|Look for bottles of Kaplan Imperial Bronze Ale, the second release from Chelsea nanobrewery Bitter Old Fecker, in stores beginning next week. Photo courtesy of Bitter Old Fecker Rustic Ales.|
Dinners designed around beer. Movies about beer. New beers appearing on tap and in stores. More breweries opening. These days, it seems as if good beer is everywhere. How can the average person even keep up anymore? Lucky for you (although I know all my readers are above average), this column is here to help direct your precious free time toward the most gratifying events and beverages in our area. Keep reading for two more weeks’ worth of local beery bliss.
Thursday, February 20
» Local beerficionado Patti Smith is giving a talk on the history of beer at the latest installment of Ann Arbor Nerd Nite. Get over to Live, 102 S. First, at 7 p.m. and learn whence came the world’s best beverage. Yours truly will also be there hawking copies of my book, Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing. Cost (for the talk, not the book, which is way more valuable) is $5, which can be paid at the door or you can buy in advance at annarbor.nerdnite.com.
Sunday, February 23
» Traveling afield a bit, Evans Street Station in Tecumseh is hosting a beer dinner fundraiser for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital beginning at 4 p.m. Cost is $100 for a five-course meal paired with Bell’s beers. For more information and to reserve, call 517-424-5555, and see the menu here.
Monday, February 24
» Michigan beer is so good, it now has its own movie, and finally we in Ann Arbor get a chance to see that movie on the big screen. Catch The Michigan Beer Film at the Quality 16 Theater, 3686 Jackson Rd., with two showings at 5 and 7 p.m. Learn more about this behind-the-bar documentary at mibeerfilm.com.
Tuesday, February 25
» Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, is turning the Wine and Beer Bar taps over to Sierra Nevada brews. From 5-7 p.m., enjoy a happy hour with Pale Ale, Ovila Dubbel, Torpedo Extra IPA, and Bigfoot Barleywine.
» Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, is getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day with a sneak peek at several of the five stouts that will be unleashed March 17. The 6-7 p.m. release party includes Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout and others, light appetizers, and beer chat from Arbor head brewer Mike Moroney. Admission is free for Mug Club members; $10 for unbelievers.
» To help celebrate the 10th year of Jolly Pumpkin beers, the Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery, 311 S. Main, is hosting its first-ever Mug Club member event. Head to the second floor of the café beginning at 7 p.m. for delicious snacks and a keg of something special from the archives of the brewery in Dexter. Jolly Pumpkin potentates Ron and Laurie Jeffries will be in attendance to schmooze, and as an added bonus, it’s triple points day for Mug Clubbers. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.
Wednesday, February 26
» Mardi Gras time is fast approaching, and Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, 207 W. Michigan, Ypsilanti, is ready to help put you in the mood with a 6 p.m. New Orleans-themed wild game dinner. Five courses, including Alligator and Buffalo Gumbo, Ostrich Etouffee, and Cajun Venison Tenderloin, will be paired with your choice of beer or wine. Tickets are $50; call 734-340-2381 to reserve. Menu is here.
» Another beer dinner is going on in Plymouth as Karl’s Cabin, 6005 Gotfredson, welcomes Short’s Brewing for a five-course feast beginning at 6 p.m. Short’s rep Brian Talpos will be on hand to discuss culinary pairings with brews including Chatterbox Pale Ale, Soft Parade Ale, Good Humans Dry-Hopped Double Brown Ale, ControversiALE, and Publican Porter. Tickets are $55 (gratuity included but tax excluded); call 734-455-8450.
» Last month’s Rat Fest at the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, brought together three dozen delicious beers made by local homebrew clubs and, despite the best efforts of the hundreds of festgoers, there was a lot of beer left over. So each Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. until they’re all gone the brewery is releasing beers from one homebrew group. Tonight’s featured group is Craft Beer in Michigan, who brewed Choco-latte Wheat Ale, Tornado and the Rye Pale Ale, North of 12 Bourbon Stout, Chinese New Year Porter, and Udder Madness Not for Leonard Milk Stout. After 9 p.m., you can take growlers home of any beers left. See the full Rat Fest leftover release schedule here.
Thursday, February 27
» More beer dinners? More beer dinners! Grange Kitchen & Bar, 118 W. Liberty, takes the beers of Battle Creek’s Arcadia Ales and pairs them with five courses of seasonal farm-to-table cuisine. Tickets are $60 excluding tax and tip; buy online here or call 734-995-2107. The feast begins at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, February 28
» Where in the world is Bridgman? It’s in the extreme southwestern corner of Michigan. Why should you care? Because it’s also where Tapistry Brewing plies its beer-making trade. Try 10 of their efforts on tap at Ashley’s, 338 S. State, beginning at 6 p.m. For Tapistry’s Washtenaw County debut, look for AmberCadabra Amber Ale, Beatnik Blonde Ale, Bee-Town Brown Ale, Chocola Java Stout, Enigma Double IPA, Hoponacci Single-Hopped Pale Ale, The Hypnotist Imperial Dark Saison, Mr. Orange Ale, Peck’s Robust Porter, and Reactor IPA. Learn more about these beers at tapistrybrewing.com or, you know, go try them.
Tuesday, March 4
» Brewer's Night returns to Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, where you can dig discounts on beer samplers, guided tours of the byzantine brewery, and sparkling conversation with head brewer Duncan Williams and his merry band of assistants and camp followers. A special cask of brew, TBD as of this writing, will also be on tap.
Wednesday, March 5
» Another 6-9 p.m. Rat Pad release at the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery in Ypsilanti tonight features the beers of the Detroit Draft Diva homebrewing team: Cheetah Juice Sweet Stout; Tripel Hot Kiss Belgian-style Tripel; Redemption Brown Ale; and, my personal favorite from Rat Fest, Pomegranate Berlinerweiss. Growlers available after 9, if anything’s left.
Notes on the Napkin
- Lots of news at Liberty Street Brewing in Plymouth. Owner/head brewer Joe Walters announced the release of Majesty Ale, a bourbon barrel aged versions of the much-beloved Emperor Norton Russian Imperial Stout. It may be gone off the taps by the time you read this, but never fear – most of the batch was bottled for distribution, so watch for it at your favorite beer store. Liberty Street has also produced its first mead, Exquisite, aged for two years and packing a 16% ABV wallop (hence why it is sold at the pub by the glass only). Finally, next week look for 8 Ball IPA, a balanced brew made with a bit of black malt.
- Also coming next week is the second release from Chelsea’s Bitter Old Fecker Rustic Ales nanobrewery: Kaplan Imperial Bronze Ale, a 9% ABV beer aged in bourbon barrels with foraged Michigan morel mushrooms for an earthy, woodsy counterpoint to the bourbon sweetness. Just 1,151 bottles are being released, so look lively if you hope to pick one up (or two, if you want to try one now and add another to your beer cellar).
- How awesome would it be if there were a tasting room at the Jolly Pumpkin brewery in Dexter? Even more awesome, how about a tasting room where you could enjoy the full range of not only Jolly Pumpkin beers, but also North Peak brews, along with wine, cider, and spirits? Until March 14, you can help make it a reality by contributing to the taproom's Indiegogo campaign, which will get you all sorts of neato benefits. (See a prettier page for the "NULL" (Northern United Liquid Libations) Tasting Room here.)