It’s official: what has come to be generically known as the holiday season is now upon us, with everything that entails, especially long lines, ubiquitous sales, snowy weather, and mass insanity. Fortunately to help you cope there’s a great variety of local beer and beer-related events to make your spirits bright. Let’s take a tipsy tour around town.
Thursday, November 28
» It’s Thanksgiving, and everyone’s closed! Hope you already got those growlers filled with fresh beer for your holiday table. Also, LOL Lions.
Friday, November 29
» Let the holiday shopping craze begin! Start at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, with the Black Friday Weekend Holiday Sale. Enjoy sales on glassware, apparel, gift sets, gift cards, and even Mug Club memberships, and be sure to try the special Black Bourbon Stout, a barrel-aged version of Steamroller Russian Imperial Stout. The sale lasts through Sunday, December 1.
» Another great gift idea awaits you at the Wolverine State Brewing taproom, 2019 W. Stadium: Beer and a Book! Buy a Wolverine six-pack for the beer lover on your list and get a book with it, either Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy by New Holland Brewing’s Fred Bueltmann or Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing by yours truly. Give one of these, and you’ll be more popular than Santa.
Saturday, November 30
» Celebrate the new fake holiday of Small Business Saturday by shopping local and Arbor Brewing will reward you. Just bring in a receipt from any local small business dated today and get 15% off your entire bill. Ashley’s, 338 S. State, is also participating: Pay your more-than-$10 tab with your American Express card and get a $10 credit. There are, of course, conditions and terms and stuff. See americanexpress.com/shopsmall for the fine print.
Monday, December 2
» The Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, kicks off its weeklong holiday sale, featuring discounts on six-packs and cases of Bavarian Bliss Hefeweizen, Phat Abbot Dubbel, Jackhammer Old Ale, and Mackinac Island Fudge Stout; $25 off new Mug Club memberships ($100 off new lifetime memberships); and other cool stuff.
Tuesday, December 3
» Another month, and another new and exclusive beer brewed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ashley's, Ann Arbor's favorite beer bar. The brewery of honor this time around is Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek's favorite brewery, and the beer is a Cherry Nut Brown Ale. It's on tap beginning at 6 p.m., along with 10 other Arcadia drafts, to wit: Angler's Ale, B Craft Black IPA, Cannonball Gold IPA, Cereal Killer Barleywine, Cocoa Loco Triple Chocolate Stout (firkin), Hopmouth Double IPA, IPA, Loch Down Scotch Ale, Nut Brown Ale, and Shipwreck Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter from 2011.
» This is a good day to shop at the Corner Brewery because 6-8 p.m. is also the release party for Mr. Delicious Double IPA, a 9% ABV, 90 IBU “round-house punch of citrusy hops, bready malts, and warming alcohol.” Enjoy samples of the beer, light refreshments, and a presentation by head brewer John Ritenour for free if you’re a Mug Club member, or $10 if not.
» It’s Brewer’s Night at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, from 6-9 p.m. Check out discounts on beer samplers, tours of the brewery, and a cask of December-October Ale, a wood-aged, dry-hopped version of the English strong October Ale last seen around Oktoberfest. And be sure to hassle head brewer Duncan Williams. He likes that.
Friday, December 6
» A holiday tradition returns to downtown Ann Arbor: Midnight Madness! Also returning is a more recent addition to the sales and street entertainment, the KindleFest at the Farmers Market in Kerrytown. From 6-10 p.m., shop the wares of local farmers and artisans and also enjoy mulled wine and local beers from Witch’s Hat Brewing, among others. Food, fire pits, and caroling add to the festive atmosphere.
Sunday, December 8
» As part of the Corner Brewery’s holiday sale, I’ll be signing and selling copies of my book from 4-7 p.m., during which time Mug Club membership renewals are also discounted $25. Makes the perfect Christmas gift, I tell ya. The book, that is.
» In Plymouth, Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, celebrates five years of making good beer with what else but beer specials (and special beers). The fun kicks off at noon with cool giveaways throughout the day as well as catered food from somewhere (TBD).
Tuesday, December 10
» Ashley’s is famous for periodically turning over some of its 72 taps to a single brewery in an effort to introduce customers to the full range of what a given beermaker may have to offer. Beginning at 6 p.m., Ashley’s is featuring a number of beers from Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids. As of this writing, the tap list is still being finalized, but from what this reporter has seen, I can say that if you love limited-release Founders beers, you'll want to be there.
Thursday, December 12
» You can’t help but be merry at Arbor Brewing’s Holiday Beer Tasting. From 7-9 p.m., sample from more than two dozen winter warmers, spiced ales, Christmas beers, meads, and more, plus enjoy a sumptuous appetizer buffet alongside. If you’re lucky, you could win some festive beer booty including glassware, apparel, or even free admission to the next tasting. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of; call 734-213-1393 or stop by the pub to buy.
>> Thursday nights at Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, 207 W. Michigan, Ypsilanti, just got awesome. After 9 p.m., 14 oz. Bell’s beers are just $2 (or $3 for the big ones) and to inaugurate this blissful state of affairs, Red Rock is hosting the folks from Bell’s, who are bringing Winter White Ale, Two Hearted Ale, Christmas Ale, and Red Nose ESB to the party. If you show up with two cans of nonperishable food to donate to a local pantry, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of three cool prize packages of Red Rock gift cards and Bell’s swag. Oh, what fun!
Notes on the Napkin
- Now on tap at the Wolverine taproom: Winter Lager, a 6.5% ABV seasonal brewed with English, German, and American malts to deliver a smooth, silky beer with just a hint of warming alcohol in the finish. Perfect to enjoy by the fireside. Also look for Predator Doppelbock, a traditionally styled brew with plenty of dark fruit, toffee, and toasty notes to keep you warm. And coming soon to the taproom: fresh-prepared sandwiches from the new Wolverine kitchen! See the full menu posted at co-owner E.T. “Beer Wench” Crowe’s blog at a2beerwench.com.
- Speaking of yummy brewery food, the Chelsea Alehouse, 420 N. Main, Chelsea, is now open for lunch Thursday through Sunday and is also offering $2 off growler fills from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.