The Week in Beer: It's all about Oktoberfest
David Bardallis | Contributor
Oktoberfest is here! Yeah, I know it’s only September, but that’s the way those wacky Germans do it, and who are we to break with tradition on this side of the pond? There are so many great outdoor festivals in and around town involving beer and all things Bavarian, so strap on your lederhosen or wiggle into your dirndl and have a look at the latest Week in Beer.
Thursday, Sept. 15
>> Love beer? Love the Huron River? How about having a good time? If you answered yes to all of those questions, then the Huron River Watershed Council’s annual “Suds on the River” fundraising gala is definitely for you. From 6-9 p.m., you can drink beers from all five Ann Arbor breweries — Arbor, Blue Tractor, Grizzly Peak, Jolly Pumpkin and Wolverine — and sample delicacies from restaurants such as Carson’s American Bistro, Common Grill, Mac’s Acadian Seafood, Terry B’s and many more. Plenty of river-related activities just add to the fun. For more information, contact Margaret Smith at 734-769-5123 ext. 605 or email@example.com. Tickets are $75 for HRWC members or $100 for non-members. Visit hrwc.org to buy online.
Friday, Sept. 16
>> Whole Foods Cranbrook, 990 W. Eisenhower, hosts its kinda sorta mostly biweekly Michigan beer tasting from 5-7 p.m., and this time around the beers from Ann Arbor’s newest brewery, Wolverine State Brewing Co., are in the spotlight. It’s been nearly a year since WSBC opened its doors at 2019 W. Stadium, and if you still haven’t tried their beers, well, what the heck are you waiting for? An engraved invitation? Consider this it, then! Full glasses of Gulo Gulo Hoppy Lager, Double Fisted Doppelbock, Wench's Westside Wheat Ale, and Wolverine Dark Lager are $3, sample pours are $1, and all Michigan bottled beers are available sans corkage fees.
>> Callin’ out around the town; are you ready for a German beat? Fall is here and the time is right for Oktoberfest in the street! OK, so my Motown impression is lacking, but the annual outdoor Oktoberfest celebration at Washington and Main in downtown Ann Arbor is not. Beginning at 5 p.m., the beer starts flowing, the brats and other great foodstuffs start coming off the grill, and the German music starts playing in front of Arbor Brewing. On the other side of Main in front of Grizzly Peak, GP and the Blue Tractor do likewise. The fun last until 11 p.m. on the Arbor side and midnight on the Grizzly side. Beers include Arbor’s Hoptoberfest, Grizzly’s Final Repose Barleywine and Baltic Porter (actually Jeff and Susan Rankert’s winning beer from Grizzly’s May homebrew competition), and Blue Tractor’s Oktoberfest and Bearded Pig Pilsner. As a bonus, Grizzly Peak and Blue Tractor are donating proceeds to the University of Michigan’s Cancer Center. No cover.
Saturday, Sept. 17
>> Did you miss out on Friday’s festivities? Luckily you get a second chance on day two of Ann Arbor’s Oktoberfest party; same bat time, same bat channel.
>> Or maybe you’d rather have your beer and brats in a more exotic location like, say, Canton. Just down the road to our east is Brew, Brats, and Bands At the Barn (say that 10 times real fast). From 6-9 p.m. at the Cady Boyer Barn in Preservation Park, 500 N. Ridge Road, your $30 ticket will entitle you to live music, pretzels and a brat with all the fixings, a keepsake mug, and five tokens good for four-ounce samples of many great beers. These include Founders Centennial IPA, Porter, and Red’s Rye PA; Frog Island Bengal IPA, Devil in the Details Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout, and Moon Squaller Scotch Ale; New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale and Dragon’s Milk Oak Barrel Ale; Arcadia Jaw Jacker Pumpkin Ale; Bell’s Oktoberfest, and plenty more. Folks from Liberty Street Brewing in Plymouth will also be on hand pouring out a selection of LSBC beers, as well. (I know what you’re thinking: all those great beers and I get only five drink tokens? Addition tokens can be purchased on site: 4 for $5.) Call the Canton Parks Office at 734-394-5314 for more info and for tickets, or buy at the gate; $10 designated drive tickets are also available. All proceeds benefit the Canton Historical Society.
Thursday, Sept. 22
>> Oktoberfest continues at the Wolverine tap room, where not one but two new beers will be released. The first is a Czech Pilsner, the second in the “Liquid Soundtrack” series of small batches brewed by local homebrewers. The second — do you even gotta ask? It’s the Wolverine Oktoberfest, lagering since March, just like a real, honest-to-goodness German marzen does. Ray’s Red Hots will be on hand to supply the obligatory brats. On a related note, your correspondent was able to get a sneak sip of a special bourbon barrel aged version of the Oktoberfest, and it was delish. Perhaps if you ask nicely, you can get some of this limited-quantity awesomeness as well!
Notes on the Napkin
For your near-future planning purposes, there are several more noteworthy Oktoberfest events on Sept. 23:
- In Ypsilanti, the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris, celebrates Oktoberfest beginning at 6 p.m. with Bavarian-style eating, drinking, and dancing under the tent in the beer garden.
- Downtown Saline hosts the two-day Harvest of the Arts celebration; Friday night the Oktoberfest biergarten tent is in business from 5-11 p.m. with German and local food, beer and wine, and live music from Polka Riot and the Frankenmuth Schuhplattler; proceeds from the biertgarten benefit the Saline Historic Downtown Alliance. And on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 50 juried fine arts booths will line the streets of downtown. This doesn’t have anything to do with beer, but it still sounds like fun.
- Metzger’s German Restaurant, 305 N. Zeeb, in Ann Arbor continues its annual Oktoberfest tradition from 6 p.m. to midnight. Live music, German beer, and great food abound under the tent, rain or shine.
David Bardallis is a freelance writer and editor, blogger, bon vivant and man about town. Visit “All the Brews Fit to Pint” at AnnArborBeer.com, follow @allthebrews on Twitter, or join the "All the Brews Fit to Pint" Facebook page. Email your beer-related thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.