Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Week in Beer: Representin' at the Great American Beer Festival

Ann Arbor's five breweries will be repping with nearly 500 others at this weekend's massive Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo. Photo © 2010 Jason E. Kaplan.

This weekend is the granddaddy of them all, at least as far as the craft beer revolution is concerned. Begun in 1982, the Great American Beer Festival, known affectionately as (what else?) GABF, holds court once again in Denver, Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. Many thousands of brewers and drinkers of craft beer will be making the pilgrimage to Colorado to enjoy the spectacle of 450 breweries from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, serving up some 2400 different beers.

Among the crowd will be several of our own area’s beer rock stars, hoping to bring home a prestigious medal or two from the weekend’s competitions. Luckily, they’ve left behind a lot of great beer and things to do for us town-bound aficionados not fortunate enough to have tickets to this beer-studded affair.

Friday, September 30

» Tell the boss you have to leave work early for an appointment because at 3 p.m. at Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery, 311 S. Main, the very limited pulo de Hielo releases. And when I say this beer is limited, I’m not kidding: There are only 72 750ml bottles available for purchase ($22 each; limit one per customer) and only a sixth-barrel on draft. This is a one-off beer brewed by Ron Jeffries to benefit Pints for Prostates, a nonprofit that seeks to raise men's awareness about the importance of prostate health, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. He describes it thusly: “Lúpulo de Hielo — ‘Ice Hop’ — is a hoppy sour beer that was aged for about a year in oak and blended with our sour white, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca.” Visit for more information. Oh, and don’t mention to your boss that your appointment is with beer.

» Jimmy, resident beer nerd at Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, is back again with another of his “Beer 101” classes. This time he’s educatin’ from 6-7 p.m. about the Oktoberfest, or Märzen, style of beer. Stop by the Whole Foods Market customer service desk or call (734) 997-7500 to reserve your spot. $6 for 6 tastes. Come thirsty — for knowledge and beer.

» If you’re ready for some serious tastin’ then head up the road to The Links at Whitmore Lake golf club, 1111 6 Mile Rd., from 7-10 p.m. for the Whitmore Lake Beer & Wine Taste Fest. Choose from samples of 32 beers and 16 wines for your tasting pleasure, along with snacks available for purchase. $25 advance ticket ($30 at the door) includes 10 beverage tastes; more tasting tickets available for purchase on-site for $1 each or 6 for $5. Call Nancy at 734-368-1629, Dennis at 734-368-1668, or Patti at 734-678-5679.

Saturday, October 1

» It's back: Kegs and Eggs at Ashley's, 338 S. State, in Ann Arbor is in effect for every Michigan football home game. This Saturday, Ashley's is open at 9 a.m. with a breakfast buffet, Bloody Marys, and, of course, the state's largest selection of draft beers. Get ready for some gridiron glory with a barstool bonanza of beer.
» Don't put away that lederhosen just yet! Put it on and drive down to Original Gravity in Milan for what is probably the last local Oktoberfest celebration. Enjoy small batches of OG Altbier, Dunkelweizen, Roggenbier, Munich Helles, and Hefeweizen; smoked sausage, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and pretzels from 2pm until they're all gone; and music from Sounds of Germany Polka Band on the patio beginning at 5pm.

Tuesday, October 4

» Brewer’s Night returns to Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, with its tantalizing opportunities to meet brewer and all-around Renaissance man Duncan Williams, receive a guided tour of the brewery, and enjoy discounts on beer samplers as well as a taste of CiderHouse Ale, a blend of local cider and Steelhead Red Ale, cask conditioned with Fuggle hops.

» In Ypsilanti, the Corner Brewery hosts a release party from 6-8 p.m. for Olde No. 22 German Alt, Arbor’s easy-drinking dark ale. It’s two hours of delicious beer and snack, excellent company, and cool discounts on merchandise and carry-out beer. Best part? If you’re a Mug Club member, you’re in like Flynn. If you’re not, it’ll cost a ten-spot. Wow, I’m a poet and I didn’t even realize that fact about myself.

Wednesday, October 5

» San Diego County’s Stone Brewing Co. is 15 years old, and instead of being in that awkward, immature, pimple-faced adolescent phase, Stone is moving ahead — arrogantly, of course — as only it can. Ashley's in Ann Arbor is helping out by putting some of the brewery’s most beloved and/or sought-after beers on tap, including Arrogant Bastard Strong Ale, Double Bastard Ale, Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA, Vertical Epic Ale, and, of course, the 15th Anniversary Ale. Come by around 6 p.m. and join in the fun.

Thursday, October 6

» Finally released after aging six months in the tank, Wolverine State Brewing’s Oktoberfest Lager, aka Märzenbier, has been a big hit with fans of the style, receiving high marks from local beer nerds whose opinions carry weight around these parts (at least with other beer nerds). So now it’s time for the next step: Bourbon Barrel Aged Oktoberfest, which releases today. Your correspondent had a sneak preview of this beer not too long ago, and let me say, if the bourbon oak barrel is your thing, you’ll want to get a taste of this one before it’s gone.

Notes on the Napkin
  • Arbor Brewing's organizing a shuttle to the October 22 Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market. Tickets are $30 before October 1 and $35 thereafter. Bus departs from Arbor at 10:45am and Corner Brewery 11am. Tickets are nonrefundable and do not included admission to the festival. Call 734-213-1393 to reserve your place.

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