That uniquely American holiday known as Independence Day is coming up, and what could be more American than grilled food, fireworks, and, of course, beer — especially beer from independent breweries (see what I did there)? You’re on your own for the grilling and fireworks, but I can help you find where the good beer is leading up to your 4th of July vacation and beyond.
Thursday, June 26
» Get thee to Witch’s Hat, 22235 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon, by 2 p.m. for the release (bottle and draft) of Well Water, which is Holy Confusion Barleywine aged (and dry-hopped) in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. However, if you’re not a Mug Club member, you’ll have to wait until Friday to get your bottles (you can get draft), if any’s left. If not, ask about the spiffy new $5 Well Water tulip glasses. You can buy one to remind of what might have been, unless you have a generous Mug Club friend willing to split his or her bottle with you. Read more about it here.
» World of Beer, 1300 South University Ave., is hosting a Lagunitas tap takeover to benefit Gilda's Club of Metro Detroit, which provides support for people stricken with cancer. Event begins at 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 28
» Summer in Ann Arbor is well and truly here with the first of the season's German Park Picnics at the grounds of 5549 Pontiac Trail. Gates open at 4 p.m. (and close at 9), but you'll want to arrive early to get in line for a good spot. Or any spot. Then dig some German music, food, and, of course, beer, which this year includes Spaten Lager, Spaten Optimator Doppelbock, and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. It's all fun and games until 11 p.m., when the party ends until the last Saturday in July. More info is at the official website.
Monday, June 30
» Top of the Park is officially closed Mondays, but the Ann Arbor Summer Festival fun continues at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington St. The third and final “33 1/3” reading and listening party kicks off at 7 p.m. Tonight’s focus: a selection from Highway 61 Revisited by Mark Polizzotti, as read by Bruce Conforth, professor of American culture and founding curator of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Guest WCBN DJ Mary Holt will play samples from the Bob Dylan album and everyone will drink beer and have a good time. (Don’t forget a portion of sales from the Festival Saison go toward supporting the Summer Festival.)
Tuesday, July 1
» Back at Top of the Park, it’s Tasting Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. Bring a powerful thirst and $15 with you, and you’ll be given multiple samples of beers from Warren’s Dragonmead Microbrewery, who make some pretty quality stuff. No RSVP needed; just show up, though space is limited so you’ll want to be prompt.
» If you like sour beers, as those of us of exquisite taste and refinement do, you’ll want to drop by the Arbor Brewing brewpub on Washington from 6-7 p.m. for a special sour celebration. Arbor is launching a new dedicated rotating draft line just for sour beers and kicking it off with the release of a new blend of brown ale and porter that’s been aging in oak since before the polar vortex. If you’re a Mug Club member, you’re in like Flynn; otherwise you need to pony up $10. But that Hamilton will get you two 10 oz. snifters of the new sour blend, light appetizers, and a 25% discount on bottles of 2013 Divette, Framboise, and Brune as well as 2011 Special Reserve. If you’re nice, you might be able to lay your hands on some 2012 Divette as well.
» Down the street at Grizzly Peak, 122 W. Washington St., Brewer’s Night returns from 6-9 p.m. and your favorite cast of characters, including head brewer Duncan Williams and that goofy looking guy with the outrageous mustache who’s often seen skulking about the cellar. In honor of its being Canada Day, Duncan and co. are unveiling a cask of special wood-aged version of Steelhead Red, Biere de Feuille Rouge (aka Red Leaf Ale). So don’t be a hoser. Take off to Grizzly, eh?
» Attention, hopheads of Dark Horse Nation (you know who you are). Ashley’s, 338 S. State St., is where you’ll want to be beginning at 6 p.m. for a special tapping event featuring seven varieties of the Marshall brewery’s IPAs. On tap will be Crooked Tree IPA, Double Crooked Tree, three of the single hop varietal backwards-spelled Crooked Trees, and Smells Like a Safety Meeting (formerly Smells Like Weed) IPA. Oh, that’s only six, you say? The seventh will be Crooked Tree pushed through a Randall of fresh hops or other cool ingredient (type TBD).
» Ring those Bell’s! Better yet, drink them at the Bell’s beer dinner at Carlyle Grill, 3660 Jackson Rd. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., be treated to six course paired with such Bell’s brews as Oberon Ale, Two Hearted Ale, Amber Ale, and Lager of the Lakes. Tickets are just $45 (excluding tax and tip); call 734-213-9800. See the full menu here.
» Can you believe it? World of Beer is turning one year old! To celebrate, they’ll be partying like it’s 2013 all day long with live entertainment, a complimentary BBQ cookout, Cornhole tournaments, tap takeovers, limited-edition taps (including Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, Founders KBS and Devil Dancer Triple IPA, New Belgium La Folie Sour Ale, Short's Key Lime Pie, and Bell's Roundhouse Imperial Red Ale) and bottles (including Dogfish 120 Minute IPA), and raffles and prizes. Learn all about it here.
Wednesday, July 2
» When Bill's Beer Garden, 218 S. Ashley St., opens for the evening, they'll be turning their taps over to the lagers of Ann Arbor's own Wolverine State Brewing. List TBD.
» Today's the day all of Dexter has been waiting anxiously for. Yes, it's the grand opening of The Beer Grotto, 8059 Main St., beginning at noon and going to 11 p.m. What's a Beer Grotto? It's a hybrid retail store/bar, where you can hang out and try beers from any of the 48 taps before taking home your favorite in a growler, howler, or bottle. Learn more at the website or Facebook page, and look for the Ann Arbor Beer Grotto to open at 303 S. Ashley St. in the fall.
Friday, July 4, Independence Day
» USA! USA! USA! Drink beer and blow stuff up.
Tuesday, July 8
» The Wine and Beer Bar of Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower Blvd., is being taken over by New Belgium. Go check it out if you can find out how to get around all the construction and make it there. Tap list TBD.
Wednesday, July 9
» A little late for Canada Day, but better late than never, is three-time Canadian Brewer of the Year winner Mill Street Brewery’s debut at Ashley’s. Help welcome these Toronto hosers beginning at 6 p.m. with a tapping of four of their brews: Cobblestone Stout, Lemon Tea Beer, Organic Lager, and Tank House Pale Ale. No word on if Ashley’s is planning on serving back bacon.
Thursday, July 10
» Who’s ready for some wheats, wits, and lambics? You’ll find more than two dozen of them at Arbor’s July beer tasting, happening at the brewpub from 7-9 p.m. Everything from hefeweizens to Belgian-style whites to krieks, sours, and other lambic styles. Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 the day of) and include beer samples, tasting notes, an appetizer buffet, and groovy raffle prizes. Call 734-213-1393 or buy at the brewpub.
Notes on the Napkin
- After years in development, the first of three planned Grizzly Peak-branded bottle beers should be hitting store shelves as you read this. Hellion Midwestern IPA is by any other name an imperial IPA, clocking in at 9.9% ABV and 99 IBUs (international bittering units, for those unfamiliar) thanks to generous doses of Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe hops. Look for four-packs in the signature stubby bottles of North Peak beers, to be followed in time by Humongous Imperial Red Ale and Berserker Imperial Stout. Read more about these beers in this MLive piece by Jeremy Allen.
- Homebrew clubs! Arbor's Microbrewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti, is looking for applicants to brew for the seventh annual Rat Fest Homebrew Competition in January 2015. Do you have what it takes to bring home the Big Cheese trophy? Apply here before August 1.