Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Week in Beer: Brew My Valentine

What comes from Belgium? Beer... and chocolate! Ergo, Belgium is the Official Country of Valentine's Day.

This Valentine's Day (or, for the hyper-romantic, Valentine's Week), there are more ways to rekindle your love affair with beer than you can shake a stick at. If you're lucky, your significant other shares your passion, but even if he or she doesn't, there are mutual rewards to be had for indulging in the diverse array of delicious beverage and dining options. Check out your jam-packed Week in Beer for the whole scoop.

Thursday, February 9

» The second annual Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival kicks off in Westland, 7525 Wayne Rd., and runs through February 19 with more than 160 Belgian ales on draft and in bottles. The first of two special beer dinners takes place at 7 p.m. with a six-course meal featuring Trappist and other Belgian ales. $75 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, appetizer, salad, a seafood and a meat entrée, and dessert. (Menu is available here.) John Staunton, Midwest manager for Merchant du Vin Importers, will be on hand to discuss each of the beers. Visit to reserve.

» At Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, the strong ales tasting is in full swing from 7-9 p.m. with more than two dozen old ales, barleywines, double IPAs, Scotch ales, Belgian brews, and other high-octane concoctions, along with the usual tasty appetizer buffet and fabulous door prize raffle. Tickets are $35 at the door, if available, or call 734-213-1393.

Friday, February 10

» What do you get when you mix great beer, a great cause, and, um, crossdressing? I don’t really know, but if you head to Frenchie’s, 54 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, for the “Love Is a Drag (Show)” fundraiser for the Ozone House, a local nonprofit that helps at-risk youth, maybe you can tell me. Show begins at 9:30 p.m. and includes DJs and live performances. $5 cover/donation.

Saturday, February 11

» The forecast calls for snow, so why not get outside and enjoy it – at the Corner Brewery’s beer garden? From 1-4 p.m. it’s the “Winter Warmer” celebration: Sit outside in the elements and you’ll receive happy hour prices on all beers, provided you drink them outside. Dress warm!

Sunday, February 12

» Warm back up from 12-3 p.m. at the Third Annual Chili Cook-Off, also at the Corner. The event benefits the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre; tickets are $20 and include 10 chili tastings, five beer samples, a silent auction, and a keepsake tasting glass. Chili-only tickets are $10, with $5 tickets for children ages 5-10. Kids under 5 are free. Call 734-971-2228 or buy at the door, and check out for more details.

Monday, February 13

» Hit the road to the Shark Club in Howell, 1140 S. Michigan Ave., to learn about the basics of craft beer tasting, pouring, and enjoying with His Esteemed Beer Eminence Rex Halfpenny, editor and publisher of the Michigan Beer Guide. $20 ticket includes beer samples, appetizers, Rex’s brilliance, and some Q&A time. Session goes from 7-10 p.m. Call 517-540-0300.

Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day

» Love is in the air, and beer is in your glass. At least it is if you’re a true romantic. And if you’re out Plymouth way, drop in to Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, for some special V-Day treats, including Red Velvet Ale, a chocolatey 5.2% ABV brew reminiscent of the cake of the same name, and Chocolate Covered Cherry, a tap blended mixture of the rich Liberty One Porter and Cherry Hard Cider. A small amount of Liberty’s award-winning Tart Cherry Porter will also be available.

» At Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, 207 E. Washington, look for the return of the acclaimed Schakolad Weizen, a wheat beer brewed with chocolate from the Schakload Chocate Factory, as well as their version of Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout, made with cherries from Cherry Republic.

» Not to be left out, Arbor Brewing is offering a small-batch release of Chocolate Strawberry Stout, perfect for lovers – at least while it lasts.

» At Ashley’s in Westland, treat your valentine (and yourself) to a prix fixe dinner of Belgian proportions. For $50, enjoy a Belgian-inspired appetizer, two entrees, a dessert, and Belgian beers to match all of it. For menu options, see here.

» Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium, loves you, too, and to prove it, they're bringing back their Faustian Stout Baltic Porter, the beer that first made your correspondent a Wolverine believer. Oh, and from 4-9 p.m., they will fill Mug Club members' growlers for half-price. What's not to love?

Wednesday, February 15

» From 5-8 p.m., Café Ollie, 42 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, welcomes Matt Cebula of  Atwater Brewing to talk about the Detroit brewery's lineup of beers. Food specials, happy hour prices on Atwater beer, and free samples are all part of the fun. No RSVP necessary, but call 734-482-8050 for more info.

» Back at Belgian HQ, Ashley's Westland is hosting a 7 p.m. session, "Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge Blending Seminar," presented by Lanny Hoff of Artisanal Imports. Learn how the revered Belgian style of lambics are created, from blending old ("oude") and young ("jong") batches of beers to create a unique-tasting sour brew. Cost is $15 and includes six samples. Space is limited; register at Ashley's site here.

Notes on the Napkin
  • Up in South Lyon, Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, now has an Oatmeal Stout on tap, as well as Baseline Bitter, available for growler fills.

  • Going to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids and need to make a plan? Check out the list of beers here. And if you’re wondering how to get there, then get on the bus – the beer bus courtesy of Arbor Brewing and Corner Brewery. For a mere $35, you not only get your butt toted to and from Grand Rapids, but you also get coffee and bagels and beer on the trip there. Bus leaves from the Corner at 9 a.m. and Arbor at 9:30. Call Arbor at 734-213-1393 or Corner at 734-480-2739.

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