Food & Drink: The Week in Beer: Takin' it to the streets
David Bardallis | Contributor
It’s unofficially the official start of summer, which means — God willing — time to stop huddling inside dark bars and muttering into your beer about all that damn rain. Time instead to take that beer outside onto the porch, deck, patio, or government-approved, crime-scene-blockaded sidewalk or street event and enjoy some fresh air and that yellowish orange thing in the sky that, if memory serves, is called “sun.”
But what beers should you take outside with you? Glad you asked! That’s what this week’s edition of the Week in Beer is all about.
Saturday, June 4
>> The Corner Brewery is the place to be today, at least if you, you know, like hand-crafted beers made with tender loving care by amateurs and professionals alike. At 9 a.m., judging begins for the fifth annual Brews Crews Homebrew Competition, sponsored by Arbor Brewing and the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild. This year, something on the order of 350 entries were received, up from around 250 last year. That’s a lot of beer to judge! Brews from 28 categories will be considered, and the winner of the coveted Best of Show gets to team up with Arbor’s brewers to re-create the winning recipe to be served on tap at the ABC brewpub. Whether you entered the competition or not, come out for the spectacle. More information on the competition is available at brewscrews.aabg.org.
>> At noon, the hammer drops — the Velvet Hammer, that is. Arbor’s Velvet Hammer is an old ale aged for six months in an oak barrel teeming with exotic microbes and then bottled and corked to age for at least another two months. The result is a unique, deliciously sour ale, for those who like that sort of thing (ooh, me! me!). One keg will be tapped until it’s gone, and limited supplies of previous years’ Velvet Hammer will be available in bottles. In the evening, get ready for a live, adults-only burlesque show. Now this should be interesting.
Sunday, June 5
>> At 11 a.m., Arbor will once again set up its beer tent at Washington and Main, adjacent to the annual Taste of Ann Arbor outdoor food festival featuring wares from dozens of the city’s restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Enjoy refreshing summery brews and live music by Rootstand while you sample from among the best food Tree Town has to offer.
Tuesday, June 7
>> It’s Brewer’s Night once again in the Grizzly Peak Den from 6-9 p.m., meaning it’s your last chance — until next month — to meet and talk beer with Duncan Williams and his brew crew, get discounts on samplers, and, if you haven’t yet, embark on a tour of the Grizzly Peak brewing operation. Good times in the Den!
>> Down the block at Arbor Brewing from 6-8 p.m., enjoy the release of the brand-spankin’-new Brasserie Greff Framboise on tap, before it becomes available only in bottles. The framboise is a highly carbonated, 6 percent alcohol by volume, bottle-conditioned (meaning it’s bottled with live yeast that continue to slowly ferment the beer and enhance the flavor over time), Belgian-style ale made with whole, fresh raspberries for a tart, refreshing taste. Release parties include light appetizers and are free for Mug Club members and $10 for Sneetches with no stars on their bellies.
>> As if there wasn’t enough going on, it’s also Mad Hatter Day at Ashley’s, 338 S. State. Beginning at 5 p.m. Celebrate the many incarnations of New Holland's flagship beer, Mad Hatter IPA, all on tap, including the original, Oak Aged Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Black Hatter, Rye Hatter, and the new Farmhouse Hatter. Brewery swag will also be available as well as plenty of people who like good Michigan beer. Why would you miss it?
Thursday, June 9
>> Back at Arbor is the monthly beer tasting extravaganza; this time around it’s fruit beers and ciders. Come to the pub for around two dozen selected examples of these styles, as well as a big old appetizer buffet and a chance to win glassware, apparel, and other assorted random cool beer-related booty. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of; call 734-213-1393 to order.
Notes on the Napkin
- Wolverine State Brewing is now finally bottling on their own bottling line in their own tap room, formally severing their contract brewing roots with Michigan Brewing Co. That's big news for the owners, but from a consumer standpoint, you may be thinking "So what?" So this: Go take Wolverine's customer satisfaction survey at www.wolverinebeer.com. It will make you smarter and more attractive. Well, maybe not, but it will help you shape the future of Ann Arbor's favorite West Side watering hole.