Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Week in Beer: Brew My Valentine

Forget the groundhog. I don’t think the furry little dude even tried to poke out of his hole last week. But for us above-ground dwellers, the snow and the cold are facts of life we just have to deal with for a while longer. And normally this time of year, we would deal with them by cuddling under a blanket with a lover or, for those who are on their own, a carton of ice cream and some cats. Normally, that is. This year I recommend instead putting down that carton, pulling on your coat, and getting out and about for an incredible Week in Beer full of new releases, fun events, and good eats. The cats will wait.

Thursday, Feb. 10
» Tonight more than two dozen high-octane brews — including barleywines, double IPAs, Scotch ales, and more — will be available for your tasting pleasure at Arbor Brewing’s Big Ale Tasting from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance ($35 at the door, if available) and include an appetizer buffet and the chance to win swank beer glassware, apparel, and other gewgaws. Call 734-213-1393 to order.

Friday, Feb. 11
» Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium, is releasing a number of new beers this month, and the latest is Green Thumb Lager, described by brewer Oliver Roberts as a “hoppy session lager,” a sort of little brother to the popular Gulo Gulo Northwest Lager. Green Thumb is made with a mondo amount of hops, including Citra to impart a "tropical" essence, and malts from Britain, Scotland, and Germany for a complementary earthy sweetness. Tap room opens at noon.

» At Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, a four-day “Beer Lovers Weekend” through Monday kicks off with a special menu celebrating beer and comfort food, as well as a new brew for the occasion, Sledgehammer Chocolate Stout.

» Arbor’s sister establishment, the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, is hosting a Valentine Masquerade beginning at 8 p.m. Your favorite DJs from Halcyon Sundaze — including your correspondent — will be spinning tunes covering the many faces of love to get both lovebirds and the lovelorn alike out on the dance floor. Special beer releases, a costume contest, and cupcakes by Autumn Rae round out the event. If you’re wondering what sort of costume to wear, you can visit Fantasy Attic in Ypsi for ideas — and mention Corner Brewery for a 15% discount on your purchase.

Saturday, Feb. 12
» If you like to count and you like beer, then the Michigan Brewers Guild would like to pay your bar tab — if you go to the Corner Brewery from 2-4 p.m. and help count out drink tokens for the upcoming Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids.

Sunday, Feb. 13
» Come back to Corner yet again on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre (A2CT) presents its second annual Chili Cook-Off and Beer Tasting to raise funds for its activities. Tickets are $20, which includes 10 chili tastings, five beer samples, a silent auction, and a keepsake tasting glass. Chili-only tickets are also available for $10, with $5 tickets for children ages 5-10 (children under 5 are free). Call A2CT at 734-971-2228 to order or visit for more information.

Monday, Feb. 14
» The Blue Tractor, 207 E. Washington, introduces one new brew and brings back an old favorite for chocolate lovers: the new Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout and the popular Schakolad Weizen, a 5.5% ABV wheat beer featuring Cluster hops and chocolate from Schakolad Chocolate Factory. (Also mark Feb. 18 and Feb. 23 on your calendars for Blue Tractor’s “Freezing Pints for Prostates” and Mug Club members’ beer dinner events, respectively. Call 734-222-4095 for more info.)

» "Be always drunken," begins a poem by French versifier Charles Baudelaire, who knew a thing or two about the bottle. And if you're in the vicinity of Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery, 311 S. Main, stop in for a bottle of iO Saison Ale, one of the two (so far) special beers in Jolly Pumpkin's "Baudelaire" series of beers. iO (formerly released as Eyo) is a complex but easy-drinking 6.8% ABV concoction brewed with rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus. Flavors include the Jolly Pumpkin funk along with tartness, floral and light fruity notes, and a dryness in the finish. C'est magnifique!

» When Wolverine’s tap room opens, take your sweetie (or just yourself) on over for the release of Revilo India Red Lager, a rich and malty concoction brewed just for a wintry Valentine’s Day. From 5-8 p.m., the Bob Skon Trio will rock the bar and Wolverine will be offering 2 for 1 Revilos and new Mug Club memberships for couples.

» Or, if you're closer to Plymouth, stop by Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, for the release of their traditional Valentine's Day beer: Red Velvet, a decadent ale brewed with chocolate and sporting a deep red color like the cake of the same name. The brewery will also be serving X & O, a sweet and savory dessert that pairs well with the beer.

Tuesday, Feb. 15
» At 6 p.m. Ashley’s, 338 S. State, will be at the crossroads of Good and Evil. On draft will be a quartet of high-gravity brews from Colorado’s Avery Brewing including on one hand The Beast Belgian Grand Cru and Mephistopheles Stout and on the other The Reverend Quadrupel Ale and Salvation Belgian Style Strong Ale. Which side are you on? Visit for more information on these limited-edition beers, and get your taste buds ready.

Notes on the Napkin
  • The big Belgian Beer Week event begins Feb. 16 at Ashley’s Westland, 7525 Wayne Rd. This is a dream come true for lovers of Belgian ales, as 60 beers from the Low Country will be on tap and 60 more available in bottles. Feb. 17 is a six-course Belgian beer dinner (see the menu here) featuring seventh-generation brewer Jef Versele of Brouwerij Van Steenberge. Check out to register, visit the Belgian fest Facebook page, or call Ashley’s Westland at 734-525-1667 for more info.
  • Another food vendor will be at Wolverine tonight (Thursday): Darcy's Cart. Starting around 5:30 p.m., you can have carnitas tacos, nachos, chips and salsa, or kimchi quesadillas with your beer. If all goes well, Darcy's should become a Thursday regular the way Pilar's Tamales is on Fridays.

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