Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Summer’s Almost Gone

Epic competition returns to Ann Arbor this fall. Not Michigan football --
I mean Vinology's Beer vs. Wine Dinner! But yeah, Michigan football, too.

As the summer wanes, the unmistakable signs of the coming fall appear around town. The return of the students, the beginning of another football season, and the reappearance of autumnal ales are harbingers of the cooler days and nights ahead. It’s all part of the natural cycle, so why not go out and enjoy it? Here are a few suggestions on where and how.

Thursday, August 21

» Get your twang on at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, site of the 2014 NashBash, a celebration of music from Nashville. From 5-9 p.m., groove to the stylings of Mary Bragg, Whit Hill, Annie and Rod Capps, the Surefires, and Judy Banker and, more to the point, enjoy beers from Wolverine State Brewing and other local purveyors. Food carts will also be on site to tame your hunger. Free and open to the public, with an afterparty at the Aut Bar.

» Over at World of Beer, 1300 South University Ave., join the fun of a Samuel Adams toast and tapping beginning at 6 p.m. Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch will appear on the video screen tapping a keg and toasting WOB patrons, and then get ready for some Latitude 48 IPA, Latitude 48 Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Latitude 48 East Kent Golding, Oktoberfest, and Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider. For each Sam Adams beer you buy, you get one raffle ticket and a chance to win a homebrew kit.

Friday, August 22

» Awooo! Yes, it’s time again for Violin Monster Autumn Ale, brewed by Arbor Brewing in honor of Ann Arbor’s favorite street musician. Get over to Busch’s Fresh Food Market, 2240 S. Main St., for a special release party from 4-7 p.m. featuring the Monster himself as well as Rene and Matt Greff, co-owners of Arbor Brewing. Samples of the beer, plus Hoptown Brown Ale and several other ABC brews will be available, and Busch’s has prepared a tasty sandwich they call The Werewolf to go with it all. ABC six-packs will also be specially priced, so stock up. Everyone’s welcome, though you must be 21+ to drink the beers, obviously.

Saturday, August 23

» Up in South Lyon, Witch’s Hat Brewing, 22235 Pontiac Trail, is hosting the second annual Fury for a Feast event to benefit Gleaners Food Bank from noon to midnight. Bring two cans of nonperishable food and $3 (or $5 sans cans), an appetite, and a thirst with you. You’ll need all of those things to get in, check out the insane beer list (18 barrel aged and five “regular” brews), and enjoy sumptuous BBQ from Palate of Milford. Oh, and there’s great live music all day long as well. Event takes place in the parking lot outside of the brewery, rain or shine, so come prepared. For all the details (and there are a lot), find Witch’s Hat on Facebook.

» At the Arbor Brewing Microbrewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti, the fourth summer DIYpsi Indie Art Fair is taking place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Come check out the wares of local artisans, drink good beer, and… well, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? See for more info.

Monday, August 25

» The Beer Grotto, 8059 Main St., Dexter, hosts its first-ever Beer Education Night from 6-8 p.m. Arbor Brewing Microbrewery head brewer John Ritenour will be on hand to lead a tasting of Arbor brews as well as conduct a Q&A session. Tickets are $20 and include four 6 oz samples of Red Snapper Roasted Pale Ale, Violin Monster Autumn Ale, Dirty Love Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout, and Demetrius Sour Imperial IPA, all paired with a complementary snack item. You also get a full glass of whichever featured Arbor brew is your favorite. Buy online here.

Saturday, August 30

» Michigan football returns at noon with a rematch against some team or other from a mountainous region of the country. Tailgate wisely – which is to say, drink good beer. And let’s Go Blue!

» If football's not your thing, don't forget the last of the summer'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 (and possibly avoid football traffic). Enjoy German music, food, and, of course, beer, which as a reminder includes Spaten Lager, Spaten Optimator Doppelbock, and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. The party ends for another year at 11 p.m. More info is at the official website.

Tuesday, September 2

» It’s Brewer’s Night again at Grizzly Peak, so get to 120 W. Washington St. from 6-9 p.m. for sampler specials, a brewery tour, a cask of something unique (TBD as of this writing), and scintillating conversation with head brewer Duncan Williams and his motley crew. As always, make sure to arrive around 8:50 before asking for the tour, as that is the best time to see the brewery. 

» Over at Ashley’s, 338 S. State St., get ready for a Dogfish Head tap event the likes of which you’ve never seen (probably). The plan is to have a dozen taps pouring DH brews, including three Randalls filled with fresh hops and/or other ingredients. (What’s a Randall, you ask? It’s a doodad – invented by Dogfish – that infuses draft beer with hops, fruit, jelly beans, or whatever the heck else you load into the chamber.) The beer flows at 6 p.m.

» If you missed the shindig at Busch’s, have no fear: the Violin Monster will be at the Arbor Brewing Brewpub, 114 E. Washington St., from 6-7 p.m. for the release party of his self-titled Autumn Ale. Cruise by for snacks, samples of the beer, and a sighting of the fiddlin’ werewolf his own self. Free for Mug Club members; $10 for the peasantry.

Thursday, September 4

» Back in Ypsilanti, Red Rock Downtown BBQ, 207 W. Michigan Ave., is hosting a Spread the Glove Meet and Greet, an evening of Michigan beer, good food, sweet merchandise, and cool tunes. Visit with the people behind Spread the Glove, a design concept (not yet launched to the public) celebrating the awesomeness that is Michigan, and clink glasses with them. Check out The fun begins at 7 p.m.

Notes on the Napkin
  • Congratulations are in order to the team at North Peak Brewing in Dexter for Diabolical IPA’s recent gold medal win at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition in the English-Style IPA category. Now, with Michigan-grown Chinook and Cascade hops, I’m not sure I’d call the hoppy Diabolical an English-style IPA, but a gold medal is a gold medal. Find Diabolical on tap (most days) at the Jolly Pumpkin Café, 311 S. Main St., and in bottles, wherever fine beers are sold.
  • Speaking of Jolly Pumpkin, their Oro de Calabaza Golden Ale took a gold medal in the same competition for American Style Brett Ale and La Roja Amber Ale snagged a silver in American Style Sour Ale. Congratulations to Ron Jeffries and his team for more deserved recognition.
  • Howell’s The Shark Club, 1140 S. Michigan Ave., is transforming into the Block Brewing Co., a brewpub expected to open in early October. “Block” refers to Howell denizen and longtime Michigan beer icon Tom Block, who has done everything from build brewhouses to brew beer to teach the art and science of brewing at Michigan State University. (His wife, Stacey Block, has brewed at Grizzly Peak and both locations of Arbor, currently at Griffin Claw in Birmingham, making them a true Michigan beer power couple.) The plan is to have 40 beers on tap, 10 of which will be brewed in-house by Tom with the rest being exclusively Michigan brews. You can help launch Tom’s dream through his Indiegogo campaign.
  • Hey, hey, homebrewers! Start your mash tuns, because the third annual Homegrown Festival Homebrew Competition is coming up. Make a beer, mead, wine, or cider and enter it into the competition for your chance at fame and glory at the Homegrown Festival September 6 at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Winners will be taking home prizes from Arbor Brewing Company, Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Witch's Hat Brewing Company, and more. Go here for contest details and to download an entry form. Submissions are due by September 2. And I just want to say good luck; we’re all counting on you.
  • Tickets are on sale for Vinology's second annual Beer vs. Wine Dinner on Tuesday, September 23. I went last year, and it was a blast. And beer lovers: Don't be too sure of victory. Kristin Jonna and the team at Vinology know their stuff, and I surprised myself by voting for wine more often than beer. And I don't even drink wine much. Cost is $60 in advance plus tax and tip ($70 the day of); call 734-222-9841.
  • By the time you read this, I'll be on a plane bound for Los Angeles as part of the annual Beer Bloggers Conference, taking place this weekend in San Diego. If you don't already, follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, where I'll be posting my drunken, smartass ramblings from the West Coast. And, of course, watch this space. My liver is already shaking its imaginary liver-fist at me.

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