|Monday is the annual Bell's Oberon Downtown Ann Arbor Pub Crawl.|
Thursday, March 20
>> Sausage and beer: a match made in heaven. But how much is too much? Come to the Wurst Bar, 705 W. Cross, Ypsilanti, at 7:30 p.m. and see if you can find out at the Wurst Challenge, where several intrepid souls will attempt to ingest a 20-foot bratwurst to benefit FLY Children’s Art Center. Each would-be sausage slayer, including Ypsi mayor Paul Schreiber, is raising money through pledges and the Wurst Bar is donating 10 cents to FLY for every inch of meat chowed down. Perhaps of most interest to readers of this column: New Holland Brewing has kicked in a keg of something special for the event. Read more about it here.
Sunday March 23
>> Ashley’s, 338 S. State, knows you’re desperate to get your taste buds on “summer in a glass” so they’re hosting a Midnight Oberon Release Party. Get there around 10 p.m. and put your name in to be crowned King or Queen Oberon (the royal drawing will take place at 11:15). There will be plenty of Bell’s popular seasonal beer to go around, and brewery rep Erica will be there to hand out cool Bell’s goodies, count down to midnight, and lead everyone in a toast to the new season!
Monday, March 24
>> It’s been going on long enough now I feel like we can call it a tradition. Tell the boss you can’t come in to work due to a bad case of cabin fever and join the Bell’s team and assorted other characters for the Downtown Ann Arbor Oberon Pub Crawl. Warm up at Fraser’s, 2045 Packard, beginning at 11 a.m., then follow the sun to NeoPapalis (12:30 p.m.), Cottage Inn (1:15), Bar Louie (2:00), Old Town Tavern (2:45), The Arena (3:45), Bill’s Beer Garden (5:00), Sava’s (5:45), Buffalo Wild Wings (6:45), and Ashley’s (7:30). This being a pub crawl, all times are approximate.
Tuesday, March 25
>> The bourbon barrel aged beer craze shows no signs of stopping, and at 6 p.m. it’s pulling into Ashley’s, 338 S. State, with 15 different barrel aged brews tapping at once. Check out this lineup: Arcadia Loch Down Scotch Ale and Deliverance Brown Ale; Bell’s Black Note Stout; Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout; Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout; Founders Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale and Doom Imperial IPA; Great Lakes Black Out Stout; Griffin Claw Flying Buffalo Imperial Stout; New Holland Dragon’s Milk Imperial Stout; North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout; Short’s Huma Lupa Licious IPA, The Magician Red Ale, and The Wizard Barleywine; and Witch's Hat Night Fury Imperial Stout with Coffee. Roll out the barrels!
>> Another sign of spring can be found down at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington, during the Strawberry Blonde Ale release party from 6-7 p.m. Enjoy samples of the first fruit of the season along with light snacks for $10, or gratis if you’re a Mug Club member.
Wednesday, March 26
>> Get over to the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery, 720 Norris, Ypsilanti, and help them drain some more Rat Fest leftover beers. At 6 p.m., four selections brewed by the rogue splinter group Guild Brewers of Ann Arbor go on tap: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bacon Baltic Porter, Hoppy Doppy IPA Belgian Lager, To-Wit-Too-W00t! Witbier, and Son of AABGBBBW (Ann Arbor Brewers Guild Bourbon Barrel Barleywine). Growler fills available after 9 p.m., if anything’s left.
>> The latest Made in Michigan beer dinner at Karl’s Cabin, 6005 Gotfredson Rd., Plymouth, commences at 6 p.m. and features five courses from local purveyors paired perfectly with beers from Founders Brewing, including Red’s Rye PA, Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, Backwoods Bastard Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, Smoked Porter, and Imperial Stout. Tickets are $65 plus tax (tip is included); call 734-455-8450 for reservations. Find Karl’s Cabin on Facebook to view the full menu.
Tuesday, April 1
>> Michigan Beer Happy Hour kicks off at 4 p.m. at Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, with a lineup of beers from the pride of Marshall, Michigan: Dark Horse Brewing. Which ones? You know the answer. Go get some groceries and find out!
>> Beware the Ryeclops! Once thought to be mythological, this very real beast returns to the taps of the Arbor Microbrewery in Ypsilanti on a rampage of deliciousness. If you think you can tame this beast, by all means drop by from 6-7 p.m. for the release party. Enjoy glasses of the high-gravity, rye malt-spiced, and Simcoe-hopped monster along with snacks for $10 (free for Mug Clubbers). If you dare.
>> Party with a wild and crazy bunch of brewers during Brewer’s Night at Grizzly Peak, 120 W. Washington, from 6-9 p.m. Grab some samplers, get a guided tour of the brewery, and enjoy a cask of something special put together just for the occasion.
>> The postponed Arcadia Ales beer dinner at Grange Kitchen & Bar, 118 W. Liberty, is on like a well known 1980s video game featuring an overgrown monkey. Chef Brandon Johns has designed five courses of delectable cuisine to pair with Sky High Rye Ale, Thunder Trail ESB, 17th Anniversary Ale, Shipwreck Porter, and Cereal Killer Barleywine, plus a welcome snack with Whitsun Ale. Tickets are $60 excluding tax and tip; buy online (and view the menu) at grangekitchenandbar.com or call 734-995-2107. Begins at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 2
>> Back at the Arbor Microbrewery in Ypsilanti, the last leftovers from Rat Fest go on tap at 6 p.m. Check out the four brews created by the crew at the Ugly Mug coffee shop just down the street: Dirty Cider Dubbel, King Konga IPA, Tiramisu Obliterator Dopplebock, and Two Dads Sumatran Saison. Fill your growler up and take some home after 9.
Notes on the Napkin
- You may have heard of Ypsilanti’s Unity Vibration and their unique product, kombucha beer, a hybrid sort of beverage incorporating a traditional fermented style of tea with beer ingredients like hops. Last year, DRAFT magazine named their Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale one of the Top 25 Beers of 2013, and now husband and wife owners Rachel and Tarek Kanaan are looking to expand their production to keep up with demand. Read more about their plans here.
- Returning to the Wolverine State Brewing taproom, 2019 W. Stadium, in April is Green Thumb Session IPL, a hoppy lager brewed with Scottish, British, and American malts and carefully balanced with citrusy American hops and German Noble hops. At 4.5% ABV, it has all the flavor but less of the buzz, making it ideal for enjoying over a long session in the warmer weather. Also coming up is a new brew, Daft & Dank India Pale Kellerbier, with American and Belgian malts hopped up with Falconer’s Flight, Ahtanum, and Zythos hops. Perhaps most exciting is Wolverine’s new cask program, where they will be periodically conditioning and serving beers out of two new firkins they’ve purchased for the purpose.
- Former Whole Foods Ann Arbor guru Ryan Wiltse is planning to open a new brewery in Milford, River's Edge Brewing, this June. He's announced the hiring of head brewer Kim Schneider, formerly of North Peak, Dragonmead, and Bastone breweries. Follow Ryan's progress on the River's Edge Facebook page. Along with former employee Nate Hukill, owner and brewer at Bitter Old Rustic Ales, is Whole Foods Ann Arbor some kind of brewery incubator?