Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: To Summer Beer Festival and Beyond!

You never know what sort of weirdoes you'll meet at the Summer Beer Festival

It’s an especially good time to be a beer lover in Washtenaw County. Why? Because the state’s oldest and largest beer festival, the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, is this weekend, that’s why. And, after that, there’s this new thing called Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week from August 1-9, featuring a smorgasbord of brewy delights all throughout the area – so many, in fact, I can only cover some of them here. For the full and still-evolving schedule, check out

Thursday, July 24

» Happy Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival Eve! Ashley’s is welcoming the signature event of the Great Beer State with a special tapping of 20 selected Michigan beers, beginning at 6 p.m. You won’t want to miss this eclectic lineup, which includes Arcadia Imperial Stout, Bell’s Hopsoulution Double IPA and Bourbon Barrel Kalamazoo Stout, Brewery Vivant Escoffier Brett Ale, Cheboygan Blood Orange Honey Ale, Dark Horse Reign in Blood Orange Ale, Founders KBS and Sweet Repute, Fenton Bloomin’ Berries, Kuhnhenn DRIPA, New Holland Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock (cask) and Incorrigible White Sour Ale, Original Gravity Rye-Headed Stepchild, Right Brain Spear Beer, Short’s Stache Bender Double IPA, and more. Ten will be tapped at a time and replaced as kegs kick.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Drink Chick Beer This Weekend

The Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival is coming up Friday and Saturday in Ypsilanti, and it looks like it will be another record-setting year with nearly 800 beers from 88 different breweries from all across the Mitten.

But there's something else new in 2014, and it's Fermenta, the craft beverage trade group created by and for women involved in Michigan's beer, wine, cider, mead, and spirits industries. To celebrate their official launch, the ladies have collaborated at a number of their respective breweries and come up with some tasty-sounding libations. While you're at the festival, look for the "Fermenta" sign (pictured above) and try one, some, or all of the following:

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 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

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.