and tapping times.
  • On Thursday, May 14, from 7-9 p.m., the Beer Grotto, 303 S. Ashley St., is hosting "Hoppy History Night," featuring yours truly talking about and signing copies of Ann Arbor Beer along with featured beers from Arbor, including Buzzsaw IPA, Demetrius Sour Ale, Euchre Pilsner, Phat Abbot Tripel, Strawberry Blond Ale, and a special firkin of Ryeclops Rye IPA. Arbor owners Matt and Rene Greff will also be there to give hugs and high fives.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Glasshouse Brewing to Open on Ann Arbor's West Side Later This Year

Founder and brewer Brent Payeur stands in front of the building at 2350 W. Liberty St. that will house Glasshouse Brewing Co., scheduled to open this summer.

It started with Short's Pandemonium Pale Ale.

That was the "A-ha!" brew that introduced Brent Payeur to the world of craft beer. Seven years later, his relentless explorations of that world have him poised to take the ultimate plunge: opening his own brewery.

After long delays, construction is set to begin next week on Glasshouse Brewing Co., and Payeur couldn't be happier to finally begin making his dream a reality.

"We got our microbrewery license cleared by the feds over a year ago, but the city has been harder," says Payeur. "They had a problem with classifying our building and the number of parking spots and so on, but we have our building permit now and we're good to go."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Two New Breweries Coming to Ann Arbor

Coming soon to Ann Arbor: MOAR BEER.

As reported by The Ann Arbor News's Matt Durr, husband and wife Jason and Tori Tomalia are hard at work planning the opening of their Pointless Brewery & Theatre, a combination microbrewery and improv venue on the city's east side:
The Tomalias have signed a lease to occupy space in the former Makkara Sushi grocery store located at 3014 Packard Rd. in Ann Arbor and plan to open the theater this summer...

Tori and Jason each have a background in theater and Jason has been brewing beer at home for about six years now. By combining improv theater and great beer, the couple thinks there is potential to revive the interest in improv in Ann Arbor and the surrounding communities.

The plan is to have the bar open in the afternoon and evenings during the week and to have live improv shows on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and 10 p.m. Each live show will feature two or three improv groups including one group that will be a permanent fixture at the theater.
The couple also have a Kickstarter campaign running for the next few weeks, currently under just half of the $50,000 they hope to raise to get the doors open. You can follow Pointless's progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Also coming to Ann Arbor in the near future is Glasshouse Brewing, situated on the city's west side on W. Liberty St. by Wagner Rd. between Stadium and Maple. The owners are (what else?) waiting for drag-ass bureaucratic approval but are otherwise chomping at the bit to move forward quickly once the politicos have blessed the project. I'll have more information about Glasshouse soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bell's and Founders Beer Dinners Coming to Grange and Terry B's

Who doesn't love beer dinners?

Get your beer bibs out. In the coming week, two local restaurants are offering kickbutt-sounding five-course dinners paired with brews from Michigan's two most respected breweries.

On March 31, Ann Arbor's Grange Kitchen & Bar is cooking up some righteous victuals to go with Bell's beers. Here's the menu:
  • Oarsman Ale with Salty Snacks
  • Lager of the Lakes with Jagerwurst and Lamont Cheddar
  • Oberon Ale with Goat Cheese Fritter and Hoop House Greens with Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Two Hearted Ale with Grilled Rainbow Trout, Smoked Hush Puppies, and Pickled Jalapenos
  • Expedition Stout with Country Ham Style Duck Breast, Red Eye Gravy, and House Hot Sauce
  • Jupiter Imperial Brown Ale with Toasted Brioche Ice Cream Sundae
Tickets are $75 (including tax and tip) and can be purchased here. Event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The next night, on April 1, Terry B's in Dexter is hosting Founders for a beery delicious meal. The menu looks like this:
  • All Day IPA with Braised Pork Belly, Yuzu Panna Cotta, and Meyer Lemon
  • Centennial IPA with Pan Roasted Sturgeon, Thai Coconut Curry, and Pretzel
  • Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale with Roasted Squab, Foie Gras Mousse, and Agnolotti
  • Porter with Beef Shank and Bone Marrow Pasty and Mirepoix in Natural Reduction
  • Blushing Monk Raspberry Belgian-Style Ale with Red Forest Cake, Cocoa, Raspberry, and Cream

Tickets are $55 (excluding tax and tip); make reservations at 734-426-3727. Service begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Downtown Ann Arbor Oberon Pub Crawl Is March 23

Throwing down some Oberons with the big guy himself.
It's become something of an Ann Arbor tradition, and it's back on Monday, March 23. It's the annual Downtown Oberon Pub Crawl, a festive day-long celebration of the iconic Bell's summer seasonal and the coming warm days ahead. You still have a few days to come up with something to tell your boss for why you won't be coming in to work. In the meantime, here's the (always somewhat tentative, timewise) schedule:

For your added convenience and because I'm awesome, see below for all that information in visual form:

Bell's and/or Oberon attire is not required, but is certainly encouraged and also increases the likelihood someone from Bell's or Rave Associates buys you a glass or two.

Finally, if you feel like staying up late the night before, there are Sunday midnight Oberon tappings planned at Ashley's and Sidetrack in Ypsilanti.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wolverine Announces Big Expansion Plans

Photo: Wolverine State Brewing Co.

Our friends at Wolverine State Brewing dropped some big news today, as they announced plans to more than double their production capacity in the near future. That means MOAR LAGERS. Here's the official press release:
Wolverine State Brewing Co. is excited to announce the official groundbreaking of its 6,000-square-foot on-site expansion, which will more than double its production capacity, from 2,200 to 4,700 barrels per year, over the next eighteen months. The expansion will also build out the existing kitchen.

With the expansion, Wolverine State Brewing Co. will increase wholesale seasonal lager offerings and will have the capacity to bottle an expanded variety of lagers. The expansion will also allow Wolverine State to grow its statewide distribution and to keep up with the increasing demand for Wolverine State products in bars, restaurants, and retail accounts.

This is the second major expansion in the brewing company’s history. 2012 saw the first major expansion, with the addition of several fermenters and brite tanks, as well as the addition of the Gulo Room, Wolverine State’s in-house for-rent event space. In December of 2013, Wolverine State Brewing Company’s kitchen opened. The kitchen features in-house-smoked meats, including pork, brisket, and chicken, as well as a full menu featuring a rotating array of dishes made with seasonal, local ingredients.

Wolverine State Brewing Co. was founded in 2006 by lifelong friends and Ann Arborites Matthew Roy and Trevor Thrall. Production began at 2019 W. Stadium in early 2010 under the direction of Brewmaster Oliver Roberts, and the Tap Room opened at that same location later in 2010. Wolverine State, the leader of the lager revolution, specializes in creating balanced, unique, and innovative lagers, of which it boasts a portfolio of more than 50 different varieties.