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Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9 a.m.

The search for Michigan's best brewery to tap Ann Arbor area

By Jessica Webster


A bartender pours a beer at the Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery in downtown Ann Arbor.

Courtney Sacco I

Over the past year or so, readers have helped us pick the best burgers, breakfast joints, haunted houses, ice cream parlor and barbecue in the area. This time, we're getting really serious. We're partnering with to track down the best brewery in Michigan.

Craft beer has become a pretty big deal in the Mitten State. We rank fifth in the nation for number of breweries, and Michigan's beer industry grew by 20 percent just last year. Our state even landed three of the top five spots in the annual Beer City USA poll.

We here in Washtenaw County have a wealth of options to choose from when it comes to locally-produced beer, from the established favorites like Arbor Brewing to the tenacious relative newcomers like Wolverine Brewing.

We'll be asking you to nominate your favorite local breweries next Tuesday, and from that list we'll create a poll for you to vote for the best brewery in Washtenaw County. Once our local favorites are crowned, MLive statewide entertainment reporter John Gonzales will come through town to sample our best beer on his Michigan's Best Brewery tour to determine the best breweries in the state. beer expert David Bardallis will be joining us on this local beer tour.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for, a part of the MLive Media Group. Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.



Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

With the closing of Michigan Brewing, the field is wide open. For local...My vote goes to Wolverine, never had a bad beer there. OG is quite good as well. Arbor is hit/miss the last couple of years.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

I've only been to about half of the breweries listed, but, of those, my vote is Jolly Pumpkin. Unlike Billy, I don't think that its draughts taste watered down. The food and service are good, too, IMO. I do like Arbor Brewing (for brew, grub, and service), but it seems that about half the time, it's out of at least two of the on-tap brews in its menu.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

"How do you prefer to drink beer?" - "Beer bong" isn't an option??


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

Hey thumb-down voter: Lighten up.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

I have to think Short's will win the statewide title.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Original Gravity in Milan is 10 feet outside of Washtenaw County (in Monroe County). Will this be excluded from your poll? The "Ann Arbor Area" is larger than just Washtenaw County....

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

We plan on including OG as well as Witch's Hat in South Lyon due to their proximity to the county and connection to EMU.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

I'll be on vacation next week (sampling Texas brewpubs, fwiw) and likely won't remember to vote, so I'm casting my nomination for Original Gravity now.

Top Cat

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

I'm not sure if Frog Island belongs on this list as they have no destination. I'm not sure where their beer is actually brewed. I've never found it on draft anywhere other than Sidetrack.

David Bardallis

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Mikey, I think Dave started contracting with Scott sometime last year.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Dave, do you know how long MillKing has been brewing Frog Island beers? I wish MillKing beers where more available out here. King Brewery was one of the first breweries I went to.

David Bardallis

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Frog Island is currently contract brewed by Dave French at Scott King's MillKing It brewery in Royal Oak.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

True. I'm not sure if it's brewed and bottled on forest st. right by the river/train tracks, but they have a logo there. It's available in bottles in a number of local stores though.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Jolly really shouldn't be on that list unless they're testing their bottled brews. The stuff they serve at the bar on draught tastes like they water it down...


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

I've had just about every brew jolly pumpkin puts out, and the stuff in their bottles is NOT what they serve on tap at the bar. I like their beer...just not from the bar. I gave them multiple shots on different occasions...and I felt insulted each time with the beer flavored water I was served. I've tilted my wrist many a time in my life, and I've imbibed plenty of different brews....what they served was borderline illegal.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Ross, Jolly Pumpkin is great, but they've only had an actual sour beer on tap once out of the ten times I've been there. They always have tasty beers with some funk, but very rarely sours.

David Bardallis

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

That is just silly.


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

What are you talking about....? Do you avoid all of their beer with real flavor? You are probably drinking the stuff made up in traverse city, not the local dexter sour amazingness.