|Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane... it's the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival!|
All eyes (and taste buds) turn to Ypsilanti this weekend, as the state's oldest and largest beer bash rolls into town, like a liquid circus spreading love and joy wherever it goes. Strap yourself in for loads of cool events leading up to the big one, and prepare your drinking muscles for a workout like no other. It's Michigan Summer Beer Festival time, y'all!
Thursday, July 25
» Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, 207 W. Michigan, Ypsilanti, is bringing the Bell’s for a “Summer Festival Palate Preparation Party.” On tap beginning at 11 a.m. when they open, look for Two Hearted Ale, Oberon Ale, Quinannan Falls Special Lager, Amber Ale, Special Double Cream Stout, and Le Pianiste Biere de Garde. Timed tappings include a 6:30 p.m. release of Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch 9000, Oatmeal Stout at 7:00, and Wedding Ale at 7:30. On Friday, Red Rock will be featuring Founders beers and on Saturday, Arcadia Ales takes the spotlight. See redrockypsi.com.
» Just up the road at Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, the Summer Beer Festival kickoff party gets going at 2 p.m. with $1 off any regularly priced half-liter beers for Michigan Brewers Guild members. As an added treat, on tap will be a small-batch sour mash Berlinerweiss style brew made from the second runnings of a wheat wine. This is how you do session beer: It’s 2.5% ABV with a tart, lemony taste and a bready finish. Live music begins at 7 p.m. As always, no cover.
» Also in Ypsilanti, Sidetrack Bar & Grill, 56 E. Cross, is starting early with a Short’s tap takeover beginning at 6 p.m. Unfortunately, there’s still no available beer list available, but Short’s plus Sidetrack means a hell of a party, n’est-ce pas?
» Finally, the Wurst Bar, 705 W. Cross, gets into the Summer Beer Fest pre-party act with an event featuring Right Brain Brewery. On tap starting at 6 p.m.: Naughty Girl Stout, Firestarter Chipotle Porter, Strawberry Fields, Looping Owl, Spiny Norman IPA, and Stowaway Saison. Come back after Friday’s festivities for a 10 p.m. party featuring Paw Paw Brewing’s St. James English Ale (regular and sour barrel aged edition), KUA Pale Ale, Long Lock Hefeweizen, Black River Oatmeal Stout, 2 Paws IPA, and (at 11) the Paw Paw-Right Brain collaboration brew Sour Cherry Imperial Stout. And be back for the Saturday afterparty when Wurst introduces Griffin Claw beers to Ypsilanti: El Rojo Amber Ale, Raggedy Ass IPA, and Grid Line Pale Ale. Damn, now I’m thirsty.
» Back in Ann Arbor, meet New Holland Brewing Beervangelist Fred Bueltmann as he joins Chef Brandon Johns for a Stop & Taste Harvest Beer Dinner at Grange Kitchen & Bar, 118 W. Liberty, starting at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are undoubtedly full, but you never know who might cancel at the last minute. Call 734-995-2107 to find out.
Friday, July 26
» The Tiki God demands your presence on the rooftop bar above Aubree’s, 39 E. Cross, Ypsilanti, for a 9 p.m. Summer Beer Fest afterparty with the fine folks of New Holland. Join rep extraordinaire Jimmy Alcumbrack-McDaniel and enjoy four flavors of New Holland at the tiki bar under the stars. Hawaiian shirt not required, but encouraged.
Saturday, July 27
» Come and hear the German band, German band, German band! Oh, the weather is so grand for the big parade! Anyone else remember singing this song in elementary school music class? No? Well, never mind then. Head up to the second German Park picnic of the summer at 5549 Pontiac Trail where you can not only hear the German band, you can eat the German food and drink the German beer. Gates open at 4 p.m. and close at 9 (though they don’t kick you out until 11), so if you’re planning a Summer Beer Festival afterparty here, keep that in mind. Also, bring cash. See the spruced-up German Park website or ask a knowledgeable townie for more information.
Sunday, July 28
» Take me out to the ballgame! Man, I am just full of lyrics to old songs this week. Let Wolverine State Brewing take you to Detroit to watch the Tigers take on the Phillies at 1 p.m. Bus leaves from the tap room at 2019 W. Stadium, and if you get there at 9 a.m. you get to enjoy brunch and beer before the trip. $70 includes beer on the bus, game ticket, and transportation. I’m willing to bet by now it’s sold out, but the caveat about people canceling applies. Give a ring to 734-369-2990 to see where things stand. And go Tigers!
Tuesday, July 30
» The Corner Brewery is host to the latest Arbor Brewing beer release, Red Snapper Roasted Pale Ale, from 6-8 p.m. The hard-to-categorize Snapper is one of Arbor’s original beers, tracing its pedigree back to owner Matt Greff’s homebrew days. Light snacks are part of the deal, and it’s all free if you’re a Mug Club member or else $10 if you’re not hip.
Thursday, August 1
» MOAR BEER FESTS. Tickets for the October 25-26 Detroit Fall Beer Festival go on sale today. Visit mibeer.com for the skinny.
Notes on the Napkin
- Make your plans now, at least if you enjoy futility. (My experience is that planning what to do at the Summer Beer Festival generally bears no relationship to what actually happens once you’re there.) Whatever occurs, here is the official downloadable program for this weekend for your perusal. You’re welcome.
- For those keeping score on the social medias, the Festival's official hashtag is #MiSBF13.
- There is now a cover and an official release date for Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing, penned by yours truly. Go here for more information.