Thursday, May 19, 2011

Road Trippin': Fort Street Brewery

Fort Street brewmaster Doug Beedy
There's this snug little region to the southwest of Detroit known as "Downriver." It is the land of my birth, but it is not a land especially known for good beer. Heck, it's not even known for good beer drinkers: The NASCAR macrobrews rule supreme on the taps of the area's bars and the residents love it. Jeff More of Ashley's even opened a Woodhaven location and, unsurprisingly to this reporter, it failed, probably at least in part because of all that fancy-shmancy gay commie beer on tap. What's up? Can't a dude just get a Bud?

That makes the success of Fort Street Brewery in Lincoln Park all the more remarkable. Now in its sixth year of operation, FSB offers a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere for the enjoyment of good beer in the midst of an aging inner ring of suburbia. An oasis, if you will, in a still benighted beer desert.

Maybe more remarkable yet is that many of Fort Street's beers are not particularly timid. They're not the typical, restrained "gateway" craft beers of the sort designed to wean the Bud drinkers off of their favorite swill. True, there are lighter beers on tap like Lincoln Lager, a low-alcohol brew for those who prefer it, and the refreshing Turbo Sarsaparilla Ale, which puts the beer in root beer (or is it the other way around?). But brewer Doug Beedy has a creative streak a mile wide and is eager to show it off, most notably through his weekly cask ale releases, occurring every Thursday night. Past releases have included things like Caraway IPA, Juniper Maximus, and Boilermaker, an imperial stout aged with Jim Beam.

Doug really likes getting creative not just with beer ingredients, but with beer names. At various times, patrons have encountered things like Supermassive Black Hole of Deliciousness Cherry Stout, Jell-in Like Magellan Porter, and Megasonic Lupulin Warhead Double IPA.

But there are also more traditional, solid standards like Corktown Red or Malcolmson's Scotch Ale for the less adventurous. And for beer lovers who suffer from Celiac disease, or who just want to try something different, Doug tries to keep a gluten-free brew on tap at all times, usually made from sorghum.

The food is so-so, fairly typical bar fare, but it's reasonably priced, as is the beer. And for $35 a year, the Mug Club membership is also worthwhile, at least if you are able to drop in more than a couple times a year.

Plus, this week is a good time to visit: As part of the American Craft Beer Week celebration, Fort Street is hosting its annual Wheatstock, man, where Doug unveils new beers made with — you guessed it — wheat malt every night at 8pm, including We Shout Stout; Build-a-Wheat; and Red, Wheat, and Blue. and hands out prizes to people dressed in their best hippie attire. (Today is actually day two of Wheatstock, but it runs through tomorrow, dude! Groovy!)

All in all, if you're ever in the neighborhood, a visit to Fort Street is a must. And be sure to bring your growler so you can take some of Doug's great beer home with you!

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