Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Week in Beer: Craft Brews Can Beat the Winter Blues

Celebrating 25 years of Bell's beer at Ashley's.
It's spring! Wait, no, it's not! Oh, yes, it is! No, no, it's not! I give up. Whether it's 50 degrees outside or another ice storm is around the corner, your best course of action involves craft beer. It's the best way to celebrate the impending end of winter – or endure its depressing continuation. How and where can you get your fix? Read on for your latest Week in Beer.

Friday, Feb. 25
» At noon when it opens, the Wolverine State Brewing Tap Room, 2019 W. Stadium, will be awash in the last of the many new beers Wolverine has released this month, Pastoral Winter Wheat Lager. Brewer wunderkind Oliver Roberts describes it as “a deep amber malt-forward lager, with a subtle noble hops aroma. We incorporated English barley, dark Munich malt, dark German wheat malt, American caramel malts, and a special roasted barley for flavor and to create a unique, sourdough bread aroma.” I’m sold!

» At Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, join resident beer guru Jimmy for a class on Michigan dark beers. From 6-7 p.m., learn about browns, porters, stouts, and more brewed right here in the Great Beer State. Cost is $6; call the store at 734-997-7500 to reserve your spot.

Saturday, Feb. 26
» The Sixth Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival is taking place 1-6 p.m. in Grand Rapids. Come out to Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, at 9:30 a.m. to wave goodbye to me as I board Arbor’s bus to GR. If you’re reading this and don’t already have tickets, you’re out of luck – it’s sold out! But mark July 22-23 on your calendar for the Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti.

Monday, Feb. 28
» Be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s… Attack of the Hops! at Ashley's, 338 S. State, beginning today and going through March 6. Wait, it’s not some horrible B-movie featuring a gigantic green monster with hop vines for tentacles. It’s a dream come true for hopheads: draft after draft of super x-treme bitter beers, including Arbor Brewing’s Ryeclops Rye PA, Founders Double Trouble Double IPA, New Holland Imperial Hatter, Arcadia Hopmouth Double IPA, Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA, Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale, and more. Eek.

Tuesday, March 1
» Another month, another first Tuesday, another Brewer’s Night at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington. Come out from 6-9 p.m. for a personal, gold-plated luxury tour of the brewery conducted by the illustrious Duncan Williams, Esq., beer specials, and a hand-drawn mug of dry-hopped Amarillo Shamrock Irish Amber Ale to get you in the mood for a certain upcoming holiday. And OK, I may be overselling the brewery tour a little bit.

» If you really want to get in the mood for that certain upcoming holiday, head down the street to Arbor Brewing for a release party for not one, not two, not three – well, maybe it is three, if it’s not four – special stouts that Arbor brews every year for St. Patty’s Day. From 6-8 p.m. get a preview of March 17 as well as light appetizers and discounts on growler fills. As always, it’s free for Mug Club members, and $10 for heathens.

Notes on the Napkin
  • Those Wolverine Premium Lager bottles you’ve been buying by the caseload at your local supermarket and party store? For the last several years, they’ve been brewed and bottled not in Ann Arbor, but in Webberville, as part of a contract deal with Michigan Brewing Co. All that may soon be changing as the Wolverine crew anticipates receiving its own bottling line and label machine in the next week or so.
  • Beginning Feb. 27, you can vote for your favorite Washtenaw County brewery as part of the ongoing "Best Of" contest sponsored by my august publishers at Go here to cast your vote and to check out the other categories and when the votes are scheduled.
  • Amidst all the economic carnage, the Michigan craft beer industry continues to grow, as documented by John Liberty of the Kalamazoo Gazette. Read his expose on Mlive here.
  • And speaking of the craft beer biz, congratulations to Arbor Brewing, which made the list of Michigan’s top 10 beer producers (at #10) with an annual output of 4,057 barrels. Number one? Bell’s, of course, with 153,973 barrels. See the full list here.

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