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Posted on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Biercamp Artisan Meats offers tasty indulgences

By Kim Bayer

081213 ENT Beircamp MRM.jpg

Biercamp Artisan Meats

Melanie Maxwell |

The first thing to like about Biercamp Artisan Meats is the distinctive whiff of hard wood smoke when you pull into the tiny parking lot behind the storefront next to the Produce Station. Biercamp, a meat lover's paradise, is a trove of smoked and cured sausages, bacon and jerky (and a few meaty sandwiches) that you'd expect in either Escanaba or Brooklyn, but which has found a home in Ann Arbor.

As you approach the door, the atmospheric haze of woodsmoke starts some powerful associations and prepares you to enter feeling like Ernest Hemingway stocking up for adventure on a big two-hearted river—even if all you're on is your lunch hour.

Inside the minimalist, olde-timey space, there are perhaps four spindly little stools (on which I can't imagine Papa sitting) where you could pull up to perch near the window. Hemingway would doubtless have chosen the sturdy picnic tables outside under a tree.

If you are on your lunch hour, it's better if it's a nice day outside—unless you want to take your sandwich to go. And if you want a sandwich to go, plan on waiting a bit — at least five or 10 minutes even if you're first in line. This is slow food in a couple of different ways.

Biercamp offers just a few regularly scheduled prepared sandwich options (and grilled sausages on game days). Each of their sandwiches is served on a small, plain conveyance of a bun guaranteed not to distract you from the smoky meaty goodness inside. Mondays, the "16 hour" finely shredded pulled-pork sandwich becomes available. Tuesdays a smoky "12 hour" beef brisket option is added. And Fridays the "steamship round," a tender, long-cooked roast beef sandwich with horseradish dressing, is available.


Biercamp Artisan Meats
1643 S. State St., Ann Arbor
  • Hours: Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Plastic: All
  • Liquor: Beer is available for purchase but no consumption on site
  • Prices: Moderate. Smallish sandwiches start at $4.99
  • Noise level: Quiet
  • Wheelchair access: Yes
The bun may be nondescript, but all the sandwiches are yummy in a good back-yard cookout kind of way, and nicely complemented by the sweet onion and tart pickle that's included. The pulled pork could have been a tiny bit juicier, but the crispy burned bits in with the smoky shredded meat and the just barely spicy BBQ sauce made up for it. The brisket was also superior. Mine was lean but very tender and also appealingly smoky and served with the BBQ sauce. The steamship round was a juicy roast beef sandwich, but even with a tangy horseradish sauce it was a bit more bland than the brisket.

To go with your sandwich you can get some dill-pickle potato chips and beverages like Faygo's original root beer, Towne Club's "Michigan Cherry," or Squirt. What you cannot get is a beer to drink on-site, though you can get a growler to take away.

When we tried recently to get a growler on a Monday, they were out of beer and said it would be a few days before they'd have some again. I had wanted to try the beer with a tailgate kind of picnic — with a bunch of their summer sausages and sides. Instead, we had to be satisfied with just a grocery bag full of food.

In fact, I spent enough that one of the owners ringing me up gave me a reusable bag with the Biercamp logo on it, saying "you're so close to $100 that I just threw it in."

I did my best to get a representative selection of their house-made cured sausages and sides, enough to make the woman behind me comment, "I want to come to your place for lunch."

As an appetizer, the bright orange tavern cheese spread with scallions and bacon reminded me of the classic horseradish-spiked Win Schuler's Bar Scheeze and is just as hard to stop eating. The jerky pate with Michigan dried tart cherries was also a winner—cream cheese based, nicely balanced spices, and laced with corned beef jerky and tiny bits of cherry.

Some of the more interesting sides included smoked olives and pickled cherries — both unusual and strangely compelling. Others, like the sweet and sour sauerkraut salad and the boring picnic pasta macaroni salad with peas and carrots, were more prosaic. Somewhere in the middle were the pickled local eggs with lots of vinegar pucker, thin-sliced bread and butter pickles with the yellow mustard seeds, and double smoked Amish goat cheese—a very strong cheese dusky with infused smoky flavor.

Tasso Cajun ham in a spicy red coating of smoked paprika, cayenne and allspice was excellent, savory and lip-tingling. Sold in small pieces that look more like bacon, the package notes that it is "great for seasoning." Note to self next time I am making gumbo.

A well-known local chef gave his thumbs-up to the meaty and nicely balanced pork and beef smoked summer sausage saying Biercamp had hit the mark on their spice mix. The summer sausage also comes in a delicious version conveniently pre-stuffed with cubes of pepper jack cheese, saving that extra step of adding cheese to your cracker. I read a comment recently where someone said they were no longer bothering to eat sausages unless they were stuffed with cheese. This person should also try Biercamp's excellent cheesy hotdogs.

Nostalgia made me very interested in Biercamp's "braunschweiger smoked liverwurst." Braunschweiger is a taste of childhood to me, something that my grandmother served sandwiched with her own tart and hot pickled banana peppers. Where her braunschweiger was silky and smooth, the Biercamp version is more rustic, like a chunky pate de campagne with the earthy taste of liver just mildly present.

I was also excited to take another trip down memory lane with the dill pickle bologna spread. As a kid, I ate bologna in every configuration, including fried, pickled, ground, and spread with Miracle Whip and rolled into a tube. Ground bologna salad was a treat my mom made every once in a while with an old fashioned meat grinder. She told me recently that the secret to good bologna salad was Miracle Whip and lots of sweet pickle. Biercamp uses actual mayonnaise and plenty of dill pickle in theirs, and it is both meaty and pickle-y. Their ground bologna spread may have returned to its small-town roots, but it definitely had read better literature than the one my mom served on Hillbilly bread with iceberg lettuce.

At Biercamp, surrounded by northwoods general store touchstones and scores of jerkys, bacons, and sausages, I couldn't quite escape a sense of the ironic celebration of proletarian pleasures. But there's a reason why we like that. And they do a nice job with the smoke.

Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.



Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Definitely my favorite place to eat in Ann Arbor. Always a ton of interesting items, delicious sandwiches, and great beer. It is my go-to place for lunch since it's right down the street from work (I usually get the brisket sandwich and pick up some brats/sausage for dinner).

sun runner

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Biercamp is only a mile from my office and thus I make frequent midday pilgrimages to stock up on what I consider Biercamp essentials: hickory sticks, jalapeno-cheddar sticks, and beef jerky. I take Biercamp fresh sausages to my parents (in Ohio) because they don't have anything like it where they live. And I recently introduced my significant other to the wonders of "meaty snacks" when we went on a weekend road trip and I brought seven different kinds of sticks, jerkies, and sausages to nibble on in the car. I call it "a candy store for carnivores." Keep up the great work, folks!


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Love, love, love this place for lunch.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

Everything I've had from there is great. My go-to favorite is the BBQ hickory-smoked meat sticks but I've had a couple of types of jerky that were excellent as sere the different bacons. And run by two of the nicest people you can imagine.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

Also had a brisket sandwich that was tasty.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

This place is great. I originally went there because I read on MLIVE the city was giving them a hard time about permits and they were actaully on a Township Island. I go about every week now. The jerky pate is a happy hour must have at our house and you better get it quick before it is all gone. The lamb sauasage is excellent also.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Here's a link to the article you're referencing:


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Biercamp is such a treat. We've been there many times now, and each time the food is tasty and fresh. My fiance swears by the lamb sausages, and I really like their beef jerky and jumbo pickles. It's also been great seeing how, over the months, they've done more and more for vegetarians. Now they have veggie burgers! The beer is relatively new, and we've tried just one. It was nice, but not my favorite ever. Beautiful growler, though.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Great place, Great Food, and the owners are so very nice! We love our weekly excursions!

Christopher Sorel

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

Great place and love the steamship round on Frisday's


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

*Artisan Miets*


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

Don't be snooty, it's a website not a newspaper.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

The Anti-Blimpy Burger!


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Who votes this down? All the dummies rush to wait outside that dump while hidden gems like this are the real deal. For people who know better anyways. The (-) vote shows who is voting on here...


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Wish they were open an occasional Sunday or one morning a week!