Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Week in Beer: Toasting the World's Best Beverage

Beer is so versatile you can even bake with it. Pictured: Oats and Blonde Ale bread, made (and paired) with Arbor Brewing's Bollywood Blonde Ale.

At the risk of sounding like a dork, I have to say I continue to be amazed by the versatility of the World's Best Beverage, beer. Just a generation ago in this country, "beer" was a watered-down foamy yellow drink relegated to clubs full of old men, bowling alleys, and frat houses.

Today, more and more people have discovered the amazingly wide range of flavors that real beer can offer. More and more people now know you can pair beer with meals, like wine snobs have been doing with their beverage of choice for decades, and it kicks wine's ass. You can drink it. You can cook with it. And, as I recently discovered, you can even bake with it. I would not be surprised if it is soon discovered that beer can cure cancer. So pledge to raise a glass to beer, and allow me to give you some ideas about where and when to do so in your latest Week in Beer.

Thursday, February 28

» Today is Mug Club Appreciation Day at Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail. All day, Mug Clubbers get to enjoy Barrel Aged Train Hopper IPA, 20% off all merchandise, happy hour prices, and half off growler fills. Raffle tickets to win a lifetime Mug Club membership will also be available for $10 each. See the latest Witch’s Hat newsletter for all the brews you can use.

Friday, March 1

» It’s been a long week. You just want to pick up a few things from the grocery store on your way home from work and then get down to the business of relaxing on the couch. Not so fast, my friend! The grocery store has eight beers from Arbor Brewing on tap, and they are all on happy hour from 5-7 p.m. Where is this marvelous grocery store? It’s Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower. Better stick around for a glass or two, and have some nice chat with brewery reps and fellow beer lovers. Your waiting spouse will understand.

» Get fresh at Ashley's, 338 S. State. Fresh beer, that is, in the form of Stone Brewing’s Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA, which, just like it sounds, is meant to be quaffed while all those hops are at the peak of their aroma and flavor. Ashley’s has just one of eight kegs sent to Michigan (well, two, because Ashley’s in Westland also has one), and there’s a bit of a competition to help Stone determine whether or not we deserve future shipments. Hit the Twitters this week and use the hashtags #EnjoyBy #AnnArbor to show our friends on the West Coast that we appreciate their contribution to our awesome local beer scene. Find out more about both the beer and the Twitter competition here. Brew taps at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, March 5

» Ashley’s is also Ann Arbor’s headquarters for welcoming another Western brewery to the Great Beer State: Oskar Blues of Lyons, Colorado (that’s between Denver and Fort Collins for you geography buffs). This brewery has a big following, already distributing to 30 other states. At 6 p.m., the following hounds will be released: Dale’s Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chub Scotch Ale, G’Knight Imperial Red IPA, Deviant Dale’s IPA, and Gubna Imperial Red Ale. Find out more about the rollout here.

Wednesday, March 6

» Rat Fest Redux continues as the leftovers from the January “homebrew” festival are released at 6 p.m. each Wednesday at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti. This week the beers from the Muskrat Mashers are on tap: M.M. Brown Ale, Chocolate Rye Porter, Rat Fest IPA, and Cayenne Cherry Rye. More details are here.

Thursday, March 7

» Over in Chelsea, the Jet’s Pizza Sportsroom, 506 N. Main, is welcoming New Belgium to the taps, offering nine drafts: Fat Tire Amber Ale, Ranger IPA, Dig American Pale Ale, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Lager, Lips of Faith Biere de Garde (collaboration with Brewery Vivant), La Folie Wood-Aged Sour Ale, Imperial Coffee Stout, and Peach Porch Lounger Saison. The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. and will include a brewery rep there to talk about the beers and their stories.

» Dexter’s Pub, 8114 Main, Dexter, is hosting its first tap takeover event, with guest of honor Bell’s Brewery! Starting at 6:30 p.m., check out Hopslam Ale, Red Nose ESB, Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Smitten Golden Rye Ale, Two Hearted Ale, Midwestern Pale Ale, and Java Stout. Bell’s rep Monica Mooney will be there to talk (and drink) beer and, most likely, hand out some cool goodies, as she is wont to do.

» How about a cross-border road trip opportunity? Down in that 19th century “war zone” between Michigan and Ohio, Toledo is hosting the seventh annual Glass City Beer Fest, featuring 175 beers from 40+ breweries. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door and include 12 3 oz. pours. Proceeds benefit the Northwest Ohio Hemophilia Foundation and The Arc of Lucas County. Find out more on the official Facebook page. Good to see our southern neighbors start to bring beer civilization to their benighted state!

Notes on the Napkin
  • So you were wondering what’s going on at the Chelsea Alehouse, weren’t you? I thought so. They’ve just released the first in a series of brown ales, Hollier 6 Brown Ale, a 6.2% ABV brew to be followed eventually by the Hollier 8 and the Hollier 10 brown ales. The name is a tribute to an early 19th century automobile manufactured by a Chelsea family, explained a little on this poorly written website.
  • We are warned to beware the Ides of March! I don’t know what the hell an ide is, so my recommendation is to get ready for another exclusive 30th anniversary beer to be released at Ashley’s March 12: Michigan Cherry Dragon’s Milk, a blend of three-month bourbon barrel aged Dragon’s Milk Stout finished off in cherry bitters barrels with Michigan cherry puree. Sounds like liquid awesomeness to me.
  • As a longtime bachelor, I think the last time I baked anything was in my seventh-grade home economics class. But the idea of “Baking with Beer” sounded intriguing, so I signed up for the class of the same name at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. I mostly learned that I don’t have a career in the kitchen, but it was a good time and worthwhile if you like beer and baking. The next class is on May 19, and spots are still available for $100. If that sounds a bit steep, realize it’s a four hour class and you will wind up taking home a huge loaf of bread, a dozen scones, a bag of crackers, and a tin of cornbread to share with your friends and family, who will marvel at how awesome you are. Just sayin’. Sign up here.
  • What’s the best brewpub or microbrewery in Washtenaw County? How about the best sports bar? Best place for your 21st birthday? Outdoor festival (hint, hint)? Vote for these and about 800 more categories in Current magazine’s annual Readers Choice poll. Get your ballot here, and remember to vote early and vote often.

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