Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Week in Beer: Hot Fun in the Summertime

Fortunately, there are much better beer options for your Art Fair weekend and beyond.

We may finally be getting some relief from weather that would have made even Martha and the Vandellas melt, but this is arguably the hottest week of the year for local beer lovers, as Ann Arbor Beer Week kicks into gear and leads up to the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park July 27-28. Everywhere you look there are special releases, tap takeovers, collaboration brews, and general beer nirvana. I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it.

Friday, July 20

» Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, starts your weekend out right with a Michigan beer happy hour from 5-7 p.m. featuring the beers of Original Gravity, 440 County, Milan. Stop by and try some great beers for cheap, do some grocery shopping, and, if you’re lucky, shake the hand of the man behind the brews, Brad Sancho himself.

Saturday, July 21

» Like art fairs but feeling overwhelmed by the Ann Arbor crowds? Try the Shadow Art Fair at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti. From noon to midnight, plenty of local artists are in the house exhibiting and selling their wares at this juried event while you stroll about, beer in hand. (Try that at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.) There will also be local music, featured “Shadow brews,” and other fun activities. Admission is just two cents, so bring some pennies. See for more info.

» Or skip the art entirely and just get out of Dodge with Jon “Beer Geek” Cole’s posse. Maybe you missed out on Original Gravity’s beers on Friday; if so, hit up the brewery itself with the Beer Geek on the Road gang, who will invade the joint beginning at 2 p.m. No promises, but visited breweries often offer discounts and/or tours for the group. No need to RSVP; just meet in Milan if you’re interested or email Jon at if you want to carpool from the Shark Club in Howell.

» By 8 p.m., the 2012 edition of Art Fair will be over, so for those who fled or hid, Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, is throwing a Take Back the Town Party with live music and happy – nay, ecstatic – hour prices: half off all draft beers as well as glasses and battles of wine and mixed well drinks (for those who take their alcohol via inferior beverages!) all evening.

Tuesday, July 24

» Arbor Brewing is releasing its version of the Michigan Brewers Guild 15th Anniversary Ale, a statewide collaboration brewed entirely with Michigan-grown ingredients. Participating breweries started with the same recipe (a strong pale ale), but added their own unique spins on it. All versions will be available at the Summer Beer Festival.

» If 15 years sounds impressive, try half a century. That’s how long Fraser’s Pub has been serving up beer and good times at 2045 Packard in Ann Arbor. To celebrate, they’ve engaged Arbor Brewing to create a Fiftieth Anniversary Ale, which will be tapped at Fraser’s at 4 p.m. It’s an imperial rye beer that reportedly “tastes amazing.” Come by and raise a glass to 50 years of Fraser’s!

Wednesday, July 25

» If you’re up in South Lyon, you’ll want to drop in to Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, when they open at 3 p.m. for a taste of Bourbon Barrel Holy Confusion, a version of their beloved but butt-kicking barleywine style ale (10.2% ABV, 100 IBUs) aged in a barrel for three months. Ouch! Can you say designated driver?

» The first-ever collaboration brew between the leaders of Ann Arbor’s beer renaissance, Arbor Brewing and Grizzly Peak, which opened within a few months of each other in 1995, will be tapped today at both locations. Come out to try Bear in a Tree, an English summer session ale brewed with honey malt to impart sweetness and balance the earthy English hop bitterness. (Mug Club members enjoy happy hour prices on this beer all day long.) Join brewers Duncan Williams (Grizzly) and Logan Schaedig (Arbor) at 4 p.m. at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, in toasting the ever-expanding local (and statewide) craft beer scene with this refreshing 4% ABV brew. The pub crawl party shifts to Arbor at 5 p.m. to try Logan’s version.

» Fraser’s continues its celebration beginning at 6 p.m. with a tap takeover from Bell’s, featuring firkins of Third Coast Beer and Two Hearted Ale and regular drafts of Amber Ale, Best Brown Ale, Cherry Stout, Pale Ale, and Oberon. At 7:30 p.m., Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout will also be tapped. Can you say "om nom nom" when talking about beer?

Thursday, July 26

» Have you been to Red Rock Downtown Barbecue yet? If not, tonight is the perfect time for a visit to this worthy eatery at 207 W. Michigan, Ypsilanti. Not only is the food good, but the beer list is pretty stellar, too. Tonight at 6 p.m., Bell’s is taking over, with the same lineup as the Fraser’s tap takeover, plus drafts of Wedding Ale (tapped at 6:30) and Oarsman Ale. And for bourbon beer heads, the Black Note is tapping at 7:30. As for food, this writer believes the mac and cheese is to die for and the brisket is pretty darn good as well.

» While in Ypsi, you should also pay a visit to the Wurst Bar, 705 W. Cross, for a New Holland tap takeover beginning at 5 p.m. Not only will there be special food dishes prepared just for this event, but a couple hard-to-find beers will be on tap as well: Pilgrim’s Dole Wheat Wine Ale and Sour Attitude, a sour ale almost never seen outside of New Holland’s taproom. Rye Hatter, Farmouse Hatter, White Hatter, and Oak Aged Hatter ales round out the lineup.

» Sticking with our Ypsilanti theme, you’ll also want to hit up Sidetrack Bar & Grill, 56 E. Cross, for a Short’s Brewing tap takeover, featuring at least 25 drafts from everyone’s favorite wacky brewery (to be fair, they make some damn good non-wacky beers, too). Word is that these beers won’t duplicate anything Short’s is bringing to the weekend’s Summer Beer Festival. Other than that, details, including start time, are sketchy as of this writing. Call Sidetrack at 734-483-1490 to find out more.

» Back in A2, Arbor Brewing is hosting a 7 p.m. release party for a really special collaboration brew, this time between Arbor, Benton Harbor’s The Livery, and Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids. Known as Eruption Ale, it’s an aged sour beer brewed at The Livery, fermented with Brewery Vivant’s ale yeast, and conditioned for an entire year in Arbor’s sour beer barrels. As a bonus, some of the beer received an infusion of fresh raspberries at the end of the process to create Raspberry Eruption, so this is really like a two-fer release party. But if you want some, get there early as there is only one keg of each. A limited number of 750ml bottles will be available for takeout sale. And finally, on the guest taps will be The Livery’s Impeche Sour Belgian Ale and 5th Dimension Belgian IPA, both aged in merlot casks.

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