Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Halloweek in Beer: Plenty to Do and Drink


Listen, I know what you’re afraid of. I know the terror that lurks, ever present, in the dark recesses of your brain, that primal feeling of dread that haunts your every waking hour and disturbs your nighttime slumber. It gnaws at you in the evening whenever you’re at home by yourself or walking the streets alone at dusk.

I know your fear because I’ve shared it, too. But this Halloween, I can assure you it’s going to be all right. We are not going to run out of beer, not even close. Just one look at your abundant Halloweek in Beer ought to put any horror you feel to rest. Have a safe and happy Halloween, and I’ll see you… on the other side.

Friday, October 28
» The new Cucurbita Smiles Pumpkin Lager will be pouring from the taps of Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium, when the doors open at noon. Two things you may notice right away that differentiate it from other pumpkin beers you may have tried: First, it’s a lager instead of the usual ale. Second, it’s “spiced” a little differently, with brown sugar and rum-soaked vanilla beans. My impression was an unusual dry and woody taste — not in a bad way but an unexpected way. It’s different enough that you may enjoy this beer even if you normally stay away from pumpkin beers.

» Speaking of autumnal adult beverages, at Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, a representative from Crispin Cider will lead a tasting of a selection of Crispin’s premium, all-natural hard ciders from 6-7 p.m. in the store’s classroom area. Cost is $6 for six tastes; stop by the customer service desk or call the store at 734-997-7500 to reserve your spot.

Saturday, October 29
» Zombies must rank right up there with pretzels and pizza as a great companion for beer. Get some of both at Original Gravity, 440 County St., Milan, beginning at 6 p.m. when OG taps its small-batch Pumpkin Gingerbread Ale. The zombies come at 8 p.m. with a screening of the one that started it all, George Romero’s 1968 flesh-eating classic, “Night of the Living Dead.” No cover.

» The Wolverine tap room opens early at 9 a.m. for a Homecoming tailgate party in anticipation of the Michigan-Purdue game kicking off at noon. Ray’s Red Hots will be slinging the dogs beginning at 10:30, and Wolverine is again running a shuttle to and from the game for beer-buying ticket holders (a small fee is involved). Of course, if you are sans tickets, you can always watch the action from your barstool. Following the game, WTKA will be broadcasting the Michigan Insider radio show live from the tap room beginning at 3:30 p.m.

» Still later, Wolverine celebrates the release of their second bottled beer, Wolverine Dark Lager, with a Halloween bash including a costume contest, specials, and prizes beginning at 7 p.m. Wolverine's own Beer Wench will render her judgment at 9 p.m., awarding a pair of tickets to the Michigan-Ohio State game to the most "Wolverine-centric" costume and tickets to the Michigan-Nebraska game for the most beer-centric costume.

» In Ypsilanti, the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, kicks off its “Museum of Macabre” Halloween extravaganza at 8 p.m. Can your heart stand the strain of a haunted brewery, costume contest with prizes, live art exhibition, fire throwers, puppet shows, break dancing, special witches’ brew, and even more frightening stuff? This year’s costume theme is “art,” whether living, contemporary, abstract, Renaissance, sculpture, photography, or any other era or style you choose. DJ dannyboy and the Halcyon Sundaze crew will also be on hand spinning the terrifying tunes. Bonus points if you buy your favorite Halloween DJ a beer. Even more bonus points if your favorite Halloween DJ happens to be yours truly! No cover.

Sunday, October 30
» There’s some serious Halloween going down from 1-4 p.m. in Plymouth’s Old Village area at the Haunted Block Party. Participate in pumpkin painting, pumpkin bowling, the “Pumpkin Tower of Death” game, costume contests for people as well as pets, and a choo-choo ride around town for the little ghouls. Astute readers will be aware this is the neighborhood of the Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty., which will haunt the street with taps of its regular lineup as well as spooky seasonals like the acclaimed Punkin Pie Ale. Root beer floats and pizza are also available for trick-or-treaters with their parents. Visit for more information.

» Can the Lions get back to their winning ways as they head west to take on the Denver Broncos? Can you believe I used the words “winning ways” in the same sentence as “Detroit Lions”? Whether you’re a naysayer or a true believer this season, Wolverine has you covered with half-price pitchers of beer during the game, which kicks off at 4 p.m. And, if you’re inclined, grab a pumpkin from the bar to carve during halftime or at whatever point you lose interest in the game and take it home with you!

Monday, October 31, Halloween
» Didn’t get enough cheap but delicious Wolverine beer? Tap room manager Travis is running an all-night happy hour special beginning at 4 p.m. What beer will be on special? You’ll have to come by to find out.

» Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, releases its mysterious Dark Side Ale. Brewed with roasted malts, it exudes the hoppy aroma of an IPA thanks to generous doses of Columbus, Cascade and Summit hops. If that weren't enough, it's dry-hopped with more Columbus and a touch of Citra. Drop by the pub and check it out for yourself — if you dare!

» The tradition continues at Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, 311 S. Main. Come by at dusk to get your customary glass of La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin Ale served from a flaming live pumpkin firkin before you head out trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, November 1
» The ghouls and ghosts are gone for another year, but you can commemorate All Saints Day (AKA All Hallows) with Brewer’s Night in the Grizzly Peak Den, 120 W. Washington. From 6-9 p.m., go on a guided tour of the brewery, get discounts on beer samplers, and enjoy a draught from the cask of ’Merican Mild Ale, Grizzly’s Fouch Hill British Mild dry-hopped with a blend of American hops including Simcoe, Cascade, Amarillo, Columbus, and Chinook.

Notes on the Napkin
  • Other downtown Ann Arbor destinations for age-appropriate witches, zombies, vampires, etc., etc., roaming the streets Saturday include "Halloween in Habana" beginning at 9 p.m. at Cafe Habana. DJ Kyle Pullen spins tunes while contestants enjoy cocktail specials and vie for a $50 gift card and free Mug Club membership for the best costumes. No cover. Conor O’Neill’s also hosts its annual costume party, with prizes for the best, drink specials all night, and live music from the Lucas Paul Band.

  • In other beer news, Fuego del Otono Autumn Fire Ale returns to Jolly Pumpkin. For those with short memories, it’s an amber blend with smooth caramel notes and subtle spices, clocking in at 6.1% and appearing every October. Yum.

  • On tap this week at Arbor Brewing: Night Stalker Pumpkin Cream Stout, the creation of head brewer Bill Gerds, who used roasted malt, lactose, and nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove spices in the making of this beer that goes bump in the night. 6% ABV.

  • Fans of Corner Brewery’s Ypsi Gypsi Pale Ale, rejoice! This moderately alcoholic (5.3% ABV) and refreshing brew will be available in bottles at your favorite local beer store, just as soon as all packaging and labeling issues are resolved. And speaking of labels, the artwork features none other than Corner’s own brewery manager Kari Whitman Peron, the original Ypsi gypsy.

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