Saturday, February 6, 2016

Update on New Ann Arbor Breweries


I've received a few inquiries about the status of Glasshouse Brewing, which was supposed to open on the city's west side in November. Their website is down and Facebook page hasn't been updated lately. I don't have any firsthand information, but there's this in this month's Ann Arbor Observer:
"Eight years ago I had my first craft beer in Traverse City. I didn't like it at first," says Brent Payeur. His brother Brad adds: "We started going on tours. We'd hit ten different breweries, started keeping a diary, then started touring facilities." The thirty-eight-year-old identical twins, whose family owns and operates Diamond Glass & Feiner's, are still in the glass business (which may be the oldest extant business in Ann Arbor, something they reasoned out when they discovered they predated Arnet's). Behind it, they've been gradually building a brewpub. In mid-January they guess the Glasshouse Brewery would open "in about six weeks."
Meanwhile, on the other end of town, Pointless Brewery & Theatre has announced taproom hours, in case you wanted to try their beers without committing to going to an improv show. They are as follows: Friday, 3-7pm; Saturday, 5-7pm; and Sunday, 4-7pm. Beers currently on tap include: Have Your Cake Chery Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Pointless IPA, Pointless Standard Light Ale, and Roasty Toasty Oatmeal Stout.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rat Fest Returns



After a year hiatus, the Rat Fest homebrew event is returning to the Corner Brewery February 20 in Ypsilanti. In its six-ish year history, Rat Fest has expanded and evolved considerably, and if you've not checked it out, I would recommend doing so. Tickets are on sale now and the event usually sells out, so act fast. Here's the official press release with all the details:
In a celebration of their roots, Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery in Ypsilanti is hosting the sixth annual Rat Fest homebrew competition February 20, 2016.

The Arbor Brewing Company brand has deep roots in the homebrewing community. Owners Matt and Rene Greff began homebrewing long before Arbor Brewing was born in 1995.

Rat Fest started off as a competition to brew 24 beers in one 24-hour session on two systems between the brewery staff and members of the Ann Arbor Brewer’s Guild. Over the course of the first two years, the event grew and eventually the brewery decided to open the competition up to more of the local homebrew clubs in Southeast Michigan.

This year the microbrewery has invited eight home brewing clubs to come and demonstrate their brewing creativity on a 10-gallon brewing system, affectionately known as The Rat Pad. The AABG Hopheads, AABG Yeasters, Burns Park Brewing, Brighton Brew Club, The Brew Divas, Motor City Mashers, The Sons of Liberty, and Hyperion Brew Club are each brewing four beers for public competition.

As an added bonus, the ABC Microbrewery brew staff has come up with a challenge for the homebrewers: One of their four beers must be a sour. A sour beer is one that is characterized by an intentional sour or tart taste by allowing wild yeast or good bacteria to be introduced into the brew. The result is a wide array of fantastically tart, puckering brews!

This year’s Rat Fest will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on February 20 at Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery in Ypsilanti. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $40 at the door, and include a commemorative tasting glass, beer samples and appetizers. Tickets can be purchased in person at the microbrewery or by phone at 734-480-2739.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

First Look Inside the New Ypsi Alehouse

The Ypsi Alehouse, 124 Pearl Street, is set to officially open in early January

Note: This post was updated on 12/31/15 to reflect new official opening date and hours.

More than 30 years after co-founding Michigan's first modern microbrewery – the Real Ale Company of Chelsea – Ted Badgerow has returned to commercial brewing with the launch of the Ypsi Alehouse in Downtown Ypsilanti, tentatively scheduled to open January 1 scheduled to open Saturday, January 2, at 3 p.m. The Alehouse will be the first brewery to open in Ypsilanti since the Arbor Brewing Co. Microbrewery, née Corner Brewery, opened in 2006, and the city's second overall.

Ted and co. held a soft opening the evening of December 29, which I infiltrated in the interests of investigative journalism. Here are a few nuggets from my visit.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wolverine Celebrates Five Years of Leading the Lager Revolution

Wolverine State Brewing co-founder Matt Roy.
Five years ago, when Wolverine State Brewing Co. opened on Ann Arbor's west side, it seemed odd for a small brewery to focus only on making lagers, which often take more time and care to make than ales. But now in 2015, growing numbers of people are re-discovering great lager styles like classic American pilsner, Vienna amber, doppelbock, and more.

Wolverine has been doing it right since day one, expanding people's minds about what lager can be. Stout lager? Saison lager? There's always something interesting on tap at 2019 W. Stadium. Now Wolverine is marking its fifth year in Ann Arbor with a special beer release and party Saturday, December 5. Here are the details from the official press release:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Wolverine State Brewing Co. is excited to mark five years of operating out of their brewing facility and Tap Room, located at 2019 W. Stadium on Ann Arbor’s west side.

The company will be celebrating this milestone at the Tap Room on Saturday, December 5, beginning at 6 p.m. Local artist Dragon Wagon will be performing at 9 p.m; a brand-new lager, Vers l’Avant, will make its debut; and brewery tours will be available in the evening.

The anniversary comes in the midst of a 6,000 square foot on-site expansion, which will effectively double the brewery’s production capacity. Construction is slated to be finished in early 2016.

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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Arbor Brewpub to Revamp Long-Running Monthly Beer Tasting Series in 2016

Photo: Allen "Shaggy" Williams.

Big changes are coming to Ann Arbor's first modern brewery. Beginning in January, the 20-year-old Arbor Brewing brewpub is undergoing a $200,000 makeover, including an expanded bar, renovated kitchen, revamped menu, and the creation of a more open dining area. MLive.com's Jessica Webster has all the details on that stuff.

But that's not all that's changing. The brewpub's long-running signature event, the monthly beer tasting series, is also receiving an overhaul to start the new year. Begun only a few years after the brewpub's opening in 1995, each month the beer tastings have offered attendees approximately two dozen beers from other breweries, along with a few of Arbor's own, typically grouped according to styles or broad themes like Belgian beers, porters and stouts, Michigan-made beers, or wheats and witbiers.

This format has served the event well for the past 17 years, according to owners Matt and Rene Greff, but with the increased popularity of what has come to be known as craft beer and changes in customers' tastes, it was time to update things for a new generation of beer lovers, they said.

Here, then, is your first look at what to expect in 2016:

January: New Beginnings
  • Featuring all new breweries and/or new brands from existing breweries
  • Arbor will debut a new beer

February: For the Love of Hops
  • Feautirng new beers that showcase the variety of American pale ales and IPAs
  • Arbor beers: Mr. Delicious Double IPA, Buzzsaw IPA, Largebeat Wheat IPA, HXL, Sacred Cow IPA

March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb
  • Featuring half high-gravity beers, half session beers: either above 8% or below 5% ABV
  • Arbor beers: Ypsi Gypsi Session IPA, Jackhammer Old Ale, Steamroller Russian Imperial Stout, Super Snapper Very Special Bitter

April: Out of the Ordinary
  • Featuring unorthodox beers, weird but worth drinking, such as Dogfish Head's ancient ales, Right Brain Mangalitsa Pig Porter, New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
  • Arbor beers: Anahata Chakra Honey Lavender Ale, Old Tjikko Spruce Pale Ale, Porter de los Muertos Mole Porter

May: Old World Ales and Lagers
  • A historical tasting of beers from Belgium, Germany, the UK, and other European countries with age-old beer industries
  • Arbor beers: Uskratch Maibock, Big Ben Mild Ale, Knights of Burtonia Bitter Ale, Gobsmacked English IPA, Euchre Pils, Phat Abbot Dubbel and Tripel, Triple Stone ESB, Rabbit's Pipe Belgian Pale Ale

June: All Summer Long
  • Featuring light, easy drinking, and refreshing summer seasonals including wheat and fruit beers
  • Arbor beers: Bliss Hefeweizen, Strawberry Blonde Ale, Festival Saison

July: Made In Michigan
  • Celebrating Michigan Craft Beer Month with Mitten-made beer

August: Think Global, Drink Local
  • Featuring local brewers’ versions of beer styles from all possible continents

September: Fall Favorites
  • Featuring Oktoberfests, brown ales, pumpkin beers, and harvest beers
  • Arbor beers: Oktoberfest, HopTown Brown Ale, Cotswold's Nut Brown Ale

October: Spooky Scary
  • Featuring beers with creepy names like Avery Mephistopholes Stout, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Goose Island Night Stalker Imperial Stout
  • Arbor beers: Violin Monster Autumn Ale, Dark Side India Black Ale

November: Wild Winter
  • Featuring sour ales and beers made with all wild yeast or via open and spontaneous fermentation
  • Arbor beers: Biere Divette, Brune, Framboise, Special Reserve, rotating sour draft beers

December: Home for the Holidays
  • Featuring Christmas and other holiday beers
  • Arbor beers: Wenceslas Winter Fuel, Terminator Doppelbock, Winter Warrior Belgian Stout, Polar Vortex Belgian IPA

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Get Your Growler Filled at the New North Ann Arbor Plum Market

Beer buyer Patrick Mulrooney is ready to use some serious science to fill your growler.

Plum Market's new north side store – their second store in Ann Arbor – opens tomorrow at 8 a.m., and it has something you won't find at its older locations: a fancy high-tech growler filling station.

The station, part of the supermarket's sizable beer department, includes six taps and a PEGAS counter-pressure filler, which dispenses beer fast and foam-free (see a demo here), extending growler shelf life. Plum stocks both 32 and 64 oz. growlers, which are available for $5.

As of now, beer by the glass is not an option, but beer buyer Patrick Mulrooney says it's likely something that will come in the future. A wine and coffee bar in the front of the store can be used for any special beer events the store hosts, he says.

Mulrooney has more than 13 years' experience in beer and wine retail, including a previous stint with Plum Market and as a beer buyer for an Ann Arbor bar. He oversees an extensive bottled selection, which boasts an emphasis on Michigan and other craft beers and includes both cold and room-temperature offerings. Single bottles are available for customers who want to create their own mix and match six-packs.

For tomorrow's grand opening, Mulrooney is tapping five different bourbon barrel aged beers, which will be available only in 32 oz. growlers, aka howlers. The beers, if you're curious, and you are, include: Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, Founders Backwoods Bastard, Perrin Li'l Griz Brown Ale, Saugatuck Neapolitan Milk Stout, and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine.

Oh yes, the store also has food and other stuff. Visit plummarket.com for more info, or just go check it out for yourself, beginning tomorrow. Yay!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Glasshouse Brewing Now Offering Founding Memberships


Ahead of their currently projected November opening on Ann Arbor's West Side, Glasshouse Brewing is offering founding memberships. Here's the hot-off-the-press release:

Ann Arbor’s newest craft brewery is gearing up for its grand opening. Coming early November, Glasshouse Brewing Company will offer original, inventive, and daring flavors. In the meantime Founders Mug-Club Memberships are on sale at their website! By becoming a founding member you will receive 10 free growler fills (limited to one per month) in addition to $1 off pints, and being among the first to hear about their newest brews and upcoming events! Founding memberships are a limited time offer!

Get yours by going to glasshousebrewing.com/become-a-member before the doors open at 2350 W. Liberty Street this November!