|Rat Fest returns to the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery in Ypsilanti this Saturday.|
January is mostly a time to hibernate, especially with all the snow and record cold temperatures this winter has brought. But even though things aren’t quite as active, there is still movement under the surface. Thaw out with a nice mugful of high-gravity beer, and check out the latest brews and news.
Thursday, January 23
>> Head to World of Beer, 1300 South University, at 7 p.m. for a tap takeover featuring Lagunitas Brewing of Petaluma, California. On tap: Bourbon Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout, Hairy Eyeball Ale, Imperial Stout, IPA, Lagunitas Sucks Ale, and Pils.
Friday, January 24
>> Get over to Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, for the latest Michigan beer happy hour. New Holland is the featured brewery, and everyone's favorite beer rep, Jimmy "One Time," will be there to help you get your beer on. Tap list TBD.
Saturday, January 25
>> Put on your snow shoes and make the trek over to the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery (née Corner Brewery), 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, from 2-5 p.m. for the sixth annual Rat Fest. No, it has nothing to do with rodents and everything to do with the skill and creativity of the legions of local homebrewers our area is blessed with. This year, try samples from 28 unique beers created by seven area clubs, including the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, Brighton Home Brew Club, Craft Beer in Michigan, Detroit Draft Divas, Motor City Mashers, the Sons of Liberty, and the Ugly Mug. This year’s challenge: each club had to make one of their beers a sour ale. Tickets are $35 in advance ($40 at the door) and include a commemorative tasting glass, plenty o’ beer, and snacks. Call 734-480-2739 or buy in person at the brewery.
Monday, January 27
>> Hermann’s Olde Town Grille, 195 W. Liberty, Plymouth, is the place to be for the 6 p.m. release of Matt’s Burning Rosids Ale, a tribute beer from Stone Brewing to honor brewer Matt Courtright who died last year in an accident at the brewery. Michigan native Matt began his brewing career at Liberty Street Brewing, a few doors down from Hermann’s, before moving on to Stone. This beer was brewed according to Matt’s recipe and is a 10.5% ABV saison featuring smoked cherry wood. Join Liberty Street’s Joe Walters along with other friends and family of Matt to remember and honor a life short yet well lived. More info on Matt and the beer are here.
Tuesday, January 28
>> Like beer? Like bacon? (If you answered no to either or both, we can't be friends.) You may be interested in taking a road trip to Grand River Marketplace, 117 Louis Glick Highway, Jackson, for the Beer and Bacon Dinner. Join I'm a Beer Hound's own Paul Starr for an evening of, uh, beer and bacon. The five course dinner includes brews from Grand River paired with bacon samples from Jerome Country Market. Tickets are $20; go here for menu and ordering details.
Saturday, February 1
>> Get those snowshoes back out. Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, laughs in Old Man Winter’s face from 12-5 p.m. for the annual Winter Warriors event. This year they’re even bamming it up a notch by blocking off the street, putting up a tent, and inviting even more beer lovers to come drink outside in the elements. Live music is part of the deal, with “cover” being the donation of a new winter hat, gloves, or socks for the needy (monetary donations are also happily accepted). Terminator Doppelbock will be on tap, with $1 from each glass sold going to support the Delonis Center.
>> Back in Ypsi, the Arbor Microbrewery is celebrating International Gruit Day with the release of a small-batch gruit ale brewed by none other than local beer legend Mike “Brewguvyer” O’Brien. What’s a gruit ale, you ask? It’s a style of beer spiced and balanced with natural herbs, popular before brewers discovered that hops were awesome. Mike’s version makes use of licorice, marshmallow root, cinnamon, sassafras, and sarsaparilla. Join Mike and other beer nerds as they rediscover the taste and excitement of this old-school libation.
Sunday, February 2
>> World of Beer is offering an enticing destination for you to watch the Super Big Bowl Game at, to wit: draft and flight specials, $2 cans, free pizza and wings at halftim, and raffles and prize giveaways throughout the game.
Tuesday, February 4
>> Get thee over to Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, for the monthly Brewer’s Night from 6-9 p.m., when head brewer Duncan Williams and his minions stretch out their legs, lift a mug or two, and engage in witty repartee with you, the beer drinker. Discounted beer samplers, tours of the brewery, and enlightened beer talk more than recommend this here event.
Notes on the Napkin
- Mark it, dude. Original Gravity, 440 County, Milan, is now open at 11:30 a.m. on Fridays to accommodate the lunch (and day drinking) crowd. Also, look for another batch of the coveted 440 Pepper Smoker Amber Ale coming before too awful long.
- The Emperor has returned! Catch him at Liberty Street Brewing, 149 W. Liberty, Plymouth. I don't mean the wrinkly old dude who commanded Darth Vader. I mean Emperor Norton Russian Imperial Stout, a tasty 11% ABV brew now on tap and perfect for getting through these polar vortex days. Head brewer Joe Walters says a bourbon barrel aged version is "coming soon."
- What’s up with Jolly Pumpkin? Man, I thought you’d never ask. Lizzy Alfs of The Ann Arbor News recently had a nice sit-down with brewery founders Ron and Laurie Jeffries to talk past, present, and future, and her efforts are here. Be sure to also watch the cool accompanying video of the bottling line. And check out the new Indiegogo page to help fund the buildout of a tap room at the Dexter brewery.
- After years of crowding and months of searching, Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon, has located a bigger and badder brewhouse and tap room to accommodate the ravenous demand for their beers. Owners Ryan and Erin Cottongim say the new space, located at 601 S. Lafayette, will enable them to increase annual production five-fold, from 2013’s 550 barrels to an eventual 2,500 barrels and is expected to be open by December. See the Q&A on the new Witch’s Hat at witchshatbrewing.com.
- Dropping by Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium? Look for February Beer of the Month Revilo India Red Lager (in honor of Valentine’s Day) and a n00b beer, Quick Hatch Bourbon Barrel Aged Brown Lager. On right now: Grand CruZ Belgian Dark Lager, a deceptively strong 9.6% ABV batch of deliciousness. Read about it on the Beer Wench's blog.
- Also on the Beer Wench's blog: an interview with your correspondent about his book, Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing, and other musings on beer and the writing life. Check it out.
- Our neighbor to the west, I mean the town of Jackson, has quietly gone and become a beer destination, with two more new breweries joining Grand River Marketplace. There's also Bifferhaus Brewing, 990 Lansing Ave., and now Sheds Brewing, 3090 Shirley Drive, is slated to fling open its doors on January 25. Read about Sheds and the other breweries of the Jackson beer renaissance in this MLive.com story. If it stops snowing and polar vortexing anytime soon, your correspondent is definitely planning to motor west.