Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Raise Your Stein to Oktoberfest

Matt and Rene Greff celebrate one of their favorite holidays.

It’s here – that time of year when the temperature drops and people dress funny and dance to tubas. I’m talking, of course, about Oktoberfest, and it’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when we’re speaking of all the cool beer-type stuff going on in our little burg. Here are some of the highlights.

Thursday, October 2

» What goes great with beer? OK, I’ll accept the answer “everything,” but in this case I was going to say “art.” Get plenty of both – and some tasty food, too – at tonight’s A2 Art & Brew pub crawl fundraiser for the Ann Arbor Art Center, kicking off at 6 p.m.  Visit eight different bars and breweries and sample beers and enjoy sidewalk chalk art along the way. Participating establishments include Arbor Brewing; Kuhnhenn Brewing (featured at Conor O’Neill’s); Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery; Blue Tractor Brewing at Mash Bar; Grizzly Peak Brewing at Old German Bar & Bierkeller; Original Gravity partnering with Katherine’s Catering at Bill’s Beer Garden; and Wolverine State Brewing partnering with Laura’s Catering and Alaskan Brewing, a featured brewery of sponsors O&W, Inc., both at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Tickets are $60; purchase online at or call 734-926-4122.

Friday, October 3, and Saturday, October 4

» Munich may have invented it, but Ann Arbor does a pretty mean Oktoberfest tent party, too. From 5 p.m. to midnight, Washington Street will be blocked off in front of both Arbor Brewing and Grizzly Peak for the annual street jam replete with German-style beer and food, as well as live music and dancing, which may or may not be German-style. But this isn’t Bavaria, so we can get away with that. There’s no cover for either party, but you must be 21+ to join the fun.

Tuesday, October 7

» Join head brewer Duncan Williams and the other Grizzly Peak misfits for an Oktoberfest de-briefing at the monthly Brewer’s Night from 6-9 p.m. in the Old German. Enjoy beer specials, brewery tours, and a cask of SaueRed, a barrel-aged experimental sour red ale.

» Carhartt is celebrating 125 years in business, which is quite a milestone to say the least. So this legendary Michigan company turned to another respected Michigan business to craft a commemorative beer, and that beer is New Holland’s Carhartt Woodsman Ale. It’s a 4.4% ABV barrel aged pale ale showcasing Michigan-grown Cascade hops over sweet malty and toasted oak notes. You can get it on tap at Ashley’s beginning at 6 p.m., along with 11 other New Holland brews, including Black Tulip Tripel, Dragon’s Milk Imperial Stout, Dragon’s Milk Reserve, Four Witches Black Saison, Full Circle Kolsch, Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, Imperial Hatter IPA, Incorrigible Sour Ale, Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Paleooza Pale Ale, and Pilgrim’s Dole Wheatwine. If you’re lucky, Chef Brandon Johns of Ann Arbor’s Grange Kitchen & Bar will be recovered enough from the Carhartt Woodsman tour he embarked on with the New Holland crew to join in for a pint or two.

Wednesday, October 8

» Maybe you’ve heard of kombucha tea. Maybe you’ve heard of kombucha beer, or at least one of the country’s foremost producers of same, Unity Vibration of Ypsilanti. But did you know what, exactly, it was all about? If you’re curious, Unity Vibration co-owner Rachel Kanaan is more than happy to drop the knowledge on you at Bill’s Beer Garden from 6:30 to 9 p.m. She’ll cover the history and process of kombucha, how to make it yourself, how Unity Vibration makes their beverages, and news on their expansion and planned tap room. Samples, of course, will be part of the deal. Cost is $30 or $20 for members of Fermenta. Space is limited; RSVP to  

Thursday, October 9

» Head back to Bill’s (which is at 218 S. Ashley St., as if you didn’t know) at 6 p.m. for another awesome event, S’Mores and Pours with Bell’s Brewery. Sit by the fire, drink a few brews with the Bell’s team, and roast some delicious, gooey s’mores. Just like all those family camping trips you went on as a kid, except your dad probably didn’t let you have beer.

» Much has been written about the often-puerile nature of beer advertisements, which tend to feature female breasts prominently. In recent years, some brewers have turned the historical relationship between beer and boobs into an opportunity to support breast cancer research. One such brewer is San Diego’s Green Flash, whose co-founder, Lisa Hinkley, is a breast cancer survivor.  Locally, distributor O&W and World of Beer, 1300 South University Ave., are teaming up for the Treasure Chest annual fundraiser, which features a Green Flash beer of the same name. Treasure Chest 2014 is a 5.4% ABV Belgian-style saison fermented in red wine barrels with Brettanomyces yeast and then aged for six months on plums. Get your hands on this and other Green Flash beers at WOB beginning at 6 p.m. and raise a pint for the cure. O&W, WOB, and Green Flash will all donate $1 from each beer sold to the local Susan G. Komen chapter.

» Haven’t had enough Oktoberfest yet? Then you’ll  love the monthly beer tasting at Arbor Brewing, 114 E. Washington St., which is all about Oktoberfest, Marzen, and Vienna lagers, along with various seasonal and fall favorites, including Arbor’s own Violin Monster Autumn Ale. Tickets include unlimited samples from more than two dozen brews, an appetizer buffet, tasting notes, and the chance to win coveted booty. Prizes, that is. Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 the day of. Call 734-213-1393 or buy at the brewpub. Event runs from 7-9 p.m.

Friday, October 10

» It's a milestone day for Wolverine State Brewing, 2019 W. Stadium: the release of Guile 500, their 500th batch of beer, a 9.5% ABV "imperial stout lager." According to head brewer Oliver Roberts, "We went all out for this 500th batch, sparing no expenses on the ingredients. We're using top-of-the-line Maris Otter from the UK, Dark Crystal malt from Chile, and three different varieties of roasted barley. It was fermented cold as ever and aged for three months before serving.With this beer, we have brought a brand-new, dynamic, and expressive new addition to our lineup -- it'll be like nothing you've ever tasted." Happy 500!

Saturday, October 11

» Swing by Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, from noon to 3 p.m. for some pre-tailgate fun with Bell’s. Look for samples of Best Brown and Two Hearted ales in the back of the store plus a cooking demonstration with Amber Ale in the front. Word has it the Wine and Beer Bar will also have an extra treat or two, including Hopsoulution Double IPA, on tap.

Notes on the Napkin
  • The next release from Chelsea’s Bitter Old Fecker Rustic Ales is on shelves now. Look for the limited-release Darlin’ IPA, a barrel-aged, dry-hopped brew sporting charred lemons along with a touch of lavender. And while you’re tracking down your bottle, enjoy this video of artist Keith of Neltner Small Batch inking the pig for this latest Fecker label.

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